November 1, 2022
Metaverse As The Future of The Internet
The topic of Metaverse had to be covered eventually on my blog, and at last, I’m here to share my thoughts on the digital universe that will allow us to engage with each other like never before.
This decision was influenced by my recent appearance on the pages of MetaverseTimes.io, where I had a brief moment to tell a little bit about myself and my career. Of course I would like to talk more about the main topic, and not myself, so let’s do this here!
I’ll share my understanding of The Metaverse, how it could benefit or harm our society, and what to make of it as the next level of The Internet.
So What Is This Metaverse?
Metaverse is an evolving concept that is hard to describe.
But If I had to give it a description, I’d say that Metaverse is a digital universe that is created from the elements of social networking and online gaming, then enhanced by virtual and augmented reality to form a virtual space for multidimensional user interactions.
It is an environment where physical and digital worlds are mixed up in one dizzying cocktail.
By that I mean an online experience with visual effects, noises and sensory inputs we get in the ‘real world’. The Matrix experience, if you will… First mentions of The Metaverse come from around 30 years ago, but the actual theory and literature around it spanned for a hundred years!
It’s really not that new, but only now the public interest is at its peak.
And when I say ‘interest’, I mean the engagement of people as a whole, and it could have both positive or negative connotations.
Why You Shouldn’t Stress About Metaverse
Just to address the elephant in the room…
The three-dimensional virtual world of the future will change our lives as we know it, and is set to supersede the net of today, but it won’t spawn this anarchist utopia some of us might find unnerving. You really don’t have to be scared of The Metaverse.
At least don’t be scared of it more than any piece of technology you use every day.
With Metaverse we will get an extension of the world we’re engaged in already, so it will not make us a bunch of headset-wearing zombies. At least not in the near future!
Even then, experiences in The Metaverse aren't defined by VR devices.
Matthew Ball provided a good analogy in his book ‘The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything’ - you can access the web from a browser, or you could do it without any visual interference by just saying ‘Hey, Siri’. Metaverse is really flexible in this regard too.
And if you think Metaverse is creepy or ‘not right’, look around the world we’re living in today. 9 to 5 relationships with computers, constant interaction with mobile phones and smart devices at every step.
Who’s Leading This Charge?
Let’s get back to the main topic though.
The overwhelming nature of The Metaverse gets a dubious reputation thanks to tech giants that push this idea into the masses like there’s no tomorrow.
Big tech is flocking to the Metaverse because we are approaching a platform shift. The companies that lead change, the business models that thrive change, and the philosophies that are supported change too. Facebook, Microsoft, and all the usual suspects know that that future is here, and that we as consumers have the opportunity to choose who leads us forward.
Mark Zuckerberg and his bid to make a 3D elevation of the online world his own is a topic for another day. But Metaverse potential is not only fun and games, it has palpable benefits for other online activities.
Let’s talk about them!
How Can We Benefit From The Metaverse?
It is not a secret that having a 3D immersive environment is a more intuitive and productive way to communicate information and ideas.
Metaverse could potentially substitute Zoom lessons and conferences, giving the teacher or presenter a better platform to express their thoughts and interact with spectators. This could definitely enrich our learning experience, and have a bigger impact on our studying progress than the current internet.
We could do banking, shopping, apply for a mortgage in The Metaverse too, it just comes down to our imagination and the technological progress needed to accommodate such wishes. To those who are worried about being stuck in this other world, we’ll definitely continue to do a lot of our daily activities in 2D.
Us getting advanced mobile phones doesn’t stop us from using laptops and computers, and the same applies to the dichotomy of Metaverse and real life.
My opinion is that some things will always be better in 2D, but some will be way more tolerable in The Metaverse.
Underlying Problems Of The Metaverse
Metaverse is the next generation of the web so avoiding the mistakes of today’s internet is key.
I’m talking about the fundamental problems: data rights, data security, data literacy, platform power and regulation, disinformation (just wrote about it a week ago), the role of algorithms in our daily life, online happiness, toxicity, bullying and harassment. All these things are going to become exacerbated in the Metaverse.
Moderation in such a space requires different technologies and different policies, and the biggest challenge lies in our inexperience. The biggest problems in the social era could not be predicted beforehand, and they require a lot of testing.
As a society, we will dive into this unknown universe to learn by trial and error.
With all that, Metaverse has the potential to shift power back to individuals and communities, and be collectively governed by users. Will this happen and give us a better way of communicating, expressing ourselves and doing everyday business? Only time will tell.
But to make the Metaverse a place to be, we have to give voters, users, developers, consumers and regulators a better view of what the future is likely to be so that we can positively affect the outcome. I can say with utmost certainty that we’re on the verge of a fundamental revolution, and we will use 3D simulations to build and operate the world around us.
Exactly how that world would look like - I’m not sure, and that’s what makes the future exciting and scary.