I believe that humans transferring their minds to digital form is inevitable. In fact, I think it’s precisely the way in which we as a species will achieve immortality.
That’s interesting, of course, but what may be more intriguing is the problem that will come from it. The issue is that once we are digital it will be nearly effortless to replicate us.
Neal Stephenson recently said that games like World of Warcraft are the future of the Metaverse he described. And WoW is a good model for my point as well.
When identities are digital there must be strict, centralized control over that digital reality. Blizzard is God in WoW, as would be expected. They have the power to populate Frostmane with nothing but thousands upon thousands of your character.
Your exact character.
Us becoming digitized is inevitable, and as a result we will have to face that problem just as Blizzard has. The question is — who will be our Blizzard? What controlling entity will ensure that there is only one of you in this world? Computer glitches could result in millions of you, or perhaps four — some of which are earlier versions.
If you think the government controls too much of your life now — or that corporations have too much influence over our day-to-day lives today — consider that it will be one of these entities (or some combination thereof) that will control every aspect of who we are: we’ll look like to others, where we can go, what abilities we have, etc.
And while this will be very different than our world today, there will still be corruption and influence from the rich. I cannot help but imagine that corruption in this world will mean the rich will be able to teleport and shoot lighting from their hands, while the poor will have to use public transportation and wait in line at Safeway.
Imagine all the advantages that rich and powerful humans have in this world, and compound them to the limits of our imaginations. Sexual harems, mind control, the ability to take a Google Earth tour by flying like Superman, etc. — these will all be possible inside this other reality. And just as now these things will be restricted and metered out to the masses while being common among the elites.
I digress. There are many interesting things to write about when considering what this world will look like. One is the have/have-nots disparity moving to a superhero scale, but my original point remains just as serious (and likely far more immediate and practical): it will be very easy to replicate us, and some organization will be responsible for seeing that it doesn’t happen. ::