Could life re­ally be just a sim­u­la­tion?

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - PAGE TWO -

Ever since the days of Rene Descartes, and even longer still, hu­mankind has been ask­ing it­self — what is re­al­ity?

It’s a ques­tion that’s be­com­ing ever more rel­e­vant in our in­creas­ingly tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced world, es­pe­cially when we con­sider the rise of video games.

Last month, Chi­nese in­ter­net gi­ant Ten­cent an­nounced it would be­gin lim­it­ing the amount of time young­sters are able to play its wildly pop­u­lar mo­bile game King of Glory.

Users 12 and younger are now re­stricted to an hour of play each day, while those ages 12 to 18 will be forced to log out af­ter two hours per day.

Ten­cent made the move in re­sponse to crit­i­cism over

This Day, That Year

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The­food-pro­cess­ing in­dus­try­isun­able­to­keepup with­the­grow­ingde­mand, but­theS­tateCoun­cil, China’sCabi­net,has­called for­rapid­mod­ern­iza­tionof the­sec­tor.

China’s restau­rants are adapt­ing to new con­sumer habits. the grow­ing num­ber of young Chi­nese seem­ingly hooked on the ti­tle, which ranked as the high­est gross­ing mo­bile game in the world in May, with more than 160 mil­lion peo­ple play­ing it ev­ery month.

In April, it was even re­ported that a 17-year-old in Guang­dong prov­ince suf­fered a type of stroke af­ter play­ing the game for 40 hours straight.

Ex­am­ples such as this show the dan­gers of im­mer­sion. Some­times, it is a won­der­ful thing — if we’re im­mersed in our work or a fa­vorite hobby then our minds are alert, our fo­cus nar­rows and time it­self seems to fly.

But im­mer­sion also has a dark side.

Vir­tual re­al­ity is mak­ing gam­ing more im­mer­sive than ever, and as graphic pro­cess­ing power im­proves ex­po­nen­tially, we may well soon reach a point where the ar­ti­fi­cial be­comes in­de­ci­pher­able from the real.

To cater to di­verse tastes, for­eign and do­mes­tic restau­rant chains are adding var­i­ous dishes to their menus.

Since Ken­tucky Fried Chicken opened its first out­let in Bei­jing in 1987, Western food has be­come pop­u­lar in the coun­try. KFC now gets more than half of its prof­its from its China busi­ness, ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try an­a­lysts.

Do­mes­tic chains are catch­ing up in tap­ping the huge mar­ket.

Yonghe King, which is known for its soy­bean milk

Bri­tish writ­ers Rob Grant and Doug Nay­lor tack­led just this sub­ject in their best-sell­ing 1990 book Bet­ter Than Life — a gen­uinely en­ter­tain­ing and thought-pro­vok­ing novel that was based on, of all things, the sci­ence fic­tion sit­com Red Dwarf.

In it, the char­ac­ters play a “to­tal im­mer­sion” vir­tual re­al­ity video game — the epony­mous Bet­ter Than Life — that forces them to for­get they are play­ing. Be­cause their con­scious mind only per­ceives the re­al­ity of the game, all sig­nals from their real body are ig­nored.

Un­less cared for in the real world, those play­ing this game will die of a lack of food and wa­ter.

If the vir­tual re­al­ity head­set is forcibly re­moved, it re­sults in in­stant death from shock. The only way to exit the game is to fig­ure out that you’re play­ing, de­velop the de­sire to leave and then com­mand an exit.

It has been mooted that the more ad­vanced our tech- and deep-fried frit­ters, now op­er­ates more than 300 stores across the coun­try.

Chi­nese com­pa­nies are also ac­cel­er­at­ing their global ex­pan­sion.

Da Dong, well-known for its Bei­jing duck and artis­tic food con­cepts, is sched­uled to open its first nol­ogy be­comes, the more likely it is that we are, all of us, liv­ing in a sim­u­la­tion.

Af­ter all, how can we be truly sure that life is not just one gi­ant Ma­trix- style com­puter pro­gram, and that you are any­thing more than a brain in a jar?

Or, to take it a step fur­ther, what if we are all noth­ing more than lines of code? What if noth­ing we thought of as phys­i­cal ex­isted, all ex­pe­ri­ences were man­u­fac­tured and ev­ery­thing you thought was tan­gi­ble was just a fever­ish elec­tronic dream?

We may never know. Per­haps we don’t need to.

But as our ev­ery­day lives be­come ever more vir­tual, it’s cer­tainly worth a thought.

Con­tact the writer at gre­gory@chi­


Scan the code to hear an au­dio ver­sion.

out­let in New York soon.

Other Chi­nese chains are also ex­plor­ing for­eign mar­kets.

In 2012, hot pot chain Haidi­lao opened its first over­seas restau­rant in Sin­ga­pore. It now has seven out­lets abroad, and more are ex­pected to open this year.


A fish­ing boat is cov­ered by morn­ing fog on a lake in Zix­ing, Hu­nan prov­ince.

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