Migration and virtual reality - the future is near

Migration and virtual reality - the future is near

Migration to virtual reality and resettlement to other planets will happen faster than you think. In this new article, we will tell you what will happen in the next ten years and how to prepare for it. Information taken from the book "The Future is Faster Than You Think".

Resettlement in cities

The enormous scale of climate induced migration - 700 million people seeking new homes - represents the largest territorial re-distribution of population in history. And yet, this is nothing compared to our second major migration boom. In the next few decades, almost everyone will rush to cities. 300 years ago 2% of the world's population lived in cities; 200 years ago it was 10%.

In the 1950s only New York or Tokyo had more than 10 million inhabitants, from that point on a city becomes a megalopolis. By 2000, there were already 18 megacities in the world; today there are 33. And what will happen tomorrow? Tomorrow the numbers will go berserk. We have already coined a term for cities growing at breakneck speed: megalopolis. This is the term for a vast urbanized area with a population of over 20 million people.

Compare: at the time of the French Revolution, the entire urban population of the world was 20 million people. By 2025, there will be ten, or even eleven megalopolises in Asia alone. And we are going to need them. By 2050 66-75% of the world will be urbanized. With an expected global population of 9 billion people this will result in an unprecedented migration spurt.

It will be unparalleled by any previous spurt in history. It would be the largest mass exodus from the countryside to cities, three times the size of the projected climate migration, 2.5 billion people, the largest mass migration in human history. And when the masses move, whole strata of life shift.

By 2050. Tokyo will lose its title as the most populous city in the world because it will be pushed off that pedestal by Delhi. China will overtake India in the rate of urbanization and will add another 300 new cities with millions of people, as well as two megalopolises. Africa will simply explode with urbanization. The urban population of the continent from Cairo and south through the Congo will increase by 90% by 2050. By the end of the century, the Nigerian capital Lagos is projected to be home to 100 million people.

Let's discuss the bright side first. Economically, the cities are good for business. In 2016. The Brookings Institution studied the economies of 123 of the world's largest urban agglomerations. They were home to only 13% of the world's population and accounted for nearly a third of global output. A year later, the same relationship between productivity and settlement density was checked by the National Bureau of Economic Research. They found the same pattern: more people, higher productivity.

In addition, dense settlement stimulates innovation. Physicist Jeffrey West of the Santa Fe Institute found that doubling a city's population by 15% increases the rate of innovation, as measured by the number of patents. Basically, whichever city West studied in his study, wages, GDP, and quality-of-life factors such as the number of movie theaters and restaurants also rise as population density increases. And in general, as cities grow, they require fewer, not more, resources. Double the size of a megalopolis and you see that the need for infrastructure services, from the number of gas stations to the amount of heat for winter heating, does not double, but only increases by 85%.

It turns out that larger, more densely populated cities are leaner and more sustainable in terms of development than smaller, smaller cities and suburbs. Why? Because travel distances are decreasing, transportation sharing is increasing, and the number of necessary infrastructure facilities-hospitals, schools, and trash collection organizations-is decreasing. As a result, cities are becoming cleaner, more energy efficient, and emit less carbon dioxide.

Now for the dark side of urbanization: it definitely creates opportunities for disasters. Spontaneous development is a perfect recipe for the spread of crime and disease, the vicious cycle of poverty and environmental destruction. And yet, as this book proves, the power of the tools we have at our disposal is enough to meet such challenges. The trick is how to raise our traditional vision of good government and civic cooperation to the level of visionary technology.

Do it intelligently, get the former to match the latter, and urbanization will be the most effective tactic to combat many of today's pressing problems. And if it's not smart? Then the greatest migration in history will produce an abyssopolis, the greatest concentration of evil and disaster in history.

Virtual Worlds

Let's look at the numbers: the slave trade uprooted 12 million Africans from their native soil; the partition of India and Pakistan drove 18 million people off the ground; 20 million people redistributed on the European chessboard after World War II. These are the most massive forced relocations of peoples. Each was triggered by one or the other of the familiar drivers: economics (and depersonalization), religious discord, politics. Each of the three migrations shuffled peoples in its own way. Yet soon the cumulative effect of the three migrations will seem trifling compared to the new exodus, and for the first time its driving force will be purely technological.

So our next migration begins, as they call it, in a snap. It won't be more than a few years before one day someone somewhere will go into the Matrix for good. Please join us in the unseen and most bizarre mass exodus: from our familiar real world to the virtual reality. Our backpacks are already packed. Globally, video games consume 3 billion hours of humanity's time each week. In the U.S., digital media bites off 11 hours of every day.

In Japanese, there is a word hikikomori, or hikki-young invisible people, nearly a million teenagers who are confined within four walls and live exclusively online. They are the pioneers of a new migration. They are setting up beachheads for exploring virtual worlds. Meanwhile, in the next few decades, two factors will spur an influx into VR. Let's call one psychology and the other an opportunity.

Let's start with psychology

If the stimuli for all previous migrations were external forces or world events, the next one will be triggered by internal drivers, psychological ones, i.e., what happens in our brains. It begins with the property of our neurochemistry to produce irresistible addictions against which there is no defense.

Video games are incredibly addictive--they are addictive and can cause pathological addiction. The root of the evil is that they trigger the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, the main element in the brain's reward system. Its action awakens our interest, enthusiasm, courage, boldness, and desire to explore the world.

Dopamine is released when we take risks, anticipate a reward, or encounter something new and unexplored. Once entrenched in the reward feedback loop-when the relationship between a particular activity and the release of dopamine is fixed in the brain-our desire to experience the delightful sensation produced by this chemical again develops into an all-consuming, compulsive need.

The effect of some drugs, by comparison-and there is nothing more addictive in the world-is basically that they flood the brain with dopamine. Video games are saturated with a variety of risks, rewards, and novelty - in a sense, they are generous dopamine dispensers disguised as joysticks.

But it's not just video games. When your smartphone buzzes, announcing a new message, your overwhelming desire to see what's interesting is a dopamine spree. And the slight surge of pleasure when you open the message is also dopamine. Its drivers are almost all of the most common online activities - gaming, surfing, social networking, texting, sharing sexy photos, watching pornography. But none of these pleasurable activities provokes such a dopamine rush as virtual reality.

Research shows that the immersive nature of the virtual environment raises dopamine levels to heights never reached by traditional video games or any kind of digital media. Although the data varies somewhat, scientists generally believe that about 10 percent of the world's population is already seriously addicted to video games. Virtual reality will greatly increase that percentage.

But dopamine is just one of the main neurotransmitters in the brain's reward system. There are other pleasure hormones-noradrenaline, endorphins, serotonin, anandamide, and oxytocin. They are capable of giving incredible pleasure. It is not that digital media have an extraordinary ability to trigger the release of any pleasure hormone other than dopamine, but VR, due to its immersive nature, can serve as a trigger for the release of all six pleasure hormones. This is already a saturated hormonal cocktail of pleasure, a potent drug supplied by VR headsets - and this is just the beginning of the story.

The next part of it is made clear by research into streaming states of consciousness. For those not in the know, flow is defined as "the optimal state of consciousness in which we feel our best and are able to perform at the peak of our abilities." It is a state of peak performance and is produced in part by all six pleasure and pleasure hormones. This is why scientists consider the flow state to be one of the most addictive experiences a person can have.

However, this experience is among the most meaningful. As more than half a century of research shows, people with the highest measures of meaningfulness and overall life satisfaction experience the most streaming states. While video games can immerse the user in a streaming state, virtual reality, due to its immersive nature, is much better suited to do so.

This means that the ongoing convergence of the psychology of streaming states and VR technologies will further enable us to create an alternative reality that is more enjoyable and more meaningful than the ordinary mundane reality.

Now let us consider the second factor - the possibilities that virtual reality holds

By and large, there are three of them: work, education and sex. As for work, we have already seen what economic opportunities lie in VR. The first virtual world for us was opened by Second Life. Back in 2006, Businessweek magazine even featured on its cover an image of a game character and part-time real estate magnate Anshe Chang, who on deals made within the virtual reality of Second Life became the world's first millionaire to make a real fortune exclusively in the virtual world.

We know that similar enrichment options exist in video games and social networks, and virtual reality will add even more such opportunities. In other words, if robots and AI take jobs away from many of us in the next few decades, one or two shocks from a shrinking job market in the real world and an explosion of job openings in the virtual world will give a powerful boost to migration to the latter.

Let's turn to education. Virtual reality makes it possible to create distributed, individualized, accelerated learning environments. Whether we are talking about a growing global population actively seeking pathways to education, or our suddenly unemployed workforce, at the mercy of technology, actively seeking vocational retraining opportunities, in both cases we see a tremendous force being born. Even more powerful will be VR's ability to immerse the user in a streaming state that enhances our ability to absorb and remember new information.

The three biggest historical migrations combined - the slave trade, the split of British India into two countries, and the relocations in postwar Europe - resulted in 44.5 million refugees. But today, 321 million Americans already spend 11 hours online every day, a time that will inevitably increase the cocktail of pleasure hormones offered by virtual reality.

Add in serious motivations - content and meaning, craftsmanship, money - and we can see how much more the momentum to migrate to VR will increase. Taken together, this pulls in the next great migration, an exodus of consciousness that is just beginning.

Migration into space

"Earth is the cradle of humanity, but you can't live in a cradle forever," said Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in the late 19th century. He was a true visionary. Regarded as the founder of cosmonautics, Tsiolkovsky was the first to talk about airlocks, low thrust engines, multi-stage gas pedals, space stations, biological closed-loop systems to provide space colonies with food and oxygen and much more.

During his scientific life he published more than 90 articles on the subjects of astronautics, foresaw almost every aspect of preparations for the breakthrough of mankind through the last frontier in the exploration of the world and did not take into account only one, but really necessary for the conquest of space - competition.

In the 1960s, if anything energized our desire to escape the earthly embrace of space, it was the openly harsh confrontation of ideologies and ideologues in the U.S. race against the Soviet Union. The echoes of that long-standing rivalry are still spurring us on today. It is true that today there are fewer states in the race against each other - the United States, for example, competes with China - but the real rivalry is between the technological giants: Jeff Bezos versus Elon Musk.

Each is driven by a deeply felt desire to lead humanity from its cradle to the stars, to open up outer space to us, and to "support the biosphere" by creating a second civilization in space in case things do not go well on Earth.

The current plan is to launch the Starship into Earth orbit, followed by several Starship tanker ships which will refuel the main ship in orbit. Each such ship directly from Earth orbit will set a course for Mars, carrying on board a crew and about a hundred space passengers. How much will a one-way ticket cost? Musk thinks $500,000, or as he puts it, "low enough so that most people in developed economies will be able to sell their homes on Earth and relocate to Mars."