I often wonder when and how we will visit other planets in the galaxy, yet over the past few years humanity has begun creating virtual worlds that we are spending more and more time in. This leads to the question, why would we explore outer space when we can create our own universes in inner space?
Computer games such as GTA5 already have incredible levels of realism and vast playing areas, and have progressed from this...
To this, all in a space of 20 years.
Clearly, to get the level of realism required to be indistinguishable from our current reality would not just require a huge creative effort in terms of manpower, but also phenomenal amounts of memory, processing power and energy. As such, virtual worlds will almost certainly be very expensive.
I wouldn't imagine it would be much fun if someone had one of these worlds to themselves, and i'm sure it would be preferable to share it with real people, or at least artificial ones that appear to be human. I'm sure the artificial characters will play their part, but a high level intelligence would always be the goal, and again this increases the processing power required to levels that are not yet feasible (as well as opening up important ethical questions).
When it is possible to create and host these inner space worlds, it remains to invite guests to visit them. If they are to be both realistic and desirable, and a world in which one can do as they please, then it will be possible to destroy things. This then opens up the question as to whether laws and government are needed. It wouldn't be realistic if damage could be reset or undone without a similar level of effort required to create it in the first place, and this would be expensive.
Scarcity will still exist in these worlds, and just because gold or other precious items cannot physically be brought out of one of these worlds, it does not cause it to be less valuable within a world and it still might be traded across worlds.
Technology is allowing users to get more immersed in these worlds, and in 2019 V.R. headsets are a common accessory for games consoles. How long will it be until a human consciousness is transferable into one of these created universes?
It's not hard to imagine seeing a server farm that is hosting many inhabited worlds.