Wired peers in the future of reality

The first matrix The film introduces a generation of sci-fi fans to the saw of an ancient philosopher: What if your whole reality is a hoax? Two decades later, the film’s plot – an attempt to expose the lies behind a free-thinking oppressive system – is as timely as ever, but its conceptual basis seems almost strange. The technologies that have emerged since then really raise the question of what is real, but now they do it in ways that are even more unfamiliar than the film’s predictions, if rarely so dangerous.

Your everyday reality is a growing artificial experience: computerized voices populate your smart speakers, Deepfax resurrect dead movie actors, and AI-made art at auction-auctioning prices. Are going Smallpox is also spreading in food: supermarket shelves already have countless vegetarian alternatives to meat and other animal products, and the long-awaited “real” meat in a lab will be one of them. ۔ You can populate virtual realities and enhance your body with virtual characters (Pokemon Go), Street View (Google Live View), or Furniture (Ikea Studio). All of your social media profiles may be real, but do any of them reflect “real you”? The same question applies to profiles you can’t even see – that are beyond the data of credit card companies, shopping sites, or search engines. Each one is a virtual version of you that affects your physical life and, if there are errors in the data, makes you a person you are not. And now, all of a sudden, everyone is talking about creating something called “Metavers”.

In short, things are already weird, and they’re going to be weird too fast. So we decided to use our release Matrix Resurrection As a springboard for a special issue of WIRED exploring the future of reality – without the question “What if we all live in a simulation and don’t know it?” But “what happens when we are living in a simulation and reality at the same time, and we know it, but we have a hard time separating them?” In that case, it doesn’t matter if you get a red bullet or a blue one: we’re all going down a rabbit hole somehow. – Editors

More from WIRED’s special series on the effects of Matrix The franchise – and the future of reality


This article appears in the December 2021 / January 2022 issue. Subscribe now.

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