Marks and Remarks
Food for the Mind and Eye

No. 0138, September 5, 2017


  Artificial Reality

     Artificial Reality No. 88,507,227,362

Copyright 2017 by S.W. Paul Wyszkowski

     As usual, it is the best of times, it is the worst of times. New highs and lows are being set in all fields of human activity. Old barriers are being torn down, new, higher barriers are being put up. Scientific and technological breakthroughs are providing our leaders with immensely powerful tools for social change, while, at the same time, delivering weapons of total global destruction into the hands of the terrorists and the demented. We are being empowered both to transcend and to destroy ourselves and we are succeeding in both at once. What is historically truly new here, for better and for worse, is the speed and intensity of change, amplified by the exponential growth of the homo sapiens population on this small, fragile and unstable planet.

     Not to worry. We are no longer dependent solely on our native intelligence (impressive as it may be) for solving our mounting problems. Behold! The vastly more powerful Artificial Intelligence (our own invention!) now comes to the rescue, and just in time. But beware the joker in the deck: Artificial Reality.

     Artificial Reality (imagined as distinct from observed, not to be confused with VR, a tech app, or Augmented Reality, another tech app) is nothing new. It has been with us since Eden. It is unclear who invented it; the Serpent usually gets the credit and/or blame, probably undeservedly. In any case, Artificial Reality has been a byproduct of human intelligence and imagination throughout history, often a brilliantly useful one. It is the foundation of all play, invention, philosophy, art, science and entertainment. There are, however, two big problems with it, one ancient, one brand new. The ancient problem is that Artificial Reality may be, and often is, mistaken for and accepted as the Real Reality (What Is Actually the Case). Because of that, it has been and continues to be frequently abused for the purposes of deceit, fraud and oppression. The brand new problem is that with the advent of Artificial Intelligence Artificial Reality is no longer constrained by merely human intelligence. The AI version is likely to be far more convincing.

     Yes, the evolution of Real Reality can actually be intentionally steered by conscious action towards outcomes resembling a pre-imagined ideal model. Nevertheless, What Is Actually the Case remains firmly What Is Actually the Case. Should we become so entranced by AI generated Artificial Reality that we lose track of What Is Actually the Case, that could conceivably lead to premature extinction of the human race or some other such unpleasant consequence. To avoid that, what we need now is Real Consciousness. We need to be able to wake up, disenchanted of any spell cast by compelling Artificial Reality that may be keeping us from sufficiently accurate perception of What is Actually the Case to allow us to act effectively.

      "And what if we can't or won't?" asks Prickles, our resident anthropologist and an indisputable hedgehog. "Might not there be some Princess Charming on her way to wake us from that potentially lethal enchantment with a kiss of Real Love?" Do you see anybody coming, Prickles? "Nope," she says, scanning the horizon. That's what I was afraid of.



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