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if I offered you everything you have ever wished for would you take it?

March 29, 2011

There are many studies that show that the brain has difficulty in telling the difference between something we imagine or dream and something we actually experience. Movies like The Matrix and Total Recall are based on the premise that if you could connect directly into the human brain you can deliver information to it and the person concerned will not be able to distinguish between that and an actual physical experience.

What if I was to tell you that I hang out with some pretty interesting people and that these brain interface technologies are available TODAY and you could be hooked up to it and be fed every experience you ever wanted in real-time. I don’t have to tell you that accepting an offer like that could potentially change your life!

  • Want to win the lotto –  twice, invest it well and have the experience of living in luxury for the rest of your life? No problem.

    Image of the art work "I Wish Your Wish", by Rivane Neuenschwander.

    "I Wish Your Wish", by Rivane Neuenschwander, GoMA, March 2011

  • Want to be the developer of the next killer iPad app and be bigger than that guy who came up with Facebook? Sure.
  • Wished to be independently wealthy so you don’t have to work and can travel the world searching out the best specialty, single origin, fair trade, environmentally friendly coffee for your incredibly successful but small and intimate cafe? Why not?
  • Like a bit of a surprise and just want to be successful at one thing that you love doing and are happy to let us choose what that will be? Easy.

But this sort of technology isn’t limited to those sorts of hedonistic experiences …

  • Want to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for your work in the slums of the world? We can organise that experience for you.
  • Feel the thrill of climbing the five highest peaks in the world? Yep, we can arrange that.
  • Make poverty history and see what it is like to deliver real equality to all the people of the world? OK!
  • Just want to live to a ripe old age in good health and pass peacefully surrounded by your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Just take a seat…

These sorts of life goals (and probably more modest ones) are what keeps most of the people in the world getting out of bed and heading off to work or the gym each day aren’t they? We all say, if only things would change and a bit of luck would come my way I would finally have the time to help the poor, train for that first climb, write that code or get the winning numbers. Well what if this is your lucky day… sign up now and change your experience of life forever.

So who wants in?

***

Now even if you have seen The Matrix and you have some concerns about being stored in a pod and being used as an energy source, I am guessing that after you have had a while to think things through that isn’t the reason you are not going to accept my offer.

So why not? Everything you are working for can be yours to experience and you will not know any different – as far as you will know it will be ‘real’.

Maybe you think it will be too easy and that will take the fun (or the challenge) out of it?

Nope, we can make the experience of achieving your goals as difficult as you want. You can experience being kidnapped or contracting malaria – we can program that in for no extra charge!

Too predictable. If I know the outcome for certain what would be the point?

Nope, you will never know what opportunity will be just around the corner but we can guarantee opportunities will present themselves to you (well to your mind anyway…).

So why not? It won’t hurt a bit (unless you want it to…)

***

What is it about ‘real life’ that, if we are given the choice, would I suspect cause the majority of us to choose the uncertainty, the pain, the highs and the lows of a life physically experienced over a guaranteed outcome experienced in our mind?

What does the process of answering that question have to teach us about what is really important to us in this life? Perhaps it is as someone posted in a Facebook comment I read that we are:

“comforted by the love in [our] heart, the mystery of life, the grace of friendship and the joy of unfolding unknowns, yet to begin…”

I don’t know.

***

This post was prompted by a lecture from Daniel Robinson called Four Theories of a Good Life, lecture 50 in the series 50 Great Ideas in Philosophy. If you enjoyed reading this or my other posts you can subscribe and receive them via email simply by putting your email address into the Email Subscription box just on the right of my blog home page. You will receive a confirmation email (which some systems will think is spam so keep an eye on your junk mail) that you need to acknowledge to complete the subscription process.

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