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A Matrix-like hallucinogenic pill may be the future of entertainment, says Netflix’s CEO

Netflix's Reed Hastings
AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon
He’s preparing for literally anything.
By Ashley Rodriguez
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings has always said movies and TV aren’t the streaming video behemoth’s only rivals. Netflix competes against any form of entertainment that pulls attention away from Netflix screens—including books, video games, Snapchat, virtual reality experiences. Probably even pumpkin picking.

Yesterday evening (Oct. 24), the Netflix boss speculated about what the future of entertainment may hold, at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJDLive conference. The prospects were quite entertaining.

Hastings spoke of improved entertainment “substitutes” for movies and shows that will make their way into the mainstream in the future, just as “the opera and the novel” were marginalized by films and TV, the Next Web reported.

Hastings hasn’t pinpointed exactly what those substitutes will be yet, but he has a few ideas. “Is it VR, is it gaming, is it pharmacological?” he mused, according to TechCrunch.

Yes, “pharmacological.”

“In twenty or fifty years, taking a personalized blue pill you just hallucinate in an entertaining way and then a white pill brings you back to normality is perfectly viable,” said Hastings. “And if the source of human entertainment in thirty or forty years is pharmacological we’ll be in real trouble.”

Drugs as recreation certainly aren’t a new concept. But what Hastings seems to have in mind sounds straight out of the science-fiction film The Matrix. (Hastings isn’t the only Silicon Valley CEO on a Matrix kick lately. Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk may well have had the science-fiction trilogy in mind when he recently said there’s a chance we’re all living in a computer simulation.)

Apparently, Hastings hasn’t yet figured out how Netflix will rival these hypothetical, hallucinogenic entertainment drugs, or if the company would itself forge a path in drug-induced storytelling.

For now, Netflix viewers will have to make do with the new season of Black Mirror.

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