Submitted by Ohigetjokes t3_zyzykc in singularity

Full-dive VR is a neat toy and occasionally a useful tool, but there's a temptation to use it to avoid or even outright abandon reality.

AI companions are comforting and occasionally therapeutic, but there's a temptation to be unwilling to forge connections with less-than-perfect humans so that you can grow as people together through the natural friction that happens in an organic friendship.

Those are two examples off the top of my head, I'm sure you can think of more.

The point is that this desire and expectation of a completely frictionless existence, an unwillingness to work with life's "imperfections", where every discomfort is soothed and every craving sated by some external artificial source - this is the mental equivalent of refined sugar.

Popular, addictive, and leaves you in a terrible state as a human if imbibed too often.

Why do you think billionaires are so often dysfunctional?

EDIT: to clarify, I'm not saying that these technologies are bad or should be limited! I'm saying that as people we need to discuss possible mental ailments that overindulgence or avoiding stress entirely can cause.



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EddgeLord666 t1_j28nb5w wrote

If people want those things it’s their right to make those life choices for themselves. Preferably people would not be in a situation where they would become dependent on either of those, but it’s better to have the option than not.


Ohigetjokes OP t1_j28nvbi wrote

Ok... clearly going to have to add a disclaimer to the post...


Agreeable_Bid7037 t1_j2a8klh wrote

People are ignorant, and will always choose the easy way out, even if you warn them. I agree, we should consider the mental health side effects of these technologies, but I feel like if enough people use them, most people will also jump on board anyway.


Zermelane t1_j291pkq wrote

Oh hey, for once, a topic I have a strong opinion about:

I think we already fucked up, hard. Friendlessness is already growing at a fast pace. Why, I'm not sure. Social media probably has something to do with it. Personally, I think the growth of obesity and the way it messes with your sense of self-worth might have a bigger effect than people consider.

What that does to you is, it means you just get no positive experiences of friendship at all. You don't get to have people be present with you, and pay attention to you, and laugh with you, etc.. And my view of human psychology is, that makes it way, way harder to have the energy and confidence to seek out friendship or companionship at all, especially as an adult when you tend have to be intentional and even strategic about it if you really want it to work.

I don't see friendship with AI chatbots as humankind's coming savior or anything, but I do think that the order of effects it has in terms of size is:

  1. People get more positive experiences from interacting with their AI friends
  2. People seek out more friendship with other humans, to get more of the good stuff and to seek out some of the friction
  3. A few people seek out less of it, because they get enough from the AI

... and even if you disagree, I think the first effect is just overwhelmingly larger than the other two, and the thing you might quibble about is switching 2 and 3's places.


Ohigetjokes OP t1_j29n95m wrote

When a chat AI offers a positive friend experience, that helps a person through tough times.

But does it encourage them to seek out human companionship, or does it do exactly the opposite?


Agreeable_Bid7037 t1_j2a8x4q wrote

for me, it made me at first seek out more human interaction, then I was reminded people are not like the AI, they can sometimes be rude, or tiresome to talk to. And I went straight back to the AI.


nblack88 t1_j2azbfl wrote

I think that's part of the point OP is making with their post: That people should have relationships with AI and humans, not AI instead of humans. Human relationships are messy, and interacting with people who are rude or tiresome is difficult. But having these interactions and maintaining a healthy mindset despite them is necessary for personal growth. Using AI as a crutch to substitute for human relationships, instead of as a tool to learn and grow, is where we get into trouble. Failure and suffering are a part of growth. I think that's the point OP is making here.


pre-DrChad t1_j2bw1ip wrote

Human relationships might not exist in the future, atleast not in the way you think.

I mean think about it, a decent amount of people will be uploaded into the cloud living in their own world. Very few people will remain human the way we are today. And to be fair why would you want to? It’s an inferior experience


nblack88 t1_j2c3gld wrote

Valid point. I stopped short of changing the baseline of the human experience, because it's too far beyond what we can fathom with any degree of reliability. We have theoretical guideposts in most artistic mediums about FDVR, anchored in a human experience we can understand. Moving beyond that enters the realm of something akin to Transcendence.

Inevitably, what it means to be human will change, and we may manipulate and augment our cortex and neocortex to the point where we cast away the need for a human relationship, or they move beyond any basis we experience now.

I disagree that it's an inferior experience. We won't know that until we reach the next level, and by then, words like "inferior" and "superior" may have lost any meaning. I quite like being human, with all the mess and the animal impulses. There are some things I would change, add, or tweak. One day, should I live long enough, I'll likely decide to shed our current understanding of humanity to go on the next adventure of existence, but here today, I see no benefit in categorizing the whole experience as inferior. Only the bits and pieces I'm looking to change.


pre-DrChad t1_j2c6jqb wrote

Inferior as in there are so many negatives to the human experience, while in the future we may experience an existence without any negatives whatsoever.

Like sleeping and pooping as a simple (and not super negative) example. It’s unnecessary in a post human future.


Utoko t1_j28u228 wrote

the spin into billionaires makes no sense at all until that point you made some decent points.


ActualPhilosopher862 t1_j29avjn wrote

Billionaires made sense to me. I think the point is that they are an example of what it is like when you get everything you want with nothing to keep you in check - you become crazy as you want to be. One a related side note, this is why getting picked on has social utility and an evolutionary basis - it is bad but it does bring you back into the fold of the group when you get too far outside the norm.


Utoko t1_j29g1ba wrote

>expectation of a completely frictionless existence, an unwillingness to work with life's "imperfections",

Billionaires didn't get there without frictions, they are ruthless and powerful. Not without reason they are usually very narcissistic. They have ambitions, determination and using their resources.

Maybe you are thinking about the children and not people who control global companies. You think Elon musk doesn't face friction and backlash?


eve_of_distraction t1_j2a5n0c wrote

Yeah I feel like all billionaires are being painted with a broad brush here. Some Saudi prince who inherits billions with few responsibilities might be indolent, capricious and hedonistic but these captain of industry types? They live and thrive in high stress ultra-competitive situations their entire careers.


AndromedaAnimated t1_j28qji8 wrote

Refined sugar has allowed us to make tasty cakes and helped in creating medicine (medium for pills).

Therapy or social interaction is good even if it’s a robot providing it - better than none, at least.

We have to redefine dysfunctional.

Is Elon Musk dysfunctional? Is Sam Altman? I bet there are more functional than average Jane and Joe, to be honest, simply because they can afford better healthcare and have people flying towards them like moths towards a lantern. They are probably not lonely, they don’t suffer from debilitating yet easily treatable disease due to lack of finances.

Natural friction in a relationship might be good, until it isn’t - spousal and partner violence show this.

The whole point of your post is mental health from how I see it.

This is why I would like to see how you define „mentally healthy“.


Cryptizard t1_j28xgmw wrote

Elon Musk is extremely dysfunctional. The richest man in the world and all he seems to care about is whether people on the internet like him or not.


AndromedaAnimated t1_j28xo6f wrote

How do you know what he really cares about? Do you know him personally?

Creating scandals is a way of attaining popularity too. He could totally be trolling you all.


Cryptizard t1_j28xw9q wrote

He lost like a hundred billion dollars buying Twitter on a dare basically. He tweets all day long, mostly yelling at random people. Do you think that is something a well-adjusted billionaire would do?


AndromedaAnimated t1_j28z4sl wrote

I think yes. If I was a billionaire with an idea or two, and knew that humanity is pretty stupid in general and would not listen to my ideas if presented seriously, I would DEFINITELY do things like this to make myself heard.

Seriously suspecting it’s a method, no joke here. Trump is doing the same by the way just a bit more obviously.


sideways t1_j2awp0a wrote

As you pointed out, we don't know Musk (or Trump) personally.

Given that, follow Occam's Razor - narcissistic behavior indicates a narcissist not some subtle master plan. Don't fall for the halo effect.


AndromedaAnimated t1_j2azobj wrote

Behavior can be interpreted as narcissistic without being such. I am very sceptical of the „every person that behaves offensively in any way is a dysfunctional or even malignant narcissist“ hype, as there are other personality flaws or peculiarities that produce similar behavior. There are psychopaths and sociopaths (both summarised as antisocial personality disorder), there are neurotypical humans with strong „dark triad“ traits, there are other personality disorders like histrionic or borderline personality disorder that also show similar symptoms etc. etc.

I am not a fan or judging people by their silly behavior on Twitter and such. I prefer judging by deeds in science and market - and Elon Musk has good ideas and has done lots of interesting things. So I suspect that what he does is strategic more than disordered.

But that’s just me maybe.


sideways t1_j2b5ktc wrote

You are right that it's a mistake to jump from what someone says on social media to a psychiatric diagnosis!

Still, "silly behavior on Twitter" has a lot more impact when you are the owner of Twitter or the leader of a political movement than for regular people and it's reasonable to be held responsible for that impact.

At any rate, I agree that it's more important to judge people by what they do than what they say.


NTIASAAHMLGTTUD t1_j2aoxst wrote

>The point is that this desire and expectation of a completely frictionless existence, an unwillingness to work with life's "imperfections", where every discomfort is soothed and every craving sated by some external artificial source - this is the mental equivalent of refined sugar.

This wouldn't make people (as happy), but I suspect at that point (this is all speculation) there the ai would provide challenges and opportunities for growth. Think of a video game, people enjoy them most of the time because they are challenging not because they allow you to easily destroy everything with 'friction'.

People need challenges but there's a difference between balance and being crushed. How many people commit suicide, collapse into addiction, etc, because life became too much for them.

I would not want a 'frictionless' world at least for a long time, that would drive anyone crazy after a while. But I don't see reality as necessarily positive under every circumstance. Reality is not just some hard knocks but you gotta put in the work bullshit, it's incredible and arbitrary unfairness, cruelty, sickness etc, often without a clear path for growth. A kid dying of cancer at 3 is reality.

My 2 cents, interesting topic overall.


Ohigetjokes OP t1_j2at38q wrote

Interesting thoughts. Goes back to gamification.


Current_Side_4024 t1_j297osu wrote

I think we should use technology to put us into this “ideal” state of mind round the clock. Not a life of senseless pleasure, but a life of strong character and sociability with each other. The ideal human character that has self-esteem but is also humble. A humble happiness, and we could spend our time doing tasks that reinforce this character. I could try to explain it more but I’ll leave it at that


Ohigetjokes OP t1_j29nk69 wrote

A healthy mind adopts many frames throughout a day, week, month, and year. This is a good example of how over-engineering the problem can leave people worse off than when they started.


Current_Side_4024 t1_j29osu7 wrote

Yea but there’s plenty of people whose minds are kind of ruined by traumatic events and/or unrealistic expectations and that prevents them from reaching the healthy mind frame very often or for very long. We need to develop tech that can fix those broken brains and prime them for that healthy mindset at least. The psychological drug medications we’ve developed aim to do that but don’t really succeed bc they’re too primitive and don’t act on the brain in a precise way


eve_of_distraction t1_j2a4p55 wrote

Billionaires aren't often dysfunctional. They're usually very high functioning. We just notice the ones who aren't because they're famous, and when famous people are dysfunctional the media likes to focus on them.


ChalkAndIce t1_j2bec2q wrote

One does not become a billionaire by being dysfunctional. Eccentric sure, but not dysfunctional.


idranh t1_j2awkye wrote

Bring on these issues! LOL. Seriously tho, you're right these technologies are going to mess with what it means to be human.


sideways t1_j2axk68 wrote

This is my favorite explanation for the Fermi Paradox.


Cryptizard t1_j28u5vd wrote

If you think this is a danger it says more about you than it does the technology. Most people do not want to just sink into a comfortable, warm bliss for their lives.

Why do people do extreme sports, hiking, spelunking, diving, etc.? They pay money to be uncomfortable. To push themselves. It is part of human nature. VR is not going to eliminate that.


Ohigetjokes OP t1_j28x3rv wrote

I 100% disagree about your statement on what most people want. Read the other comments if you want a window into how people tend to enthusiastically and self-righteously throw themselves into mental dysfunction.

I agree that many choose to engage with life and will continue to do so. Not the point of the post.


Cryptizard t1_j28xo7a wrote

This sub is not a representative sample. Many people come her specifically to delude themselves to make them feel better about their lives. Think about people you actually know, in real life. Most people I know don’t even play video games, they are too busy living their lives. VR would make no difference to them.


Agreeable_Bid7037 t1_j2a9q7t wrote

lol, I like your hardcore takes. But I think you are probably a sportsy person, so most of your friends are similar. The sad truth is that many people are addicted to their devices, as we speak, the number of children who play outside as opposed to spend all day on their phones or PlayStations is decreasing.

The same goes for teens and adults. Now imagine an even better tech comes along, which lets them live in a fantasy world which is even more immersive, do you think they will pass up the opportunity.


Cryptizard t1_j2abnwk wrote

Only if their lives continue to suck in the real world. I can’t imagine getting to ultra realistic VR with ASI and not also fixing our real world problems.


cole_braell t1_j2948so wrote

I wish people would stop comparing these cool but crude technologies to The Singularity. These technologies are like junk food snacks compared to a lifelong buffet of healthy and sustaining meals The Singularity will provide. When it arrives, you will KNOW, and it will operate at a level unknown to humankind of today.


Ohigetjokes OP t1_j29nbds wrote



Desperate_Food7354 t1_j2ak8v1 wrote

Biological immortality, cortex extensions for huge iq increases, dyson spheres. We probably will have to exist as a hive mind for a type 3 civilization.


EulersApprentice t1_j2ah7m3 wrote

I think the people who would use full dive VR to hide from reality are already hiding away from reality using their phone or computer.


Sk1leR t1_j2awwu0 wrote

Reality is the real threat to mental well being


nblack88 t1_j2b4up8 wrote

Your thoughts are well-founded. I think they should have the proper framework, though. What you're describing will be an issue, but I think that in relation to humanity as a whole, it's a short-term issue.

Someone mentioned below that AI would provide the appropriate challenges to stimulate the user, thus not providing a frictionless existence. Your reply indicated it goes back to gamification. At this point in our current existence, gamification is largely a philosophical concept. Life is gamified all the time: We gamify life when going to school, conducting job interviews, learning about techniques to improve our social lives, exercise, finance...every meaningful aspect of life has aspects of gamification to it.

By the time we have FDVR, and AI can simulate realities as complex as our own, I would refer to our reality as Base Reality, or Reality Prime. Any successive "realities" generated in FDVR will be considered more, less, or of equal importance to Prime, depending on the individual. Currently, what is Real is everything we can perceive and process with our senses, in addition to the things we can and cannot control. Both within ourselves, and the world around us.

That groundwork out of the way, I believe this will largely go the way social media has:

The Social Media Age was in full gear by 2009, when Facebook had the most active userbase and reached the most people. Within the previous 13 years, we've become aware of the advantages and perils of social media. Now there is a growing focus on bringing awareness to these issues and their effects on humans. It's part of the process, and there are parallels of growing pains throughout the history of technological evolution.

FDVR will largely be the same. Those looking to escape Prime will spend as much of their time in FDVR as they can. They'll start with worlds they have total control over. Then they'll get bored, and add complexity to those worlds by having AI provide challenges. Eventually, humans will want to form attachments to individuals with whom they have no agency to control.

If we can solve aging and longevity, then many of the people most prone to this escapism can make this journey, eventually returning to the desire to form 'organic' attachments as people changed and strengthened by their experiences in FDVR. If not, we may lose several people to it over a few generations. It's happened before, it'll happen again. I don't see these fears ruining us as a species, or civilization. Just another kind of evolutionary crucible to become more superior to our former selves.


EnomLee t1_j2b9rf8 wrote

You know, I get the feeling that I should probably say something....

It's a lot like talking about longevity and death, isn't it? I mean every time a topic about treatments for aging comes around, there's always that person. You know who I'm talking about, the one that absolutely must let everybody know that, "It's unnatural. Life has meaning because it is short!"

I always roll my eyes at that person because I know for a fact that they're one bad moment away from begging for their life. Let somebody in a ski mask, holding a gun kick down their front door. Let a drunk driver veer into their opposing lane at 50mph. Let a doctor tell them that the tumor is already at stage 4 and then we can see if they want to extol the virtues of our brief existences.

It's easy for people who are in good health to navel gaze over the hubris of wanting to live forever and yet, nobody wants to die. Not even people who commit suicide want to die, they don't want their lives to end, they want their pain to stop!

We treat pain and suffering the same way. Our cultural upbringing tells us that there is virtue in choosing to suffer, that there is meaning in it. That's it's God's plan. We do this to try and make peace with the traumas and burdens that life forces us to bear. Into every life, a little rain must fall. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. The sun will rise again tomorrow. The meek shall inherit the Earth.

Bullshit. There is no plan. There was never a goddamned plan!

Nobody wants to be bullied. Nobody wants to be rejected. Nobody wants to be betrayed, or abandoned. Nobody wants to be blind, or paralyzed, or an amputee. Nobody wants cancer. Nobody wants to bury their parents. Nobody wants to be ugly. Nobody wants to try their best and still fail. But it happens anyway. Why? Because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, subjected to other people and circumstances that were beyond your control. We try so hard to force these misfortunes to make sense, but that's just a coping mechanism. Life sucks. Life is chaos.

So, for me, focusing on whatever downsides there could be in people overusing these speculative technologies feels a touch myopic. I'm less interested in what happens if people get bored* from overusing FDVR or AI companions than I am in learning what they were running from.

*They wouldn't. I think it's a safe bet to say that by the time these things become real, if ever, that tuning their performance to give the user the perfect balance of highs and lulls to keep them engaged would be trivial.


AsuhoChinami t1_j2bk3f7 wrote

Kind of a dumb thread that's basically expecting the worst from every situation, however unlikely.


adikhad t1_j29c3m1 wrote

No. Mental well being does not depend on external circumstances.


TheDavidMichaels t1_j2bzlri wrote

I agree with your direction of reasoning. It vexes me that many are looking at everything as if it's the end of the world or as if people are looking for some system to protect them from responsibility and work. Elon seems to think it's going to be a time where if you want to do something, you could, essentially giving the average billionaire the power to do anything. However, I just hear everyone worried about universal basic income (UBI). We saw what four months of UBI did, nearly destroying the earth. The COVID thing was a setup to get that going, but it failed due to expenses. I guess everyone will just have to work in the future. Personally, I'm looking forward to a future where an army of leased robots for Tesla sets up a floating island city near Bora Bora.


Flameva t1_j2cckba wrote

Some of your points don’t make sense, but I agree mostly.


AsuhoChinami t1_j2crug5 wrote

My 90s childhood and 2000s teens posed a far greater threat to my mental health than the Singularity ever could.


nebson10 t1_j2f0knt wrote

I don't see any downside to avoiding reality or avoiding organic relationships with real people if technology provides a more satisfying alternative. I'm not a character in a novel who needs to learn a lesson. I'm a real human and I just want to be happy.


ApatheticHumor t1_j2ehdec wrote

I mean, we will be of no significance and replaced by robots before we get to FDVR. So I think your point is mute, as we would already have AGI that could keep our brain connections new so that we never stagnate. It’s like saying in the early 1920’s what role the Model T’s tires will serve in 100 years.


blah-blah-guy t1_j28q1id wrote

Fuck people. If those ifiots want it-- let them do it. They are already robots. With all these instagrams abd tick tock stuff.