Cyber Mushroom: Can the psychedelic expertise come to life with VR?

How do you clarify a magic mushroom journey to somebody who has by no means had one?

Higher but, what when you might present it to somebody?

Terence McKenna, macrodose mushroom explorer and outspoken psychedelic advocate himself was identified to wax poetic on the untapped potential of Digital Actuality, saying ‘The factor that excites me probably the most about these informational applied sciences is I feel we’re going to have the ability to use Digital Actuality to point out one another the within of our personal heads” in his Dreaming Awake on the Finish of Time symposium in December of 1998.

At this time, such a feat is not speculative however very literal and consistently enhancing in its capabilities and precision. Enter Cyber Mushroom, the ‘Digital Actuality Mushroom Journey’ engineered by London-based technologist and futurist Batuhan Bintas.

“I used to be initially impressed to create Cyber Mushroom as a manner of ‘hacking the system’,” says Batuhan, who goes by ‘Batu’ for brief.

“Psychedelics modified my life. I need everybody to expertise the facility and fantastic thing about a mushroom journey; sadly, psychedelics are unlawful in most nations. So I questioned, how can I discover a option to permit extra folks to expertise the magic of mushrooms? My reply, which was given by mushrooms, was by way of digital know-how.”

Psychedelics modified my life. I need everybody to expertise the facility and fantastic thing about a mushroom journey

I first encountered Batu showcasing Cyber Mushroom in an enormous atrium on the College of Exeter through the Breaking Conference psychedelic analysis convention in March 2023.

Equal components house pirate and digital wizard, the larger-than-life character behind Cyber Mushroom appeared to be in all places without delay pitching his prized digital know-how through the frenetic multi-day convention.

Among the many quite a few individuals who demoed the expertise all through the week, I seen none aside from mushroom king Paul Stamets taking the headset for a check journey.

“My present imaginative and prescient for Cyber Mushroom is to create a digital platform the place folks can share their journey stories and immerse themselves into one another’s journeys by way of VR. This fashion we are able to create a library of journey stories. I’m a real believer that psychedelic experiences have extra commonality somewhat than variations – as if these experiences join us to a shared parallel dimension.”

Batu has discovered many individuals keen to immerse themselves in his visionary digital expertise, which continues to replace, enhance, and develop horizons in lockstep with the evolution of know-how itself.

Throughout the Cyber Mushroom platform, journeyers are tasked with choosing from a variety of completely different mushrooms unfold out in VR house on a desk in entrance of them. Members choose which mushroom they wish to ‘journey’ with by reaching out with the hand controllers supplied as a part of the expertise, and upon greedy one of many mushrooms are propelled right into a curated cyber journey by way of time and house.

The digital worlds throughout the platform embody Mayan and Egyptian pyramids and motifs, large Sphinxes, towering mushrooms rotating upon electrical inexperienced grass, tunnels of sunshine and radiant alphabet characters, and an enormous Terence McKenna himself that folks can interact with amongst different spectacular options.

Batu was an everyday on the European competition circuit this final summer time – After our preliminary assembly at Breaking Conference in England, I encountered him once more on the 30,000 individual Ozora Pageant in Hungary the primary week of August. Once more, Cyber Mushroom created a buzz among the many competition goers that solely a breakthrough know-how as such is liable to do.

After Ozora, I ventured to England with Batu and spent a number of days hanging round East London with the eccentric cyber alchemist. I had an opportunity to see Cyber Mushroom interwoven into the social cloth of the neighborhood there, the place many individuals from completely different demographics and subcultures are conversant in Batu and Cyber Mushroom.

We headed as much as Oxfordshire collectively to showcase the wearable mushroom journey know-how but once more at Campout convention.

The expertise has many fascinating parts of a high-dose mushroom journey, most notably the alpha inexperienced numerical and alphabetic figures that drape down like a vertical curtain and evolve in real-time. I witnessed a number of psychedelically naive folks placed on the cyber mushroom headset and have interaction, and every appeared totally impressed by the individuality and peculiar magic of the cyber journey. One Cyber Mushroom digital journeyer even remarked the expertise reminded them extra of a DMT journey than the mushroom experiences they’d had.

Visuals from the Cyber Mushroom VR expertise. Credit score: Batuhan Bintas

Analysis into Digital Actuality functions to be used as an accompanying characteristic or integration software alongside psychedelics is actively being performed at such prestigious establishments as Maastricht College within the Netherlands, the place neurocognitive researcher Zeus Tipado is at the moment investigating the intersection of DMT and VR. Various different psychedelic firms are investigating digital therapeutics together with ketamine remedy as effectively.

Batu’s aspirations for the total potential of VR embody social impression above and past cybernetic tripping thrills. He has taken his VR headset and VR academic programming into catastrophe zones to assist liberate the minds and spirits of people who find themselves bodily trapped in conditions past their management. After Turkey’s devastating earthquake earlier this yr, Batu introduced VR to folks on the bottom as a method of serving to them reconnect with a way of optimism and inspiration throughout extraordinarily difficult instances. He goals to do the identical in refugee camps around the globe as effectively.

An added bonus with Cyber Mushroom is that it is vitally well-suited for kids and elder adults who can expertise the ‘psychological playground’ of an expanded state of mushroom-informed consciousness with out the accompanying sense of depth and extended confusion of the senses which may happen throughout an precise psilocybin mushroom-induced state. If issues get heavy, one can merely take away the headset.

As a veteran psychonaut, I need to warning that the Cyber Mushroom VR expertise falls fairly in need of an precise high-dose mushroom journey at this cut-off date. For one factor, the distinct physique sensation of heat and rolling vibrations is absent from the digital model of the journey, and the imagery itself clearly doesn’t have the identical propensity for customized visionary perception and reflection of the inside contents of 1’s psyche. However all of that’s topic to vary as VR and knowledge applied sciences proceed to advance quickly and real-time enter from customers is tailored into the digital tripping mannequin. The opportunity of tactile sensory experiences by sporting a custom-made physique go well with can also be one thing that one can think about factoring into the more and more life like psychedelic expertise supplied by Cyber Mushroom sooner or later sooner or later.

“My future imaginative and prescient is to attach every digital mushroom discovered throughout the expertise to Synthetic Intelligence, so you’ll be able to speak on to the mushrooms. With generative AI, it may possibly generate the journey or the world you want to share or expertise instantly. Ultimately, we could possibly join the complete residing mycelium community to AI and VR so we are able to instantly talk with our planet’s largest and oldest residing organism.” extols Batu in his attribute boundless optimism and curiosity.

Whereas psychedelic mainstreaming and rising applied sciences like VR and AI every current unknown alternatives and challenges for international society, the stewardship of visionaries like Batuhan Bintas and the promise of Cyber Mushroom and related platforms provide tangible causes to take part in creating a greater future the place know-how is empowered by humanitarianism somewhat than diametrically against it.


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