I was thinking about the difference between the real world and a virtual one, like the online game “2nd Life“. I thought about how one might look at the “life” in the game to be a sort of cheating– for example, if your avatar could (relatively) quickly and easily gain a set of skills that you don’t have in real life, just by interacting with your PC. Maybe you can easily learn how to play the guitar in 2nd Life, even if you don’t in your real life.
This got me to thinking about the nature of knowledge and the act of creating it. If you think of knowledge as something with a static existence– a thing that does not necessarily require a human brain to possess it, but more just in terms of the electrical impulses and combinations of proteins that create thought– those things should, theoretically, be able to be extracted and contained in some other sort of medium. Right?
So, if knowledge exists, then teaching and learning is (again, theoretically) a big waste of time, because you’re re-creating knowledge that has already been created before. If you could keep a store of that knowledge, and just “upload” it into a person’s consciousness, you’d think we could advance as a species a lot faster, because everyone would start with the sum total of human knowledge that exists at the moment they receive the upload.
Even better, what if (scary-Borg-stuff) knowledge could be disseminated not as a “file” that gets posted into a person’s brain, but what if we networked everyone’s brains together? If we had on-demand access to all the knowledge that is being created all the time? Think how quickly we would advance THEN.