Virtualization of the human soul

Sunil Rajguru
New Update

There is mobile evolution: 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, 6G… There is a technological evolution which is getting more and more pervasive in our lives. Then there is the evolution of the human soul to match the above changes. The endgame? We may merge with technology one day.


The Agricultural Revolution led to the formation of villages followed by kingdoms and nation states. It wasn’t just about fields and crops. The Industrial Revolution led to the capitalist states we live in today along with breakneck growth and inventions. It wasn’t just about the factories and workers.

Computers changed the way the entire world functioned along with the economy and the Internet supersized that. It’s not just about the bits and bytes. Today there is only one company that reached a market capitalization of $3 trillion: Apple. $2 trillion: Microsoft and Alphabet. When you look at the $1 trillion club, it’s Amazon, Tesla and Meta. All 6 are tech companies! Tech totally rules our lives.

The Smartphone Revolution led to a lot of changes, and I could go on and on, but probably the biggest impact is how it has affected us all socially. You shut the factory and the worker went home. You shut down the desktop and walked away. While the laptop could be carried around, you still shut it and didn’t take it everywhere.


The first time we were “always on”

The smartphone changed the way we lived and depended on technology. This is the first time that we have a device which is always on our person and “always on”. You carry your mobile with you everywhere you go, even to the toilet. You sleep with it. It has become a detachable extension of you. It is your best friend. It knows more about you than yourself thanks to your apps, choices, communication, GPS, predictive algorithms… In a way you already have become a cyborg and have merged with your smartphone: Emotionally and spiritually.

5G, the “always on” network


5G is the next stage of tech-society evolution. 1G was voice and 2G included the SMS data pipe. 3G was the Internet and 4G broadband. 5G will go way beyond all that and become the ubiquitous “always on” 24X7 all-pervading network. Initially there was a dichotomy. You had an Internet connection at home, first through a copper wire and then through fibre, which would power all the devices of your home.

While that had limited penetration initially, something that just went viral and mushroomed all over was mobile broadband which has been getting better and better with each passing year. 5G promises to converge the two. It will unite all the devices of the house.

5G will have short towers all around to make you live in a rich broadband zone which can power everything in its radius. Smart Homes and 5G are made for each other. Thanks to the pandemic, its time has already come. From desktops, laptops and mobiles we are moving on to TVs, fridges and home assistants.


Metaverse, the “always on” virtual world?

As you can see, there is a natural evolution where both technology and humans are getting ready to be online 24X7. The concept of offline is vanishing. We are living in the cloud at home, in the office and for our entertainment. We are living in a virtual world parallel to the real world. It’s like a mixed reality of the two.

A lot of people think that the metaverse is about wearing VR glasses all day. Who would want to do that? Seen from that point of view the metaverse is a flop and will not catch on at all. But it’s not just that. That’s the wrong approach. Ultimately the metaverse will encompass work, business, entertainment, sport and every aspect of our social life. It too will have its own evolution.


Stage 1–XR headsets: With a Virtual Reality headset, you can enter a simulation and that’s a virtual world where you can spend hours on end. It could be a movie or a match or a pop concert or a video game. Augmented Reality is not a separate world but brings real life objects into the virtual world. The headset could interact with things in the house, a factory, an office and help you work, train, interact or educate yourself.

The mixture of the two is Mixed Reality and to avoid confusion, a lot of people are already calling the combination of VR, AR and MR as an extended reality or XR. Safe to say with XR you can do anything. In the future you could walk around with it anywhere and interact with the whole city. You could totally get lost in this world. Just ask gamers who can play days on end in their very own virtual gaming universe.

Stage 2–Gloves, skin and glasses: We are not going to stop with headsets. There are gloves, wristbands and skins you can wear to have a complete virtual experience. Many companies are experimenting with virtual suits which give you the 360 degrees experience. Google Glass was a brilliant example of how the real and virtual world could merge all day. It wasn’t a failure but had to be withdrawn due to privacy issues. The pandemic forced governments to okay autonomous vehicles and drones, so XR glasses are also coming.


Stage 3–Complete immersion: What all that will lead to is anyone’s guess but the possibilities will be endless. At the end of it all it will not be about a headset or device, but the entire infrastructure would support a virtual world. Every house, every office and every building in the world will be metaverse enabled. Autonomous cars, planes and trains will ensure that we can be immersive even inside them.

Here too, there will be two paths. One is the static path. The most famous one is from the Matrix film series. You don’t move in the real world in your entire life but still lead a rich life of rich experiences. In the second you will be more dynamic like Ready Player One, going into a VR simulation to escape the real world. Which of the two will we embrace?

This will have a big hit on your social life. First the world was disconnected. Then it became a global village and finally it is heading toward billions of individual connected digital silos within the global village. EM Forster’s 1909 short story The Machine Stops, foretells an “omnipotent global machine” which takes care of all of mankind’s “bodily and spiritual needs”. People message each other all the time and many live permanently below the ground in a standardised room. Isaac Asimov’s robotic series also puts the human population underground.


We saw a bit of that during the pandemic where families became one unit confined to their homes. We can work and watch streaming all day and get everything delivered to our doorsteps, not needing to go out at all. A VR treadmill would make the outdoors redundant. Going forward homes will become more and more smart and cosy, and you may not want to leave them at all. The metaverse will supersize that.

Say you are in your home. There is an “always on” broadband connection. Every wall is a screen. There are home assistants to speak and listen everywhere. 3D holographic creators are present all over that can create realistic immersive movies, serials, memories, recordings, relay live sporting events, concerts and family-office collaborations. That means you can be at home on your couch and do your work, get entertained, collaborate with everyone in your office and also catch up with family and friends. This is a mixed world. Inside a complete virtual world, the possibilities as mentioned above, are limitless.

This will affect real estate. Do we need cities, towns and villages? Do we need buildings of any kind? Just a digital infrastructure which will immerse you wherever you are. Currency will be fully virtual and transfers automatic. Will the old family structure break down? Will the population go into terminal decline as robots, drones and autonomous vehicles take over all the manual tasks? Man is a social animal who is being pushed into digital isolation. Will we evolve or will we one day break the digital?

Stage 4–The Singularity: This brings us to the singularity or the complete merger of man and machine. Either a Super AI will make the human race obsolete and take over the world or the human race will merge with this AI and we will have a new species: Homo SapiensAI? Homo Technosapiens? In Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, the Deus stands for “God”. The book talks of technology and mankind, ending with an interesting question: What will happen to society, politics and daily life when non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms know us better than we know ourselves?

In the end will human society even exist? We are already on the road that will give us the answer to this question. Metaverse then is not the destination, but just another milestone in the joint journey of man and technology.

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