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Brandon Stover

Essays On Life
Practical philosophy to change the way you see life.



October 22, 2022

Metaverse vs Reality

In an interview on the Lex Fridman podcast, John Carmack, an engineer working on Oculus, stated the goal has been to make the experience inside the headset better than that of outside the headset in order to increase time spent using it.

Are we not just jacking ourselves into the Matrix? I fear that people will be all too eager to leave reality. Take as evidence the large quantity of drugs or hedonistic entertainment we consume in order to distract ourselves from reality. Why are we so eager to leave this painful but beautiful existence behind?

What is in question is the goal. A goal is an aim, and we should be careful at what we aim at. What is the ultimate aim? Human flourishing? Does increased time spent in the Metaverse lead to that? Hard to tell. As someone who spent much of his youth playing video games, I can tell you it was a great benefit to my life. But so was all the time I did not spend playing. The Metaverse should be a supplement to real life, not a replacement. How might we design the Metaverse to enhance our reality, widen our perspective, rather than replacing it?

There is value in the Metaverse for its potential to run hundreds or thousands of simulations to solve problems for better ways of living. It could also allow us to test living in a different way, say being trangender, before applying it to real life. Although, the models we create will be quite crude as humans have a limited understanding of complex systems. This is why I believe we will still long for the real world. The processes that make up nature are too complex for humans to perceive, let alone code.

Of course one could argue we are already living in a simulation and each of our lives are an experiment to test the best possible parameters for survival given a set of circumstances. In which case, I would want to know the true reality beyond this one.

I'm weary of the Metaverse, but I  think it could be a necessary step in the evolution of humanity. If our species is compared to that of a virus, using resources until depletion, then putting our consciousness into a virtual reality with limitless resources may be the only way to continue living and growing. However, someone will have to stay in the “real world'' to tend to energy production, computer servers, and meat suits that still house our consciousness. There may come a time when one must choose which reality to live in. I for one believe there is much beauty in human existence. That the act of holding another human, of hearing birds in the morning as the sun rises, of smelling the rain, is too sweet to leave behind.

I choose reality.

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