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Did the Metaverse’s Holy Grail Just Arrive?

Electronic Engineering Journal - Did the Metaverse’s Holy Grail Just Arrive?

As is usually the case, my head is currently jam-packed full of thoughts about all sorts of stuff, including consciousness, pain, octopuses, robots, holograms, Monty Python, the metaverse, and whether or not the word “metaverse” should be capitalized (you should consider yourself lucky that you’re not trapped in here with me).

Let’s start with pain. I, for one, don’t like it. This reminds me of the old chestnut that goes: “Beat me,” begged the masochist. “No” replied the sadist (which also reminds me of another oldie but goodie that poses the question, “What’s the difference between ‘erotic’ and ‘kinky’?” The answer being ‘erotic’ is when you use a feather, while ‘kinky’ is when you use a duck).

In turn, this leads me to my recent discovery that every episode of Babylon 5 is available for live streaming on HBO Max. Bearing in mind that there were five seasons of Babylon 5, each with 22 episodes, that’s… a lot of episodes. Since this was made in the mid-1990s, the quality of the video and the sophistication of the effects leaves something to be desired, but the underlying backstory with the Vorlons and the Shadows stirs a certain something in me. Yesterday evening, I watched Season 2, Episode 21, “Comes the Inquisitor,” in which Sebastian—who, we eventually discover, is Jack the Ripper who was abducted by the Vorlons in 1888, since when has served as an interrogator—arrives to do what he does best, which (you may not be surprised to hear) involves dispensing more than a little pain.

I always think it’s fortunate that we can’t remember exactly what pain feels like. I know I don’t want to jab myself with a pin, but I can’t actually remember what the sensation was like the last time I did so.

There are, of course, many different aspects to the concept of pain. Yesterday morning, for example, I arrived at my office early because I had a long day of work planned, only to find all three of my computer monitors presenting black screens with the lead device displaying the ominous message, “Boot Media Not Found.” No matter what I did to my tower (or how hard I struck it with my emergency mallet), it powered up displaying the same grim words of doom and despondency.

Eventually, I called my chum Daniel Imsand who works at GigaParts. In turn, Daniel left voicemails for Nathan and Derek in the service department. I was standing outside the store with my tower under my arm as the doors opened, at which point I was whisked into the service area to take my rightful position as first in the queue (“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” as the old saying goes).

I have two solid-state drives (SSDs) in my tower – one is used to hold the operating system (OS) and all my programs, while the other is used to store my vast amounts of data. On the bright side, all of my important data files are backed up in the cloud, on my machine at home, and also on an external drive (“just in case”). On the downside, my OS disk had given up the ghost. Much like the Norwegian Blue in Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch, I found myself the proud owner of a drive that was “no more.”

The sterling chaps at GigaParts soon inserted a new 500GB drive, reloaded Windows 10 (my tower is a few years old and is not able to run Windows 11), and reinstalled Microsoft Office 365. Now I’m suffering the pain associated with downloading and installing all of my application software. Much like prodding yourself with a pin, you can’t really recall and appreciate the pain of recovering a computer until you are actually going through it, which is the situation I currently find myself in (“Ah, now I remember!”)

“But where do the topics of consciousness and octopuses come into the story,” I hear you cry. I’m glad you asked. It shows you’re paying attention. I’m currently in the process of reading Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith, and it’s a real page-turner, let me tell you. As the author says: “The octopus is the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien. What can we learn from the encounter?” I know that I’m learning a lot and I don’t even have any octopuses to call my own.

View the full article on Electronic Engineering Journal here.