Technology creates reality

About a month ago, there was a video going around the web of a eagle attempting to fly off with a little kid. The video was quickly revealed to be phony, but it was realistic enough for what was attempting to portray.

Now, a couple days ago, I saw what was purported to be a video from an traveling Highway Patrolmen’s car which caught another car being smashed bits by large truck. I saw the video and found myself thinking, “but is this real?” A few things bugged me. How would this video have been released to the public? Is that really what a car looks like when it collides with a truck?

Now, ultimately I think that video probably was real. But the fact that I wondered about it forced me to consider what I suspect will soon be a major conundrum in the world. Technology will become so good at rendering realistic looking scenarios that we will question everything we see on television or the Internet. The truth will become even more opaque as people and organizations create scenarios that support their particular view of the world. We will be able to trust no one.

And I think it gets even worse. Eventually, technology will allow us to interact directly with a person’s brain in such a way that we will be able to alter the entire sensory world that they perceive. How will we know whether something is real or being placed there by those out to mock or hurt us?

Imagine the following: there’s some nerdy guy in high school. He doesn’t have a lot of friends and spends a lot of his time with computers. Never goes on dates. One day, a beautiful French foreign exchange student comes into the computer lab and starts talking to him. He’s amazed that she shows any interest in him, and eventually they fall in love. Immediately after high school they get married. He goes on to a successful career as a computer software developer. Throughout their many decades together she loves and supports him. On his deathbed, he looks up at her while she holds his hand and says, “Honey, if you hadn’t come into my life I don’t know what I would’ve done.” Then, suddenly she disappears and the nerd realizes that this entire phony life has been placed into his brain by jocks and preppies (the archenemies of nerds) seeking to humiliate him. As he is revealed to be a young man back in high school, his mind literally melts and his cohorts laugh at his misery. “HAWHAWHAWHAWHAWHAWHAW!!! Take that, NERD!!!” they scream.

It’s going to be a strange upcoming couple of centuries.

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