Does the future of humanity lie in virtual reality addiction?

Here’s where we are headed. Can you honestly say we are not?

• Plug yourself into the apparatus and now you’ve got a trip that is 1,000x more potent that heroin. Pure, absolute euphoria and bliss. Put in a catheter and feeding tube and maybe get up for a hot shower and change of clothes every couple of days. I took some leftover hydrocodone last time I was sick, and I slept in pure ecstasy from that. Could I resist the Ultimate Trip? Probably not.

• Plug yourself into the apparatus and fuck anything you want. Real people or imagined. Have orgasms 1,000x more powerful that the real thing. Men, no more need for a refractory period. All your desires are fulfilled. Would I want to bother with real relationships if I could have this? Probably not.

• Plug yourself into the apparatus and be anything you want. Live as a hardboiled detective back in the 40s. Investigate the Black Dahlia murder and solve the case. Don’t just read about Hogwarts–matriculate! Be friends with Harry. Be Harry–or Voldemort! Whatever you can imagine can happen. Or if your imagination fails you, no worry: the Matrix can supply endless scenarios to keep you engaged. Could I resist such a temptation? Probably not.


It all begins with a question: What is a good life? A worthwhile life? Perhaps it consists in doing work. Reading “quality” books and watching “quality” movies. Raising kids. That kind of thing.

There is talk of the Singularity, the fruit of artificial intelligence, that could obviate humanity. But what if we were already far along that road and saw that fact somewhat but not quite? The road away from the good life, the “quality” life. I think that’s the case. Let me explain.

It comes down to the individual personality and how tempted the person is to tune out. Way back in time, that wasn’t an option. Survival was the thing. You pretty much had to live the good/quality life. You had to work a lot, and leisure time consisted primarily of interacting with other human beings. And there was sleep. No drugs, no easy forms of entertainment like TV.

But then alcohol is invented. The first of many drugs. And drugs allow us to tune out. Many have accepted that invitation. In the introduction of the book, 19th-Century British Minor Poets, W.H. Auden quotes Sydney Smith about life in London in the year 1800:

We want to trip. We want to tune out. Drugs like heroin have made such a “lifestyle” even more potent.

But then we’ve also had the drugs of novels, movies, TV, video games. For some reason, reading about or viewing fictional lives is more entertaining than living our own. Think about it–it’s strange, isn’t it?

Probably most people do their jobs and live for these moments of entertainment or tripping out. Only a very small percentage of people have lives so interesting that they are caught up in life! and need very little entertaining or tuning out. Give them any other way deeper into that ease, that pleasure, that entertainment, and who will resist? Would you?

I probably would not.

It brings up some interesting thoughts. Being no stranger to drugs I have to say the ultimate trips I have been on involved extended periods of fruitfull creativity. As rare as these do occur I find the mere chance of reengaging into one of thse sessions is enough for me to not want any kind of mind altering substance anywhere near me.

Maybe the real challenge for humanity is to discover more successful ways of waking up ones creative nature by using technology to simply expose us to more and give us better resources for following through on things. Our ability to establishing our identities has been a casualty of progress. Maybe we can reverse that.

It’s nothing to really be afraid of. Most people’s reality is just a concoction of made up meaning and obfuscation of the mediocrity of their existence- surely one could make an argument that this is an improvement upon that.

What’s sad is that this is not even really related that much to accomplishment. Michael Jackson was one of the most successful entertainers of all time, but one may easily imagine that most of his life was lived in an odd twilight of doubt, delusion, and dysfunction. Not to be overly alliterative!

I know what you mean. My drug, so to speak, is tuning out and just wanting to sleep, be alone, and enjoy online content and books in a low-key way. Perhaps less self-destructive than heroin, but I can feel incredibly unproductive at times.

I wonder how much we’d be able to consume of each other’s “passions” in a world with even more leisure time. That, I think is a big problem. It’s one thing to be a failed writer in a world that really needs you to be a store clerk in a small-town grocery where “everybody knows your name” and all that. It’s another to be a failed writer in 2015 and be shoved into Target where nobody but your family does.

He seemed to be having a good time.

He apparently got badly burned filming a Pepsi commercial in the Thriller era, which began his awful downhill health slide. He certainly didn’t seem to be having much of a good time after that album was big.

It is unclear whether such a device is either technologically or neurologically feasible.

This is the idea behind The Who’s science fiction Lifehouse that wound up being just a top-rated hard rock album. The main plot in Lifehouse revolves around people plugging into their “experience suits”. :stuck_out_tongue:

Right. My point in my “Background” section is that we, as humans, are largely trying to achieve this already with what we’ve got. We’ve got alcohol, pot, opiates, some other drugs, porn, videos, and video games. That already lets us tune/bliss out to a large degree. We will joyfully accept any advances that come our way.

For example, fuckdolls are slowly going to advance. Even if strong AI is never achieved, a lot of guys would probably prefer a hyper-realistic fucktoy that costs a few grand over going out and finding a “real girl.” Some guys (and gals) no doubt already rely on porn and toys.

I don’t think very many guys think of porn and sex dolls as alternatives to women. It’s a different experience and something you’ll probably enjoy no matter how much real sex you’re getting.

I think it’s actually the nonsexual fun things you can do that are more likely to make a person forego relationships. The sheer number of good books to read, TV shows to watch, video games to play, places to see that you can fairly easily travel to in the modern age, plus lord knows how many other activities an enthusiast can get involved in, there is a legitimate case to be made that trying to do as much of that awesome stuff as possible is better than having a family.

There’s also the drive to achieve: to be the best at something. We’ll still want to be baseball players, Navy SEALS, CEOs of Fortune 500 businesses, start our own lucrative business, become a renowned scientist. Virtual reality is no substitute for that.


We may destroy the environment to the point that “going outside” becomes a slang for “commits suicide”, but - as long as the 'bots keep the power and air filters going, we can all experience those things the ancients called ‘rivers’ and ‘trees’.

If you are a good enough citizen, you get to have ‘animals’ in your world.

This used to be (I use that term frequently) the stuff of dystopian sci-fi.

Please tell me I’m just experiencing a sci-fi VR. Please?

Though what if VR can provide exactly the relationship you want? A chick who really gets you. If you want challenge, she challenges you. And so on.

Good point. And it’s not as though this isn’t already happening in some places: look at Japan’s cratering birth rate and the rise of the “freeters.”

But what if VR lets you do these things, at least in your own mind?

AI would have to be so good that there would have to be a legitimate argument that it’s really a conscious intelligence. Then we’ll start to see issues come up about whether humans and artificial life can marry.

I see some parallel between this and people who’ve tried to have relations with demons and ghosts. None which work out well.

This is relevant, I think.

It is completely feasible and has been done already. Dr. Robert Heath at Tulane University conducted some of the most notorious experiments in all of neuroscience starting in the 1950’s based on this idea. He implanted electrodes into the brains of addicts, prostitutes and criminals into the nucleus accumbens of their brains so that it could be stimulated on demand. The idea was that he could stimulate the same area of the brain that was also activated by drugs like cocaine or amphetamines.

The issue wasn’t that it the experiment didn’t work. It was just the opposite. It worked too well and proved to be an overpowering motivation that overrode all normal behavior. The whole story is fascinating if not somewhat horrible but a small sample of the experiments is given below.

Some of his more controversial stimulation experiments included giving a woman 30 minutes worth of orgasms, and providing a homosexual man with a prostitute to see if he could change his sexual orientation.

Those types of experiments are generally considered unethical now but they are completely possible and could be even more finely tuned today. If you combined them with a virtual reality environment, they could create an immersive experience that is more intense and pleasurable than almost anything you could find in the real world.

This is beginning to sound like the Matrix.

Poster name and content for the win.