Our future – The Sims and The Matrix

I was wondering, what would happen if we run out of resources on Earth? We’d probably all die, which is kind of depressing. So I thought of how not to run out of resources in the first place.

Earth plant
[image by Andrejs Zemdega]

I have 2 obvious answers. One is regeneration of our resources, through recycling, reusing and reducing. That doesn’t appear to be enough, since we consume too much.

The second answer is intergalactic colonisation. “We can’t control our own planet’s resources, so we’ll just take over another planet!” Even if we disregard the moral and selfish motivation of that reason, there’s still one tiny problem. Our scientific space program isn’t up to par yet. We might run out of resources before our science and technology is advanced enough.

So I came up with another answer. Now, if you assume that humans are driven by needs and wants, then… ok, let me define needs and wants first. Needs are critical to human survival, or at least make it easier to survive. Wants are wishes… let me give examples then. You need food, shelter and clothing (to protect from weather). You want to travel, to play video games and to wear Gucci products.

The distinction between a need and want is subjective (does steak qualify as a need or want?). We don’t need the distinction to be obvious anyway. So what’s the answer? Push the wants into a virtual world.

Create a virtual world where the wants can be satisfied by bits and bytes rather than carbon, wool, oil, water and other natural resources.

For it to work, the experience must be indistinguishable from what can be experienced now. Hence The Matrix. What we call reality, is just a sum total of what our senses tell us anyway. Simulate the senses correctly, and you get “reality”. The game franchise “The Sims” has been steadily heading towards this end. Its limits are the number of objects available (including other Sims), the number of interactions available and the number of sensory inputs.

With the wants satisfied in the virtual world, there should be more resources in the real world. If nothing else, this should give the option of regeneration more time to regenerate resources. Or more time to spread our human genes to other galaxies.

Is the virtual world solution easier to implement (we programmers have much to do then)? Will it upset the economy (most definitely)? Will the virtual world consume more resources (servers have carbon footprints too)?