This is an excellent essay on the increasingly popular possibility of living in full virtualization without participant awareness. It strikes me as interesting that this is being discussed in an extremely limited range of assumptions. The statements that I have seen in the popular media, e.g. Elon Musk as the most important, are all based on future humans operating virtual realities for a variety of possible reasons and we are in one such reality.
My own interest is two fold: 1) I see no reason that the very fast evolution of information processing will have any major problem with creating a fully, indistinguishable virtualization of a human perceived universe. This will come to be used in a number of ways that would ultimately determine the likelihood of a situation as discussed coming into virtual existence. Very simply I think this will become a component of every day life with individual choices made as to how much of your life is spent in an infinite number of virtual environments. This assumes personal choice rather than virtual world imposition; 2) The evolution of a new universe is in process now based on the expanding understanding of the implications of a quantum mechanical universe. This moves the entire human (or sentient based experience) of the universe from physical reality, as perceived on the macro level, to non-physical. This seems to answer a range of ‘unanswerable’ questions about our perceived reality (or realities) including Chalmer’s Hard Question of Consciousness.
My second area, then, makes the imposed virtual reality a third order reality within a virtual reality that we perceive as primary or real. This emerging universe seems to be rising to the top and will replace the Newtonian and Cartesian universe or world order model that has given rise to our current reality. The new reality moves all the hard questions by making sentient being such as us disassociated elements (self perceived biological systems) within a universal consciousness.
Interestingly this also, then, shifts our awareness of things from living creatures surrounded by dead matter to potentialities with different characteristics but active interconnections. The primary distinction is then sentience that allows direct involvement in the process of things becoming one form or another. Obviously this explains the collapse of potentialities into stable object form triggered by sentient observation.
Consciousness is not a product of neurons and dead matter components (the Hard Problem in essence) but a separated component of a universal state of consciousness. The arguments for this work very well, I think. And it neatly confirms problematic but proven elements of our reality.
I’ve discussed this briefly, and hopefully clearly, here: