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Comment from: m [Visitor]
hmm...so why is boredom a problem, really? take our present arrangement. how many people out there are out for new skulls or new discoveries of any kind, you think? Some live on a farm their whole lives and are doing alright. Some of them live with boredom, but most of them don't get bored because they always have stuff to worry about. Labor is an awesome distraction and meaning-bestower. So we could just have a virtual world where there's always stuff to do because pizzas don't grow on trees and furniture breaks and there are annoying mosquitoes to kill (and if there's a PETA, mosquitoes will have to be otherwise neutralized, which means more labor, hurray). And besides, people can always write poems, draw aliens, make movies, have Christmas markets, do bungee-jumping, learn to pilot helicopters, take pottery classes etc. What, all poems will at some point have been written? I'm pretty sure there's a pool of about 30 poems that adolescents have written over and over again for the past thousand years, but that doesn't stop new heart-broken 13 year olds to write another example with only minor variations. In other words, it's all about the process. I think it's very unlikely that all people will be bored to death at the same time. and even if they will, they'd probably just do some more tv zapping and get through the day.

In case you think I'm begging the question, here's another proposal: why wouldn't the specimens of the virtual world be a different sort of beings than they were in the real world? Perhaps they could be a little dumber, or have fewer senses (but still able to survive), or have a new sense, such that their way of being in the world (which includes knowing and making) would be relevantly different?

And finally, you seem to assume that progress is factual discovery. We've had this conversation before, but here I go again: I personally wouldn't find myself at a loss if every fact about the universe would one day be discovered. There's always philosophy and the arts, plus hobbies. And since these are hardly about definite answers, they'd keep me happily occupied for pretty much the rest of my life.

Ok, one last thing. You worry about the safety of the people in the virtual world. But if they're really that desperate, should they care that much about the possibility of someone pulling the plug? Wouldn't they say to themselves something like 'I'd rather die than be this bored, so it's better to jump into a new world even if I don't have that much certainty about it.' ?
2011-Jan-02, Sun @ 14:07
Comment from: Alex [Member]
M, you are right - on a personal scale, this is a non-issue. There is always more to learn, more to discover, more to create.

But if you zoom out and analyze this from the perspective of a state or a transnational corporation, you will observe interesting things, such as:
- hmmm... it's been 30 years since someone submitted a new paper in chessodynamics;
- university deans will realize that their MSc and Phd folks have not done anything new;
- IBM's entire R&D department will be fired, because they do nothing; they'll hire new people and fire them too. After a couple of iterations, they will begin to wonder what the hell is going on, especially that their competition followed the same pattern.

The media reports it, and people who were not aware of this issue will suddenly begin to question the authenticity of the world that surrounds them. The Wachowskis make their first matrix movie, in which the spoon exists no more. While artists happily continue their existence, composing the Nth variation of "life sucks" or painting the next version of "St. Peter and Jesus", some random guy on the Internet posts an article about the limitations of virtualization, philosophers chime in and share their opinion. People become aware of the problem, their lives cannot be the same anymore. Mankind's integrity will begin to shake, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a deck of cards :-)

So, initially this will only affect people doing hard science and engineering, but since the world is very interactive and connected - awareness of the problem will begin to spread out like the power of the Moldovan empire did, back in 2012 :-)

The idea of virtualizing a slightly modified species is interesting, it can solve the problem. But I think that human selfishness will play against it. The mentality of a modern human is not likely to allow that; it requires a lot of strength and willpower to accept such a change (once you realize there is no other way). Today we invade countries that did nothing to offend us, we continue to pollute the planet and abuse the resources [despite the fact that we are aware of the consequences], etc. We are not going to accept such a major change. I say 'we', even though I personally did not kill anyone and I don't own a SUV, because I've zoomed out of myself and I refer to our civilization as a whole.

So, humanity has to change in order to allow this to happen. Someone said "Will robots inherit the earth? Yes, but they will be our children. "
We can adapt this statement to this case - some post-humans will be virtualized, but humans, as they are today, won't go for it.

What must happen to convince humanity to change at such a level - that's an interesting question. I expect this is not going to be possible, simply because there are different opinions and some choose to stick to their opinions despite any argument; ex: the Amish people, people who believe in god, people who don't believe in god, people who continue voting for communists, etc. At the same time, this is one of our strengths - we are not a homogeneous blob of thoughts and opinions, we are very diverse (that's a feature, not a bug).

But if they're really that desperate, should they care that much about the possibility of someone pulling the plug?
Why wouldn't they? You transcend from an old world, where you are not likely to survive, to a new one - where your odds of survival are not higher. Why make the change?

Wouldn't they say to themselves something like 'I'd rather die than be this bored, so it's better to jump into a new world even if I don't have that much certainty about it.' ?
Misinterpretation warning! :-)
real world = death
virtual world = bore

I interpret "I'd rather die than be this bored" as "I won't virtualize myself"
"So it is better to jump into the new world" = "I'd rather get bored than die, so I'm for virtualization"

I'll tackle both variations. In the first case, selfishness and self-preservation instincts will kick in, people won't choose death*.

In the second one they must accept to become dumber, and then pride kicks in - so it doesn't happen.

Neither option seems attractive and they both are incompatible with modern humanity. So I guess we agree that humans, as they are today, will not virtualize themselves, and that some changes are necessary.

* some people are fine with choosing death. The samurai who kill themselves for honour, the suicide-bombers who believe they are doing a good thing, members of a religious sect committing mass-suicide, people who commit suicide for other reasons. However, these are exceptions, they do not apply to humanity as a whole (since we are not a monoculture).
2011-Jan-07, Fri @ 09:17
Comment from: m [Visitor]
ok, so it's not boredom itself that you're worried about...I have to ask: the paragraph beginning with 'But if you zoom out and analyze this from the perspective of a state or a transnational corporation, you will observe interesting things...', does it refer to the real or to the virtual world? Either way: how do you go so quickly from lack of novelty to questioning the authenticity of the world to real world=death?

Perhaps I should wait for your reply before I go any further, but in case I'll go on at the risk of being off the mark. I'm trying to imagine a situation where no new scientific discoveries are made for quite a while. Well, it might seem suspicious, but not necessarily. After all, it's not unthinkable that one day we'll run out of facts to discover. And yes, we'll have to be a different sort of society then. How different I cannot tell. I don't think we'll do away with universities, for instance. Discoveries or no discoveries, we'll need to conserve knowledge and pass it on: teach. I mean, we'll need educated operators, always. See...I can't really see how do you go from this to the idea of virtualization. Governments will come up with a way to run states with a view to this new development. What problems do you see exactly? Is it that, dunno...capitalist economy is based on the idea of competition among producers, which makes it necessary to always have new stuff to market? Surely there's a way around that...I mean, even now people are talking about slowing down growth, and we've still got so many unknowns. I don't find it all that implausible that one day we'll get used to the thought that economic growth is not worth striving for at all costs.

As for virtualization, a dumbed-down existence can be advertised using more, um, appealing descriptions. We could, for instance, emphasize that we'll find the world more wondrous and interesting through that lens. You know, like children. We could say that new way of being will make for a longer attention span which would enable to appreciate more things at a slower pace. As for pride, well, not sure. All these people who lead a petty complacent existence must know they'd be prouder of themselves doing something better, and yet they indulge. Maybe you're too optimistic about humans. And besides, dumbing down is not the only option. We could just have an alternative set of senses, you know, different, not worse.
2011-Jan-08, Sat @ 16:06

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