“Programmatically Generated Everything” (PGE) is a theorized future scenario where the digital or virtual world becomes more fulfilling, productive, and useful than the physical world – triggering a tipping point whereby humans are pulled into increasingly personalized virtual worlds (see: Lotus Eaters and World Eaters), making the physical computational substrate which houses these programmatic human experiences to be the most important physical asset on earth (see: Substrate Monopoly).
“Programmatically generated” content (also called procedural generation) is content created in real time by an artificial intelligence system, as opposed to being created manually by humans.
The PGE hypothesis states that at some point in the coming decades, customized virtual experiences will become the norm, including:
- Entertainment which is tailored precisely to the moods, preferences, and responses of the user (watching an “analog” movie which is the same for everyone will be seen as archaic and generally boring)
- Virtual teachers, lovers, and friends (who have no needs or incentives of their own) will be more fulfilling, rich, and fruitful than many relationships “real” humans
- Almost all work (from manufacturing to management) will be accomplished through a dextrous and immersive virtual interface – anyone who cannot operate in this immersive workspace will be unable to be maximally productive in society, and will be left behind
Because of its impact on pulling humans into virtual (not physical) worlds and relationships, and because it will allow humans to experience skills and experiences (and even senses) unavailable in the physical world, it will be a stepping stone to transhumanism – and will loosen the “sacred” appeal of the “natural” human condition. This will lead – for better or for worse – to more drastic cognitive enhancements and a general fecundity of new forms of intelligences and ways of being.
The market for perception, for qualia, is ultimately the only market. I posit that nobody wants what they ostensibly want – they want changes in their feelings and qualia, fulfillment of their drives – and as soon as technology (probably, in order, pharmacology, VR, brain-machine interface, nanotech) can achieve this aim much more effectively than non-technological means, people will choose PGE over the “real” world (see: The Great Virtual Escape).
I explore this topic in great depth as a guest on the Simulation interview series with Allen Saakyan:
Header image credit: VRvlog