Be Careful for What World You Wish

An excerpt from John Moody’s latest novel.

AP/Natacha Pisarenko
According to one British official some 30 former pilots were lured by annual salaries of about $270,000 to decamp to Communist China and train pilots for the PLA. AP/Natacha Pisarenko

In its essence, the metaverse is an alternate universe, where real people can escape from the real world and all its problems. It is not a joke, and it is not a game. It may have started out that way. But the metaverse is the other side of the mirror of our lives, where things work out. Where there is no poverty, no war, no pollution, no racial bias. Indeed, there is nothing wrong at all in the metaverse.

Unless we wish there to be.

Being perfect, the metaverse is not, of course, free. Real residents of the metaverse spend real money on their real Amex and Visa cards to live there, play there, work there, fight there (if that is their wish). But in the metaverse, you always win. The alternate world that you enter, via a headset, a dynamic 3-D screen or contact lens, or, increasingly, a chip planted behind the cornea, transports you to whatever environment you choose. When you arrive, you may choose an avatar — a character either of your choice or your own design — who will represent you, but also actually be you while you are there.

Today’s avatars bear little resemblance to the cardboard cutouts of the 20th century. In fact, even the name avatar is now considered out of date. Young people referred to their “quins,” a contraction of quintessence, to describe their perfected online selves. “My quin just got a new job and is going to be a millionaire,” for example. Seldom did one hear bad news in the same sentence as quin. Because, after all, why should bad things happen in the perfect world of the metaverse?

“We knew nothing about it twenty years ago,” Nur said. “Didn’t even know it existed. Just like humans didn’t know about the far-away planets — Saturn, Uranus, Pluto — until we developed instruments to help us see them. Next we sent spacecraft to orbit them and take pictures that were sent back. After that? Maybe we will want to colonize them.

“Well, the metaverse is like those once-unknown planets. We know it’s there because we’ve read about it. But not many of us have gone there. The metaverse is where people will go to get away from this world and its troubles. It is a place where we can go and be who we want to be. It is what religious people might call heaven, or nirvana.”

“Nur, I have told you: I am an old man. Why should I care about this?” Hui asked.

Nur fixed him with that bright-eyed look he had first employed in Lop, the look that caught Hui’s attention and imagination. The look that rescued Nur from slavery and won Hui’s trust and protection.

“I believe, Colonel, that with your permission and encouragement, you and I can employ Artificial Intelligence, about which you know more than anyone in the world, to enter the metaverse. And eventually control it.”

From John Moody’s most recent novel, “The World We Wish” (Brick Tower Press), the sequel to his 2021 best-seller, “Of Course They Knew, Of Course They.” 

The New York Sun

© 2024 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use