Plato was one of the first philosophers who asked fundamental questions of human existence, morality and their connection to society itself. Even though, almost 25 centuries later, these questions remain unanswered. We propose a different approach. Our goal is to build a virtual simulation where Plato’s theses about an ideal society and ethical aspects of human behavior could be examined. Additionally we plan to use the simulation as a vast experimental instrument to study real time human interactions in a virtual environment. In recent years, there is a growing hunger for an interdisciplinary approach. Our idea could enable us to connect various research fields (in Humanities as well as Natural Sciences, Computer Engineering and AI). The main “target group” is therefore academia (teachers and students), but as the second step, we plan to involve high schools, probably also the business world (and offer them our project as a learning tool) as well as the general public. After thorough research, we are not aware of any similar project.
Since the project is going to be developed in a similar way like regular software applications, we will have many tools at our disposal, in order to achieve a pleasant user experience. During the development of the first MVP, we are going to introduce playtests with participants of various characteristics, and gather valuable feedback that will help us to gradually improve the experience.
We have divided the project into 3 stages. First stage consists of detailed research work, and using acquired information to introduce MVP simulator. Stage 2 will be focused on improving the product so that it can later be used for research (Stage 3) and educational purposes. This second stage requires broad cooperation with experts from many experts from Humanities, and Nature Sciences. The goal is to create as realistic environment as possible. Only realistic simulation can provide the research and/or education participants appropriate experience. Final stage of the project involves several runs of the research and data processing (using human and AI work) into relevant scientific outcomes. The first stage involves around 2500 work hours, the work extent of other parts depends on plannable but at the moment unpredictable aspects - number of experts needed for simulator improvement, how many runs of the experiment will be done, AI development, etc. Stage 1 requires mostly the funds to develop MVP, Stage 2 requires advanced social networking and help of students of various fields (ICT, ethics, psychology, anthropology, etc.). This could be provided by the academic institutions where the team members are employed. Therefore the main need for us is relevant funding - by various grants and/or private/company funding.
We have mainly academic goals, therefore the financial sustainability of our project depends foremost on financing by academic/scientific institutions. Long-term sustainability in this sense depends thus on the future scientific outcome from the projects. The project makes connections among various academic as well as other fields of human society. In this sense it helps to break echo-chambers (so called social bubbles), enables all involved people to leave their comfort zones and make new connections. We believe interdisciplinarity is the future of relevant science! One of the great advantages of the project is the VR focus, therefore it is environmentally friendly.
Our idea is quite new, but not completely. Education-wise we follow attempts to teach history through gamification (i.e. digital game-based learning, such as Československo 38-89), but our aim is much broader - we would like not to involve just history, but primarily Social Sciences, Philosophy, etc. There are also some attempts to “measure” or “analyse” behavior in games (for example we know how many players decided for this or that choice in forthcoming Baldur’s Gate 3). These numbers may have some relevance, but they belong more likely in the realm of “statistics for fun”, because they have almost no scientific aspiration. On the other hand we plan to create a completely new environment that would be designed to gather and analyse participant choices. The statistics and other data will be thereafter scientifically analysed and also published.