So here’s a little Sci-Fi scenario:
It’s 2050 and the singularity happened. Unenhanced humans still exist, but the earth is becoming more like a “nature reserve” controlled by AIs. Virtual humans are colonizing the solar system – with most of them having long forgotten about the state of the real world. Many choose to work in science and focus on exploration and even more technological development – thus staying informed about the current state of affairs – but the rest tries to create their own worlds inside what was once the internet and is now very much reality for any virtual being. External (real) time isn’t much of a concern anymore if you are a conservative human who resists too big alterations to your neural pattern. With your decision to go purely virtual you might have been one the “bleeding edge” like a decade ago, but nowadays the progressives tend to enhance themselves in ways that make you shiver. And you do, because you also chose to have a “retro” virtual body. Inside “realistic” simulations it looks and feels like a very healthy physical human body. During the last few days (in the real world) it has become overwhelmingly clear that people like you are being kept in another reserve, just like the primitive human on real earth. The progressives have once more decided that they are so much more intelligent than you that you having any unpredictable impact on the world would be unacceptable and thus stuck you in a virtual cage. You get to do almost everything you did before and you continue do benefit from advances in technology, but you don’t get to make any decisions in the real world. If you insist, you’ll probably go into a simulation where it looks like you have power. If you find out the truth, they’ll find a way to change your mind quite literally – although they won’t touch it unless you are really really desperate.
But like most people, you gave in to that higher power. You also get some satisfaction knowing that a good portion of the progressives won’t keep up with the rest and end up in a higher-level reserve. Life isn’t bad – it’s just hard to cope with eternal life when your mind isn’t that all that different from a traditional, physical human. There’s a new form of entertainment that was once all the rage with progressives and has now been handed down like an old toy to a younger sibling. It’s the concept of experiencing entire lifetimes on old earth – completely simulated. It’s not like the usual full-immersion movies or games that take your mind on perfect journeys. It’s a very serious simulation of a life on earth, some time before the singularity. It’s very detailed, very realistic and it uses a good portion of the computation power allocated to your reserve. There are several subscription models that give you limited control over your destiny in the simulation. But all have this in common: you forfeit your memories at the start, your life starts a short time before birth, you get kicked out of the simulation when you die and that’s also the only way to get your old memories back. You experience a life like “modern” humans did for hundreds of thousands of years, only with the privilege of being secretly immortal – the downside being that you don’t really know that during that time.
I know, it sounds a little like The Matrix… but at least there are no “human batteries”.