Why the Matrix Will Not Happen
(This is a continuation from “the Future of Internet Is Virtual Worlds. Or Is It?”, and part 2).
A lot of people think that the Matrix is inevitable. I take a contrarian view.
But first – what do I mean by “the Matrix”? It’s just a scenario where our brains connect to the internet directly (not necessarily all the time), without the need for screens or keyboards, where we basically can live inside a shared virtual world, communicating, controlling, and sensing everything in our minds.
Is that inevitable?
Let’s first assume that the materialistic worldview is correct, meaning that human consciousness and thought is nothing more than neurons firing, and that there are no disembodied conscious entities like ghosts or spirits. If the sum total of humanity is no more than physics, then the Matrix is theoretically possible.
Let’s also assume that we’ll be able to find a way to interface the computer or internet to the changing and highly complex neural structure of our brains, without adverse effects.
And let’s just assume that technological advances will eventually make the Matrix possible – all you have to do, is recline and plug yourself in (assuming it’s not wireless). Other than a small minority of people diving into it, will the rest of us follow?
If things become ideal, the Matrix will be incredibly compelling. Since computer data will have direct access to the brain, virtual environments with incredible sensations can be created and experienced, such that phycial roller coaster rides, reverse bungee jumping, and skydiving become sluggish in comparison. Imagine a heroin-induced high on steroids (assuming you’ve tried both heroin and steroids), only better. I’ll be the first to get addicted.
But that’s only if things become ideal. Of course, things will never be ideal.
Assuming that the internet remains decentralized, we can expect there to be rogue sites or virtual environments, created by naughty boys and girls. Imagine entering a rogue environment, designed specifically to harm visitors. The damage done will potentially be more than what a very bad drug trip can do, much worse than a serious case of paranoid schizophrenia. A horror nightmare on steroids?
Besides rogue sites, there will also be (black hat) hackers. Sure, if our brains are connected directly to the internet, there will be very serious security measures in place to prevent our minds from getting hacked. But because the payoffs of a successful hack is so high, where the hacker can potentially gain control over your mind, or let you hear their voice whenever they want, or rewrite your memories, or eventually possess you, there eventually will be a hacker smart and patient enough to break past your firewall.
That firewall is your final protection against the your loss of control over the only thing in the world that really matters – your mind.
Would you risk the ultimate loss so that you can enjoy the ultimate experience?
I don’t think so.