Monday, April 21, 2008
In the beginning, there was First life.
Real Life. Meatspace. Whatever you wish to call actual physical existence.
Then came the internet and Second Life, which was a lot like First Life, but here you could fly, teleport around, and know information about the people you encountered with just a few clicks of the mouse, plus check email and order pizza while you do it.
So, when First Life and Second Life inevitably combine, what will life be like?
Well, if there are any clues to be gathered from Second Life, here's a taste of 3rd Life:
The Internet - soon this amorphous noun will be just another part of our bodies. You will get chipped soon after you're born, (or perhaps before,) and you will then be able to access the net in all its glory internally, on demand.
You'll never be lost, or forget a face. In fact, the act of forgetting will soon be impossible as we record every moment of our lives for our own amusement.
Worried about cctv cameras watching your every move? Don't be.
Instead of security cameras on walls, every human being will become a security camera.
The bully who harassed you? The license number of the Aptera that nearly ran you down? The name of that eBookstore you wandered by nine years ago during that business trip to Taos?
All recorded. All available and readily search-able.
The bully is reprimanded and receives peer counseling. The driver of the Aptera is ticketed and warned against sleep-driving. The eBookstore was called McNutsys.
Information storage is cheap and getting cheaper. Storing the info-glut that is the entirety of one's life is now child's play. Once they perfect the optical/neural storage-interface, it's the end of the criminal justice system as we know it. The innocent will have alibis, and the guilty will not.
(Because of the ability to store/recall events, our species already growing disgust with inter-human violence will blossom into an incredible flower that makes mere Pacifism look quaint. We're talking non-violence/pro-peace as a religion.)
However it works out, the end result is instantaneous and total access to the entirety of our species collected knowledge.
What's that plant? Will it kill me if I eat it? (neuro-wiki)
Which direction am I facing? Where is Vermont from here? (Google Earth Grey-Matter Edition)
How are my parents feeling right now? (neuro-Twitter)
What is the weather going to be like tomorrow? (SpineWeather.com)
Savor these questions, for soon, no one will ever need ask them.
The mind boggles at the societal rules that will spring up in response to these advances.
Like, if you visit someone in their home, will they trust you not to be life-blogging while you're there? Will they have blocking features incorporated directly into their living space? Will you have to wear some some of neuro-disruptive helmet?
Is the future of manufacturing in neuro-disruptive society helmets?
Will we still go to movies when movies can stream right in our minds?
Will it be considered polite to "forget" someone's name?
What kind of security force can you employ to keep people from hacking into your memories?
What kind of anti-spamware will keep advertisements from playing on your retinas?
In the past two years, we've seen a man upload his daily life onto a website.
We've seen a malware virus that physically harmed people suffering from epilepsy.
We've seen a machine that can transmit thoughts into spoken words.
We've seen humans being treated by robotic therapists describing the treatment as "helpful."
Our physical and mental relationships with our machines and technology is becoming increasingly intimate and inseparable. How soon will we see the first union of man and spouse/machine? And if a man can marry a machine, are there any constraints to what the machine should look like? (i.e. can man marry Man-bot? If so, why not Angelina Jolie-bot? Sheep-bot?)
What is the point of all this conjecture?
Be open. Change is inevitable, and the future will favor the elastic mind.
While our societies shift and rearrange and our bodies and minds become more enabled and efficient, we must not forget the one thing that will never change:
There will always be Haves and Have-Nots. The Shocked and the Shocking. The Boat-Rockers and those who Don't Want a Rockin'.
What keeps those opposing forces from tearing each other apart are the societal rules that have outlasted countless empires.
Treat each other with respect. Smile and make eye contact. Express gratitude. Say please and thank you. Manners and respect are worth their weight in nano-gold, (or regular gold if you want to be old-fashioned.) Manners and respect will be here long after cars and airplanes have faded away.
Our species will be constantly faced with things that shock and unnerve the status quo, and we must be mentally prepared. Our manners will allow us to progress and still retain our essential humanity.
3rd Life promises to be a technological and humanist marvel, but we won't get to that golden tomorrow without manners today.
So, keep yourself and your family safe and healthy. Be polite and considerate to those around you, and await the day when we are all one consciousness.
That day is sooner than any of us realize.
Love to all,
p.s. for further information, read The SuperForest Humanifesto