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The month I was reading 'Ready Player One'.
Some people consider it a bad book. For me it was a great lecture, not for the quality of the narrative, but for all the ideas created in my mind about how we use technology in the 2021.
Reading it after watching the movie a few years ago, was like a nice guilty pleasure. (Book and movie are so different, I have to say)
Knowing about all the references, a simple story about an unknown and weak boy spending time like crazy on something he loved, made him overcome the challenge, get the girl, win the treasure. All that in a world destroyed by crisis and global warming, a typical Hero's journey in a modern world.
What is surprising to me is how they were living in 2044. The stayed in the same room, receiving food or hardware, hanging out with friends (sorry, no family for the protagonist) in a Virtual universe. Huge world, with thousands of planets simulating the earth and many fantastic enviroments. Of course they could watch a VR movie, act it or even play many games. They could work and make a living in that world. It was a escape, but also the destination of the escape, not only the path. It was fake but real at the same time.
They were surounded by real people in a fantastic enviroment.
'Internet' is a huge world, maybe even bigger than the world itself. I don't know how many times all the information previously created by the humanity is being uploaded every hour.
A lot of the economy and society is there, between servers, WiFi, 5G, satelites, fibre, and many magical ways of transmission to be seen.
Sure, we are not using a Headset with 120 Hz, hyper-realistic 3D graphics. It's even worse, our brain and imagination are filling the gap so we don't distinguish between reality and virtuality.
We could do that with a book, you read a fiction to imagine a non-existing world or read a non-fiction and you learn about the past or decide to take action for the future. You close the book and "that's it", you can't close a stream of new information all the time.
We are now replacing physical contact and voice with words on a screen, a single emoji or sticker is preferred over a 1 minute audio call. And our humanity is becoming used to it. We see the world through the lenses of a screen.
We can work with people we've never been together. We receive money by having videocalls 8 hours a day on a computer. Then we get leisure by playing on another screen for 2 hours, and finally we use some digital service to watch a movie on a different screen. Money is digital, you cannot touch it but you know it's useful.
We live there, in a Mixed Reality, disguised like a Reality, but so dependent on Virtual spaces.
There is a funny image comparing people on a table watching their phones, with a lot of people in a bus reading the newspaper ignoring each other, maybe 100 years ago. This is not something new, but maybe is becoming a bigger issue for next generations, that I hope they are ready to endure.
Yes, we look for fun, we escape from boredom. Maybe we are becoming so intolerant to boredom. Our brain is understanding what being overconnected is. Our kids have their brains being transformed as they are the first generation to be born with a digital device. </rant>
I'm not saying modernity is bad by itself, it's a human need to change our environment, I think. Maybe we are going too fast without a clear destination. (Like the premonition of the movie)
Those reconnecting with simpler ways are seen like crazy ones. In the book everything stayed the same at the end. Maybe in our real reality we could go back to basics.
If you haven't read it yet, you might get even more out of Neal Stephenson's novels Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash. A lot of Silicon Valley types hyped up on cryptocurrency and VR seem to have been reading this while igoring the ANSI standard "this is a work of fiction" disclaimer in the front matter.
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