Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Future of Reality

The talk mentioned about virtual environment and the real environment and mentioned it’s mixing, hence mixed reality. I am going to explore one possible future extrapolation of these concepts, which is towards a world similar to “The Matrix”. First, I’ll redefine real environment as the physical world, subjected to the laws of nature. And the virtual world is subjected to whatever laws the programmers can put in. I’ll define reality as whatever the five physical senses of the human body and the one mental sense that is the mind is in contact with. I’ll also assume that after each stage of advancement I list below, the generations of humans will be largely disconnected with the previous way of living and thus totally forget them.

Mixed Reality Labs had successfully integrated the sense of touch into Digital Medias, opening the path to wider internet uses such as communicating by touching instead of just video conference. With the advent of nanotechnology, it is possible to even integrate our sense of smell and taste into the internet, effectively immersing our five senses in the virtual world. When such techniques have been perfected, the only difference between the physical world and the virtual world can only be sensed by the mind. This is the 1st stage.

The signals of hunger, thirst and so on are detected by the mind and these would be the only reason that humans have to disengage from the virtual world where their jobs and play would be in. However, we can imagine that the future will develop up to a stage whereby all the bodily needs including humans’ replication are tended by machines that are self-sustaining. And therefore humans can stay inside the virtual world practically from birth till death. This is the 2nd stage.

To make the picture more complete, neurosciences would by that time enable us to connect our mind directly into the internet, thus fully liberating us to sense directly what other people think. This finally makes the distinction between the virtual world and the real world disappears, our reality is only the virtual world. Just imagine, humans now live in a world where the constant of gravity can be modified locally, allowing people to fly at their own will, not needing air to breathe, walking, no sliding without friction. The laws of nature are controlled by the individual! The need to eat and bath becomes optional, and with that, all social problems are reduced to zero, no more wars and crime. The Utopian state is at last achieved by the virtual world. This is the 3rd and final stage.

Almost like Isaac Asimov’s “The Last Question”, humanity can now be considered to be integrated into one giant super being. It has almost omnipotent powers inside the virtual world, but perhaps virtually no powers at all in the physical world.

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