The Coming Trouble Of The Virtual World
It may be sooner than people think...
We have an interesting topic to think about, and that is the coming ability to plug into a virtual reality that will look and feel every bit as real as this one.
A lot of people are very reluctant to want to do something like this, and I understand why. There are a lot of reasons that I can see the argument of avoiding it. Everything from, I like living in the real world, to, I don’t want to be hacked. Both sound arguments, and frankly I agree with both of them.
However, this is something that will be a part of the world in which we live, and while you may not see anything valuable about getting jacked in at the moment, you might in the near future. Entertain a couple of possibilities for me.
In this first one, you have reached the end years of your life. You have a great deal of difficulty getting around, caring for yourself, and have a lot of physical problems. However, you are living in a retirement home that has the latest technology that is being tried out there, and this technology allows you to be young again. You can do anything you want, go anywhere you want, eat anything you want, and there are no negative consequences on your body. It won’t prolong your life, but it certainly can make the last of it really enjoyable.
The second one I am borrowing from Tim Pool, but rather like the concept. Imagine that you get up in the morning and flip a little switch that takes you to the metaverse. You sit at a lovely table, have an amazing breakfast with all of your friends or family who live all around the world on the balcony overlooking the French Riveria. Forty-five minutes later, when you are done eating and are ready to get on with your day, and you unhook and go hit the shower.
During that forty-five minutes, you weren’t just sitting on the bed doing nothing. You ran on your treadmill and got a great workout. You didn’t have to feel the fatigue or face the grind of running. You had a delightful relaxing breakfast where you spent time with your loved ones.
Both of these sound pretty nice I have to say. I have never liked running, or exercise of any sort, I have never had the runner’s high that people get, my brain just isn’t wired for it. I also have been around people that have lived a very long time, and those end years can be quite frustrating. Being able to skip them has its perks.
Now, neither of these things is powerful enough for people to agree to be jacked into the matrix. I understand that, but that doesn’t change the fact that sooner or later people will accept this as normal life because they have never known anything else. There was a time when no one ever had a birth certificate. The first national register of births was in Sweden in 1631. Before that, you were just born. Nine months ago you didn’t exist, now poof! Here you are. No record, just you, your surname, and you cracked on with life.
At some point, people got used to birth certificates. Then they got used to driver’s licenses. Then they got used to social security numbers. You likely have all of these. Have you ever stopped once and thought that they were strange or out of place? Probably not, you just always had them. The same thing will be true for the virtual world. People will just be used to it because it was there when they were born. There will be nothing strange, controversial, or even uncomfortable about its existence. Before they are old enough to remember they will be outfitted with the necessary equipment to access the virtual space, and likely a great deal of their younger years will be spent there.
There will be, in the very near future, the ability to do anything that you could ever possibly want, purchase houses that exist nowhere but in a digital world, or experience places that otherwise couldn’t exist in what we assume is base reality. You may live through this time, and you will probably have an important choice to make.
Will you decide that you will want to be a part of that virtual world? Unless restrictions and laws are put in place ahead of time it will feed the addiction centers of your brain, and you probably won’t be able to give it up very easily. The evidence for this is social media, current technology, especially phones, they are all made to be addictive. No government has stepped in to make this not be the case, and in fact, many tech giants are depending on your addiction to their products.
The virtual world will be the same way and will be by a great deal. Once you are able to fly, or have super strength, or look like whatever you want, do you really imagine wanting to give it up? I would think that it would be very difficult for many people, if not impossible. It will be an addictive world that will cater to human nature specifically to keep you engaged.
Someone just spend $450,000 to buy a virtual house so they could live next store to Snoop Dogg, in his virtual house.
There is nothing physical about this house, but this person spent more to have a “house” than an actual house costs.
I am sure many of you are thinking, I would never spend $450,000 for something that I can’t even physically live in. Who would do that? A lot of people. Not only will they do so, but other people will also make millions of dollars selling these 1 and 0s in the form of a “house”, or "clothing”, or “car”, or anything else you can imagine.
I think that this construct will be very attractive to people that are unhappy with their lives on the outside. This certainly won’t fix those problems, and it won’t do anything but make them worse in my estimation. Escaping to a fantasy world is never the way to handle problems, but it will be very appealing to those that are unable to see a solution in the real world.
How many people will be so addicted that they spent all of their available funds, take out loans to continue to build a fake life, default on those loans because they aren’t actually working, and then are forcibly removed from the metaverse? Then what happens. Addicts will do what is necessary to get their fix. Take this further. What happens if you are banned from the metaverse?
If you are an addict, and something happens that your dealer won’t deal with you, someone will. If you can provide them with the money, they will get you the product. The dealer in this case is a very large corporation. Granted, there will be many different virtual worlds, but the one that the person is banned from is the one that all their money and attention have been fed into over whatever period of time that they spent there, not to mention the relationships that they have built in their virtual community. That is what they are addicted to, and now it’s gone.
Perhaps they can get illegal access, but that can be shut down if they are caught. They could go onto another server, or go with a different company, but that means they are starting over from scratch. Every single dime that you invested in your “life” is gone.
No refunds. No exceptions.
That gets to the legal implications of having people supposedly “own” things in the virtual space, and removing their access to them. As much money as you invested in this space, you will not own anything. You are leasing those items from the main company. In the user agreement that you will not bother reading because no one actually does, you will agree to lease things like housing, clothing, food, cars, add-ons for fake you, etc, and will also agree that the ownership lies with the corporation, not you. If you annoy them, they can take it from you. If it cost $10.00, or if it cost $450,000.00, if they decide to boot you, you are out of luck.
This isn’t much different than when you get songs on iTunes or download movies from Amazon. You don’t own them. You are buying a limited license. This has been established in court rulings. If Amazon decides that movie or TV show that you bought for them suddenly violates something in the terms of service, they will just remove it. You have no recourse, and they don’t have to offer you a refund either.
This was an issue several years ago with iTunes. They deemed certain music to not be something they wanted to be associated with. What did they do? They just pulled it off the iTunes store, and from the libraries of people that bought it from them, instead of buying the album itself and loading it themselves from the CD. This happened to several people that I knew, and to me as well. There was no recourse. They offered a “store credit” for a very nominal amount, but after that, nothing could be done.
That was with some songs. They were a dollar apiece, so while it was annoying, it wasn’t a huge loss. What happens when that is your virtual house that you are still paying real money for?
Another thing to consider, and this is going back to the guy that bought the property next to Snoop Dogg, what happens when the company decides that they want to install an expansion and the house that you bought next to your favorite musician gets moved down the block and they put in a club to attract new users to that area. They can just claim that it was a planned expansion, and you just have to deal with it. Your house, which had the perk of being next to whatever famous person you wanted to be near, is nowhere in the vicinity, but they aren’t going to drop the price for you. Now you’re underwater on something that you didn’t own to begin with, and now doesm’t have the very thing that gave it resale value.
Seem fair? Not really I suspect.
Don’t get me wrong, I can see the appeal of such a place, but I am not certain I see the value of it. There is an inherent difference, appeal versus value. Lots of things are very attractive, but they are a net negative to you the person who gets involved with it.
Have any of you ever watched Stargate SG-1? It was a great show, and if you haven’t seen it, I greatly recommend it. Recently, while our power and internet were out, we watched several seasons of it because we have the entire series. No power, no internet, you have to pass the time somehow, and that we what we did.
There are Stargate SG-1 spoilers ahead. Normally I wouldn’t bother putting a spoiler alert for a show that is over twenty years old, but in this case, it’s a good show, and if you have inclinations of watching it but haven’t yet and don’t want this episode ruined, stop reading.
There is an episode called, “Revisions”, which is basically about a planet that has a toxic atmosphere, and the inhabitants are protected by a biological dome that keeps the toxic air out, and the people safe.
These people are also all interconnected by something called “the link” which basically is Google but directly in their brains. This might seem like a pretty cool thing, but Google currently curates search results. If you don’t know what I mean download an alternative browser, like Edge, Brave, or Duckduckgo, and search with the exact same search terms, and compare the results. They are usually very different.
Now imagine this in your head. You have one place deciding what you can know about, and what you can’t. They can tune what you understand about the world entirely unless you have alternative data available to you. Everything you know about the world, your history, the people around you, science, everything can be changed, which is exactly what happened in Stargate SG-1.
Other than the link, these people had made the conscious decision to curtail their use of technology, as it was technology and their pursuit of economic revolution that poisoned their atmosphere, They were living right at the edge of the industrial revolution in technology, and that is where they chose to stay for the good of the planet. The link and the computer that controlled it was the only high-tech thing that there was, and it had total control over their understanding of the world. What’s more? They didn’t have any idea that this was the case.
When SG-1 arrives there, they notice strange things over the short period of time that they were there. They met with the town council, three men, and one woman. Later on, that same town council consisted of three men. When asked about the woman, no one had any idea what they were talking about.
The MALP, or "Mobile Analytic Laboratory Probe”, was not where they left it. Instead, they find it outside the dome.
The house that a couple of the team members were staying in with a father and son suddenly wasn’t where it had been the day prior. When asked, the little boy said they were mistaken, and the house was in the opposite direction. Where it had supposedly always been.
The wife of the couple that the other two members were staying with suddenly ceases to exist, only to have the husband claim that he had never been married.
The most interesting however was when the townspeople claimed that if they removed the link, which was attached to their temples:
it would result in instantaneous death when the day prior this was not remotely the case. The now missing wife had removed hers and handed it to one of the team members, encouraging them to try it out.
What was actually happening was that the dome was failing. It couldn’t support the number of people that it needed to, and instead of failing completely, the computer found a way to account for the integrity loss. It would shrink. However, this made the population itself a problem. Less space for the same number of people wouldn’t work long term, so the computer would select a citizen and send them a message. This citizen would then get up, take their meager belongings, and just walk outside the dome where they died very quickly in the toxic air.
The rest of the citizens were given a download, or a “revision” erasing that person’s existence from their minds completely. As far as they were concerned, no such person had ever been there. When the actual paper records were consulted it was discovered that the original population was over 100,000 people living there. Now, there were something like 1,300 people left. All of those people just up and walked out to their deaths, and no one had any idea that they had been there in the first place.
Imagine someone having that kind of control over your mind. Angry about something? Not anymore, let me tweak that for you. Thinking about how much you hate your boss? That’s not okay, let me give you an attitude adjustment. It is a fairly bleak idea, and one that how things are set up currently, society is not ready for. Regulations and laws take time, but technology is not something that advances slowly.
Let me give you a bit of perspective of what I mean. A few years ago my Significant Other was talking to an older man who described to him going to California with his parents in a covered wagon. Think about what that man has watched evolve in his lifetime. That is amazing, but it should also have a chilling effect on the gung-ho attitude of diving into these technologies that will remove your sovereignty as an individual.
Personally, I am a staunch individualist. A psychopath is naturally wired for this way of thinking. I don’t want to be a part of a collective, there is nothing in it for me. I can see many aspects and places to make money from this coming change in society, but that doesn’t mean that I think of most of it as valuable. A neurochip that can give someone the ability to walk when they have either lost it or never had it? That’s amazing.
The further development of that same neurochip into what becomes “the link”? No, I do not have any interest in something like that. I do not want my world shaped for me by people that think that they know better than I do about what I want, and what should be important. That is my decision to make, and I will not be handing the reins over to someone else that not only does not have my best interest in mind, but rather thinks that they understand what Utopia is, and that they are the ones to bring it about.
I have said it many times before. Utopia is a myth. There will never be such a place without a complete consensus of what the world should be. This is not possible. There is no way to force all the different ways of thinking and experiencing the world into one cohesive bubble. It would be a dehumanizing dystopia because humans are different. They are individuals that should be respected.
Consider this not so much a warning, but rather food for thought. The Metaverse is a baby version of what will come next. It is the training ground, an assimilation ground, and one that is going to be based around feeding emotional and physiological addictions that you will learn to not be able to live without. Think about that before you decide that it might be fun to try. It might just be what keeps you, you, and not some avatar that is hoping that you won’t break an ever-changing set of rules that are meant to keep you in line, in order to not be expelled from the collective.