193 Essays on Infinite Lifespans   Mike Treder Many humans today might recoil from the idea of living only within a virtual realm. But from a philosophical per- spective, there is truly no difference between the experience of  inhabiting  a  sufficiently  advanced  simulation,  and  the everyday  life  that  we  experience  today.  Consider  this:  our current physical bodies can be thought of as organic robots. They go out into the physical world, carrying a brain/mind/ personality/identity  around  inside.  My  organic  robot  body sees,  hears,  touches,  smells,  and  tastes  for  me;  it  transmits those  experiences  to  my  brain  through  electrical  pathways; parallel processing computation within my neurons and syn- apses results in a pattern of thought so complex and elegant that it generates meta-cognition, or self-awareness. I think it is ‘me’ that is out there in the world enjoying direct sensory experiences, but it is not! The part of me that is really me – the part that is my con- sciousness and my personality – can never have such direct experiences.  Gray  matter  has  neither  hands,  nor  eyes,  nor ears, nor mouth, nor nose. My brain must rely on an indi- rect interface to apprehend ‘reality.’ That interface can be the physical body I now inhabit, it could be a tele-robot exploring the surface of Mars, or it could be a substrate of computation providing a ‘simulated’ environmental experience. The  point  is  that  everything  we  experience  is  simulated. Nothing  is  immediate.  Over  the  next  few  decades,  as  we spend  more  and  more  time  in  virtual  environments,  our definition of reality will change. It is conceivable that within a century or less, many human personalities may be living full-time   in   cyberspace,   inhabiting   myriad   simulations. They will undoubtedly discover new sensations and emotions we cannot even comprehend. Will their lives be less ‘real’ than ours today? It seems likely that millions of people, if not billions, will make just that choice. Does this sound like science fiction?