Julia Uhr is an attorney, computer programmer and PhD candidate in philosophy at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she specializes in technoethics, or the intersection of law, technology, and philosophy. She is interested in helping communities solve problems creatively using technology.
Students in the Engaged Arts and Humanities Graduate Student Scholars program participate in the development of a community-engaged scholarship "partner" project. Below, please read about Uhr's project and her approach to this work.
Uhr is engaging fringe festival attendees in experiencing through virtual reality, various locations and performances from the fringe festival. The VR Museum of the Fringe will launch at the August 2019 Boulder Fringe Festival.
To me, virtual reality is an innately philosophical thing. Philosophers have been thinking about virtual reality, under different names, for centuries. But now that VR is a practical reality, we can investigate the different ways in which people value experiences in the virtual world and the “real” world.
My project explores how technology can bring people together across physical space and support social interaction. Using VR as a community-building tool is interesting, as it allows for all sorts of interactions that were not possible in the past.
With this project, I am conducting research on the value of virtual experiences, using methods from experimental philosophy. I also plan to use VR as a tool for teaching programming to other people in the philosophy department.
I believe that if you want to philosophize about technology, it’s important to understand technology, so having practical experience in developing for VR is very helpful background information. This is also an exciting and creative project that will add to my web development portfolio, and my experience as a programmer will make me a unique job market candidate when I start looking for jobs as a philosophy professor.