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I'm creating a story in which (almost) all of the world's now 10 billion people have voluntarily become "brains in jars." Considering that almost the entire population has chosen to do so, leaving nobody to take care of the brains except the computers (which are plenty capable of doing so), where is the best place to put the facility?

It will need to be fairly large, since 10 billion brains, the computers emulating reality, the life support systems, etc. take up a LOT of space. Also, it will need to last a long time, since brains in jars last longer than brains in humans, and the people may be able to reproduce, creating more brains in jars and allowing mankind to live on for a long time.

Edit: Location is not a problem, because the brains' reality is fully emulated by the computers. Nobody cares where their brain actually is, as long as it's safe.

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    $\begingroup$ If we're basically trying to build data centers, you might consider having at least some of them underwater like Microsoft is experimenting with. If you manage to put enough nutrients in the water and circulate it so it doesn't stagnate, you might not even need the jars and just keep the brains bobbing underwater hooked up to cables. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Aug 20 '16 at 7:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Pedro that's just begging for a water-borne disease to wipe out an entire facility in one go. $\endgroup$ – Leushenko Aug 20 '16 at 15:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Leushenko That's a valid concern. But if you essentially treat it like a big fish tank (filters, monitor the pH, etc.), I think it could work. There are many real-life examples of aquaculture that can be used as a base for a "brain tank" model. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Aug 20 '16 at 18:46
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    $\begingroup$ If I were you, I would not put all of my brains in one basket. $\endgroup$ – sampathsris Aug 22 '16 at 4:49
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    $\begingroup$ Err, how exactly do brains in a jar reproduce?! $\endgroup$ – Konrad Rudolph Aug 22 '16 at 16:19

13 Answers 13

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Ok, brains in jars, we can do this!

First, brains need to be safe and protected. This rules out leaving them in people's homes

Second, brains can't maintain themselves. So let's not put them in space because the upkeep (realigning and repairs) is going to be exorbitant for the size we're talking about.

So we're talking somewhere safe, on the earth.. let's have a look for the most geological stable country, Antarctica! Pretty cold, but you don't need to worry about those pesky volcanoes and earthquakes... But maybe shipping is a concern? Do we need to grow food? Also it's pretty chill down there. Maybe we need to spread out our brains over the world..

  • In north America, Canada looks pretty good.

  • Europe, looks pretty good all over, can't find a decent link but stuff round the north sea seems pretty stable

    • Asia, let's get up into the tundra

    • Africa, South Africa seems the best bet

    • Oceania, Australasia - get to Australia, big old chunk of landmass

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  • $\begingroup$ Great answer wrt geological forces. I don't want to put it in Antarctica for plot reasons, but Australia looks pretty good. Going by earthquakes, Brazil also looks pretty stable. $\endgroup$ – FlyingPiMonster Aug 21 '16 at 19:14
  • $\begingroup$ If you've got a load of computers, you'll need a load of cooling. A cold location seems like a good idea. $\endgroup$ – anaximander Aug 22 '16 at 10:07
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Inside 1.5 million robotic whales

A blue whale has a volume of around 220 cubic metres. Assuming a cubic brain jar with sides of 25cm, you can comfortably fit 32 brains in one cubic metre. If you built an aquatic robot about the size of a blue whale you could fit 7,040 human brains inside it.

The robotic whale could swim through the oceans, capturing oxygen from the water for its brains, and filter-feeding on krill and plankton like biological whales to provide the nutrition for the brains. Advantages of this are that it's a decentralised system, and that by being deep underwater, you're helping to solve some of the overheating problems you might face on land.

Doing the maths, to house the 10 billion brains you mention, we'd need 1,420,454 whales carrying 7,040 brains each. This may sound like a lot of robotic whales, but, for context, the global whale population has probably declined by that much since 1900.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Aug 23 '16 at 16:12
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It would not be a good idea to have just one facility. That's just asking for an asteroid strike, freak weather, or an "impossible" series of equipment failures to wipe it out. On the other hand, dispersing into too many facilities will be inefficient.

Also, while brains in jars probably need less resources in an absolute sense than people in bodies - less food, oxygen, etc. - they are very dependent on their support facility working correctly. They have a lot less ability to cope with the environment being unfavourable for a short while, because they lack a personal self-regulating brain-support system, otherwise known as a body. So you need a reasonably large number of high-reliability facilities.

Then there's an emotional factor. Many people will probably like the idea of their brain-jar being in a location they are fond of, even if this makes little practical difference. They may well be able to "be" anywhere they like via teletourism, but the speed of light still applies, and a round-trip for signals to the other side of the world via fibre-optic cable will take something like 0.2 seconds, which is enough to notice if you're doing anything physical and interactive.

So there will probably be a few hundred facilities around the world, and they may even be named after cities and regions, although the value of putting them in old cities is probably low.

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    $\begingroup$ I can just imagine a world where the people are brains in jars, and then they would through some high tech means to move about their house and position themselves in their favorite spot.Next to the coffee machine, on the sofa, playing a computer game....... $\endgroup$ – Skye Aug 20 '16 at 8:12
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    $\begingroup$ I feel like your treating teletourism weirdly. Why would there be a round trip signal to the place they are visiting? You don't need a real, like feed. $\endgroup$ – Kyeotic Aug 21 '16 at 4:05
  • $\begingroup$ @TYrsius: You need a live feed if you want to interact with the place you're visiting. If you aren't interacting, you're just watching video. $\endgroup$ – John Dallman Aug 21 '16 at 8:41
  • $\begingroup$ In my story, the people don't particularly care where their actual brains are, and they don't need to interact with the world (which is being left to fall apart). Anywhere they want to go is simply emulated. That's a good point to consider, though. The point about having multiple facilities is also good, though I think I'm going to group the facilities together for plot purposes. $\endgroup$ – FlyingPiMonster Aug 21 '16 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ @flyingpimonster the latency problem still applies, but only for interaction between brains. You'd probably want to be located very near to loved ones, since a .2s latency would be noticeable for...certain activities. Brains might congregate into tribes in close proximity to lower the latency for sports, conversation, etc. There would be a process to get moved to another facility if you start hanging out with a different group. $\endgroup$ – James Beninger Aug 22 '16 at 3:12
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Why?

But really. "Why" to do it also answers where to do it.

Cosmic catastrophe that made surface uninhabitable

Or rather - soon will make? In this case we want to make shelters deep underground. But there isn't enough time to make comfortable sleeping quarters for everyone, or enough food. So just store our brains and balls! Because, you know, we need babies, too.

In this case, we want to go deep underground in seismically stable regions.

Brain in jar can live longer

Imagine new cure that will make brain virtually immortal, or last for centuries, but at the same time will not prevent body aging, or even be prevented from working by body. Rich people that are not yet too old would want their brains removed and preserved.

Here, we want it in safe places, sure, but close to places nice for sightseeing. Also, "tourist robots" connected via net to the brains would probably be a norm - for rich ones anyway. and poorer ones? Just high-tech version of slums. And you would need a non-jarred breeders to keep the species going. You know, as a backup.

Safety

For reach people, it's just like above. Close enough to interesting places for the lag to be unnoticeable.

But there also will be scientists in dangerous fields, heavy construction workers (experienced operators of dangerous machines) etc. For them, it makes sense to have brain kept safe. Their skills, knowledge and expertise is hard to replace. But you want them in mobile platforms, close to their job, wherever their job currently is.

Overpopulation

Let's face it, Earth is dying because there is simply too much of us. Rich people would "convince" masses that brain in jar is great! Less resources you use, good for Mother Earth! And you will be able to "have" all the things you always wanted!

In this scenario, facilities will be in visible spots, good for marketing, to convince meatbags to go for conversion. Safety hardly matters, as ones that are interested in the project does not go there anyway, but appearance of safety matters greatly. Expect cameras, fences etc. Everything as flashy as feasible, for good illusion.


Will add more "whys" if I'll be able to think about them. Or comment with possible reason.

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  • $\begingroup$ Safety in itself could be a motivation. Do what you like because you can always get another robot body. Different robot or virtual (like a computer game) bodies could be used at different times for different purposes. This allows super abilities and customization. $\endgroup$ – Donald Hobson Aug 20 '16 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ Most people are motivated because the emulated world is more fun than reality. It's basically playing the world's best VR games for the rest of your now much longer life. If that doesn't motivate them, they'll go just because of peer pressure. $\endgroup$ – FlyingPiMonster Aug 20 '16 at 12:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Flying but who and why made it so? Whose decision it was to make it impossible for meatbags to visit? Who wanted to get rid of bodies, and why? Peer pressure and fun can't explain research costs. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Aug 20 '16 at 12:50
  • $\begingroup$ @FlyingPiMonster so it's not about commoners' why. It's about people who truly decide. Your description could be true for overpopulation scenario. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Aug 20 '16 at 12:59
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    $\begingroup$ In my story, the real world is left to fall apart, and any traveling is done in the emulated world. This is a good answer, though, and it brings up the point of how the entire world would be convinced to convert. I hadn't thought of that. $\endgroup$ – FlyingPiMonster Aug 21 '16 at 19:23
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Assumptions

  • Facility run by computers, facility constantly repaired and upgraded by computers and robots. Lots of tiny repairing spider robots.

  • Lots of computers = lots of heat.

  • Lots of brains in fluid in glass cases, can’t have the precious cases breaking. How long does a brain last out of its case?

  • Brains need oxygen rich water and some sort of nutrient mix/bath to survive.

  • all sites can be targets for sabotage (not necessarily will be, if everyone is a brain, in a virtual reality...who is doing the physical sabotage?)

    • you have a very VERY tough unbreakable firewall preventing hackers from sabotaging the computer's looking after the brains.

      • the computer system is not SKYNET

You have four main types of regions to look at for your site/s location…

(1) Space

Already mentioned…Have all the benefits of vacuum and zero-gravity

BUT

  • Radiation

  • micro-asteroids

  • lack of local resources (where exactly does your oxygen and nutrients come from)

  • travel cost and distance issue to transport new brains into facility

  • missiles…

Space just doesn’t add up

(2) Air

You can have large floating air depositories for your brains. This will help avoid your problems with volcanoes, earthquakes shaking things up on the ground in your brain facility. These could be designed in any shape that is feasible/ imaginable but things to take into account:

  • is your platform active or passive? ie does it float where the wind blows it or does it have control of it's actions?

  • does it have big motors or does it have sails and big balloons of helium/hydrogen? Note: helium has less lift but is non-flammable. While hydrogen has more lift, but is kinda flammable (understatement of note!). Helium is also less abundant on Earth, as it escapes into space, which is why the airships never really took off in the past (pun intended).

  • does the motors and computer equipment require fuel? what sort of fuel? solar would be better than relying on oil or natural gases. Especially if humans stored as brains is the result of overpopulation and resource scarcity.

  • Altitude adjustment to avoid turbulent and stormy skies AND volcanic ASH clouds. Ash plays havoc with airplane motors which I learnt watching Dante's Peak as a kid, and the rest of the world learnt when Eyjafjallajökull erupted in 2010.

  • Ensure that all sensitive equipment (and brains) are not fried if the platform/s are hit by lightning. Also helps if your ship is not too fill of flammable gases.

  • If your air depositories have active control, they can guide themselves to landbased depots to pick up new brains. If your air depositories are passive and have no control of their actions, you will need drones to send/receive brains from all over the globe.

    • Centralised transit depots may still help.

    • passively controlled motherships may lead to tricky docking situations

So, all this kindof rules out air as a safe spot.

Extra thought, you don't have to have your brains floating very high above ground to avoid the effects of earthquakes. You could have them all attached to small balloons (or more practically a suspension system) so that they all hover a few centimetres to metres off the ground. I think you will still need to make sure the roof doesn't collapse on them, if there is a powerful earthquake.

(3) Land

As mentioned by you and other answers,

  • try and avoid earthquake prone areas (California is out)

  • try avoid volcanic prone areas (Japan and Hawaii - Pacific 'Ring of Fire' is out). This includes anywhere in the vicinity of yellowstone national park.

  • try avoid rugged mountainous terrain as transporting tens of thousands of new brains a day will be treacherous!

  • try avoid river plains as prone to excessive flooding every 100-1000 years

  • try avoid coastal areas prone to changes in sea level!

  • be aware that some land areas are actually rising/sinking/moving horizontally due to Glacial Isostatic Adjustment. For example, Scotland is rising, but southern England is actually sinking in response. The interior area by the North Sea is experiencing lift/rebound, so the coastline is actually sinking (sea level rise is faster than the rest of the world in these areas. Regardless of human induced changes or natural changes due to, among other things, the post glacial rebound).

    • If your facility has to last for tens of thousands of years, try avoid areas that may experience Glaciers! They carved up mountains, I doubt a few man-made structures will stop them.
  • Your machinery and computers will be creating lots of heat, so try avoid already hot locations like Australia or most parts of Africa, unless you have sufficient excess energy for lots and lots of air-conditioning.

  • Most Machinery rusts if exposed to oxygen and water, so try avoid moist tropical locations with lots of humidity/rainfall

  • Deserts while dry, will need sufficient excess energy to cool down your machinery. Stored water would be best for this situation!

  • Does the machinery and computer equipment require fuel? what sort of fuel? solar would be better than relying on oil or natural gases. Especially if humans stored as brains is the result of overpopulation and resource scarcity

    • In summary, don't go to too high a latitude as glaciers are a risk in the next few thousand years, don't go to the equator and tropics because it's too humid, don't go along the coast lines because of sea-level changes, don't go into the interior because lack of water to cool machines/computer down, don't go to the mid-latitudes as most of the large deserts are located there.

Essentially go to ...

(4) Water

I had already decided water would be the best place for your facilities when I saw the answer about the 1,5 million manmade whales! The point about the krill and plankton as a nutrient source was inspirational!

Water covers 73% of the Earth's surface, and that is not taking into account the volume of space the oceans are taking up! Create depositories that can float on/under water. This will negate the need to worry about earthquakes.

  • Tsunamis, normally created by earthquakes, are only an issue when the shockwave travelling through the water reaches shallow coastlines. You do have reports of those freak standing waves that will overturn your Poseidon, but if you have your depository in a modular format (like a set of railcars) you should be able to survive the transit of the wave underneath you!

  • Volcanoes already on land aren't too much of a problem in the sea, just ensure your floating depository doesn't barge into any areas where the lava is entering the sea. E.g. the Hawaiian Islands active volcanoes. Sea mounts erupting from the ocean depths, should be noticed by ships equipment beforehand; you shouldn't have any nasty surprise eruptions right underneath you! You should have time to row away...

Sea level is 'fairly equal' all over the world and any change in sea level won't affect your facilities out at sea. It's only a problem to those on the coastline! enter image description here

The surrounding sea water can be used for cooling systems and provide water (fresh if you include a desalination plant on board). Salt DOES collect and jam up machinery, but if the robots looking after the brains can keep on top of it, they should be able to keep all vital equipment running ship shape (pun intended).

When bad weather comes in, and it will. You can have your depositories lower themselves to a depth below the wave height and just sit out the storm in peace and tranquillity.

Your machinery can use a combination of solar, and wind energy. They can also utilise the energy from the ocean waves themselves. Hey! If you have brains in jars, and interactive virtual reality...you can figure out wave energy!

TOTAL SUMMARY: There are pros and cons for wherever you choose to place your facilities; this is probably why they are safest in our bodies! I figure centralised transit depots will be required for whichever option you end up taking.

I am for the sea, then hovering, then land, then air, and then space.

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  • $\begingroup$ For my plot to work, I need the facility to at least be near land. However, your section about land is good, and I think most of those problems can be solved simply by throwing money at them. $\endgroup$ – FlyingPiMonster Aug 21 '16 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, money! The solution to all life's problems! $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps Aug 21 '16 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ @FlyingPiMonster, I edited the bit about the north Sea. I knew I'd get it mixed up. $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps Aug 22 '16 at 0:05
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    $\begingroup$ About firewalls - there's little reason that the system maintaining the brains would need to be connected to the system running the simulation. You can't hack what you're not connected to. If necessary, you could have a robot that goes and physically plugs in a connection to specific brainjars containing authorised people, who would be chosen by a consensus of previously-authorised people so that a malicious individual can't hijack it. When the task is done, the authorised individuals tell the machines who's gained (or lost) authorisation for next time, and the connection is unplugged. $\endgroup$ – anaximander Aug 22 '16 at 10:12
  • $\begingroup$ @anaximander, Good point but I don't think that would work. If you have a series of impossible events and everyone on the authorised list is accidently knocked off the shelf. Who will update the computer's list of new authorised users?! $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps Aug 22 '16 at 11:30
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I think competing storage centers will emerge. The “best” (as opposed to the cheapest) will be based on the same criteria as archivial document and file storage. This includes underground vaults in old mines.

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    $\begingroup$ It's always disturbing to imagine transhumanism proceeding under a capitalist system. $\endgroup$ – ApproachingDarknessFish Aug 20 '16 at 6:04
  • $\begingroup$ I like the abandoned mine idea. Probably not the best in terms of geological activity, but certainly safe from most natural disasters. It also reminds me of Aperture Laboratories, which created a great atmosphere for the story. $\endgroup$ – FlyingPiMonster Aug 21 '16 at 18:37
  • $\begingroup$ @FlyingPiMonster Some mines make fairly decent candidates, actually. In the UK, for example, there are a series of tin mines that are in granite - solid enough that they have no supports holding the roof up like you'd get in coal mines, because the strength of granite makes that unneccesary. Of course, many of those mines beneath the seabed and prone to flooding, so perhaps they're not perfect, but at least they don't move. $\endgroup$ – anaximander Sep 5 '16 at 12:30
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An orbital station. In zero-gee, structural considerations would be less important, and engineering would be easier - on Earth, a building large enough to hold ten billion brains would take some serious architecture to keep it standing. In space, you also wouldn't have to worry about earthquakes or similar terrestrial natural disasters, and sabotage would be difficult.

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    $\begingroup$ But you would to worry about solar flares, micrometeoroids, and ensuring the brains survived liftoff. $\endgroup$ – ApproachingDarknessFish Aug 20 '16 at 6:31
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    $\begingroup$ And the ambient radiation including cosmic rays and the Van Allen radiation belts. An orbital station is a nice big target for anyone with a grudge and a few missiles. $\endgroup$ – a4android Aug 20 '16 at 11:18
  • $\begingroup$ good answer actually - only safe space. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Aug 21 '16 at 22:33
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Numerous locations in the outer solar system, particularly the Oort cloud, would be safer than any location on Earth proposed so far. When you're effectively immortal (isn't that ultimately the goal here?) you will want stability over geological time, which you won't find on any planet in the inner system.

Power can be generated by beaming microwaves from inner system solar collectors to outer system rectenna facilities.

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  • $\begingroup$ Although space doesn't have geological problems like Earth, and would be a great place for storing artifacts and other low-tech things, computers don't fare well in space. Radiation can mess up computer memory, and it's a very long way to transport 10 billion delicate brains. Depending on the technology level, though, it might be an idea for when the facilities on Earth are inevitably endangered. $\endgroup$ – FlyingPiMonster Aug 21 '16 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ energy is kinda problem in Oort cloud, unless u have thermonuclear or energy distribution system across solar system. Actually any place in space is fine. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Aug 21 '16 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg I outlined just such an energy collection and distribution system in the second paragraph... $\endgroup$ – rek Aug 21 '16 at 23:22
  • $\begingroup$ @FlyingPiMonster Radiation shielding is well within our abilities, and nothing to worry about when you're under kilometres of rock. Getting to Makemake or wherever may take time, but once you're there that's where new brains will be born, not Earth. $\endgroup$ – rek Aug 21 '16 at 23:25
  • $\begingroup$ my bad) it slipped somehow from my attention. Let me ask then why u consider oort be a better place then other places in solar system. But yes, I definitely for space for most cases and for that Q also. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Aug 22 '16 at 1:39
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I have thought of this as the optimal solution to prevent death from age, accident, and murder: to live in virtual places and/or through robots. this last one in case we ever find a way to have instant communication like quantum-entanglement communication. if that were possible we could create colonies practically anywhere, with little resources, to explore the cosmos and interact with other life forms without the danger of death, torture, pain, and boredom. I came to the conclusion that we should store our brains deep underground in moons and planets geologically dead in safe zones far away from stars threatening to become supernovas and mass ejections. each installation must be fully automated, capable of producing their own energy, like fision and fusion reactors and solar panels on the surface. and of course, every moon and planet must have multiple observatories and satellites pointing at all directions to warn of any incoming asteroids likely to destroy the power plants or affect the moon/planet in any way. and of course there must be huge armies and military posts to make sure no terrorist group or alien race threaten our very existence which, by being immortals, will have more value to us.

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Location

Put them in Balloons on a gas giant around a small, stable star. There is plenty of space and with the density of the balloons you can easily manipulate the height. Gas Giants are also very long living. The ballons should float at a height, where the gas slowly gets fluid. This solves a lot of problems at once:

  • cooling
  • tectonic dangers (volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis)
  • dangers from outside (even quite big astroids will barely reach that far and if so, the result will still not mess with the atmosphere that much)
  • over time, smaller planets are more prone to break or be influenced by other planets. Gas giants are usually the ones who win.
  • The heavy atmospheres of gas giants are full of hydrogen, which can be harvested as energy source
  • small stars (red dwarfs like proxima centauri) are also VERY long living (trillions of years) and still give enough energy in close proximity
  • there are tons of systems, that feature a gas giant close to a dwarf star, if not most of them in the outer milky way

Latency and dream-like state

Another problem mentioned was the latency issue: As soon as the brains are far away from each other, the latency would be recognisable. But this gets even worse, as soon, as your brain is in a dream-like state: They are way way faster, in processing everything, because they are not bound to the slow input from outside and can also skip everything unimportant.

On the other hand, as soon as you plug them into a VR, you can control their perception speed. If the machines control the perception speed dynamically, even crazy slow latency is no issue anymore.

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Human beings are more than their brains. Actually, much more. Wilhelm Reich stated, about a century ago, that human memory resides MOSTLY in the muscular structure rather than in brain. This is corroborated by a myriad of studies in several fields of knowledge. So, the entire premise of the story lacks scientific/existential grounding.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is very interesting, but I can't find any sources on it. Where did you get your information? I'd like to know more. $\endgroup$ – FlyingPiMonster Aug 21 '16 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ Right... that explains why Stephen Hawking "doesn't remember anything". $\endgroup$ – Justas Aug 21 '16 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ @FlyingPiMonster, there's a whole massive subculture about this matter out there. But generally restricted to psychological scientific public, I'm afraid. However, some googling will be a sure hit - italic_reich muscular memory_italic for example. $\endgroup$ – Divsign Aug 21 '16 at 21:23
  • $\begingroup$ Basic academic literature usually refers to it only concerning memory of traumas, in a psichoterapy context. But the full meaning of Reich's discoveries includes the notion that muscles and other non-brain tissues have a natural function on storing ALL kinds of memory. Which ultimately defines human existence. $\endgroup$ – Divsign Aug 21 '16 at 21:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Divsign - Your second link seems to assert that your body responds to your memories and brain activity. Muscle memory is caused by modifications to the efferent nervous system, the neurons which go to the muscles from the central nervous system. Finally, the statements by several people about Steven Hawking, as well as the testimonies of amputees, show that memory is decidedly not mostly contained in muscles, and probably not contained in muscles at all. This subculture lacks scientific/existential grounding. $\endgroup$ – johannes Aug 22 '16 at 14:14
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Another way to answer this question materializes in a suggestion: on considering the complexities of mind, or spirit (in a hegelian meaning), envisioning a world where people downsized themselves to their brians, for survival reasons or just because they can do it, and therefore erasing a big part of their memories, the reflexions embedded in the story deepens a lot. And also could turn an already interesting premise into something even more interesting.
Let me know when your work is finished, will you?. I would appreciate that!

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You write "(almost) all" - that 'almost' is critical to your plot.

10 billion Virtuals is a lot of people, but if you leave even 100 million Actual people on the planet, they will soon multiply and covet the resources used by the 10 billion, unless those resources are somehow locked away.

Or vice versa - the 10 billion will work towards self-improvement (aka building an apocalyptic AI), and covet the resources of the remaining 100 million.

There aren't enough resources in the Solar System to satisfy both groups. War will break out.

I won't give you any spoilers as to how exactly this all works, but the excellent story Ra, at https://qntm.org/ra, features a conflict between brain-in-vat Virtuals and non-converted Actuals. Read this chapter if you want the spoiler.

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  • $\begingroup$ Why would they fight any more than any two groups of people fight? If the virtualisation has happened recently then families and friendships will remain. Can they benefit from cooperation? How much do they interact? What is the transfer rate? A war is most likely if the interaction and crossover has been minimal from generations and their is an important limited resource that will not be destroyed by the war. $\endgroup$ – Donald Hobson Aug 22 '16 at 20:38

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