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Identity eNil small

Photo: eNil

Are we living in a world where we have complete choice over our identity? Indeed, in virtual worlds such as Second Life we can express our identities however we like - free from physical constraints. Experiences which we have in the virtual world may shape our identities in the real world e.g. people with autism can learn communication skills online.

Many scientific advances, however, suggest that we may have less, not more, choice over who we are. Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel famously posed the question of whether free will is an illusion as science is increasingly able to predict what a person will do. Science is also opening up a can of worms on more traditional markers of identity, such as race. With no real genetic variation between races it is seen thus more as a cultural and social construct than a biological shaper of identity - something that arguably differentiates us no more than does the size of our hands.

This is part of Outsights 21 Drivers for the 21st Century ™, a future-orientated scan of the 21 key forces shaping this century.

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