From Richard Bartle, the Creator of the MUD:

This kind of intensive virtual reality isn’t the end of the story, though. Sooner or later, someone is going to come up with a safe, reliable means of making digital connections to human nerve cells. Instead of fooling the senses, you can bypass them completely by jacking your computer directly into the spinal cord, telling the brain exactly what sensory input it is receiving, down to the last nuance, whether it’s possible in the real world or not. It’s the cyberpunk’s dream!

So is this the logical end of the projection, then? Nearly, but not quite: there’s one more step. With this kind of VR, we’re still talking to the brain through its senses, which means everything must be processed and interpreted before it gets to the mind. What if, instead, we were to cut out all senses completely, and transmit data directly to the mind itself? We could insert concepts, emotions and experiences way beyond anything that mere tinkering with the body’s I/O devices could! It would be the ultimate in virtual reality - a system so potent that it would let us interface to the human imagination!

We’ve looked ahead a long way to reach this possibility, however. Stepping back and casting a cold, objective eye over it, is a technology such as this really, in practice, ever likely to be developed?

Well, yes, it is. In fact, it was invented in Mesopotamia some five thousand years ago, and it’s called “text”.

A version of this appears in Jason Scott’s documentry Get Lamp. There is a recording of the documentary presented at Google TechTalks in 2011. Richard Bartle’s ‘rant’ is at 53 minutes 28 seconds.