“Ultimately software-based humans will be vastly extended beyond the severe limitations of humans as we know them today. They will live out on the Web, projecting bodies whenever they need or want them, including virtual bodies, foglet projected bodies, and physical bodies comprising nanobot swarms and other forms of nanotechnology.” — Ray Kurzweil
Something has not been created yet, and I'm already lambasting the idea of it. So be it, as I always happy to proved wrong (but let's leave my superego out of this). I may not be able to predict human progress, but I can sort of predict human nature. It was Toqueville who noted that Democratic citizens may someday see themselves “either greater than kings or less than men.” It does look like we have gotten nearly there, with the metaverse probably be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
Today, we rarely look upward to God, but instead have supplanted any transcendent with manmade ideologies and the political state. We then buffer our world further still by looking inward through our constant barrage of technological distraction that disconnects us from substantive intimacy. And this has led to more isolation without any need for us to look outward towards our fellow citizens—many seen in contempt because they're boxed in to a subcategory of “other” without a shared universal identity. I can't see an easy way out, but moving our worlds further into virtual/augmented realities will probably just heighten our proclivity to dismantle our humanity.
After all, it was Stanley Kubrick who believed as we come to rely on technology to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens out. So in other words, artificial intelligence won't come to us, but we will come to it. But what is it about such entrenched artificial medium that lessens our potential for being fully human?
Without any deeper meaning and right praise to the transcendent, it is too easy to fall into despair and to allow ourselves get distracted by entertainment and technology. The burden to cultivate meaning is too much when faith has been lost by the existing institutions. We may dabble in new age modalities, but this will never cultivate the time-tested institutions that have scaled shared practices, community, coherent doctrines, sacrifice, and faith for millennia. And I don't care how much futurists sell us the utopian visions as to how the metaverse will transform our world; it will always fall short of expectations of transforming the person (keep in mind they always toot their horns by their own evaluation criteria, such as material wealth, comfort, convenience, and a trivial enjoyment).
The truth is the metaverse can never equate real life and existence. Existence is immeasurable and prior to anything created—instead of being an emergent property of manmade creativity. Living out one's life in some abstracted manmade environment can never compensate for real lived experience. Of course there are those who prefer the abstract to the real, such as our leftist managerial class. Allen says the left “do very little with their hands, and so tend to privilege form -- intellectual ideas and theories, design, structural adjustments and so on -- over function, over actually engaging with the real world.” Sounds like the metaverse will be primarily voting one way to its favor, while creating a deeper addiction to the simulation at the cost of real.
Real life is also embodied, and as much as the metaverse can simulate sensate experience it will always be disconnected. The fully human embodied experience goes beyond superficial sensations on our skin and through our visual and auditory functions, but is a more deeply reciprocal relationship that involves our heart, intuition, intelligibility and the deep subtle sensations that lie beyond our skin. We engage reality with our whole person! Moreover, real life is also an open system allowing one to go beyond oneself while any simulated world is a closed system. There is no God in the metaverse, beyond another simulated limited object.
Offering people the ability the script-write their world leaves one cold towards humanity's significance. We will play god with our simulated life, instead of seeing our place in a cosmological journey where we are fated with limited choices and possibilities. The forthcoming metaverse will get closer to simulating a superficial sensate experience of the real, but in the end it will ultimately dim the person to meet a lesser baseline vitality of one's humanity while he/she is allowed to control a world that offers no meaning.