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Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology


published on April 7, 2015

Giovanni Simonetta

The Realism and Ecology of Augmented Reality
An Ecological Way to Understand the Human-Computer Relationship

Unlike in the phrase “Virtual Reality,” in the phrase “Augmented Reality” (AR) the stress is put on the word “reality.” It seems, though, that we still lack a concept of reality which can fit the world of both humans and computers. In connection with this philosophical issue, this paper aims to provide the background for a better insight into the meaning of Augmented Reality and its impact on human behavior. My thesis is that an ecological version of direct perception’s realism constitutes the most natural framework from which to start. The ecological approach to perception – namely, the Gibsonian theory of affordances – together with a non-dualistic, pragmatist and evolutionist notion of reality, perfectly fits this purpose. Thus, after a brief survey of the present state of AR technologies, it should become natural to interpret AR digital contents as implementations of affordances.