Jude’s gaming chair opened above her, automatically withdrawing the brain-computer interface from her skull. She sat up. The room was dark, but Jude could still read the clock on the wall. It was December 31, 2151.
It had been nine years since she started playing. During that time, Jude had conquered empires, grown families, and built towers to the heavens, all in the unreal realm of the computer. She would have stayed in the system, but something was wrong. Multiplayer had stopped working. There was nobody to brag to; nobody to create with. She’d searched the global gaming network and not connected with a single other player. She hated leaving the computer world, but she had to fix this.
The room was dark and dusty. Looking around the gaming café, she saw rows of other chairs stretching away from her on either side. Peering through the portholes on the nearest ones, she could see the occupants. All of them were aged, with gray hair and liver spots. All of them were dead.
Jude thought for a moment and lay back down in her chair. It folded around her in a steel embrace, gently cradling her into unconsciousness.
MOST OF US ASSUME that we want things because they make us feel good. At first this view doesn’t even look like an opinion. Of course we want pleasure. How else could it be?
When scientists first started studying pleasure, their results seemed to confirm this. Back in the 1950s, James Olds, then a researcher at McGill University ...