Monday, June 20, 2011

An Uploaded Society

“If you were here I could deceive you.”—Thompson Twins

I mused for a while at lunch today.  My mind wandered to one of its perennial subjects, namely “all of reality is a computer simulation.”

Right off the bat let me stress that I do not really believe this to be the case.  There is no evidence for it.  Then again, how would we expect to come upon such evidence?  A chat message that simply says, “Wake up, Neo?”  Anyway, I am confining these thoughts to the realm of pure speculation.
Imagine that we have all had our minds and consciousness uploaded at some point into a computer system.  The brain is scanned, mapped out, and copied or moved en total to a digital location via a brain-computer interface (BCI).  What we now experience as “real life” is in truth a virtual reality simulation while our own essences are nothing more than a set of electrical impulses, a series of zeroes and ones stored in memory.  And if indeed this can be done, there would be nothing to stand in the way of the manipulation of this data.  You wouldn’t have to remember a thing. 
Things needn’t stop there, either.  Our existence may be just one of several other simulated “realities,” coexisting as subroutines in a Russian doll sort of data structure.  Our own experiments with sims and artificial intelligence would be, thus far, further nested down the scale.  You can easily how the mind can boggle at the recursive nature of the theory.
It becomes an attractive possibility if you stare out your window long enough, watching everyone as rats chasing after cheese dangled before their noses in the maze.  Stepping all over one another to get that house, car, job, or material good that we’ve been duped into thinking we simply cannot live without.  It would be fascinating to study.  Even more intriguing would be to analyze “those who are not as others;” the people who don’t wish to pursue the dangling cheese, unable to stuff down that sense that “something just isn’t right.”  It’s obvious to see how The Matrix became such a popular movie, besides just the pretty pictures.  It speaks to the people I refer to above.  It proposes a fictional case where there is indeed a reason why things to seem right, it isn’t our fault, and there are others just like you who want to fight back. 

Again, I don’t place a whole lot of faith in the notion that we live inside a computer simulation, but there are times I think it’d be nifty as heck.  None of the things that drive you crazy are real; they were generated that way as a sort of stimulus test.  By what sadistic entity I have no idea, but would explain why, as Stephen Jay Gould said, “The world, unfortunately, rarely matches our hopes and consistently refuses to behave in a reasonable manner.” 
Let’s just hope that BCI technology does come around and I can finally upload myself into a cyborg body.  One that need not require diet, exercise, or other weaknesses of the human flesh.  And if I cannot have that, at least lead my uploaded consciousness to this place:

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1 comment:

  1. On Facebook, Bernard said: "You've given me a great idea for a short story."

    We here at Strange Horizons aim to please.
    By the way, what classic 1980s arcade game would everybody like to be uploaded into?

    Bernard: "The Star Wars arcade game. Or Gauntlet."

    Dr. Rich: "Asteroids, but only on the Atari 2600, cause then I would play in 'god mode'."

    PilotJess: "Warlords."


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