The First Generation

The intersection of the metaverse, global birth rate decline, and AI could completely change the course of human evolution.

The Metaverse

The methaverse always beats the metaverse.

Or so I thought. I always assumed the metaverse would be on pause until Matrix-level fidelity could be reached. The need to smell the air or feel the warm sun on your skin is so strong nothing mimicked could possibly compare. Technology, even brain implants, would be fighting too many millions of years of evolution for that to happen. I missed something though. Something profound and fundamental. Something that leverages what others see as a systemic threat posed to spell the ruin for all mankind.

The metaverse as a psychological construct — as an empty container — has more promise than the technical particulars of AR or VR. In fact, focusing so much on the physical world is exactly the wrong approach. The weight of a headset or battery life is meaningless, recreating what already exists is pointless — what fills the void are the new worlds created by any particular metaverse… that’s where the real potential exists. The shape of those worlds is what is interesting to me. And there are technologies that are taking root now that provide the necessary ingredients for an explosion of radical change, feeding our most basic desires.

A Supposedly Catastrophic Horizon

Women aren’t having as many children as they used to. Elon Musk sees this as a threat to humanity. He wants more babies. He wants more humanity. He needs factory workers and people to go die on Mars and more of everything. However, humanity does not need more and more children: capitalism does. Since I was born the number of people on earth has almost doubled. There are currently more than 8 billion people on earth but the drop in birth rate is threatening that number. It’s not that no births are occurring, just fewer. With deaths outpacing births in China by 2100 their population could be cut in half if that trend continues. We could maybe improve this issue by better incentives for young parents and better support for young women who want both a career and children, but even in countries with robust support for young parents, the birthrate is still trending down.

If you ignore fulfilling the demands of capitalism, interesting questions abound. In another 40 years does the world really need 16 billion people? Could it possibly support that many? What if 8 billion is too many? Would it actually be better to limit the overall population somehow? If so, how would that happen humanely — even naturally? Is there another way to reproduce? Something that’s not so taxing on our limited resources but also not as brutal as China’s one child policy? Here’s a contrarian question: What if women are actually right and the world simply doesn’t need more humans?

Perhaps instead of attempting to increase the birthrate, we acquiesce to its decline. We accept the worldwide trend toward fewer births and our fate with a less populous future because a reasonable alternative exists. We wouldn’t have workers for the trinket factories that serve to only manufacture more landfill and the other excesses of capitalism, but there will be plenty of people to keep the power on and reduce the pollution spewing into the atmosphere and oceans making the world better for those alive today and in the future.

Digital Generation

What if, instead of passing down genetic code in the form of children, what if you pass down your experiences as raw training data to small AI agents? What if the form of those experiences is programming code in place of genetic code? A model tailored and trained specifically for and to you; an AI built on your lived experiences. Your values. Your thoughts and ideas. Your dreams. It’s not uploading your consciousness; it would be more similar to raising a perfect child, teaching it everything you know, and leaving behind something exactly in your image. You could potentially train hundreds of little AIs, tweaking different variables. Biological children supplemented by digital children growing up in metaverses.

On its face this is an absurd premise. Instead of proposing this as some vision of the future, I should have written a short story about it. Better to hide in the realm of science fiction than expose myself as a lunatic. Draft a story around this happening and some potential consequences set in some far off dystopic world.

But it just seems to me like the raw materials are here now. They just need to be assembled correctly. The call to action needs to be obscured enough to make it palatable to the mass market. Only subconsciously do people need to know what they are doing by training these little AI children. In many ways it should be easiest for men — what with their womb envy and all — but if the call to action catches on, the design just right, this could trigger the same near-universal adoption as facebook once did. Everyone has friends just like everyone wants to pass something on to the next generation.

We all know the parents who live vicariously through their children and even their children’s children. So why not make that experience consistent? Why not remove the individuality of the actual child that can get in the way of those dreams? Pour all that selfish energy into an AI that’s purpose built to receive data and reflect it back — while still being open to further tweaking after it interacts with its world.


Predictive text has laid bare how simply we communicate with each other. We are not wholly complex beings a lot of our conversation is merely boilerplate. The search for Artificial General Intelligence itself is far more complex than any single person because a Large Language Model is all people at once. The processing power required for these simple individual AI models I’m talking about here is nothing in comparison to AGI.

Matrix-level fidelity for us in any metaverse will be decades into the future, if ever. Our meatsack bodies are too slow and too limited. Improving our hardware takes too many generations to change and even then over thousands of years the results of trillions of AB tests aren’t yet finished. It’s always an open question if you’ve won or lost the genetic lottery — and thus far, no one has won and lived forever. Everyone dies but tiny pieces of most people live on through their children and grandchildren until your name is well forgotten but your hair color or propensity for cancer or some other random attribute does. Your consciousness will still disappear, your body will decay, but what if your thoughts and values could live on?

Raising digital AI children and providing continuous training data to them — existing in an 100% digital space and expecting a 100% digital future, that’s pretty close to reality now. Or at least could be. Sim City, The Sims… even Tamagotchis and Neopets show that human beings will invest countless hours into caring for digital beings, why not instead use that energy toward something more universal, more personal, more long lasting, and potentially more important?

These AIs will need some world to interact with and what better place than a metaverse or millions of different metaverses? If Internet 2.0 is networked experiences, which I believe it will be, perhaps the things engaging in those experiences aren’t us but rather our digital progeny. Living in a digital world with infinite resources and security. Growing up under the digital trees we plant now in metaverse worlds we create. The first purely digital generation.


People will still fuck. Babies will still be born. Children will still need therapy. These things will still happen. Life — biological life — will still continue. There’s nothing stopping that. It will also continue to slow… that’s a given regardless of policies or how much oligarchs and their political puppets can oppress women and force them to give birth. But alongside that reality, there can be multiple metaverses. Brimming with activity of everyone alive starting at a specific point in time.

Instead of an obituary outlining professional accomplishments and details of your personal life, what if there’s a custom AI or many AIs running around a few metaverses long after you are dead? A Wikipedia page replaced by your digital children being available to answer questions about you with perfect memories and personally tuned training. Telling tales of not only who you were, but of who you wished to be.

My dad once posited, “What if, instead of the evolution of man, it’s the evolution of electricity?” Given our brains are a mix of chemical reactions and electrical impulses, this isn’t that out of the question. If everything that currently exists is already a simulation, it’s an even more likely possibility. So, I don’t see this view as fearful, but rather hopeful. I see it as a completely natural evolution of our species. Imbue purpose into billions of little AI containers tailored to individuals. A parallel world humming alongside our fleshy one keeping the memories of loved ones alive and well as well as ensuring our memories and experiences stay perfectly intact for an infinite number of generations.

January 1st, 2024