Virtual Reality replace humanity?

Will VR destroy humanity? Will everyone in the future live in VR instead of the real world?

Maybe by using mind uploading? Maybe by using Brain Computer interfaces?

And will it happen during out lifetimes?

Maybe this is better for IMHO than General Questions.

General Questions Moderator

I’m not sure why being uploaded would destroy humanity. Unless you’re positing that VR actually suck and everybody is uploaded against their will by their oppressive smartcar overlords or something. Because if we all upload voluntarily, doesn’t that mean we like it? How would that be destruction?

I’m going with across the board "no"s.

The answers are No, No, No, No, No, and No.

All that virtual reality and mind uploading would have to be built in actual reality. And despite all the hype, that’s as far from happening as making a magic wand and casting spells. It’s nothing more than a fantasy.

No. We’ll be replaced by robots that people choose to have instead of children.

Yes, we are just about at the end of how small and fast we can make transistors. And the most powerful supercomputers in the world today aren’t even close to being able to emulate a single human brain. I can envision possibly being able to someday build a conventional computer capable of emulating a single human mind, but it would fill a football stadium, require its own nuclear reactors to power it, and be located in the middle of Antarctica to cool it.

This. Or someone needs to invent a component that makes today’s IC look like yesterday’s vacuum tube.

Clearly we need to make the computer that simulates reality out of brains.

Whenever this question comes up on the Dope, it gets laughed down. But I’m surprised that that’s still the case in 2018.

A lot of people spend a large amount of their leisure time on social media or playing video games (both single and multiplayer). And a larger and larger percentage of our work is just interacting with/via software.

Now imagine a time where VR interfaces improve to the point they are difficult to distinguish from reality (and, as I’ve pointed out previously: they can ultimately feel far more real than reality). Where you have the choice of interacting or gaming with your friends while at Hogwarts or on the bridge of the enterprise or wherever else. And you could do your work in a grand palace assisted by whatever visualizations facilitate you. Yeah and of course porn.

It will happen eventually, even if it’s hard to imagine now from looking at current hardware. And I don’t see it as inherently positive or negative. For some version of “VR” humans have been living in VR for a long time: we spend most of our time in indoor environments created by humans for humans with human rules, and doing activities like reading fiction. It’s just the next step in that progression.

To be difficult to distinguish from reality, you would not only have to provide video and audio, you would also have to provide scent, taste, touch, thermoception, proprioception, nociception, equlibrioception, and more for the full body. I’m still laughing it down.

To elaborate–you are walking down an old underground tunnel at Hogwarts. You will see the periodic torches flickering on the walls, lighting the ancient, encrusted stones. You will hear the breeze flowing through the tunnel. But you won’t feel the chill of that breeze, or your clothes lightly moving in it, or the moving air on your face, or the heat of the torches as you pass them. You won’t smell the musty decay smell of the encrustations on the wall. Reach out to touch the wall–and your hand will touch nothing at all (unless you knock over your VR deck.) You trip over something in the hallway and see the view change from what is ahead of you to a closeup of a stone floor. But you don’t feel motion, or a change in your orientation or the position of your limbs. You don’t feel the ache in your knee that struck the floor, or the scrapes on your hands where you caught yourself, or taste the blood in your mouth where you bit your tounge. Difficult to distinguish from reality? I don’t just laugh at it, I scoff at it. I sneer at it.

I wasn’t talking about next year’s VR. I’m talking 50 or 100 years in the future.
So no I didn’t just mean audio-visual.

“Difficult to distinguish” is maybe a poor choice of words though.
VR could be more compelling than spending time in the real world long before that point. And there’s questionable utility to adding things like nociception.
I guess what I meant was the point where VR stops being considered an inferior facsimilie to the real world.

There was a recent documentary about this based on a book named “Ready Player One.” :smiley:

Mind uploading is, of course, in the “not even possible in theory as far as we know” category.

As for “living” in VR, of course VR can’t provide for our biological needs so we can’t live in VR full time. But I definitely think more people will be spending a lot of time in VR. It may become common to work from home and have VR meetings. And socializing in VR is a natural extension of social media, which is why Facebook paid $1.6 billion for Oculus. None of this requires the VR world to be indistinguishable from reality.

What you are talking is called “magic.”

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
There, that’s out of the way. Is there some reason you feel it is impossible to create a practical electronic olfactory stimulator? Or a VR suit to mimic thermal and tactile sensations? Or why a supercomputer would have to be so large and demanding when the human brain can process incredible amounts of information using components significantly larger than the components on a microchip?

Hey, I can certainly smell, taste, feel and move freely* in my dreams*! Sometimes I can even fly!

What he’s talking about is having a computer hacking your brain. Your sensory inputs (all of them) at some point are just data. The nifty computer just has to plug into you at that level, not at the level of goggles, gloves, and earphones. Admittedly this would be easier to pull off if we first uploaded your cognition to that facility in Antarctica, but given a sufficiently invasive surgery or some way to mess with brain activity from the outside via radiation or something it could theoretically be pulled off without first extracting you from your physical body.

Because it is a stupid idea. The full-body suit would need to simulate various levels of heat and cold over any or all parts of the body, various levels of pressure in any or all areas, plus friction (both dry and wet) and yet still allow mobility, not be inches thick, and not weigh 200 pounds and trail cables. It is very silly magic, not science. And the human brain is an agressively 3 dimensional system with thousands of connections between individual neurons while a computer chip is a 2 dimensional and profoundly energy inefficient. Our brains are vastly more advanced technology than microchips. A few years back some scientists used a supercomputer to simulate the activity of the equivalent of one percent of the human brain–to simulate one second, it took 82,944 CPUs 40 minutes.