matrix

Neil Bostrom from Oxford University has suggested that we may live in a Matrix, a simulation. Elon Musk has suggested something similar, now new research has revealed that one in five Brits would prefer to be living in a virtual world to their existing reality.

Many works of science fiction as well as some forecasts by serious technologists and futurologists predict that enormous amounts of computing power will be available in the future. Let us suppose for a moment that these predictions are correct. One thing that later generations might do with their super-powerful computers is run detailed simulations of their forebears or of people like their forebears. Because their computers would be so powerful, they could run a great many such simulations. Suppose that these simulated people are conscious (as they would be if the simulations were sufficiently fine-grained and if a certain quite widely accepted position in the philosophy of mind is correct). Then it could be the case that the vast majority of minds like ours do not belong to the original race but rather to people simulated by the advanced descendants of an original race. It is then possible to argue that, if this were the case, we would be rational to think that we are likely among the simulated minds rather than among the original biological ones. Therefore, if we don’t think that we are currently living in a computer simulation, we are not entitled to believe that we will have descendants who will run lots of such simulations of their forebears.

— Nick Bostrom, Are you living in a computer simulation?, 2003
So that's the theory, meanwhile, back on Earth, research from Geekzonia, a free social, entertainment and retail VR platform, has found that 17 per cent of Brits questioned in a survey would rather live in virtual reality.
It turns out that it is partly down to Brexit and Donald Trump, although, of course, some might suggest that the election of Donald Trump proves we already live in a simulation.

The survey of 1,000 people in the UK, carried out by OnePoll and commissioned by Geekzonia, revealed 22 per cent cite Brexit and Trump as reasoning for wanting to live in a virtual universe.

Other drivers for preferring to live in an alternative dimension include wanting to visit extraordinary places such as Mars, Gotham City and Mordor (46 per cent) and to meet favourite fictional characters such as Superman, The Hulk and Captain America (33 per cent).

The poll, which looked at the level of interest people have in escaping reality for a virtual realm, also examined how they would develop their avatar to represent them in this alternative dimension. An avatar within these massively multiplayer virtual worlds is a person’s representation of themselves, as they wish to be perceived by others users.

The results revealed that body confidence transcends into the virtual world, with the majority of respondents (39 per cent) admitting they would make their VR avatar look like themselves, only better looking(!).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, ‘virtual vanity’ hits women harder. 45 per cent of British women, in comparison to 30 per cent of men, state they’d create their avatar as a ‘taller’, ‘slimmer’ or ‘more muscular’ version of their current self.

Reflecting this, 29 per cent of men in comparison to only 19 per cent of women, said they’d make their avatar as-true to themselves as possible.

Other popular avatars of interested included ‘becoming’ a fictional character (25 per cent), not even human (nine per cent) and a celebrity (four per cent).

"It’s no surprise that people are experiencing a sudden desire to live in a virtual universe,” says Peter Dobson, CEO of Geekzonia. “Virtual reality has the potential to make people feel invincible but also allows them to meet other like-minded people from around the world without needing to leave the house. The level of connectivity and surreal experiences virtual reality enables us is thrilling and gives us the opportunity to escape some of today’s harsh realities.”

Aimed at Geeks, VR and tech enthusiasts, Geekzonia is a social haven for users to share interactive and immersive experiences in various zones centred around geek culture. Earlier this month, Geekzonia launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to bring their virtual world to life.

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