Imagine a machine which allows you to expand your consciousness into a digital space. A hyper-normal expanse, unbounded in almost every way. It starts innocently – a peripheral which allows you to plug in and saunter around some fabricated environment. Like a dream, from which you can wake at any moment should you so desire – in control of your big bag of meat on Earth, while also running the show in cyberspace.
Now imagine your virtual consciousness can be tuned. The boffins have figured out, with astounding accuracy, how to tweak every attribute of the human psyche. Want to dial up your confidence? Sure. How about increasing your wit or charm? No problem. Wish you knew the entire history of literature? Pfft. Child’s play.
What happens in this instance? A mind capable of experiencing both physically-bounded reality (as we know it today) and complete digital freedom? Where the latter is a perfect simulation, which means that for you, it might as well be reality.
We spend our lives turning over ideas of self-improvement in our minds. If only I weren’t so anxious, I wish I had the confidence to do that, I wish I was smarter. Well, what happens if you’re given that on a plate?
Notes on the experiment:
- The hardware and software that run the virtual consciousness are run by a benevolent being and won’t be turned off. You needn’t worry about this.
- While you can certainly tune positive qualities up, you could do the reverse. What would happen if you turned empathy all the way down?
- The Transfer Problem doesn’t apply here – you are capable of experiencing both the “real” world and digital world at once, therefore you can be assured that “you are you” – so much as anyone can be.