Sangeeth had made a career out of virtual reality, and he’d chosen a miraculous field at a near perfect moment. The tech had finally reached the point that the latency issues that had given the first generation of guinea pigs vertigo and a sense of pervasive unease were finally fixed, and new tech like texture simulators and high- fidelity three-dimensional audio simulators made the imaginary worlds more indistinguishable from reality every day. And Sangeeth immersed himself in the technology and the worlds, and eagerly sought out the next generation of features.
But a curious thing began to happen. As Sangeeth became ever more discerning of the faults and limitations of the virtual worlds, he began to notice faults and limitations in the real world as well. He noticed the seeded pseudorandom pattern generation of the clouds first, as he lay on his back on a warm summer day, and having seen it he could not unsee it. Next he noticed the way the fractal patterns in the ferns and pine trees blurred at their inner edges as a shortcut to prevent aliasing effects. But then he began noticing the way conversations he had could be fit to branched Markov chains with pseudo-reflexive Boltzmann weighing, and what had been a cocktail coversation oddity became his full preoccupation.
Sangeeth now looked at his fellow humans as if out of a deep well. He could not tell by talking to them, touching them, or seeing them if they belonged to the word he increasingly put scare quotes around – reality. And so he sat, a man unsettled, wrapped in blanket upon blanket of imitation reality, wondering if the good luck that had put him at the heart of one of the most interesting times in the human race had been luck at all.
Written on 10/27/16 for a man who was making a career out of augmented reality.