Thus is the Vertiverse
The Existential Primitive Experience of Writing and Prognostication
I am co-writing a story set in the 26th century… it is supposed to be more hard sci-fi than fantastical… but I realized that predicting where technology will be in half a millennia is fantastical no matter how realistic you try to be. If you are too conservative, you only break the reader’s suspension of disbelief as they think ‘come on.. this is x years in the future, how can they not have this?’
I suppose this is one reason why dystopian sci fi has been so popular, because it’s easier to write… haha. Plus humans are wired for negativity. In a world where war and disaster has destroyed most of society, one does not have to worry about trying to predict where different trends will go, or what discoveries we might make, or even how the current problems actually led to such a disaster.
So we took a different route, we were not trying for anything dystopian or utopian. Simply following trends. Chasing the potential of different strides in technology and even economical shifts; such as how 3D printers will affect society (pretty massively); or the creation of nanobots (it is inevitable); or even accounting for the Singularity (we can’t, but we found a great explanation).
We wanted to incorporate all of the major (and soon to be major) pieces of technology and make a linear timeline of their progression; from there we then tried to account for exponentiallities like the ‘Singularity’ and AI in general. Of course it is nearly impossible to truly come up with anything ‘accurate,’ but we could imagine. And I am great at that.
One piece of technology that is featured in our novel is something I only just recently realized I can help with. A burgeoning industry that will become bigger than the internet. A technology that will change our very concept of reality.
What is this world-changing, reality-bending tech you ask? Virtual Reality.
The trend of virtual reality is quite powerful and pervasive. So much so that it will surpass the influence of the general internet and blossom into a kind of virtual universe.
It is so fruitful and immersive that people would rather live there than in the real world.
Live in a computer world instead of real life? (Like now, right? …ha…)
Yes and no. In our book, humanity is in the space-age.
At first we could not decide if we should include some ‘FTL’ ability. So we came up with a solution that would work regardless of whether or not we could travel through space quickly. We came up with something awesome.
Full-body, virtual reality, full immersion capsules.
These capsules are essentially stasis pods. They exude soups of bio-chemical nanomachines. The chemical soup contains all the vitamins and minerals and nutrients one needs to sustain a human. The bio part of that just means all of these are biological in nature, they are grown and calibrated specifically for each person. The nanomachines are probably the fuzziest science. These include full-body micro sensors that can run a full diagnostic, and essentially maintain your homeostasis levels extra and/or intravenously (depending on your level of comfort of course, haha!). Then there are the nanobots that are synthetically printed microbiomechanics that can replicate your own bacteria and cells... there are even specifically designed ‘neuro-net’ nanobots that hook up your conscience to the internet (by either fully scanning and re-creating or simulating your entire brain digitally, or finding the infamous ‘seat of consciousness’ and uploading it to the ‘mainframe’). This way, you are fully immersed in these virtual reality worlds.
This is the best way one can travel long distances because it solves the problem of human frailty. Your metabolic system can be slowed down, thus you age much more slowly (kind of like how stasis pods or even cryogenics are often used as such in sci-fi). Your muscles can also be stimulated so that not only do they not become weak, but they can in fact be ‘fine tuned’ and strengthened without your having to actually exercise. Because these machines are constantly triaging and balancing your chemical levels, they naturally help reduce degradation and even grow your brain due to digital (retroactive) stimulants.
I can go more in depth to this, and have been doing a lot of research to check the plausibility… But I won’t bore you with the details (unless you really want em :P ).
The point is, come the 23rd century (or maybe around 50 or so years from now when we create these full-body capsules), we will be able to experience Virtual Reality worlds without any sort of adverse effects; no motion sickness, no muscle atrophy due to extended use, no uncanny valley, no siloed senses, no lag. We will be able to experience these digital worlds as if they were real.
As for what makes this an actual universe? The power of creativity.
Everyone will be able to create their very own virtual worlds. From fantasy to scifi to tourism to everyday surrogate life, we will create realities on demand.
This is an absolutely astounding potential!
As a powerful machine and software able to create life-like or otherwise extremely immersive digital worlds, these VR worlds will also have to be capable of simulating most, if not all, real life mechanisms.
Physics. Next-gen atomic voxels and ray casting and non-rigid, persistent bodies; not just cross platform but cross-world… You thought Star Citizen was the most ambitious and realistic space sim? Wait till we can simulate every piece of space ship from the nuts and bolts to the fuel to the astrodynamics! One can finally grow a character, build a structure, mold geography, model systems, and sooo much more…
Anyone will be able to create anything.
And just as the appeal and power of the internet drove and is driving the spread of infrastructure in rural and ‘developing countries’ as well as constantly pushing the want (and thus ‘need’) for faster connections… this hi-fidelity medium will cause an explosion in self-fulfilling ‘Moore’s Law’ type rates of progress. We will make breakthroughs in hardware processing, we will need very robust systems like quantum computers and bio-mechanical hard drive processor graphics card hybrids that will be able to adapt and learn on the fly. We will need AI to manage all of these sensors, physics, and to even keep persistent worlds alive and functioning on a scale that no human can ever truly manage. We will need to perfect gesture and voice recognition and later even brain-computer interaction to lose the need for restrictive/non-immersive controls such as keyboards and controllers. We will thus find new modes of streaming content, of transporting data, of securing and building network architecture. When we take this to space, we will devise whole new methods of beating the FTL rule to transmit information between interstellar networks (perhaps, if we dont figure out ‘ansibles’ :P, through wormholes. It is far easier to figure out how to fit nanotubes through really small wormholes, or even shrink our cables down to the planck scale (which I imagine would be less of a bother after we master quantum computing) and fit those cables through). If this sounds ridiculous to you… then just wait for the AI to become smart enough to solve it for us.
This will happen. And when it does… we will come to question our place in the universe and even our ‘home reality’.
What will be the use of the ‘real world’? Why waste time with all of the limits and problems of real life when we can literally do anything we want and experience anything we can imagine in a virtual world?
We may start the space-age, colonize other star systems… but what need would there be to attempt to become intergalactic? Why waste all that time and effort to solve even bigger problems and go on to discover the entire universe? Why mess with the ‘real universe’ when we will have our very own and completely malleable, virtual universe?
Thus is the Vertiverse.
Unlike the internet, VR will allow one to live inside the digital world. You thought people practically live on the internet now? Addicted to cat gifs, reddit, social media, youtube, Amazon, games, and all manner of screen-glowy goodness? Well what do you think will happen when people can literally live in the internet world? Inside their very own digital universe?
Wouldn’t that prove that our own reality is likely another Virtual Universe?
Are you scared?
You shouldn’t be… because this is Scare-
Okay…. its pretty daunting…
But, it is also incredibly powerful and amazing too!
The fact that we have come so far, and will go so far as to create our very own realities... This holds a promise and potential that we must heed!
on/off switches>>> 1s and 0s >>> command lines >>> input devices>>> graphic user interfaces >>> games>> > in-screen interfaces (like Occulus) >>> sensory input (like FeelThree) >>>mixed reality (includes augmented and other digital interfaces) >>> computer-brain interfaces >>> capsule immersion hubs >>> … Vertiverse.
Virtual Reality will create some cool and strange occurrences, such as:
The resurgence, or rather reincarnation of GeoCities as actual ‘cyber cities’.
Real personal assistants, not just Jeeves or Siri… or HoloLens.
Live simulations of the bits and packages that make our internet work.
Surfing the Web in a (netscape reminiscent) ‘navigator’ through 3D worlds.
Minesweeper will finally be fun. Solitaire and Pinball will be extra cool.
Paint and Notepad will be your best buds and default exploratory journals.
Then of course there will be more great internet weirdness like Zombo.com, The Ultimate Showdown, Anything Here, 4Chan, Reddit, Old Youtube, Darude Sandstorm, all the gifs, memes, games and more that we cannot even fathom as of yet…
This is all just an overview. One can go more into the ‘science’ of how it may all work. The networking and security and interfaces and programming and hardware. One can go more into the use cases and possible trends for VR world creation. One can go more into the idea using neuro-net nanobots to hook up one’s brain to the web. One can go more into the impact of augmented and other mixed reality tools. One can go more into the impact VR will have on creating more empathy, open-access knowledge, future education, training, rehabilitation, remote lives, open borders, less barriers to creativity and information, and so much more.
This Virtual Universe… is possibly the infinite endpoint of the Internet.
Thus is the Vertiverse.
What should be the next Exprimitence?
The creation and life inside the Vertiverse?
Trends and potential of 3D printing?
The awe-ful ness of AI?
What it will take to become Interstellar?
What and how we will come to invent magic?
Have another idea?
Post below or find me on twitter!