Released on the streaming streaming platform Netflix on November 17, 2022, the new series 1899 is a long series of riddles and mysteries. Until the last episodes where many answers finally arrive, we find ourselves immersed in a kind of closed session, in the middle of a science fiction universe in which it is difficult to find our way around.
The action takes place entirely on a boat, a Titanic-like liner. Leaving Europe to go to the United States, it must take about 7 days to cross the Atlantic. But, problem, when they arrive halfway, they meet another boat of the same company, lost at sea for four months. The other liner turns out to be completely empty, with the exception of a young boy. From there, the mysteries follow one another: coleopterescoleoptera that open doorsports, hidden worlds under the cabins specific to each passenger, hypnotic hypnotic clicks that push to throw themselves overboard, a strange black substance that invades the boat.black substance that invades the boat…
1899, Official trailer VF. © Netflix France
A shock revelation during the 1899 finale: warning spoilers
Spoiler alert /! The season ends with a shock revelation: the passengers are actually all trapped in a giant digital simulation. Or rather, their conscience. Only Maura, the main character, manages to escape, with the help of her husband and her son. We then discover with her that they are actually in a gigantic spaceship that wanders in the interstellar void. At least, we assume so, because it could be yet another simulation, staged by Maura’s brother, who seems to be the co-instigator, with Maura herself.
If the season ends without us really knowing where the reality is and where the virtual is, we can ask ourselves if, currently, such a technological feat is achievable? Today, virtual reality is evolving rapidly, but the device from 1899 involves much more than a headset plunging into a virtual environment. The memory disappears, so much so that it is assumed that very precise connections are made with the brainbrain! The series also adds the ability to be fully immersed in the fictional universe, an ability present in many science fiction works.
Is diving into a fictional universe like in 1899 feasible?
At the moment, the most immersive devices existing not only transform the view, but also bring vibrationsvibrations, sounds or smells. However, there is no question of moving by thought, only the senses are modified, but no connection to the brain is made. Such devices prove useful in many fields other than video games, in particular for surgery!
On the other hand, it is possible to control certain objects (besides our body, of course) by thought! Since 2015, many advances in the interfaces between brain and machine (ICM) have allowed tetraplegic-tetraplegic people to control an exoskeleton! In the same way, some people with neurological disorders have been able to control a computer remotely.
Can we then imagine that in 1899, an interface connected to the body of each person would then transpose it into another body, as in Avatar? A priori no, it is indeed in a simulation that everything is transposed, and not in a real body. Indeed, from the first episode, a bugbug at the level of Ling Yi’s arm indicates that everything is virtual. Likewise with the strange black substance which represents a virus contaminating little by little the simulation. However, we can imagine that the multiple connections at the level of the body of the passengers of the space shuttle make it possible to modify the brain activity, up to deceive the senses. But how can we do to modify consciousness to this extent?
What if the principle were the same as a dream shared by several thousand people?
What if everything went through a state of subconsciousness, as during REM sleep, REM sleep? In this phase of the end of the sleep cycle, the body is flat, but the brain works at the same frequency as in an awake state. It is mainly during this phase that dreams take place, but that consciousness remains partially dormant, hence the often incoherent dreams. Researchers revealed in 2012 enzymesenzymes responsible for our ability to dream, and highlighted the mechanism triggering sleep, then the REM sleep phase. It is also accepted that it is possible to dream lucidly, therefore by being aware that we are dreaming.
“Is it possible to impose a framework on the dream, fictitious memories and identity, and above all to do it together for several people?”
But is it possible to impose a framework on the dream, fictitious memories and identity, and above all to do it together for several people? In order to restore memory to patients with AlzheimerAlzheimer’s, researchers have managed to create false memories in rats and mice. But far from being a complete panel of memories, they are sensations, and associations of ideas with places that have been generated.
In humans, it is also possible to alter some of them, especially in the face of major traumas. But for the moment, and fortunately, it is impossible to implant a whole battery of false memories and eliminate the others!
Finally, such a simulation as in 1899 proves impossible to carry out. In addition, it leaves many points still unresolved. What happens when they die in the simulation? How was Maura’s husband able to access and control the simulation? Or her father? And what is the space shuttle heading for? We can only hope that the answers will come with Season 2!