The Challenge of VR to the Liberal Democratic Order

Paper by Edward Castronova: “The rapid expansion of virtual reality (VR) technology in the years 2016-2021 awakens a significant constitutional issue. In a liberal democratic order, rule is by consent of the governed. In the medium-term future, many of the governed will be immersed fully within VR environments, environments which, we are told, will provide entertainment of extraordinary power. These people will be happy. Happy people do not demand change. Yet there surely will be a change as VR takes hold: The quality of life will erode. People fully immersed in VR will come to be isolated, sedentary, and unhealthy. Objectively speaking, this is nothing to be desired. Subjectively, however, it will seem to be wonderful. The people themselves will be happy, and they will resist interference. At the moment this matter concerns only a few thousand nerds, but trends in technology and entertainment point to a future in which many people will be happily living awful, VR-dominated lives. How then will the liberal democratic order promote human well-being while remaining a liberal and democratic order?…(More)”