What’s the Big Idea?
Not like The Matrix, exactly - the virtual people in that movie had real bodies, albeit suspended in weird, pod-like things and plugged into a supercomputer. Imagine instead a super-advanced version of The Sims, running on a machine with more processing power than all the minds on Earth.
Intelligent design? Not necessarily.
The Creator in this scenario could be a future fourth-grader working on a science project. Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom argues that we may very well all be Sims.
This possibility rests on three developments:
At present, virtualization technology enables us to run multiple “virtual computers” on a single computer, each with a different operating system, each completely isolated from crashes or viruses that disable the others.
This will soon make Cloud-based computer processing (not just storage) possible on a massive scale.
And with advanced simulation,
we can perform virtual autopsies on virtual victims of virtual car
crashes, or predict the devastation a magnitude 7.8 earthquake would
cause in downtown Los Angeles.
Burrus says the e-commerce age is over, and the v-commerce age is
about to begin.
Invisibility’s kind of the point - these technologies enable us to study, experiment, explore, and take action on a global scale while minimizing or erasing altogether the physical resources we use in the process. Medical students will be able to practice heart surgery on virtual patients before assisting in life-or-death operations.
World stock exchanges will no longer require physical trading floors full of shouting people waving their hands - as a result, economic centers like New York and Tokyo may depopulate and be supplanted by “lifestyle hubs” chosen and developed for executive-class comfort.*
* See Daniel Altman’s new book: Outrageous Fortunes: The Twelve Surprising Trends that Will Reshape the Global Economy.
These evolving technologies will streamline and reshape the way we
do business, accelerating the integration of global markets.
And as we come to rely deeply
on sophisticated advanced simulation, dangerous disconnects will
continue to arise between our online and offline worlds.