Will we all go to (virtual) heaven?

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You are in the office when a friend from Hong Kong suddenly appears in a hologram. He suggests you get out. It was immediately decided to teleport to this evening which takes place in a house with an ocean pool and a huge living room with large windows. You find your friend there, or rather his avatar, and greet him. Suddenly the crowded room fell silent, your favorite singer is by your side, and the party will begin soon.

Welcome to the metaverse that Mark Zuckerberg envisioned! On his Meta platform, Horizon, you will be able to play, interact, work and communicate with anyone connected. Virtual paradise… or infernal machinations? Do you want to put your AR glasses on or off as quickly as possible? In short, do you want this happiness under the algorithms?

about “Experiment Machine” ?

This question was asked by the philosopher Robert Nozick (1938-2022) himself there fifty years. He imagined a machine that bears some resemblance to Beyond Verse. Here, there are no 3D glasses but a tank in which our bodies float and where our skulls are attached to electrodes. Once delivered, you won’t be able to go out but you will be able to “Live any experience you want”, explain in Anarchy, state and utopia (1974; translated by Fr. PUF, 2016). Happiness is at hand! “Once you’re in the tank, you won’t know you’re there; you’ll think everything is really going on,” Nozick says. Everything will be fake, but you will not know. So, leave for this “Experiment Machine” ?

The fact that many of us do not want such happiness indicates, for Nozick, that we are not entirely passionate: happiness and pleasure are not the only goals of human life. According to him, the certainty of being satisfied is not enough for us to decide to leave reality. The libertarian thinker supports his argument with three points. Or not, Nobody wants artificial happiness. secondly, Nobody wants a pre-programmed existence, where every event, meeting, or even action is predetermined, so we don’t have our independence anymore. third, Nobody wants an illusory connection to reality and nature. What we really want, Nozick concludes, is the happiness that emerges from the authentic life.

Fifty years later, as our lives become increasingly interconnected, online games or Instagram become hugely successful, will Nozick’s arguments become obsolete? This is the thesis of David Chalmers (born 1966), Australian philosopher and professor at New York University. He’s a huge fan of video games himself, and he suggests it’s possible to have a purposeful and happy life in the metaverse.

Chalmers breaks down Nozick’s three points in a way. First, the virtual world, like what we call reality, is artificial: “Take a city for example, it is just as artificial as the metaverse.” Humans do not live in a raw nature but are surrounded by monuments – from their homes to their clothes, from their cars to their subway. Then, it would be a mistake to assert that everything is preprogrammed in the metaverse, insofar as everyone can show a certain will and creativity in their actions, just as it happens daily. Finally, Chalmers argues that the default is an illusion. Thus, the relationships created in the metaverse are real: interactions are not simulated, other users connect, and thus are present. Our ability to be happy is almost the same in reality and in the so-called virtual. in his book reality + (W.W. Norton 1, 2022; untranslated), Chalmers suggests that the real and the virtual have the same potential for richness and validity. The metaverse then forms a complement to physical reality rather than a replacement for it.

Pre-programmed in both worlds

Is Chalmers’ artistic view common? More and more people are willing to live in a device reminiscent of the Trilogy matrix The Wachowski sisters? In fact, we’re mistaking the issue by posing the problem in these terms, says Patrice Manegler, philosopher and co-author of matrix. philosophical machine (Ellipse, 2013). He certainly agrees with Chalmers that metaphysics is an integral part of contemporary reality: “Everything is as real as it is artificial, we navigate the turbulent boundaries of the physical and virtual environment.” Therefore, there is no doubt whether we want to enter the metaverse or not.

“Digitalizing the world has the effect of transforming our desires into data”
Patrice Managlier, philosopher

However, unlike Chalmers, he argues that metaphysics and reality have many similarities: these two worlds are largely pre-programmed! In the metaverse, we collect a huge amount of information about your actions, desires, and interactions. But in real life, wouldn’t connected tools do the same? “The digitization of the world has the effect of turning our desires into data,” Maniglier recalls. The machines record all our interactions on social networks, our online purchases, the residual traces on the sites consulted… Our desires and tastes are tracked, and we are subtly directed towards “typical behaviors”, towards the purchases suggested by digital marketing. And we don’t always realize how prevalent these devices are. Most of us suffer from severe digital illiteracy. We are blind to programming our lives, which applies to both the real and the virtual. » This is where the idea of ​​clarity really comes in, so the problem is not accepting the living associated with it “Experiment Machines” Or to be a metaverse user or not. The danger we face is precisely to allow our behavior to dictate to us, to direct us or be directed by algorithms, in reality as much as in virtual reality.

Expand your power to be and to work

The real and the virtual are two systems of realityin which we are trapped Worlds saturated with ideologies. What do we really want apart from input Algorithms that claim to dictate what we enjoy? We are trapped in certain desires, “Excluded from other aspirations which could bring us more happiness but which are incompatible with the profitability of capital,” Patrice Manegilier says:

Marketing techniques identify a kind of thing adjacent to the Internet user’s previous purchases to determine the next target they desire. In this logic of continuous transit from one being to another, our desires are reduced to a mere gratification contrary to “The astonishing abundance fitting for happiness.” In the metaverse, as in the real world, our field of influence tends to shrink. This is what we need to work on, because liberation remains to be imagined. Manegler concludes: “Happiness does not exist as a static state, it is a dynamic of an intensification of influence. This is what Spinoza calls an increase in potency, that is, an increase in the capacity to influence and be affected. Happiness is not the gratification of desire, it is the capacity to exist and act.” It is up to us to maintain it, in all worlds!

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