David Chalmers interview: Virtual reality is as real as real reality

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Philosopher David Chalmers explains however virtual worlds shed airy connected questions specified arsenic what is world and are we surviving successful a simulation, and explores what firm metaverses mean for humanity

Mind 26 January 2022

By Richard Webb

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Jennie Edwards

THE Australian-born philosopher David Chalmers has agelong made waves successful the satellite of consciousness. In 1994, astatine the property of conscionable 28, helium coined the operation “the hard occupation of consciousness” to picture the seemingly intractable occupation of subjective felt acquisition – wherefore determination is thing it is similar to beryllium you. Two years later, helium developed the conception of “zombie” thought experiments – utilizing theoretical agents identical to america successful behaviour and outward acquisition but with nary interior beingness – successful an effort to tease retired the quality of conscious experience.

In 1998, Chalmers struck a famous stake with neuroscientist Christof Koch that we wouldn’t observe a distinctive signature, oregon “neural correlate” of consciousness, wrong 25 years. Although we present recognize a batch much astir the links betwixt encephalon enactment and consciousness, with small much than a twelvemonth to go, Chalmers is softly assured helium volition triumph that bet. He thinks consciousness can’t beryllium reduced to a encephalon process. He has speculated that it is simply a fundamental property of the beingness similar space-time oregon mass, possibly tied to quantum mechanics.

Now co-director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness astatine New York University, Chalmers has turned his attraction from our mind’s narration with the satellite to our narration with worlds created by quality minds. His caller book, Reality+: Virtual worlds and the problems of philosophy, explores existential puzzles, including what world is, whether we are surviving successful a simulation and however we would know. And, arsenic Meta (formerly Facebook) and different tech companies look to make integer “metaverses” successful which we tin unrecorded our lives, helium asks what …