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Virtual Heaven

The idea of downloading one’s mind into a simulation is motivated by the desire for freedom from real embodiment, for which is substituted controlled experience in an artificially benign, if unreal, environment. This substitution presumes, of course, that one remains in a position to specify the virtual reality. But this involves a paradoxical dilemma. Once I become nothing but a subprogram in a computer, how will I control the simulation it runs? How else but with my body will I prevent someone, who has remained “behind” in physical space, from controlling my simulated environment in a way I do not like? What if I change my mind and want back into real-time where I can reprogram the simulation or exit it? On the other hand, if somehow I retain that control, will I not always be dogged with the knowledge that the simulation is an illusion I control? One cannot have it both ways. Reality is real precisely because it is beyond “direct” manipulation; real experience passes through a feedback loop, which includes a real environment that is external and independent. To know that one lives in an illusion, however cheery, would itself be a form of suffering. One can ignore such knowledge (as many addicts do) but one cannot escape its real consequences.

RELATED TAGS: [download(ing) mind, holodeck, virtual reality/body, simulated embodiment, The Matrix, emigration to cyberspace, spiritual masturbation]

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