If the world of world of warcraft were real, it would be Hellish. Azeroth is insanity incarnate. One wouldn’t even want to briefly visit the place for fear of infection with a disease that turns one in to a horrific shambling mindless undead cannibal. And that’s just a low level thing. And then there is the odd existential question – is what we see of Azeroth on the PC screen supposed to be a simplified rendition of a real place, or is the metaphysics of Azeroth actually what you see is what you get? Imagine being in a reality composed of jutted angular cartoony shapes (maybe with a higher resolution – I mean what’s the ‘actual’ WoW – the one from 2005? The one now? The one derivative of the current in 2017? The world of warcraft2 inevitably down in the 2020s the road with near realistic yet amusingly cartoonish exaggerated physical proportions? Imagine being in such a reality and there being pain there.
Human consciousness is an engineering challenge and we are getting closer.
The same would be too of any number of virtual existentialities (I wouldn’t call them ‘realities). These are horrible places depicting the kind of atrocities intending to arouse the primal tribal warrior instincts of the client base. The idea ‘to slash holes into the epidermis of resource competitors with a sharpened thin bar of metal‘ is gruesome. To cyclically annihilate them in interstellar conflicts is not much more graceful, as is in Eve. But exiting nonetheless.
As it happens there are venues in Second Life that cater to constant exploration of Rape. A few years ago a friend and myself did a study, using trickery, of the women categoring to these places and clearly genderbending is the norm. I shall not go in to details – this is obvious – but let me confuse you by stating it isn’t 100% either way. I have been in Gorean sims (generally the swill of sexim and sexual abuse fantasies – and no I don’t like the anti-intellectualism in those places) and there are women acting male roles (!) and there are a considerable percentage of actual RL women acting out extremely submissive female roles there.
This creates an interesting question – how far would we go? I discussed this with Anders Sandberg, and from what I gathered from casual conversation he seems to think humanity and posthumanity will go all the way. Heavens or Hells, as entertainment. Ontotainment?
Let me explain – (my interpretation).
In the future there will be virtual realities simulating perfect and consistent graphical representation of a physical world. A person taken from 2011, when properly interfaced with such reality will not be able to see the difference. Worse, such realities will engender perfect simulation and synthesis of sounds, smells, tactile sensations, moisture, temperature and even the subtled nuanced interplay of the above. Yes, these realities will allow the full experience of pain, sexual arousal and coital interaction of the current physical. What makes these realities interesting then will not be to emulate the current of what existed before 2011 – but to create permutations and mashups and free-flowing experiental orchestrations of experience and interaction emancipated from the constraints of materialistic dictate.
That’s the future, and that’s all stuff we can’t know yet. Let’s return for a moment to our hangup with scary things and why they are so exiting.
I role-played for a number of months in a place called the ‘Human Trafficking Mansion’, run by one Kyle Steig. The design of the place was a notch above mediocre, management fairly consistent and roleplay quite decent. I did the usual thing there – sharing literary erotica. It is what I like doing. I write in IM a sequence of straccato sentences that are intended to be arousing. Judging on how my interlocutors respond they generally are. This HTM has a premise based on rape – the women are taken there, and kept as sex slaves. This is of course a horrific premise, but nonetheless such a premise is the cornerstone of numerous movies, books, games and so forth. It is a grizzly type of sexuality.
Actual rape is unacceptable. Actual pestilence is unacceptable. Actual genocide is unacceptable. Actual planetary bombardment is unacceptable. Yet these things should be free to explore, in filtered measure, in Virtual spaces. The key is reversibility and hope.
Nevertheless something funny happened yesterday in HTM. I was enacting (roleplaying) being ‘uppity’, and I was attacked viciously. I was attacked, as a slave, by my slavekeepers. I am a difficult person to RP with and getting banned is largely unavoidable to begin with, but in this case the reason for getting banned was rather interesting. The owner/manager of the HTM banned me because
– I explored the actual side of my own sexual abuse experience (and witnessing such) in real life at HTM
– I explored the idea of overcoming sexual exploitation and empowerment
– I told him “my goal is to change the premise of the sim by roleplay in a consensual manner”.
The latter means – I roleplay trying to become a manager on merit. I work myself of from a slave to a madam (more or less the roles of Baby Doll versus Miss Vera Gorski in Sucker Punch) and when I get there I implement a better regimen, one without constant beatings, one without constant violent rape and one where women end up with slit throats in a lime pit.
You can bet your ass – the owner felt extremely threatened. Even though I am a fairly good roleplayer over all (despite an annoying tendency to powerplay) he banned the shit out of me. Many similar sim owners and club/storyline managers would. But think about it, what this means for the philosphical future of high detail high immersion sensory realities..
Imagine that ‘a few billion human minds’ wander these realities, a few decades from now, to have fun (or to learn, or to grow, or to gain satisfaction, however to label it). Imagine a range of very vanilla experiences – the virtual soapbubbles and farmvilles and sims of the future; places of relative innocence, as opposed to the future Deadspaces and the future Rapelays and the future Stepford sims – the latter is “Vore” or “Dolcett”; voluntary rape murder, slaughter, preparing and eating, typically while alive. The premise of advancing neurotechnology, nanotechnology, interface technology, computational technology, game technology, virtual technology (etc.) is that one day (probably between 2040 and 2060) we can indeed create these renditions as full sensory (pain, arousal, fear, heat) experiences.
I don’t want to argue whether or not this would be illegal, or unacceptable or “should be” illegal. Or whether or not “I should not talk about these topics” because “I might damage the reputation of transhumanism“. This is here and it is real. Fiction can be terrifying, and once you are lost down there there is no knowing what is real, who you are, and where you are headed. And the scary thing is – we may already be there and not even know it.
The place we end up owning end up owning you. Just let go 🙂