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Let's see just how deep the rabbit hole goes..

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memenode's picture
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Joined: 2004-07-12

By the same author as the the monkeysphere, David Wong, comes an article from 2005 about 10 ways online gaming will change the future. It ultimately describes a metaverse a virtual world in which humans will practically spend more time than in what we today know as the real world, making this online virtual world essentially to them the new real world.

It may seem far fetched, but while the article is a bit humorous in some sense, it makes some very serious points. References cited actually seem to be real, and besides for anyone who's on internet long enough it is not really a new realization that online gaming is getting really big and that virtual worlds are gaining steam, albeit not so much Second Life as much as World of Warcraft, because Second Life is, well, too boring.. can't really do much in there or get rewarded for what you do etc.

But something like WoW, EVE Online and such, they have the attraction of a black hole and seem to be sucking more and more people in.

The scary part is that it actually fits the society which is mostly consisted of people living lives on auto pilot, routinely. It is exactly them which are most easily sucked in to virtual worlds, because they actually add a sense of meaning to their lives. And since they are a majority, and since technology for total immersion in the virtual world IS advancing, while virtual worlds are getting bigger and more realistic, it doesn't ultimately seem all that far fetched for a metaverse of the kind David describes to develop.

He makes some extremely interesting remarks here:

David Wong wrote:

10. The rise of the metaverse will go almost completely unopposed.

You won't have to trick people into jacking themselves into this one. It legitimately makes their lives better. Everything we've done a as a civilization from the caves until now has been about making a better world. Well, the metaverse will just be a shortcut, won't it? We'll have our Utopia of unlimited wealth and friction-free homogeny.

(...)

This could not have been attempted say, 100 years ago, even if the technology had been around. Back then people believed in all sorts of unchangeable gods and spirits and philosophies that live beyond what a person can see and smell and taste in front of them. But the Age of Reason did away with all of that, taught everyone to believe in nothing but the real, physical world. And if the stream of sense data we call "the real, physical world" can be altered to display a superior world, then it's impossible to say with any conviction that anything has really been lost in the transition. The modern "I believe it when I see it" religion will be satisfied by simply giving them something new to see.

It was only a matter of time. Humans got fed up with this world, and so we invented a new one. I suspect some theologian will come forward in the future to suggest that, in fact, our world was created in the same way. The gods got sick of their boring spiritual realm and made a more exciting, physical one to replace it.

Interesting isn't it?

We are truly exploring the before unimaginable frontiers in this day and age... but that's how shift happens. Yesterday impossible (a heresy even), today real.

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Daniel Memenode signature

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I call bullshit.

A "metaverse" would not really provide any benefit. If you get sick, you still get sick and it impairs your ability to function in the metaverse. If you can be wealthy in the metaverse, you can also be poor.

(I have a feeling there is a much better way to articulate this.)

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memenode's picture
User offline. Last seen 10 weeks 4 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-07-12
If you get sick, it would

If you get sick, it would impair your ability to function in the real world too. So the point is kind of moot, there is no real difference. It could even be said that due to less exposure with real people there would be lesser chances of getting viruses or contracting diseases.

It indeed seems true that if there is such a thing as being wealthy there ought to be such a thing as being poor. But what if in a metaverse the distinction is meaningless? If everyone is wealthy then it makes less sense to to call anyone in it wealthy - it wouldn't convey any useful information about the state of one's wealth compared to the state of another. In a sense, nobody would be wealthy just as nobody would be poor. (Interestingly I am making the same point Kevin Dean tried to make against my characterization of everything as an organism.)

But it is still questionable whether everyone would really be wealthy even in a metaverse. If everything depends on server power which drain energy it still comes back to real world resources which are finite, unless everything is powered by the sun - in which case pure energy would be transformed into all sorts of wealth without need of manual labour or anything else that adds additional costs and resource expenses... I guess in a way, as long as the sun lives so could the metaverse-humanity. Eye

Still, I'm not really defending the notion of a metaverse, not by a long shot. Being a hooked netizen as I am I might have a big place in my heart for virtual worlds, but I still want to smell some fresh air, see the real sky etc. -- not to mention experience our Earth from space, which is one big goal that is contradictory to the vision of the future in which I'd be hooked into the "matrix". Eye

But, as a place you go to entertain yourself, or to visualize ideas, test certain hypothesis, a full immersion metaverse could be useful. Think of a holodeck - in Star Trek 24th century people don't live in holodecks. They go there in their free time to play, BUT they also frequently use them for research purposes and visualization.

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