Sunday, September 23, 2012

What If This Were VR?

Consider it for a moment. What if this world we think is real, isn't? Would that make it any different? Would you respond to anything different?

If it wasn't real but you didn't know it wasn't real, then it might as well be. You're asleep and dreaming, but don't know you're dreaming. Most people are familiar with this scenario. Until something draws your attention to the fact that it's a dream, everything seems perfectly natural, whether it's shifts in gravity, impossible geography, nonsensical language, or technology bordering on fantasy. As long as your don't know it's not real, you behave as if it were real.

So, enough about dreams. Let's turn to VR, or virtual reality.

Where dreams are run by your own brain, though layers you have no or little control over, VR is run by a system completely outside yourself. There's no backdoor, no way to shock yourself awake, and no way to be certain that if you woke up, you really were waking up. For a sophisticated VR system, it's no stretch to simulate you climbing out of the rig and going on with your life while your body, in actuality, is still lying in the rig.

For further reading, see Idlewild by Nick Sagan, Old Twentieth by Joe Haldeman, and Caverns of Socrates by Dennis L McKiernan. Of the three, only does Caverns of Socrates give it to you straight. The other two play mind games. All three books are works of fiction (hopefully).