Ghost in The Shell is a classic cyberpunk anime with a main question in the core — “What am I?”. So… what are we?

Recently I’ve visited an AR meetup and there were two quite an interesting questions — “How to create an immersive experience?” and “How to make people back after that?” (what should make you think really hard — question #1 had the answer that day — a pretty good and detailed answer — and question #2 didn’t). Because AR is much more complicated than VR — it’s not only an artificial image, it’s an image that aligns with the world around you. Becomes the one with it while not existing. Or do it?

Attempts to separate the world and the perception are pretty old — check the Plato’s Cave. But now we have an AR, and shadows are no more casted on a wall — there is an E-Ink screen now, and even knowing about people behind you doesn’t resolve the question “what is a real object’s shadow and what is an image on a screen?”. Right now it’s hard to forget about AR-glasses on your face — but even after a half an hour of such an experience people try to reach objects that don’t exist, wait for notifications that will not come. Even a half of an hour is enough for them to become immersed, losing a line between AR and “a real world”.

And then AR is an element of your life.

With a 24/7 AR connection you see the world AND then a bit more. It doesn’t change physics laws so you can’t fly but it creates an essential part of your experience. AR part does not exist in a “normal” (huge Turian air quotes here) way. You can’t sit on it — but you already can touch it and it will be even worse with neural feedback in charge. You can’t taste it — but the taste is a neural impulse, and tasting food from all around the globe — well, it’s a cool experience people are ready to pay for. So it will be here sooner or later. Oh, and a vestibular system as well —

Hi-jack the human neural system — what does it mean “to exist” for things now? Does the thing you can feel exist? Does the thing everybody can feel exist?

Or you can stay purist/part-timer. You just grab yourself out of the life. Because a lot of huge things happens in AR and you do not see it. You might think of yourself as of a rebel, a rogue and a freedom fighter but nobody cares. One day somebody will make money out of you 1%-er too, and it will be done in an AR-based way — because an absence of AR is an experience for an AR society as well.

And with AI everything becomes even more complicated here. It will be a part of an AR universe — as Siri first, as a way to tailor things together then. It will control all “virtial” things for your pleasure, for your comfort. Should we be afraid of AI in this position?

Imagine a world of Musk’s cyborgs living together with a sentient supercomputer, perceiving the world amalgamated in AI-controlled way every day — do you feel it being right? Wrong? The only correct answer is “differently”. We do it in the way not available for the people of yesterday. And I’m not talking about future — am I the only one who uses e-mail to get news from all around the globe every morning?

Having new instruments changes the way we think about the world.

Let’s face it — human existence is “good” for us only. Human extinction is “bad” for us only as well. All scenarios about a villain AI are about the conflict of our “good” and its “good”. AI might decide that our “good” is its “bad”. Or may not. Or it may change the meaning of “good” for us — so we can co-exist in the same place.

The most humane AI might see it as the only way to save us and make it possible for us to live together in peace —kinda Paradise, not Matrix. What will you be then? What will be you?

What are you now, actually?