Neurological wealth

The most impressive – and disruptive – technology that we could possibly come up with would be neurological. If we could load software on our minds the way we do on computers, we could give the experience of unlimited wealth to all of us, for virtually no cost.

Now, there are some major problems with this. The security implications alone are terrifying – we already have enough problems with viral propagation of bad ideas via religion and just plain ol’ fashioned entrainment.

However, the win is equally huge. Let me give you a few examples.

First of all, whatever your ‘day job’ is, chances are it takes up a very small percentage of your total mental capacity. It would be possible for you to do whatever task helps keep this old ball spinning using background capacity, while never actually having the conscious experience of doing it.

Second of all, everything you experience in this world is made up of information. And there is no doubt that our 10^11 neurons are sufficient computing capacity to generate any experience you care to name out of whole cloth. Get them working in the right way and you can experience anything *anyone* can experience. The software to do this represents wealth of a very interesting kind. It can be copied indefinitely, without costing the creator anything. It can potentially add value to the experience of everyone who uses it. It would reduce our impact on the planet considerably – since we would no longer need physical ‘things’ for most of the adventures we might want to have.

Of course, there’s absolutely no proof that this hasn’t already happened, and that the controls of whatever network is responsible for rendering our experience of reality are just in the paws of someone who favors a less than utopic experience for everyone else. I think there are people who would enjoy the power that denying utopia to others represents.

Anyway, when I talk about giving everyone everything, I do think this is a reasonable approach to doing it. Yes, the hurdles are high – we haven’t even learned to build software that runs well on digital state machines, the idea of us writing software for our minds is a bit shiver inducing. But, the reward is even higher.

Given that everyone’s utopia is different, this is the only reasonable way I can see for us to give everyone a utopic experience at the same time.

4 Responses to “Neurological wealth”

  1. Alderin Says:

    My recent shiver-inducing thought is that we may be unintended, self-evolved “NPCs” in this virtual system.

  2. sheer_panic Says:

    @Alderin: I’ve had that thought myself. One can imagine that the recent silence from any dieties is the realization that they’re now dealing with self-aware life, and a fair amount of “what the heck do we do now?” Bear in mind that years or millennia inside the sim may only be hours or days outside it.

  3. centauri Says:

    “Second of all…” is a garden path to wireheading, isn’t it? Not that wireheading is a universally losing proposition, just something to keep in mind.

  4. sheer_panic Says:

    I find wireheading narratively unsatisfying. I could probably build a TMS rig to let me wirehead. I haven’t. I won’t. I want a story, and a complex emotional life. I just want it to include a lot more of the upper ranges than it currently does.

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