Imagine a classroom where a student gets so sucked into Mech Arena that he doesn’t hear the teacher ask him a question. What’s more real to the student: the classroom, where he’s surrounded by other members of his own species, or the game he’s playing, where his avatar competes against code?
I’ve always preferred “real” interactions to virtual ones. Hitting an ace in a tennis match played on an actual tennis court is far more rewarding to me than an “ace” earned against a computer by flicking my wrist. Listening to a band playing in the physical space I currently inhabit is generally more fun than listening to a recording of the same band. However, in a world where artificial intelligence can create virtual worlds–not to mention essay-length responses–by the utterance of simple commands, how will we discern reality from virtual reality? How will we cleave the truth from what we merely want to be true?