I still think, however, that there is something odd that takes place at the boundary between the virtual and the real. It is easiest to wrap my head around it by reducing it to a simple system of single ball drop onto table. If the ideal for virtual reality is to approach reality, then there is a continuum between unrealistic and realistic systems, culminating in an actually real system. Part of this is tongue and cheek, but I'm also genuinely interested in the math of this thought experiment. I suspect that a form of Zeno's Dichotomy Paradox of Motion is at the foundation of this.
And now the thought experiment. Let's use Crayon Physics. Let's imagine that the first iteration of the program was crude. They could digitally create a ball that dropped and hit a table, but the bounce wasn't realistic. It just bounced up and down repeatedly at the same height, not losing momentum. Also, if you drew an oblate sphere it still bounced straight up when it landed on a side that, in reality, would clearly send it rebounding at an angle. It was cool to bounce the Version 1 (v1) ball but not cool enough because it was far from reality. Version two is vastly improved and a giant step was made to get closer to reality. The v2 ball lost momentum as it should but the rebound angle wasn't solved. The V3 Ball took another big step toward reality by adjusting the angle of incidence and reflection. That was even cooler than v1 and v2. However, the makers weren't satisfied because it didn't take into account the introduction of wind, air resistance, elasticity of the ball, etc... So they make V4, V5, V6... each time taking one step closer to reality, and each time the ball drop system increased on the "Cool Factor Scale", albeit at a smaller amount with each iteration.
Now here's where it gets fascinating to me. Let's jump ahead to V1,000. At this time Crayon Physics has become adopted by the Federal Government and there are NSF dollars invested in the project. The ball drop is now extremely cool and very realistic, in fact the "Cool Factor vs Reality" graph has been changed to a logarithmic scale on both axes. At V1,000,000 the project goes international. The Large Hadron Collider project has been abandoned in favor of Crayon Physics. It is now the BIG SCIENCE project (neglect the corrupting influences of politics and other Big Science inefficiencies and garbage.) Billions of dollars are spent. It reaches the point that you are immersed in a 3D holographic VR chamber. The virtual ball is transmitted though integrated biotechnological circuits into your brain so that you actually feel the temperature, weight and texture of the ball. Crayon Physics shamed the VR system in The Matrix long ago, way back around V754,982. Movie stars, literati, dignitaries are paying six figures to "Drop the Ball" because it is so cool.
Then the funding dries up and the plug is threatening to be pulled on the entire project. (A comet struck the earth, caused global cooling and all the money was diverted to discovering ways of heating up the planet.)
Under tremendous pressure from trade unions, the Prime Minister of the "International Ball Drop Consortium" comes up with a brilliant idea. He figures that since V1,000,000 is so close to reality that nobody will be able to tell the difference if he substitutes a real ball for the virtual one. And since people are still lining up and paying big bucks to "Drop the Ball" he makes V1,000,001: a real ball dropped on a real table. Nobody could tell the difference because the prior version was soooooo realistic. The V1,000,001 scam went well for a decade and was a closely held secret within the consortium. The IBDC made millions in revenue (not to mention the endorsements deals!)
That is, until Snerd Jackely got disgruntled. Snerd was the Junior Undersecretary to the Sub-Warden of the Security Division of the IBDC (JUSWSD - IBDC) and got passed over for a promotion to become SUSWSD - IBDC. Oh he was mad! His revenge? He turned states evidence and informed the world that the VR ball was in fact real! After the U.N. tribunals and World Court trials, what was left? The cool factor of dropping the real ball dropped like a stone. The "Line of Reality" was crossed.
Forgive please the drama and tongue-in-cheek of this thought experiment. Set aside the economics of supply/demand in dropping V1,000,000 versus V1,000,001. There's calculus in here. I know it. And there still lies a paradox and something strange occurs when the limit of reality is approached in smaller and smaller increments. In fact, I'm going way out on a limb* and coining a new paradox: The Crayon Physics Paradox.
And, I'm also going to be the first to shorten the paradox name to CPP. And I'm going to go drop a ball in the kitchen.
Thanks again Physically Incorrect.
*Or I'm exposing my ignorance of an ancient debate in the VR community by naming that which has already been named and elucidated much clearer than above.