The Digital Dematerializing of Physical Reality

Everyday life is rapidly going virtual. In the mid-2000s, I suggested to a class of undergraduates that we would soon live in the internet. This claim elicited puzzled stares then, but now it’s a truism not worthy of a yawn because that future is closing in on us as we rapidly move our lives online. As fast as Moore’s Law allows, we are experiencing the digital dematerializing of physical reality. Crude single-player video games have morphed into massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). Apps are displacing shopping malls. Kindle books are displacing physical books. Music streaming has displaced downloads, which displaced CDs, which displaced tapes, and which displaced records. Now our cars are on the verge of driving themselves and the Internet of Things controls our homes and facilitates remote surgeries. It no longer seems like a surrealistic fantasy to think that we will soon move past the powerful consoles, VR headsets, and 3-D haptic touch devices of video gaming into a world that mimics the book and film Ready Player One

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