Liu Cixin, China’s first “meta universe architect”

The Earth, a planet on the edge of the third cantilever of the Milky Way, is about 12,000 kilometers in diameter and has a population of more than 7 billion. It is truly ordinary. Even if human beings have a high self-esteem, they squeeze everyone on the planet together seamlessly. Your left hand is Yui Aragaki, and your right hand is Masami Nagasawa. It is just a sphere less than 1,000 meters in diameter.

Even so, when these masses of fleshy balls with a diameter of less than 1,000 meters face the earth with a diameter of 12 million meters, they still show their greed and farsightedness: resources are fast running out, the world is too small, and the universe is too vast.

Human beings who realize their own smallness and the narrow world naturally want to go a little further. Now, those who expand the boundaries of the human world are divided into two groups: one is the spaceship group, and the other is the meta-universe group.

The spaceship school refers to people who expect human beings to fly out of the solar system, fly out of the Milky Way, and fly to the edge of the universe in a spacecraft one day. By the way, it is possible that this spaceship is the earth itself; while the meta-universe school is looking forward to the virtual reality of Bit In the world, create a virtual universe that extends infinitely and has everything you need, where humans break through the limitations of the physical world and create "everything" through computing power and codes.

▲Bath Aldrin and his regrets, the picture is from MIT Technology Review

The separation method between the spaceship school and the meta-universe school is not rigorous, because this is the dualism that I proposed myself. But correspondingly, I still have two or three supporters: First, the second person to land on the moon, Buss Aldrin, because Armstrong, who said "one small step for me, a big step for mankind", is too famous. So Buss Aldrin said when he was old, "You promised me to colonize Mars, but you gave me Facebook" is not so famous, but as a spacecraft faction who has actually been in a spacecraft, this sentence is also weighty enough. .

In fact, Buss Aldrin’s famous saying is quite apt to pick up people’s teeth. After all, before him, Peter Thiel, a well-known investor in Silicon Valley, also said similar "We want a flying car, but only get 140 words." . However, Peter Thiel said this is not very convincing. After all, he is the earliest investor in Facebook, he particularly likes "140 words", and he has a bad relationship with Musk, who is planning to colonize Mars.

The third person is Liu Cixin, China's most well-known science fiction writer, and the absolutely determined spaceship school, who has absolutely zero tolerance for the Metaverse School, and has written many science fiction novels to criticize the Metaverse School.

However, a young man who kills the evil dragon, kills and kills, may become an evil dragon himself. As Liu Cixin wrote and wrote, he almost became the first "metacosmic architect" in China. If there is no basic concept of the metaverse, Go and read Liu Cixin's novels, and you may have some general knowledge.

The ridicule of the "Spaceship School" to the "Metacosm School"

Although Liu Cixin is almost recognized as the first person in China’s science fiction, this does not mean that his works are of high level. "Pai" is the most ironic one.

In "Festivals That Can’t Coexist", observers of aliens staying on the earth are dismissive of the earth’s holidays, believing that New Year’s Day is no more than the node of the earth’s revolution; and Christmas is even more meaningless. One billion years ago, the "Split Festival" where the life cells on the earth split for the first time. Another example is the Landing Festival, which is the day when life climbs from the ocean to the land; the Tree Down Festival, the first day the gibbons come down from the tree; There are upright festivals, tool festivals, fire festivals, and so on.

▲ On April 12, 1961, the former Soviet Union astronaut Gagarin flew into space

The most recent memorable festival may be April 12, 1961, when mankind’s first manned spaceflight. According to aliens, the earth is a huge blue womb. The significance of manned spaceflight truly foreshadows humanity. Before birth, it was all conceived. Therefore, April 12, 1961 was tentatively designated as the "Birth Day" of mankind.

▲ The Neuralink brain-computer interface technology founded by Musk has achieved some breakthroughs

On October 5, 2050, humans realized the direct connection between the human brain and the computer, and the brain-computer connection technology has a foundation for rapid development. Scientists began to imagine the future:

Soon, it will not be a computer but a brain that will be connected to the Internet. The next logical thing is that people’s memory, consciousness and all personality will be able to be uploaded to computers and the Internet. It is possible for human beings to live in a virtual world—the virtual world, if you think about it, where people can do everything and want There is nothing, just like God. There, one person can own the entire planet!

This vision of the future is undoubtedly the ideal state of the meta-universe: the virtual world is much broader than the real world, where humans can easily obtain great happiness, the kind of happiness that is secreted by tons of dopamine, and the virtual world can carry human memory and consciousness. And personality, the real world will become boring. The contrast between virtual and reality is hundreds of times more interesting than the difference between "Love in Cholera" and the short video on Douyin.

Alien observers who have witnessed the "birth" of mankind also imagined the future of mankind after this:

The virtual world of the future is indeed heaven, where everyone is indeed God, and its beauty is beyond any imagination. I just imagine the real world at that time. At the beginning, there will be fewer and fewer people in reality, and the virtual heaven is so good. Whoever wants to stay in the harsh reality will rush to upload themselves. The earth gradually becomes a place where people are sparsely populated. In the end, there is no one in reality. The world returns to the way it was before humans appeared. Forests and vegetation cover everything. Large groups of wild animals roam and fly freely… just in a certain place. In a corner of the mainland, there is a deep basement, in which a large computer is running, and tens of billions of virtual humans live in the computer.

Obviously, the words of the alien observer are what Liu Cixin wants to say. The spacecraft sent Liu Cixin that the meta-universe (virtual world) will eventually lead to the destruction of humans in the flesh, and humans will disappear from the real world and eventually become virtualized.

In the end, the extraterrestrial observers designated October 5, 2050 as the "abortion festival" for the earth. It means that human beings are not half-born but the middle way collapses. Of course, it is the "meta universe" that bears the blame.

▲ Watching a virtual concert in the "Fortress Night" game is a low-profile meta-universe experience

Now talking about meta-universe is somewhat of a castle in the sky, whether it is the open-world game creation platform "Roblox", or Epic's "Fortress Night", etc., it is still a two-dimensional flat world and the very early concept of meta-universe, which is far from serious. The meta-universe picture is still one hundred and eight thousand light-years away.

However, Liu Cixin's conception and criticism of the meta universe transcends time. Before the appearance of the meta-universe concept, he had already begun to "create" the meta-universe, and then after the meta-universe matured, he began to "destroy" the meta-universe he described. It is a meta-universe itself, so maybe the essence of the meta-universe is a matryoshka?

More than 30 years ago, Liu Cixin conceived the meta universe

In view of the fact that the meta universe has not been clearly defined, it is in the stage of two parties discussing vision, a hundred schools of thought, and a thousand schools of speculation. If the form is pure, the form is neutral, and the form is free; the content is pure, the content is neutral and the content is free. The connotation of the meta-universe is very rich. It cannot be said that everything can be a meta-universe. At least the meta-universe does not reject any imagination. Once a limit is set, it is not a meta-universe.

Therefore, even more than 30 years ago, when Liu Cixin was only in his 20s, and when computers and the Internet were rare in China, he portrayed the virtual world in "China 2185", an unpublished novel.

The time came to 2185, when China was the world's leading power (although Liu Cixin was a science fiction writer and his imagination exploded, he still greatly underestimated the speed of the country's development), the science and technology tree also pointed to StarCraft, 2 billion National real-time online meetings, the average life expectancy of one or two hundred years, the stage of human brain simulation. Under such technological conditions, the biggest crisis a country encounters does not come from the real world, but the people in the virtual world (of course it can also be called the meta universe).

In an accidental technological breakthrough, a complete copy of the human brain appeared in the computer. This virtual human has no shell, but has exactly the same thinking as a human. It can probably be understood as the virtualization of Yun Tianming in "Three-Body". If thinking exists in the real brain, it is extremely difficult to replicate at the atomic level, and the movement speed is extremely slow, but once the thinking is digitized, the bytes are copied much faster, and the movement speed can reach the speed of light, so in In a very short period of time, the Internet was controlled by this virtual human and his copy. The launch of nuclear bombs, the runaway of Internet of Things equipment, the disconnection of medical equipment, etc. were all under his control.

The final solution is also very simple. There will be a big power outage throughout the country, and the computer will not be the brain if it has no electricity.

▲ In the meta universe, we can watch the Milky Way star burst every day

However, in the two hours from the emergence of virtual humans to the real world where they suffered a power outage, the civilization of virtual humans has gone through more than 600 years. The life of virtual humans in the virtual world is like this:

It took only two hours for our country from the announcement of its establishment to its disappearance. However, we live in high-speed integrated circuits. Our body and consciousness are composed of electrical pulses that vibrate hundreds of millions of times per second. Our lives and our thinking are all carried out at this speed. So in our world, time is calculated in units that are eight orders of magnitude smaller than yours. For us, one second in this world is as long as more than 700 hours in your world! In your tense two hours, we have spent more than 600 years of long years and established a complete civilization.

After our ancestors entered the computer network for the first time, they began to replicate themselves in a large amount. After forty replications before and after the second copy, the total computer network was covered by nearly 100 million impulse people.

They are amazed at the vastness of the world of integrated circuits. In the world of silicon chips, they are drifting around at the speed of light. Through various sensors in the main network, they see and feel the outside world. Their vision has never been so broad. They can see the snow of the Himalayas and the forests of Xishuangbanna at the same time. They can feel the sediment of the Yellow River and taste the salty taste of the sea. Mars sees the entire earth; many things in this universe beyond human physical senses, they can also see and feel: through neutrino radar, they can see the hot liquid iron and nickel in the center of the earth creeping; through space Satellites, they felt the particle wind blowing from the sun; through radio telescopes, they saw an extragalactic galaxy tens of millions of light-years away, through high-energy accelerators, they could hear the sound of atomic nuclei colliding; they also heard The noise of gravitational waves, seeing the colors outside the visible light band that cannot be described to your protoplasmic people, is not only beyond your current imagination, but also beyond your possible imagination. When they were just copied, they were completely immersed in surprise and curiosity. For a while, they use their electron microscope eyes to look at the chromosomes like hairsprings in cells; for a while, they use their neutrino telescope eyes to look at the earth and the moon. Due to the high penetration of neutrinos, our planet and its satellites have become crystal clear crystal balls in their eyes, floating in the ocean of gravitational waves, what excites them most is that they have the possession of this country The countless pairs of powerful hands formed by the machines, the countless fast legs and wings formed by all the means of transportation, they possess the power of a god.

Obviously, this description is more detailed than in "Festivals That Cannot Coexist", and it is also more exciting and frightening. Humans can use sensors, radio telescopes, neutrino radars, high-energy accelerators, electron microscopes, etc. Feeling the world directly, human eyes, ears, nose and mouth appear so dull in comparison. At the same time, the speed of human thinking will also be greatly accelerated, and the evolution of civilization is like evolving from a horse-drawn carriage to a high-speed rail.

This meta-universe connected to the real world may threaten the real world, or it may be a solution to real world problems.

▲ The current robots are also very powerful

Many technology practitioners have very optimistic expectations for the development of AI and robotics: eventually AI will replace most people’s mental work, while robots will replace most people’s manual work, and the development of medical technology will make humans live better. Over time, most people in the world eventually become idle.

Art creation may be the way out for more people, but the meta universe may be the home of most people. Whether it is abandoning the full virtualization of the body, or the brain-computer interface, or the advanced version of the VR world, it is always a virtual meta. The universe will be the home of mankind most of the time.

In fact, in "China 2185", Liu Cixin conceived this way: the establishment of a cyberspace independent of the real world will "immigrant consciousness" of people who rely on nutrient solutions and oxygen cylinders to maintain their lives in the past. Let them enjoy eternal happiness in this Elysee Paradise.

The meta universe may be very advanced, but it is not the ultimate destination

In Greek mythology, after death, a person would cross the Styx and then be judged. The guilty would go to hell, and the innocent would go to Elysee Paradise. When Liu Cixin, who was in his 20s, was writing "China 2185", he discussed the question of immortality or eternal death. The answer he gave was also very clear. Although human consciousness can live forever in the meta universe, this kind of eternal life is also eternal. It makes no sense to die. In fact, it means that there is not much difference between Elysee Paradise and Hell.

If Liu Cixin engaged in a superficial binary opposition between the spaceship school and the meta-universe school in "Festivals That Cannot Coexist", and then affirmed the existence of meta-universe to a certain extent in "China 2185", then in "Time" In "Immigration", Liu Cixin sets the tone for Metaverse from a historical perspective.

Because of the deterioration of the environment and the skyrocketing population, the living space of mankind has become precarious. In the end, mankind decided to let 80 million people lie in the freezer for time migration: wake up in an age suitable for human survival and live on.

This group of people has experienced the age of digitization of warfare, and the age of immortality of the body, and stayed in the "invisible age" for a period of time.

The "Invisible Era" 500 years after time emigration, the human world is divided into the tangible world and the intangible world. The tangible world means that human beings still maintain their own body. This body may be an airplane, a car, or a giant ship. Ships (suddenly become JOJO), there may also be several bodies. The invisible world can still be classified as a meta universe.

Liu Cixin’s description of this meta-universe world is actually not much different from what I said earlier:

You can really do whatever you want and create everything you want. You can create an empire with a population of hundreds of billions, where you are the king; you can experience a thousand different romances, and die 100,000 times in 10,000 wars; everyone there is the ruler of a world , More powerful than God. You can even create a universe for yourself. There are hundreds of millions of galaxies in the universe, and there are hundreds of millions of planets in each galaxy. Each planet is a different world you desire or dare not desire! Don't worry about not having time to enjoy these, the speed of supercomputers makes a second there centuries long outside. There, the only limit is imagination. In the invisible world, imagination and reality are one thing. When your imagination appears, it becomes reality at the same time. Of course, it is the reality in the quantum chip. In your terms, it is a combination of pulses. People in this era are gradually turning to the invisible world, and now the number of people living in the invisible world has exceeded the tangible world. Although it is possible to have a copy of the brain in both worlds, life in the invisible world is like drugs. Once experienced that life, no one can return to the tangible world. Our troubled world is like hell to them. Now, the invisible world has mastered the legislative power and is gradually controlling the entire world.

This is a very attractive age, happiness is so easy to obtain, and happiness is so strong and lasting, humans seem to be bathed in a sea of ​​dopamine. However, out of the attitude of being responsible for mankind and history, the Time Immigration Team refused this era ten times, waiting for the humans of this era to finish the game, and finally came to a world where no humans returned to the primitive world to open up wasteland.

In Liu Cixin’s 30-year creative career, the virtual world is his very important creative theme and material. Whether it’s the three-body game in "Three-Body" or the IT Republic in "April 1, 2018", it can actually be It comes down to the meta universe.

▲ "Number One Player" is part of the mature meta-universe

Similarly, the novel "Avalanche", the movie "Number One Player" and the anime "Sword Art Online" can also be regarded as the phased forms of the metaverse. However, Liu Cixin has always been generous with his imagination when depicting the more ultimate form of the metaverse. Power, and writing style that is judged to be poor by the public.

Even when he is creating science fiction novels, some of Liu Cixin's writing settings can still provide popular explanations for the development of the meta-universe in the real world:

  • Metaverse relies on the great development of computing power, and even the leap forward of chip technology;
  • There are also technologies such as brain-computer interfaces or the human brain Internet;
  • Meta Universe has requirements for programming technology and storage technology;
  • High concurrency is no longer a headache technical problem;
  • The meta-universe is not only for human entertainment, human beings are still creating here, and even the achievements of civilization created surpass the real world;
  • Metaverse has its own economic system, GDP system, and social development direction…

What’s interesting is that Liu Cixin’s earliest works have a more comprehensive vision of the meta universe, which completely transcends the limitations of times and space. It’s hard to imagine that he would write such a detailed fiction in the remote Niangziguan Hydropower Station so long ago. In the world, from the perspective of advancement and comprehensiveness, saying that Liu Cixin is China's first "metacosmic architect" is not the title party.

As a staunch spacecraft school, Liu Cixin not only expressed his concerns about the development of the meta-universe in his works, but also clearly expressed similar views in reality: virtual reality technology makes people become more and more introverted, and the entire civilization becomes more and more introverted. More and more introverted. Human beings rely too much on computer technology, and space technology is too far away from the public and making money.

Perhaps, in Liu Cixin's view, the magical power of writing the meta universe, the more human beings are attracted to introvert, the more the spaceship faction's existence will appear to be more courageous, and more natural justice. On the ultimate proposition of the ultimate fate of mankind, Liu Cixin's answer is always the same, that is, flying into the universe, the introverted meta-universe faction is more like letting mankind enter the good night gently.

When the Internet hesitated at a new crossroads, people opened a 29-year-old science fiction novel, pointed to a term called "Metaverse" and said: "This is the next generation of the Internet."

"Meta universe" is the most popular concept in the current science and technology circle. However, there are 1,000 "meta universes" in the eyes of a thousand people. No one can give an accurate definition. Most of them are a vague piece of science fiction. contour.

"Meta universe" may be a digital utopia like in the ending of "Ready Player One", or it may be like Liu Cixin's depiction of tens of billions of virtual humans living on computers in the basement, and their bodies are completely dead.

In the view of Kevin Kelly and other futurists, cyberization is the home of mankind. The "meta universe" will give birth to a new form of virtual species, accelerating the transition from "carbon-based life" to "silicon-based life."

Is "Meta Universe" "The Next Big Thing" or is it a technology that is too early for mankind? We will discuss in depth through a series of topics, this is the first in the "Meta Universe" series.

In the plastic greenhouse of destiny, every cabbage that has been sprayed with too much pesticide once had a dream of becoming a pollution-free organic vegetable.

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