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issue 14
February 27, 2019

We’re probably living in a simulation.

I’ll leave it to smarter folks to explain why, but the odds are pretty high that what we perceive of as reality is in fact a simulation running on some unimaginably powerful cosmic computer.

It’s okay to freak out. It’s unsettling, like the first time you realize those sliding doors on Star Trek are just being pulled by grips.

Here’s the moment in my movie The Nines in which the lead character realizes there’s something very wrong with the world:

Spoiler: That’s not really a spoiler, because there’s more to his predicament.

But relax. Just because we’re living in a simulation, that doesn’t preclude free will, any more than living in a boring old universe would. After all, if everything is the result of cause-and-effect, then Nothing is Ever Anyone’s Fault.

I got thinking about simulations this week because I fell down a rabbit hole watching AR/VR simulations like this literal sandbox:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/NXD7Dfo7Ngo

I wonder if that’s how we’ll become comfortable with our being born into a simulation: by choosing to live in our own simulations.

It’ll start with immersive games and tools that provide useful ways to visualize and manipulate reality. Ultimately, there will be a whole class of daily life that can only really function in simspace. Just like it’s very hard to live without the internet, it will become impossible to imagine life without our chosen simulations.

I'm largely neutral on whether simspace is going to be good or bad for us as a species. We're terrible to each other online, but we're also terrible in person. To me, the most interesting thing to see is how we perceive ourselves as individuals when we become so disconnected from our own bodies.

- - - 

Here’s what else I found interesting this week.

Good dog. This pup reacting to Mufasa’s death in The Lion King is great but also, why doesn’t my dog seem to be able to process images on TV? He reacts to sounds, but I’ve never seen him actually look at the screen.

Logic puzzle. You have twins. One is a citizen and the other isn’t. How is that possible? The answer: the State Department choosing to ignore a marriage license between two men – one American, one Israeli. It got overturned, but it’s a reminder that there’s never really settled law when it comes to minority rights.

After you get the money. I’m a sucker for stories like this of what people do when they get a bunch of money at once.

High water. Tired: Worrying about the next major earthquake. Wired: Mega-storms bringing unbelievable floods to Los Angeles.

Making sex work more dangerous. One of the unintended (?) consequences of shutting down Backpages is that it pushed more consensual sex workers into riskier environments.

YouTube Very Red. On the other hand, there’s also OnlyFans, which makes it easier for some online performers to DIY.


Interesting conflicts of interest


The WGA is in the middle of renegotiating its 43-year-old agreement with the talent agencies. The last time this document was dusted off, there were three TV networks in the United States, and Apple Computers had just been founded.

I'm on the negotiating committee, but if even if I weren't a writer, I'd find the debate fascinating because it's at the intersection of a bunch of 2019 issues:
  • the reawakening of labor
  • the role of venture capital
  • anti-trust and industry consolidation
  • the shift to streaming
The WGA has all of its supporting documents open to the public. There's good stuff to read and watch, including the speech from president David Goodman, the FAQ and member anecdotes
 
And that’s what’s interesting this week. As always, you can email me at ask@johnaugust.com

Enjoy your Wednesday!
     

UPCOMING EVENTS

Arlo Finch East Coast Tour 
Dates in Maine and Rhode Island coming soon.
     

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