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Is Virtual the New Real?

20/04/2021

The idea of what we perceive to be real and what comprises our existence has been cogitated interminably throughout recorded history and most likely at some point, before. Today’s world has a few fundamental differences from the past which blur the lines to the point where it becomes impossible for the layman to confidently state he is sure of his facts. Fact or fiction has become our new reality as both the dissemination of information and the increase in our ability to subvert, manipulate, falsify or change ‘factual’ information to fit with our agendas makes it an uphill task to find the ‘truth’. Since the ‘democritisation ‘ of society over the last century (or less as the case may be), the population globally has become accustomed to the illusion of freedom of thought, speech and other perceived to be enshrined Human Rights. These included the ability to freely congregate often without prior permission unless legally necessary (Demonstrations etc.) and give as well as have an opinion of ones own contrary or different to the prevailing one taken as the mainstream norm. Travel was pretty much simple, easily arranged and the flow of people, goods, creatures, ideas and all manner of interactions was continual. We were starting to acknowledge that the open exchange of all that comprises’ life’ for us was starting to bear fruit though how we viewed that fruit is another matter. Obviously the powers that be in any domain viewed this strange flowering with great alarm as they observed the questions that arose when the public had access to information (true or false depending on what was available and the degree the public were prepared to spend time and effort finding out). The fact that the populace would no longer believe in the administration’s ability to solve problems but only their role in ensuring minimum standards at maximum cost while inevitably screwing things up at the same time, was making clearly visible the unraveling of the system. The accepted version was seen to be threadbare and unable to cope. Then came the virus.

The blurring of lines between what is real or purported to be real (whether factually based or not) has been codified and manipulated to the nth degree and has been instrumental in convincing the public that a lot of contrary or alternative opinions or viewpoints were just “Fake News” .The term “Fake News” was the latest in a long line of the means employed to control access to information. Control was tightened up to leave only one accepted version of the facts of any matter. Those who print, transmit or air information using any of the politically, government and entity sanctioned main media can return endlessly to the same version so further cementing that version of the ‘truth’. The result is the public’s acceptance of the difficulty and the effort needed to find out facts that can be verified independently resulting in the attitude ‘why bother’. So increasingly there is little publicly aired dissension and we have enabled a singular viewpoint to hold sway.

“...(still, not much different from the process used to print currency by the Central Banks) ”

This has resulted in the diminishing amount of news, facts, and information that has a view opposed to the prevailing one fed continuously to the public. Who really knows is the question I often hear which underlines the apathetic attitude of most people when faced with the unpalatable truth that in essence, they do not have a clue. All of what we perceive and experience has become so arbitrary that unless it is personal, we are enmeshed in a life where much of it (including the mundane) translates into a feeling of fear of the future and the fact that all appears to be built on shifting sand. There is little or no permanency or stability or any medium to long term view that we can cling to other than the eternal proclamations of those who rule (in name as well as with added extras) or those who sell us everything . They both follow agendas which if not contrary, are definitely not overly good for us and which they persist in pushing at all cost. Lines they have drawn in the sand are limiting our ability to see clearly and preventing us from making a uniform shift in a direction that represents growth for us rather than the ever limiting enclosure that is being placed around us with great care and planning. The radical erasing of the lines between real and unreal in all forms of media through the increased use of AI and Technology has made the ease of distinguishing one from another even harder.

What is virtual and what is real? No longer can you rely on your eyes as we have become aware that all of us can be fooled quite easily no matter how much we cry that we know the difference. No form of transmission of information (be it entertainment, factual, informative or notifying) can be relied upon to be ‘real’ as it all is variable. Foodstuffs are being grown in laboratories and it is only a question of time before they will be indistinguishable from the organic or farmed product. Virtual is the new reality as we take on board Crypto currency and accept that value can be formed in thin air (still, not much different from the process used to print currency by the Central Banks) because like much else in our lives, it is ephemeral. What can be used as an asset that does not primarily exist tangibly but has value, worth and utility of exchange? We accept this is now possible and considered safe, so where will we draw the boundaries ethically, morally (especially on the personal level) and of course politically and legally as a safeguard for purely pragmatic and the philosophical reasons. We are on the cusp of a leap into the unknown where what we have yet to fully recognise and understand is the essence of what makes us Homo sapiens. The ground is being laid with solid foundations already in place to take us into a life where distinguishing what is fact and what has been massaged or manipulated will become impossible for the majority Already access to information implies a cost and in most cases is not attainable for the majority of the global population. How will our version of reality change and will it reach an outcome which if not overly dystopian, may not be good for our evolution. Our underlying belief systems allow us to confidently go about everyday life because we have faith in certain absolutes like justice, public approbation and some form of electing or choosing leaders, doers and pundits. But as our world vision becomes ever more fractal due to the myriad of possible “truths”, we will lose much of what it means to be human when we can no longer confidently be certain of anything. Survival a la Darwin will be the norm as we lose the ability to decide accurately based on conclusions drawn from undeniable truth.

We are capable of resolving the issues but accepting it will not be controlled for the benefit of the few is a can of worms. We do not see the need to dismantle and change everything in one go, rather gather the information and start to rectify the wrongs and put in place measures to ensure the outcome stays for the benefit of all mankind, otherwise all those nightmares may arrive. Other than War and the annihilation of a very large proportion of humanity, the present system cannot continue on its cyclical pattern with the growth in the human population of earth and the depletion of natural resources (ecological damage etc.) taking us to the tipping point. There certain basic production issues we cannot easily or cost effectively overcome given the number of people and their needs and many of these can no longer increase production more efficiently and cost effectively. Otherwise the only alternative appears to be the removal of basic rights and a more dictatorial method of governance as the imploding of all society’s world wide speeds up. No nation is immune as our interdependence is only not total by a small amount despite the politicos saying otherwise. The whole ecological/climate change debate only underlines the fact that all our actions impact others.

The problem with time is it does not stop. At our current pace we may not have the luxury of time to fully debate the questions before one of many possible outcomes is upon us. Thinkers like Nick Bostrom have commenced the long journey down these roads but we must take into account that little is being done to implement even the basics. They say ‘only time will tell’ but we need to remember that historically, very little that humans have done was in time to prevent melt down and the record has few notable exceptions.

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