I was in a rush to get to the office. I had to clear out the workload from the previous day before assailing the one for the present day.
I already knew the day would be as intense as the sunlight, which seemed to be smiling benignly at me. While increasing my pace and hoping transportation delay wouldn’t seep from my already conscripted time, I decided to unbutton the sleeve of my shirt and give it a fold.
Today didn’t seem like the kind of day to look overly corporate; I wanted to hit the office prepared for intense work.
I did the first hand and moved on to folding the other.
In haste, I realized the fold wasn’t smooth and didn’t tally with the fold on the other arm.
I had to either leave it that way and lose out on the cool look or go for the ‘Field-Worker’ look by unfolding the entire sleeve and starting afresh, albeit this time more clinical and precise in the folding process.
I was already behind time, and this sleeve-folding business was already beginning to sap out computing energy from my brain.
What If I could just Ctrl-Z the whole damn thing! (For my not-too-computer-savvy friends, Ctrl-Z is that key on your computer you press to undo or return something to its original state, especially if you made a mistake).
Yea, I actually thought and wished that Cntrl-Z would work now as I increased my walking pace almost to a trot.
My thoughts spiralled in a new direction: What If I could use the Cntrl-Z button as we do with digital computing devices to undo my recent bad folds, and if possible, use Cntrl-C to copy a nicely well-done sleeve-fold from the internet or from one I had done in the past, and paste it to my current reality using Cntrl-V.”
This brought me to reality and how Technology, while augmenting our biological computing process, can lend us some of its cooler digital computing features –as I imagined above (Cntrl, Shift, Alt etc.).
Our world is fast changing, and there is little anybody can do about that. How far will these changes go? Would it entirely take over the realms of our biological reality?
Our perceived reality is a result of the processing powers of our brains. What if machines through super /quantum computing avail us the power to redefine reality. To a great degree, with Virtual reality, AI and many other emerging technologies, we are closer than we think.
So imagine a future where you wake up in the morning, and the first thing you do is reach for your Extended Reality (XR) device. With that, you can go anywhere, do and experience anything, as long as it can be digitized.
Your digital personality becomes more real; you can share this Virtual (new world) with others. Distance no longer becomes a barrier. Say your family or friend is having a birthday party; they could invite you to a birthday hangout on Facebook. Only this time, everyone participates in the event by plugging in or gearing up as the case may be.
You can virtually feel the likes and hear the comments as they are spoken. It becomes a shared experience that is entered into your actual memory.
The whole shopping experience is also changed. You could, when plugged in, visit WalMart or Amazon virtual stores and say – ‘try out possible outfits’.
When you are unsure about how the outfit looks on you (even when you are trying them out digitally and can see yourself from a third person in 3D), You can get validation from others.
You either invite your fashionista friend to check you out (of course, she is also plugged-in/geared-up), or you share the simulation of yourself on this outfit on Social platforms like Instagram and have people give their take (through likes and comments) on whether it really fits on you before you make a final buying decision.
Take another instance of you buying a car; before you decide, you take the car out for a spin (digitally simulated).
You simulate different realities, such as driving the car in high traffic, snow, or rugged terrains; you can even simulate you’re being chased by another car or beating speed lights (who knows what customers would want).
If you then fancy the handling and control of the car, and all the cool features you enjoyed within (especially its autonomous driving feature) resonated with you, you then make a final buying decision.
The list of things or crossroads where our ‘reality’ will cross with our digitally created ‘virtuality’ will require redefining our definition of everyday living. From business to education to entertainment, every fabric of life will have new weaves that provide exploitation digitally.
The realities we create with our biological computing powers do not allow us to alter our experiences. The industry for Extended Reality (XR): which is an umbrella word that includes various approaches to extending reality such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality( AR), Mixed Reality (MR) or even platforms like the Metaverse by Facebook will open new ways for us to explore reality or whatever we perceive to be reality.
With Elon Musk’s Neural Link already set to directly connect the biological to the digital, we may just be on the thresh-hold of new powers.
We may soon have the power to alter or enhance our consciousness and produce new signals for perception. As they say, “seeing is believing”, so as long as we can see and feel these signals, we will begin to perceive them as reality.
So to a human-machine hybrid or, more aptly put, Trans-humanist, reality will be a hybrid of both digital and analogue (biological) signals. And as long as our senses perceive such signals intelligibly, they will be processed as our realities.
On a synoptic note, the future is largely uncertain, filled with too many variables and possibilities. While we wait for events such as the singularity or the Omega-point, we may already have entered the threshold of an era, where everything we previously knew will undergo redefinition.
I am still doing my best to get a perfect sleeve fold while hurrying up to make it to the office on time.
I am not a perfectionist, but it wouldn’t be nice if my uneven and improperly-done sleeve fold sent a signal, or make others who share this analogue-reality space with me, perceive me as an untidy humanist.
What do you think? Would a Ctrl-Z feature be good for our present reality?
I originally wrote this piece in 2018 (that’s five years ago). A lot has changed from then to now, and I am counting that more will change in a few years.
On a personal note, we already live in Mixed Reality, considering the likes of Generative AI, Deep fakes, Fake news and the many other fictitious propaganda that has plagued humanity. Going forward into the future, the most crucial questions should be; What is real, what is fiction? What is truth, and what is error?
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Written By kelly Idehen
Kelly is an Author | Ideation & Innovation | Futurist | AI/Emerging Technology Researcher