Cool ideas. With all this virtual reality stuff, I imagine the majority of people will have to finally confront the questions of “what is reality?”. Technology turns philosophical questions into practical ones, and that’d be a very interesting motif in the coming decades I think! As a result, and as part of the future culture, I think we need to also consider the noosphere, or memescape of the future.
What philosophical ideas and world-views will be popular? Will more postmodernist ideas, like those of Jean Beaudrillard, be more popular? Or more real-world-centered ones? Personally, I think that following the trends of post-postmoderinsm, and post-cyberpunk, which go hand in hand with transhumanism, people will try to transcend the simple rejection of anything being real of postmodernism, and transcend it to find something they can hold as truth. This will of course mean the appearance of new narratives, but I think the most popular opinion would be to regard virtual realities as in some sense below the physical world, as they are contained in it.
It’s hard to know exactly what will be popular, but I have a personal philosophy that emerged from the premature experiences of these coming developments (from movies, etc.). I call it the Principle of Inclusiveness. And simply stated, it says that Truth is what emerges from trying to understand as much of reality as possible. Thus the way to truth is simply the seeking of experiencing and experimenting as much as possible. This would obviously be most suitable for advanced minds like AIs who would scour the Universe for information, in search of Everything.
Another area I’d like to mention, is that specially when we reach a sort of technological or scientific maximum in some area, a lot of advance will come from cross-pollination of different areas. In the next decades and beyond, the most disparate areas of Knowledge and Life will be connected, creating lots of surprising stuff. A bit like when fractals appeared from the cross-pollination of computers+art+math. This is actually a rather fun an innovation-generating game to play. Choose two things, say math and music, and imagine what can come out of their combination. Maybe some obscure areas of maths are intuitively better understood by being heard instead of seen (Also augmented math will hopefully be a thing ^^). And of course with VR and AR, a lot of these things will be readily experimented with. With them we will probably discover things that don’t even have names now.
Internet surfing could finally become quite literally surfing, or whatever else you like. Some aspects of VR will begin to be considered to be cybernetic forms of psychedelic drugs (well some people may do both at the same time too, but even individually), due to its hallucinatory experiences. Chaos Magik will become a mildly popular idea whether taken seriously or not, and people who practice it say they revel in chaos, as a new form of experience and art, which takes the complexity of the new digital world as a second nature, and instead of trying to understand it, they try to feel it. Techno-shammanism is another thing that may become popular even if by another name (DJs for example are actually techno-shammans). Relatedly, festival culture, and Burning Man kind of scenarios, will finally become unhindered and blossom in virtual worlds. One of these heterotopias may become the most popular and be a common place where people go to hang out when wanting to disconnect from the real world for a bit, or just to have fun, or discuss cool ideas (like in Burning Man). I guess we could give it a cool name, like Next Dymaxion (play of words of Next Dimension, and Bucky’s dymaxion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dymaxion)
I had an idea about my a dream Institute to work on all the stuff I’m interested in. As I don’t think I can make it a reality any time soon, maybe it can be incorporated into the Fractal Cosmos. It’s called the The Earthship Institute for the Scientific and Holistic Exploration of the Cosmos (EISHEC), maybe it’d be an institution researching a lot of the philosophical problems, questions and potentials of new technologies, scientific discoveries and social systems