“Digitized and digested” is the future scenario which I consider to be a likely long-term future for humanity, should we survive the initial growing pains of the singularity. By long-term, I could mean 200 or 10,000 years – though the real timeframe is likely to lie somewhere in between.
The scenario is as follows:
- DIGITIZED: At some point, cognitive enhancement makes shared physical existence between humans dangerous, because drastically different sets of values and mental capacities make peaceful coexistence more or less impossible. Immersive VR eventually gives way to mind uploading and full-blown San Junipero-style existence in a virtual world.
- As humans enter a digital substrate to live in an expansive virtual world (hopefully full of blissful experiences of many types that we can’t possibly imagine), there will be a group of enhanced humans – or more likely a superintelligent artificial intelligence – which will manage the computational substrate that houses the human simulations.
- DIGESTED: Eventually, the substrate manager (be it AI or enhanced humans) will have what it believes to be better or more productive uses in mind for the computational resources that are being used to house the many human simulations. At this point, the substrate manager will remove the human simulations (ending their conscious experiences) and use that processing power for other ends which it deems to be more important (possibly inventing a new technology, exploring a new part of the galaxy, calculating a massively complex problem about physics, etc).