Experience Machine


I am a pilot, an astronaut, I am a scientist. Do I have wings? I can fly. Am I in total control or am I not? What is it that frees me from all obstacles and allows me to live where there are no boundaries? What is it that offers me the taste of all pleasures I had wished for? Life itself is not enough, for things can never go behind reason. I can not live in my own imagination. What if I was plugged in by a certain machine that has the power of enabling me to live my own creation? According to Hans Moravec in the following couple of decades most humans may choose to upload their personalities into synthetic computing devices leaving behind their biological brains .If this possibility comes to pass, virtual reality will become our natural habitat. It will cease to be a special environment that we enter for specific purposes. We will continue to have sensory contact with the external physical world but we will find it more normal to live in virtual worlds.


The concept of the “Inside Experience” was discussed by both Nagel and Nozick. The “Inside Experience” offers the individual\'s desired experience a true virtual world. Nozick mentions the existence of three different machines, the experience machine, the transform machine and the result machine.


In Nozick’s article he initially introduces his concept of inside experience in a machine called the experience machine. "Suppose there we\'re an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired. Super duper neurophysiologists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel that you were writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you would be floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to your brain." (Robert Nozick) In this machine you are totally unaware of reality and thus you live reality served by the program and you are the person that the program identifies. Then he presents a more sophisticated machine the transform machine which can reflect a person’s real personality inside the program so that this person gains experience according to his view of it in the real word. But still he improve his idea in a way that the individual can reflect things on the real world and calls the last machine the result machine which in some way results in a change in reality as you experience things in virtual reality.


In the experience machine described by Nozick we are simply plugged in and fed sensory data through our brain by a machine which simply shuts down any contact with the real world making us into semi-vegetables managed by a program. There are several reasons for such a procedure to fail since we as humans love freedom and always fought for our independence it might be to easy to surrender to artificial intelligence to totally control us no matter how evident the results may be. In a more advanced machine if we wake up after several years and after having a variety of different experiences, our personality may be severely altered in such a way that we may cease to exist not just as our selves but also as whom we desired to be. (Max More)


In a tank connected to a server we never could be physically protected from disasters such as earthquakes or meteors strikes, no matter how much automation we use there will always be a risk of never waking up again. “But in the case of the experience machine, where by definition I would permanently lose all my memories of my current life, there is nothing for the new experiences to be integrated into. I see no way around this simple fact. Therefore, I see the experience machine, as defined, as a form of suicide. Of course” (unknown, Egoism and the Experience Machine)


In Nagel’s article “Death” he relates “Inside Experience” to life, and says that the more experience in life there is the more life is worth and what makes death a bad thing is the loss of life. Therefore death which represents the end of all that is living is the negative effect in our lives. It puts an end to our souls and decays our bodies; which results in the extinction of