Virtual reality scares me. Trying a headset on, I’m struck by how natural it feels, how convincingly real. People look like people; places look like places; things work like things. There’s still disconnect—something is different, and bulky headsets don’t help—but the immersion is close, closer than you think.

I’m scared because it’ll be really good. It’ll be safe in a way that nature isn’t—ordered, self-rewarding, knowable, affirming. People will design it who know how our reward centers work, and users—maybe our children, certainly their children—will experience realities tailored just for them. Humans are suckers for this stuff (have you read how we spend our time?). It’s terrifying.

I’m scared because 10, 50, 100 years from now, how will nature compete? And without nature in our lives, how will we care?