Set in year 2115, Earth.

A law states that all newborn babies are required to have several electronic implants surgically attached to the frontal lobe, a part of the brain that governs reasoning and also the neocortex whereby logic and thoughts are carried out. Any one found without these implants shall be forcibly taken into custody by the law enforcer and will be sentenced to exile indefinitely without any chance of parole. The entire world is plagued with fatal diseases and heavily polluted, there are many unrest and civil wars due to overpopulation and shortage of food as well as medical care. The idea of colonizing space fall into pieces as a result of a disastrous Mars mission several decades ago, the future if any looks gloomy.

The implant

The implants enable the government to constantly monitor the population, there are law enforcers patrolling the street routinely scanning data on everyone for any sign of abnormal behavior. The government devised a ingenious way of convincing the people to accept this gift(implant) by setting up a virtual reality world where the government never existed. The only known way to access the virtual reality world is through sleeping, the implant will detect and analyse the wave activity in the brain and establish a connection to the VR world.

The terrorist

Human beings are erratic and irrational especially during times of chaos, they are prone to accept fake freedom when the reality they are seeing are breaking apart.

Despite the government promises of freedom via virtual reality world, there are several small groups scattered throughout every corner of the world attempting to destroy this fake freedom and often involves many innocent casualties. The government have branded these groups as terrorist and had difficulty controlling them as they had illegally removed the implants or never attach them in the first place. In order to prevent more of the population from escaping the clutch of the government (via removing the implants), the duration and quality of the virtual reality world are improved and there is a research showing that people are addicted to this fake freedom...

for many people the VR world is more real than the reality.


Q1: Is there any scientific study that show people will accept false reality over real world?

Q2: Is there any way for the government to put an end to the terrorist without using force? (any case study)

Q3: Will the population be able to differentiate between realities? can this be the most humane method of keeping population in check?

  • $\begingroup$ This question brought to you by The Matrix. :) $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Apr 4 '15 at 3:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre borrowed some elements from the film, it seems nothing can escape your eyes. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Apr 4 '15 at 3:50
  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand. People experience the vr instead of resting in sleep? $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Apr 4 '15 at 13:24
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz I don't understand it either however there are many news of game addicts die from seemingly a cardiac arrest from exhaustion after spending many hours and perhaps days in front of the monitor. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Apr 4 '15 at 14:43

The implant is in the wrong area. It should be implanted in the primitive brain to access the pain and pleasure centers, then the government could reward "good" behaviour with a jolt of pleasure straight to the pleasure center of the brain, and punish "bad" behaviour by inducing pain.

Rats with pleasure center implants will push the button for a jolt of pleasure even over the button that released food or water, this is far more addictive than crystal meth, heroin or any other drug you can think of.

Even using an EMP pulse to destroy either the transmitters or the implants won't help that much, most people conditioned by that would curl up and die without their pleasure jolt.

  • $\begingroup$ You're suggesting tempering with mesolimbic dopamine system with cane or carrot, I remembered watching a documentary on a woman who experiences multiple orgasms too often for comfort. She felt pain and is annoyed rather than feeling pleasured and I guess too much of a good thing is bad. Since I believe the stimulus is electrically induced by the implants to the dopamine neurons the effects is immediate not permanent unless the structure of the neuron networks are trained. This is where VR world come in, I'm not sure how the brain will want to be fooled repeatedly (addicted). $\endgroup$ – user6760 Apr 4 '15 at 14:06

Curiouser and curiouser...

It may be even more curious than you imagined.

Consider that humans are remarkably good at adapting to divisions in their life. Work/home balance is one example where we do one thing at work, then come home and act totally different.

To start, I'd like to give your VR a name. VR isn't quite as insidious without some cloying name to hide its darker side. I'd like to go with (scroll over for spoiler):

The Internet

No, I'm not joking. The mere fact that you're handling things with electrodes rather than screens may change the details a bit, but the general patterns of how people deal with reality stay the same, no matter what level it's at. Whether it's getting lost in a good book, lost online in Candy Crush, or lost in VR, we handle the situation similarly. Accordingly, I feel comfortable looking at how society has adapted to the internet, and projecting that to how they will handle their VR world.

The key thing to remember is there is only one "reality," which is "everything." Both what we think of as "the real world" and what we think of as "the virtual world" are parts of this "reality." Whether moving pallets or electrons, both are interacting with thoughts and ideas within the minds of each of the individuals you have implanted. In the end, causes have effects. Systems have rules. So on, and so forth.

This provides a metastable solution between the two extremes you are looking at: people will look at ways to achieve their goals through both worlds, blurring them into one larger reality. Just look to the internet to see how the world embraced this "virtual" reality. Under the hood, the brain still has all of its fundamental drives: food, water, shelter, procreation, joy. These do not go away just because you've slapped some electrodes on someone's squishy-ware. We just find alternative ways to express them.

Take relationships. It was thought that the internet will kill relationships. Our kids will not know how to date, and the entire world will collapse. Little did we know the internet would make long distance relationships easier with video chat, or how much more intimacy has to be invented in a world where almost everything is public. There's even online dating (though I can't tell if that's a success or failure of the internet).

Take creativity. It was thought that the internet would kill creativity by turning everyone into a consumer of content rather than a creator. Then came along youtube and facebook. Now everyone has a Go Pro. Have you been to the ski slopes recently? Helmets for snowboarders are suddenly cool again -- where else would you attach the Go Pro?

The so called terrorists can be dealt with without the use of force. Rather than trying to force the terrorists out, just let society make it so hard to exist without blurring between both worlds that the terrorists have to ball up in a corner just to survive. Just look at how hard it is to get a minimum wage job without an internet connection? There's talk of internet access being a "human right."

I would expect to see a VR world wired to the brain to have more extreme effects, but I would expect to see them along the same way. Some individuals would fall into the VR world. These would die off (or at the very least turn out like the poor Japanese men who have been addicted to life online and live on ramen at their parent's house). Some will become "terrorists" by living outside of VR. Most will simply allow their life to be a balance between the "real" and the "virtual," which they would choose to simply call "living."

Now hurry up with the upvotes! I need 120 points before I go to sleep. I found a guy who's offering a ride in a virtual Ferrari tonight and he's willing to trade for Worldbuilding points!

Curiouser and curiouser...


The implant in your current form is too weak to be truly efficient.

  • Stay connected at all times, at most 3-5 minutes of staying disconnected. You need a special, temporary permit that would allow you to access areas not covered by the network (say, for maintenance).
  • If you fail to check in, you are forced into coma until authorities locate you. (to prevent accidents, you receive a signal a minute before you enter the coma, so that you may shut down any machines you're operating and lie down on the floor, if, say, local base station fails and forces a whole district into a coma).
  • The moment you enter coma, the implant broadcasts the location at much more energy than normally, to reach other base stations / pierce through obstructions. Authorities arrive to pick you up. If it was merely a silly accident (say, a kid wore "silver robot" costume for a party and neutralized the broadcat) you get a citation and are released. If you tried anything illegal, you're taken into custody.
  • The government can "deactivate" any citizen like that at any time.
  • Tampering attempts with the implant kill the citizen.
  • Pregnant mothers are ordered to enter custody until birth when nearing the term (detected by the implant), so no infants are left "unimplanted".
  • The implant compares sight of the citizen with database of known locations of implants. A terrorist without an implant merely entering your field of view is reported to the authorities immediately.

That way the terrorists are quite powerless to "recruit". Citizens avoid uncovered areas, and terrorists are quickly captured if they are as much as spotted by anyone. Removing the implant is akin to defusing a bomb, very difficult. Expose it to any light or decrease liquid pressure around, and poof, the patient is dead. If a genuine brain surgery is needed, the implant needs to be deactivated through sending an encrypted authorization code. If, through an accident, your skull got fractured and the implant detects it as a tampering attempt, tough luck.

Now that we have the new&improved implants, let's look at your questions.

Q1: Is there any scientific study that show people will accept false reality over real world?

Quite a few game addiction studies. There are no population-wide studies for the obvious reason: you can't force everyone to play games / enter VR; you can't know if there are people who would be entirely immune. Nevertheless, a large part of the population would possibly tackle it, especially that it's not entirely fake.

If you talk over the phone with someone, you're not talking with a fake person simulated by the piece of plastic by your ear - you use the piece of plastic to communicate with a real person. Same with avatars of live people in the VR - they are living people, only communicating through the machine with you.

Any productive mental work you perform in there is a real work. If you design a building, or develop a mathematical formula or write a program in VR, it's still perfectly usable in the real world. Art, design, music, science, education, entertainment, this all moves to the virtual reality.

Operating machines through virtual reality is perfectly viable too. An excavator that has a camera and remote-control device in place of the operator booth is currently easier to build than one with an actual operator booth. Driven by a worker immersed in VR it will be more efficient than driven by an operator sitting in the seat, by the controls - better comfort, better control, better relaxation, a dozen cameras to provide view from all useful angles, no noise of vibration. The need for actual physical labor drops immensely as most of works can be performed from within VR better. There are still some jobs that require physical presence and fitness - maintenance, security, jobs where versatility of human body still trumps machines. But they are disliked and undesired; good salary but little prestige, something akin to garbagemen.

Savings. Instead of eating whatever awful goop you are assigned from the reserves, you get fed intravenously without feeling it, while eating delicious virtual steaks for free, and never getting fat from them. Since your body hardly moves, less food is needed. Since you occupy a cubic meter of a "sleeper's pod" a kilometer under ground, you don't contribute to overpopulation. You don't need a house or a car, your furniture in your spacious virtual apartment is never worn, and your bills are so minimal you don't even need to work to just get by. You work if you want luxuries: designer's avatars, access to newest movies, custom-designed food, etc. - or any goods "out there". "Public-domain warehouse" of every basic virtual need is free.

You want to stay out of VR? Feel free. Living is expensive out there, there's little to be seen or enjoyed, you can get hurt, tired, poisoned by bad food, get sunburns on your sensitive skin... blah. It's no fun, but whatever rocks your boat. Make sure to pay your premium health insurance rate, because if you catch something out there, you will need to work back your medical bills.

...after a period of time, the security features of the implants will become completely unnecessary.

Q2: Is there any way for the government to put an end to the terrorist without using force? (any case study)

First, the VR is an utopia. Few fanatics would enjoy the savage life of hunted animals. As overpopulation ceases to be a problem (you can fit a population of a billion people in a 1km^3 cube "pod city") they become easier to locate.

Capture (using a robot with tranquilizer dart gun). Put into VR for 30 days, giving a credit of month's worth of a salary of a surface worker. The only restriction is the option to return to the surface. Release after a month... if they want to be released.

Q3: Will the population be able to differentiate between realities? can this be the most humane method of keeping population in check?

Most definitely they will. And I believe it would be quite humane.


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