Blurring between real and unreal

For survival, the blurring between real and unreal situations is problematic at first sight. When one needs to act for survival one has to know what is happening. But we have to realize that any amount of received information will always include a notion about all we do not know and all we do not perceive. In receiving information there is always a moment when we decide to settle for a certain status quo as regards the information upon which we will then base our actions. That moment in which we settle for a certain status quo is very context dependent. And as I will argue in chapter 5, the fact that we settle for a certain status quo will prove to be crucial for how human beings accept and operate certain technologies (and possibly discard others).

Growing up and growing old is, amongst other things, a process of training in the distinction between deception and perception, between truth and lies, between the real and the unreal. In today's societies where technology, including medical and pharmaceutical technology, is even more deeply embedded in our social systems this training requires the achievement of new skills. In science fiction literature and film some of these new complexities are frivolously addressed, in the political and economic domain we tend to stick to the rules as we know them and try to translate the consequences of technology into terms that were fundamental to the functioning of our societies before these technologies influenced our day-to-day lives significantly. The question is whether this is a good enough strategy to deal with the new technologies in the light of our need for survival as individuals, as a group, as a community, as societies, as a global economy. The claim that technology enhances the quality of life is as viable as the claim that technology threatens the quality of life. The confusion between deception and perception, between truth and lies, between real and unreal, is changing in societies where technology is embedded and media are everywhere. The question is whether we will be able to act upon the new complexities that face us in such a manner that our intentions and expectations match the outcome of our actions in a coherent way. The question is also how we will be able to discuss and decide and act upon what outcomes are desired.

To better understand what actually happens when realities are blurred, two cases will be analysed in chapter 3 and 4. In the theoretical understanding of this analysis in chapter 5, and the development of a conceptual framework in chapter 6, I will return to the confusion as it is sketched here above. In this chapter I will continue gathering building blocks for such understanding.