Wednesday 1 September 2021 1:15 pm

The Metaverse is here, and even Facebook is getting on board

Imagine a world where you can be anywhere at anytime with anyone in any scenario you desire. The Arnold Schwarznegger film “Total Recall” showcased this concept where “fantasy” modules could be programmed into one’s brain to experience whatever fantasy they desired.

That world is here today. It is called the Metaverse. Broadband speeds are reaching levels to where one can experience touch, sight, audio, video, and smell in real-time. Japan just set the world record for such speeds where the entire library of Netflix can be downloaded in just ONE SECOND.

But stunning advances have been made over the years. Back in 2016, a football was tossed from a person in one country to a person in a different country. The smell of the calfskin and the texture of the ball were indecipherable from an actual football. Now extend that to full scale VR where one is sitting with loved ones round a dining table at Thanksgiving.

Or one is a knight in shining armour battling goblins in a dungeon. Or co-workers are in a virtual room where they feel like they are face-to-face. Or one of the sexual fantasy scenarios in Total Recall. Or any of an infinite number of scenarios. The constraints of the physical world fall away. The only limit to the Metaverse is imagination.

Cyberpunk revolution

“Metaverse” was coined by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash in which people don virtual reality headsets to interact inside a game-like digital world. “Cyberspace” was coined from a 1982 book by William Gibson which kicked off the cyberpunk revolution.

This was followed a decade later by the cypherpunks, a portmanteau of cyberpunk characterised by dystopian sci-fi and cryptography encompassing cryptography, mathematics, politics, and philosophy.

In short, cypherpunk: hacking and computing cryptography vs cyberpunk: a subgenre of science fiction characterised by a lawless subculture resulting from the pushback of an oppressed society and dominated by computer technology. And if we go back over a century, “robot” from a 1920 play by Karel Čapek. All terms encompass our world today.

The Metaverse is the natural evolution of the internet which was the natural evolution of the Arpanet. It is the convergence of the internet and all virtual worlds but also blends the physical world with the virtual one.

It existed in embryonic form in the early 1980s with early PC gaming in the days of Wilderness Campaign (1978), Wizardry (1981), Ultima (1981), and Might & Magic (1984), then multi-player games such as Everquest (1999) et al and has transformed into the multi-dimensional tapestry of our personal and professional lives.

The Metaverse is life, our lives, in digital form, interactive, private, decentralised, empowering to each individual with personal avatars, where singular control over content in interactive fashion becomes immersive in real-time, under fire, in the all the glory of AR/VR/3D.

We are social beings. Digital business models fall under the umbrella of DAOs (decentralised autonomous organisations) and DOs (digital organisations) that spur fairness for individuals, protecting their privacy while making sure the creators get their fare share.

We are at the launch of the digital creation economy where the creators get rewarded while the platforms exist as support structures absent of all the unnecessary middlemen. Anyone can participate. Anyone can create. Blockchain enables this. 

From Fortnite to Roblox

Seamless integration is already here where digital information from multiple platforms creates interoperability. We already see this with microservice architecture and connectivity so one can use their digital assets and digital properties across the metaverse. If I buy a Ferrari to play Fortnite, I’d love to use it on Roblox.

Companies such as Facebook and Google see the Metaverse as the future so plan to blend real and virtual worlds more than ever before. Three billion people use Facebook each month on average.

“This is going to be a really big part of the next chapter for the technology industry,” Zuckerberg told tech website The Verge last week.

Over the next five years, he predicted, Facebook would transition from “primarily being a social media company to being a Metaverse company”.

Recently, plots of land in Decentraland – a virtual world where visitors can watch concerts, visit art galleries, and gamble in casinos – have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars in MANA, a cryptocurrency.

The hugely popular video game Fortnite has expanded into other forms of entertainment, with 12.3 million people logging in to watch rapper Travis Scott perform in 2020. Axie Infinity is the new play-to-earn concept that is freeing many in developing countries from their tiresome and often backbreaking jobs as they earn more playing the game than they earn at their jobs.

There are currently no other play-to-earn games right now that actually have gameplay past staking. In the coming year, many additional features will be added to the soaring Axie ecosystem.

Zoom fatigue

Metaverses can also give enterprises an engaging alternative to video and text chat. Zoom fatigue has been noted by Stanford studies. Four causes of Zoom fatigue:

  • Long periods of close-up eye contact
  • Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time
  • Video chats being immobile
  • A much higher cognitive load

The value that a Metaverse potentially brings is replacing video with advanced avatars that can better represent the user. As in online gaming, each person would have their personal avatar in the Metaverse space.

Communication would be conducted through these voice-only avatars. The avatars representing each person would be auto-engaging in terms of facial expressions and body language via AI which would pick up the intonation of the voice.

The metaverse is to virtual worlds – whether in a business, social, or gaming setting – as a website is to the internet. The potential value of the Metaverse is limitless, much as the potential value of the internet is limitless. The sky is just the beginning.

(͡:B ͜ʖ ͡:B)

Dr.Chris Kacher, bestselling author/top 40 charted musician/PhD nuclear physics UC Berkeley/Record breaking audited accts: stocks+crypto/blockchain fintech specialist. Co-founder of Virtue of Selfish Investing, TriQuantum Technologies, and Hanse Digital Access. Dr. Kacher bought his first bitcoin at just over $10 in January-2013 and participated in early Ethereum dev meetings in London hosted by Vitalik Buterin. His metrics have called every major top & bottom in bitcoin since 2011. He was up in 2018 vs the median performing crypto hedge fund at -46% (PwC) and is up quadruple digit percentages since 2019 as capital is force fed into the top performing alt coins while weaker ones are sold.

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