Virtualization 1.0. Press Start

That which does not kill us, makes us stranger.

 –  Trevor Goodchild, Aeon Flux

 Despite dealing with non-traditional topics, most of the content here still stays at least within the orbit of mainstream discourse.

This series on virtualization is a little different.

It is still ultimately grounded in some realities, very much so, but it incorporates other more far-lung ideas. They are nonetheless based on some well-reasoned observations and examinations, of technology especially, but also of human psychology, of economics, and of culture. This kind of approach represents the mixing of disciplines, and the difficulty of discussing just one idea in isolation from other related schools of thought, or within just one scale of time or space.

This section on virtualization embraces thinking outside the mainstream. As I hope to show, however, the ideas that follow are too important for the mainstream to ignore much longer and indeed, the technology that invites this mode of thinking is proceeding at pace regardless.

With that disclaimer out of the way this series is about some key ideas. Firstly, I am looking at sustainability on far longer timescales than usual, extending to cosmological-level timescales (millions, billions, potentially even trillions of years). Interplanetary colonization may be a sustainability issue, after all, but it wouldn’t strike many as a pressing one.

Within that perspective, I explore something called the Fermi Paradox, which asks why we appear to be alone in the cosmos. I provide a potential answer to this question by pointing to the allure (and potential utility) of virtual worlds, and in doing so, hope to make a deeper point about potential civilizational development outcomes that have profound consequences for our perspectives on sustainability.

To put it crudely, I explore the idea that every advanced civilization inevitably ends up playing video games.