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Virtual Reality Experiment Wants To Put White People In Black Bodies 448

Molly McHugh (3774987) writes with an intriguing use of VR technology: "It's as simple as making a light-skinned person feel connected to a virtual, darker skinned self—a thought experiment pretty much impossible without the immersive potency of VR. The effect is achieved by outfitting participants in VR headsets with built-in head-tracking and motion capture capabilities that sync actual movement to virtual experience." From the article: Evolving from cruder methods, VR is a natural extension of research examining the ways that people think differently when made to feel like they are part of a meaningfully different social group, known as an outgroup. ... What’s most exciting about this channel of research is that it gets at the kind of complex, subtle prejudices that most people can’t even articulate if asked directly.
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Virtual Reality Experiment Wants To Put White People In Black Bodies

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  • by MagickalMyst ( 1003128 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @02:08PM (#48610307)
    Barack Obama.
    • Tired of this shit (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @02:30PM (#48610555)

      I am pretty damned tired of being presumed a racist because of the pallor of my skin.

      I'm fucking sick and tired of this incessant cry of racism every time something goes wrong for minorities.

      And I'm really fucking sick and tired of this whole racism issue being treated like some kind of thing you have to get fully on board with, show you care, say the right things, etc or you are somehow supporting racism. Progressives shit a brick when people started wearing American Flags on their lapels to "show" their patriotism. But they have no problem brow beating people into participating in shit to "voice their opposition" to racism.

      And I am absolutely, positively, fucking sick and tired of morons using terms like "feel connected", "subtle prejudices", "meaningfully different social group". Gawd! Fuck you, you stupid metro-sexual assholes.

      Fuck you. I'm not a racist, but I'm not wearing your damned ribbons or signing up for you dumbass sensitivity classes or anything else. I treat everybody with respect and expect the same in return.

      • Yep that about sums up how I feel.
      • Uh, this is not an accusation. As far as I call this is just an interesting social experiment. And one that I'm eager to participate in. Ever since I got Oculus Rift, I've been wanting to experience the world through the eyes of other people and see how it psychologically affects me to be treated like somebody else. Somebody uglier, or more attractive, or smarter, or dumber, or a better dresser, or a different gender, or a different race, or a richer/poorer, a different age, sicklier, buff and intimidat
        • Tits (Score:4, Funny)

          by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @03:05PM (#48610973)

          Admit it. You just want to look down and see tits.

          • Naturally that will be the first simulation I try....unless somebody is watching.
          • Re:Tits (Score:4, Funny)

            by Talderas ( 1212466 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @04:32PM (#48611645)

            "Oh, come on, man! I'm... They're here. They're right here. They've been here for a couple of arns, and I just had to... "
            "You are mentally damaged. "
            "I'm a guy. A guy. Guys dream about this sort of thing. "
            "I'll tell you one thing Crichton, if I find you've been dreaming anything else to my body I'll break your legs, even if they are mine."

        • If you're white, and want to be a minority and be treated like a worthless piece of shit, all you have to do is go work for an Indian management chain at Microsoft (or probably any other big tech company). Want to get a bad review because of the color of your skin? Be white. Want to work 16-hour days while your bosses are off playing golf? Be white - your Indian coworkers will be off playing golf with your bosses, so you get to do their work.

          Want to claim that you're a minority who's been discriminated

          • Well, now that you got your rant out, I'm going to tell you that you missed my point.

            I don't really care too much about making social commentaries or judgements. I just think it would be interesting to see how it affects you psychologically when you are a treated differently by society. I suspect that you'll quickly become a different person and behave and perceive the world like that other person. You might ever see yourself behaving in a manner that you despise in others. It would be quite an eff
    • I do it every year. It's called "getting a decent tan."

  • I bet... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @02:09PM (#48610321)

    white people in black bodies don't commit as much crime...

  • by itzly ( 3699663 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @02:10PM (#48610331)
    Seems rather biased to think that only white people can have racial biases.
  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @02:10PM (#48610333)

    ". Whatâ(TM)s most exciting about this channel of research is that it gets at the kind of complex, subtle prejudices that most people canâ(TM)t even articulate if asked directly."

    This is sort of MMO old news. Any MMO with sufficient character customization options will let you create a black (human) or female avatar.

    And anyone whose 'gender-bended' or 'race-bended' can tell you all kinds of ways they were subtly treated differently as a result.

    Just an observation. I'm not saying this research is worthless or anything. Its an interesting avenue of study.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      well, you missed the most critical point. How does the person in VR feel and act when they are of a different color?
      Soming no avatar can do.
      Of course, MMOs are some of the worse places for any experiment where you want the result to be applicable outside an MMO.

      • by vux984 ( 928602 )

        well, you missed the most critical point. How does the person in VR feel and act when they are of a different color?
        Soming no avatar can do.

        I disagree. It definitely impacts how many people act. VR vs avatar -- what's the difference? If you put on a long sleeve shirt and gloves you don't see -yourself- even in the real world unless you look in a mirror.

        How other people treat you is your primary "feedback" mechanism.

        What makes this better than an MMO really? (Everquest even has facial expression / camera sup

  • Easier method (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @02:10PM (#48610341)

    I've an easier method. Adopt an African American Child. I did and my view on many social issues pretty much changed overnight.

    You tell your kids not to go to Chicago because of the crime, I tell mine not to go because of the police. I don't need a VR headset to see that reality.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And having a black ( she isn't from africa) spouse, and therefore darker skinned children has proven the opposite for me. They get treated fine by police. Then again they go to school, don't rob and assault convenience store clerks, and yet have to be shot. But Im sure their time is just coming right? Couldn't be that actions have consequences in this life right? Its all racism....

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        .... and yet have to be shot.

        They do? Sorry, that broken turn of phrase just made me laugh.

        • .... and yet have to be shot.

          They do? Sorry, that broken turn of phrase just made me laugh.

          LOL.. - sorry, that's a pointless cliche, but I literally really did. I hadn't caught that when I first read the comment. Kinda made my day. What a difference the order of two words makes.

    • Certain types of black people get treated very well in Chicago by the police, others like trash. That is not racism, there is another kind of social stratification going on.

      suggesting adoption for purpose of making social experiment is silly.

      • Certain types of black people get treated very well in Chicago by the police, others like trash. That is not racism, there is another kind of social stratification going on.

        suggesting adoption for purpose of making social experiment is silly.

        Yes, if they would just behave properly they'd not have a problem. That's what you're saying? Because... that's what you're saying.

        Change the above experiment into one where guys pop out from behind dumpsters with guns and test who the cop shoots with those laser tag guns. I don't think either of have any illusions about the result of that test.

    • Im white and I'll be honest, I dont much care for inner city police either. Somehow I dont have trouble with cops outside the city either.

      Could it maybe be that turning everything into a race issue is dumb?

      • Im white and I'll be honest, I dont much care for inner city police either. Somehow I dont have trouble with cops outside the city either.

        Could it maybe be that turning everything into a race issue is dumb?

        "Everything" isn't a race issue. You're correct. The problem in inner city Chicago however is without a doubt a race issue. If I follow the path I think you're reasoning is taking me, it leads me to it being a poverty issue. But if you look up poverty numbers by race in Chicago, it immediately becomes an race issue again. And if you rich and black in Chicago, and get pulled over by police, it's not like they're going to ask you for your check stub before they unload their sidearm into you.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Maybe, but your kid couldn't even play minecraft at age 7, so maybe there is a bigger issue with your child. Like, oh say, You.

      All the actual data shows you are wrong, so maybe think?

      • hmm... not sure what you're saying but I think you're making an improper assumption about the number of children I have. But hey, don't let me stop you from your going on with your typical personal attacks rather than discussing the actual issue.

    • Adopt an African American Child.

      ...

      You tell your kids not to go to Chicago because of the crime, I tell mine not to go because of the police.

      Persecution by the police isn't exclusive to any one race. I'm about as white as white can get but yet I fear the police as well and despite my highest regard for the law I've had a couple run-ins with them because there are just some cops that love to strut that authority and tell people what to do regardless of the legality rather than protect people with the humility that they serve the public interests. In fact I've gotten to the point where I've learned resistance is futile and there is no sense in try

    • by Dimwit ( 36756 )

      I would genuinely appreciate any stories you have to share - not because I don't believe you, but because Slashdot has recently become so "angry white male" that it's depressing.

      (I've been on Slashdot since 1998. I remember when article comments were a welcoming forum. Now it's yet another forum where "liberal" on its own is conisdered an insult and labeling someone as such immediately means they are no longer worthy of consideration.)

    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      Who do you think are the victims of crimes in Chicago [heyjackass.com]?

  • Dr. Suess (Score:4, Funny)

    by Archeopteryx ( 4648 ) * <benburch.pobox@com> on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @02:11PM (#48610349) Homepage

    Why do I think "Star-bellied Sneetch"?

  • Will I finally be able to dance?

    OK, I lied; I do have another question. But I'm going to refrain...

    • OK, I lied; I do have another question. But I'm going to refrain...

      Is it about being able to sing?

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Maybe you should worry less about your dance skills and see if you can get some decent humor skills.

  • Racist experiment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by johnlcallaway ( 165670 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @02:22PM (#48610475)

    Why just black. Why not brown, red, or yellow.

    I lived in India for several months, I know what it's like to walk into a restaurant and have 20 pairs of eyes watch every move I make. I'm sure someone from Mexico or Senegal would experience the same thing.

    I know people of all skin colors that have lived among other people of different skin colors and I've heard plenty of stories to tell of ignorant people making rash judgements. I've heard people from India say racist things about people with dark skin, and I've heard people with dark skin say racist things about people with lighter skin. I know a white person that was stopped by a cop in a neighborhood where people with browner skin colors predominately live. He didn't complain about 'walking while white'.

    I'm sure that no matter where someone goes in this world, people with a skin color or any other attribute that is in the minority are viewed differently from people in the majority. What makes some people think they are experiencing something no one else in the world experiences or can understand? Or that only white people don't get it? Why was it in college that groups of people with similar attributes (i.e. ethnic background, religion, political leanings) all tended to group together and often made fun of everyone not like them.

    A good step in getting rid of racists attitudes is to ignore the morons who are racist and stop letting them interfere with our lives. Generalizing the attitudes and behaviors of an entire group of people just because of the traits of a small minority is prejudice.

    No matter what your skin color is.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Black because that is the current big issue in America. OBVIOUSLY other races as well.
      A good step is getting people like you to stop injecting there knee jerk nonsense into the discussion..we ANY discussion, really.

      • Black because that is the current big issue in America.

        Aggregate damage to society caused by media professionally trolling for ratings and attention is grossly underestimated.

        Couldn't begin to count masses of terrified old ladies who think the world is full of pedophiles and murders because that's all the glowing box ever tells them. Ditto on number of tools who think there is a terrorist waiting to behead them under every staircase.

        Schools have turned into fortresses with armed guards and draconian "zero tolerance" policies with scary lockdown drills because

  • Can I expect a black guy in a virtual white cop's simulation to shoot me as I experience being a black dude in same simulation?
  • I can suggest a cheaper, significantly more effective way: full body henna tattoo.

    There is no physical discomfort for the user; they can wear the same clothing, perform their usual activities in real-world scenarios, and their sensations are not altered. The same cannot be said with VR gear.

    The effect would be immediate, and while not permanent, the user cannot stop participation because of some slight discomfort: they'd have to live the life of a non-white person for several weeks. You're not going to
  • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <[ten.tenaprac] [ta] [cjs]> on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @02:35PM (#48610619) Homepage

    In my skyrim playthrough I chose "Dark Elf" because it sounded cool. Only problem is, the dark elves have little representation throughout Skyrim and most groups are prejudiced against them. Everywhere I went was a bunch of racist Nords and asshole Thalmor

    Pretty quickly I came to the opinion that the main factions were a bunch of racist assholes and I had no horse in their race (a metaphor for real elections), and really just hoped for as bloody a battle as possible between them both.

    After a while I started to identify with that part of the character, to the point that it did effect the choices I made in the game. It really is a powerful disincentive to know you are dealing with someone who sees you right off the bad as not their equal.

    • And this probably had nothing to do with Gygax's original "Drow Elf", who were a bunch of racist assholes that everyone in the world hated, right?

      Or did you think Drizzt was the origin of the Dark Elf in modern fantasy?

      • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

        Oh was that one of the races in morrowind? I never played that one; Gygax was their leader?

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @02:36PM (#48610627) Journal
    The major complaint black people have is that, they are being treated differently by white people, cops especially. Unless you simulate other people seeing you as black, it might not help that much.
  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @02:37PM (#48610639)
    Journalist took this drug than made your skin dark and wrote a best-seller (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Like_Me) of his experiences. I remember the book influencing the civil rights debate.
    • by noldrin ( 635339 )
      There is also a movie you can watched. I chucked when they said it was impossible before VR technology.
  • Imaginary reality to "prove" imaginary racism. How fitting...

    Hint: it ain't the skin-color. If "whitey" really were racist, Asians would've suffered from it too. But they are doing rather well. So well, in fact, that schools [nypost.com] and colleges [mindingthecampus.com] alike deduct points from applicants, who identify themselves as "Asians" [usatoday.com].

    The most likely explanation is single-parenthood rate: children growing up with only a mother (which is still the overwhelming majority of single-"parent" households [clutchmagonline.com]) are much likelier to grow up with problems live sucky lives — all human civilizations knew this and frowned upon unwed mothers. Not because "sex is a sin", as is the common Illiberal's strawman, but because bringing a child into this world without a loving father is a sin... Heck, we know it too [photius.com]!

    For some reason, currently 67% of Black kids [kidscount.org] grow up in such families — compared with merely 17% of Asians and 25% of Whites... But only the KKKonservative Libertarians connect the dots [heritage.org].

  • Virtual Reality Experiment Wants To Put White People In Black Bodies

    See, this is exactly the sort of thing that Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have been warning us all about. First of all you try and simulate reality. Then your program gets smart enough that it starts to formulate desires. Next thing you know it wants to experiment with brain transplants and bioengineering techniques. Before you know it...

    Wait ... what's that, you say? The headline should read "Virtual Reality experimenters want to gi

  • Really? Really?! We need a VR SIMULATOR to understand what it's like to be black in America??!

    How about you TALK to your black neighbors? Is making a computer simulation somehow easier than listening to another person explain how life is like for them? NO WONDER things are the way they are.

    • Or, better yet, if you're white, why not smile at your black neighbors? Works wonders in my apartment complex in the Silicon Valley.
  • But I can't. I just can't. This is fucking retarded. I'm embarrassed of a society where an idea like this gets any traction at all.
  • Bullshit. These guys need to read Black Like Me [wikipedia.org]. And then try it out for themselves.

  • Body paint is cheaper and works better.

  • What's your point again?
  • Literally.

  • Ahem. (Score:4, Funny)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @03:58PM (#48611325) Journal

    Do you think they'll be able to give us just certain parts of black bodies?

    Asking for a friend.

  • by Ogive17 ( 691899 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @04:11PM (#48611431)
    I've traveled to Asia 4 times and have visited areas that get very few foreigners. I get the stares, sometimes no one will sit next to me on the train, once I was even denied an advertisement being handed out on the street when the woman looked up and saw me.

    People who are different attract attention. It's a natural human reaction. I've never been insulted (to my face) and I take as many precautions as I can to do what is socially acceptable.

    P.S. - If you want a unique experience, be the only white guy at a Japanese onsen.
  • by dskoll ( 99328 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @04:21PM (#48611541) Homepage

    Won't that cause lots of radiation?

  • by Livius ( 318358 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @05:39PM (#48612325)

    Maybe we could all pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and:

    Acknowledge that while racism does still exist, society is doing pretty good when you need clever experiments and (in this case) advanced technology to be able to measure it objectively.

    The glass is half full.

  • by Hans Adler ( 2446464 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @06:55PM (#48612915)

    French television made a more thorough experiment that can be watched as a 3-hour documentary on Youtube. They used all the tricks available to film to turn a black family living in Paris into a convincing white one and vice versa. This is worth watching even if you don't understand French: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] ("Dans la peau d'un noir").

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.

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