Extraproprioception

Imagine it is the year 2045. All little children are fitted with either cyber-contact lenses or lens implants. Young Ada, age one, who is just taking her first steps, can see not only from her own eyes, but from any point of view.

This child is going to learn to walk, to point and gesture, to pick up and grasp objects, in a physical reality where her viewpoint can wander freely — much the way the players of many of today’s video games can freely change their point of view.

As Ada grows, she will learn to balance and to manipulate the objects around her, to open doors, to run and play, with a freely ranging set of virtual eyes. These are not skills she will be conscious of learning, but rather an intrinsic part of the process of how her developing brain and body will learn to navigate in the world.

She will see what is behind her as easily as what is in front. And before she enters a room, she will be able to look around the corner and know what is there.

Like Moses atop Mount Nebo, we will be able to watch young Ada enter this promised land, but not to follow her there. We may well be the last generation in history to lack the power of extraproprioception.

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