Welcome, Cryptonaut, to the world of tomorrow.
The year is 2089. Wait, or is it 2090? Heck, who even remembers years anymore. It is late in the 21st century anyway. Earth is a dystopian place, and world governments and countries have collapsed. Humanity is ruled by corporations and franchises, and the planet is plunged into anarchy and chaos.
As daily life becomes increasingly dismal and there is seemingly endless suffering, much of humanity prefers to dive into a virtual reality metaverse to escape a miserable reality. This metaverse is where people work, explore, and essentially….live. Sounds fun, right?
At least, this is how the metaverse was first portrayed when the term “metaverse” itself was used for the first time in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 hit Science Fiction novel Snow Crash.
Though the term “metaverse” itself was first coined in the early ‘90s, many people are being introduced to the term for the first time as companies such as Facebook (Meta), Microsoft, and Sony are pouring billions of dollars into the metaverse, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) research and development. As a result of gaining the attention of some of the biggest brands in the world, the metaverse is quickly becoming a common household term. But what is the Metaverse? While there is no "one size fits all" definition, we will explore this topic here today.
While many people are hearing about the metaverse for the first time, the idea of a fully immersive virtual world isn’t exactly new. We have all seen films like The Matrix and Ready Player One or played games like Assassin’s Creed, where the characters live in a virtual world quite similar to our own. Keeping these references in mind is a simple way to provide a brief, high-level example of what one option for a metaverse could be, which is basically an extension of our world into a digital realm.
Of course, a metaverse doesn’t need to look anything like our actual world. For example, one could argue that any time we experience a physical sensational stimulation through sight, sound, touch etc., from a simulated digital reality, that reality can also be considered a metaverse, but more on that later.
In this article, I will cover a bit more about what the metaverse is, what it could be, where it came from, and some of my opinions on where this is all going. Think about this article as your introduction into the metaverse, so open your textbooks to page one and let’s begin.
Disclaimer: I hold tokens for some of the Metaverses and projects mentioned in this article.
What is the Metaverse? A History:
I already mentioned where the term came from and how we have already been exposed to the concept of virtual reality through various popular movies, television shows and video games. So, if the metaverse is nothing new, why all this hype all of a sudden?
One of the reasons is that we have not had the technological capabilities to create immersive virtual worlds until recently. Many argue, and I would agree, that we still do not have the technology needed to create a fully immersive, life-like digital world, but we are getting closer every day.
The world of immersive media, being virtual reality and augmented reality, are terms and concepts that have been around for over 30 years, with the concept of virtual reality emerging as far back as the 1980s and augmented reality in the early 1990s. Though these concepts remained confined to the imagination for many years, with primitive forms of both only starting to flourish recently.
Virtual reality and augmented reality tech is becoming more advanced and adopted worldwide with games like Pokémon Go that took the world by storm. VR headsets are becoming more capable of showing us realistic digital landscapes and objects, gloves are being developed which can mimic the sense of touch, and there is even a television that was developed in Japan that can create flavours, allowing viewers to both watch and lick the tv! We are building the foundation for the tech that will allow real-life senses to be stimulated from virtual worlds, allowing experiences to transcend from virtual to real life.
With VR and AR technology becoming more understood, developed, and adopted, these technologies provide users with a way of immersing themselves in virtual worlds or building a bridge between reality and digital reality. The metaverse is simply a further adaptation of this and is considered an immersive simulated world experienced in the first person by a large group of simultaneous users who share a strong sense of being mutually present.
Another technological advancement that is helping to propel the space is, of course, our beloved blockchain technology with metaverses such as the Sandbox and Decentraland being built on the Ethereum network. Each of these metaverses also utilizes its own cryptocurrencies. We are getting closer and closer to living more of our lives in an increasing capacity in virtual lands.
Though there was one pivotal moment that really propelled the metaverse into the spotlight, and that was when Facebook announced that they would be changing their name to Meta last year. Whether you like or dislike Facebook, this move was huge, and it sent shockwaves through the crypto and traditional tech space as this woke the world up to just how powerful the concept of a metaverse could be.
Many believe that the metaverse will replace how we interact with the internet today. Think about every second you spend on a computer or a mobile device, companies such as Facebook are putting their entire reputation, business, and a trillion dollars on the line, betting big and literally going all in, betting that the metaverse will replace “screen-time” and all the hours we spend interacting with the internet and gaming will be done exclusively within a metaverse. Here is a shot from Meta themselves on their view of the metaverse:
It isn’t just Facebook, either. There is a fascinating type of “space race” happening at the moment between major tech companies, a race to be the first one to carve out their vision of what a metaverse will look like. Microsoft played their card and acquired gaming metaverse giant Activision and released Microsoft Mesh, a blend of augmented and virtual environments. Other major tech giants such as Google, Sony, Nvidia, Disney, Unity, Shopify, Roblox, Qualcomm and Apple are said to be exploring metaverse solutions and products as well; there is an intense race to metaverse supremacy.
Though still in its infancy stages, the metaverse idea is spreading throughout the world like wildfire, with many investment firms and tech companies feeling that the metaverse will be the next big frontier, possibly bigger than humanity has ever seen before, and caution that to ignore an opportunity with such colossal potential would be folly. Metaverse use and adoption are showing early signs of growth even though we are still in the earliest stages.
Metaverse Look and Feel
This is tough to explore and will vary greatly depending on who you talk to. If you asked 100 people, “what is the internet?” you would get a hundred different answers. The metaverse is the same way, so I will do my best to explore the various stages and the scale of what the metaverse is now and what it may become.
Many people believe that the metaverse is already here. We already interact with it, and it is difficult to argue ultimately. I once read a paper about humans being combined with tech to become cyborgs, and someone claimed that we are already there with our mobile phones. Our mobile devices have become an extension of ourselves, which fits some definitions of a cyborg. The metaverse is similar.
Some argue that every time we stare at a screen and access some form of digital world or virtual reality, that is already the metaverse. Some argue that anyone who has participated in a Zoom call and played games like the Sims or Second Life has already experienced aspects of a metaverse in primitive forms. Many others believe that the metaverse doesn’t exist yet and can’t understand how there can be so much hype around something non-existent.
To argue that current forms of the metaverse already exist, we already have virtual reality video games and many mobile games featuring augmented reality. I already mentioned Pokémon Go, and there is another interesting metaverse game called Dogami, where you can enter a metaverse for pets or use augmented reality to bring a virtual dog that is superimposed into our real life.
Does that count as a type of metaverse? If a metaverse is just a virtual form of reality, then we have already had it for decades. If a metaverse means bridging the gap between the real and virtual worlds, then we have also had that for a number of years with augmented reality.
So, we have the far simple end of the metaverse spectrum stating that a metaverse is any interaction with any form of a virtual world via computer, gaming, or mobile device. To further that argument, augmented reality does bridge the gap between reality and virtual reality, at least for our sense of sight.
However, in my opinion, this falls short and does not do the term “metaverse” justice nor captures just how powerful a genuine, fully immersive life-like metaverse can be. This, of course, is just my opinion.
To think of this another way, consider an early computer in the 1980s. Sure, it was still a computer, but it comes nowhere close to the computers we have today, nor do our computers today come close to the supercomputers of tomorrow.
When I think of the metaverse, where we are today is akin to the computers in the 1980s, very simple, basic, and do not come close to living up to the potential of future computers. So the metaverse today, if one can consider we are using a metaverse in some form, is not even close to the metaverse we may have in the future.
I also think it is important to note that the metaverse is not likely to be just one place nor owned by one entity. Just because Facebook (Meta) and Microsoft are creating metaverses, it isn’t like one will win with the other ceasing to exist. Just as both Facebook and Microsoft have websites, as does Amazon, Netflix etc., there will likely be many metaverses just as there are websites. Each company and platform may develop its own metaverse.
We covered the simple idea and argument that a metaverse can be any digital/virtual interaction. Now let’s use some imagination and creativity to explore what many other people feel the metaverse may be and how it might look and how we could interact with it.
When I think of a true metaverse, it is fully immersive. That means we are plunged into a virtual world that encompasses every one of our senses. We are fairly limited to sight and sound right now; all of our digital interactions are experienced via what we see and hear. In a fully immersive metaverse we should be able to see, hear, touch, smell and even taste.
The metaverse isn’t going to be contained to just one space or built by one company, it is most likely going to be a global collaborative space built up and participated in by everyone and every company that exist in it, in the very same way that the internet and the real world are today.
Just as the internet is, the metaverse will likely be a collaborative effort by all living beings or their digital presence online. The metaverse isn’t competing with the internet, nor replacing it, it is being built on top of it and will likely be interwoven directly into it with the two being indistinguishable from one another.
It could be so realistic that it may be indistinguishable from the real world, we may even be able to experience things more enhanced than we can in real life, foods may be tastier, smells more intense etc. This will be accomplished through technological advancements that are unknown to us today.
We could be sitting in a chair with a VR headset for sight, headphones for sound, gloves for touch and maybe some sort of tube in our nose and mouth that will allow us to experience taste and smell. Or it could be more like The Matrix where we simply plug our brain into something, and all the experiences are simply electrical impulses in our brain with no other tech required.
The metaverse will be like the backbone of the internet network and from there we will be able to visit other metaverses that are owned by companies, DAOs, groups, or individuals. It is from there we will be able to access the metaverses created by Facebook, Decentraland, Microsoft, etc.
To take a term from The Matrix, we will “jack in” to the internet and from there we can choose to navigate to whatever gaming universe we want to play in, use our online banking services, navigate to our work meetings via Microsoft or Zoom, head to the Netflix universe to watch some tv or navigate to whatever metaverse we need, the same way we navigate to different websites today. Each metaverse can have a different look and feel to them and will perform different functions.
In fact, we are already seeing something similar built out in Decentraland. In Decentraland, our digital avatars enter into the digital world, and from there we can navigate to different universes throughout the land such as the Atari metaverse, you can navigate to different games, attend events, gamble in Vegas city, or hit up your bank as JPMorgan became the first bank to set up a branch in the Decentraland Metaverse.
It is important to understand that there will be two main types of metaverses in terms of centralization. There will be centralized metaverses such as Facebook’s Meta and Microsoft’s Mesh, and there are decentralized metaverses made possible through blockchain technology and Web 3.0 such as the Sandbox and Decentraland.
The key difference is that in centralized metaverses, the company will control user data, privacy, user access, and will be able to impose censorship as opposed to decentralized metaverses which will be largely governed by the community in the form of a DAO and where your data will remain under your control and not sold off to the highest bidder.
Why is the Metaverse so Revolutionary?
The metaverse is a digital revolution powering the next evolution of the digital era and will completely revolutionize how we interact with one another and the infrastructures that make up our daily lives.
The internet is a global platform that has evolved by being contributed to and worked on with content being continuously generated from everyone ranging from simple bloggers, meme makers, people who post cat videos, all the way to governments and entire enterprises such as Google, Amazon and Facebook.
The internet is ever-evolving, constantly changing as websites come and go and users continuously generate content. The metaverse will forever evolve in the same way with the key difference being that it will contain an environment that is fully immersive and with aspects of blockchain technology interwoven into the very fabric of it. The metaverse and Web 3.0 will develop in unison, hand in hand, fully integrated with one another. If you would like to take a deep dive into the massive revolution of Web 3.0, I happen to have an article all about Everything You Need to Know about Web 3.0.
The concept of a metaverse is a truly fascinating one as it has the capabilities of removing the limitations of the physical world as we know them and allows human imagination to truly expand and realize its full potential in ways that we cannot even conceive of yet. For better or worse, the metaverse will allow every person to live out nearly limitless fantasies and fully immerse themselves in countless digital worlds and participate in endless adventures, while simultaneously providing a space where we can accomplish our daily tasks, jobs, and responsibilities.
The internet has completely changed and reshaped the planet. It has evolved every aspect of our daily lives and how we interact with the world and the infrastructures that make up our lives. I believe the metaverse is the next evolution of that, but instead of doing it through devices and screens, we will be immersed in it. The average person already spends the majority of their time staring at screens, a recent report from People.com stated that people currently spend on average 11-19 hours a day looking at screens!
It isn’t a stretch to believe that the current hours we spend looking at screens will translate into time spent in the metaverse. It is quite plausible that we will actually spend more time in the metaverse than we do in real life as our work meetings will take place in the metaverse, our shopping, banking, gaming, television watching, and many other recreational activities will be done digitally.
Many analysts are referring to the metaverse as the next big thing because the idea inherent in the metaverse goes beyond the simple implementation of AR and VR tech. The metaverse could literally encompass everything, all “life” as we know it could exist digitally within virtual worlds. Banking titan Morgan Stanley has even recently come out and announced that the metaverse is the next big investment theme, eclipsing the opportunity of the very internet itself all those years ago.
According to an article released by Morgan Stanley on metaverse investing, the metaverse has a potential $8.3 trillion consumer expenditure TAM in the USA alone. As the metaverse has the potential to encapsulate nearly everything, the revolutionary potential is nearly unfathomable.
The Metaverse and Blockchain
While forms of a metaverse have existed in video games for decades, crypto and blockchain technology provide the technological capabilities needed to build a virtual world that can be interwoven with or substitute a physical world. Crypto provides key elements such as digital proof of ownership, accessibility, governance and more.
- Digital Proof of Ownership: By connecting a personally owned, non-custodial crypto wallet to our avatars in the metaverse, an individual can instantly prove ownership of an activity, achievement, or asset. This will also provide a seamless way of interacting with, purchasing, and selling items just as we do in real life.
One of the key differences between a blockchain integrated metaverse and a metaverse that can be built on the internet today without blockchain is that users do not, and cannot own anything on the internet except for a domain name, and even that can be shut down and restricted outside of one’s control. In a blockchain-based metaverse, NFTs and crypto-assets give every user the ability to actually own and have full control over parts of the digital world. New innovations in NFT technology are making it smarter and capable of fully realizing the blockchain-facilitated. Metaverse future
If you want to learn more about NFTs and understand why they are so much more than simply digital pictures of weird monkeys and punks, be sure to check out our article about Utility NFTs.
NFTs will be able to span across different metaverses and verify ownership regardless of where we are in the digital realm. This is in contrast to the way gaming metaverses work today where your items are stuck in that particular game and transferring in-game value into the real world is seldom possible.
- Digital Collection: With that same crypto wallet that is fully controlled and owned by the individual, this allows users to show off their digital collectable items and digital assets. These could be literally anything ranging from the potted plant in your front garden, to the artwork within your digital house, to the house itself, your car, spaceship, yacht and more!
Thanks to blockchain technology, items can be coded with scarcity restrictions built right in to help ensure they hold value and blockchain can verify uniqueness and authentication of collectable and owned items.
- Transfer Value: For a metaverse to be a substitution or extension of our physical world, it is essential for users to be able to transfer value. Blockchain technology provides the ideal framework for users to be able to securely transfer digital currencies, NFTs, and items. As more people spend time (and money) in these virtual metaverses, the use case for cryptocurrencies will grow and develop alongside metaverses.
I feel that the metaverse will bring a massive inflow of users into DeFi as I imagine a digital world where users are walking down a street and they see their banking institution to the right and a DeFi protocol to the left, and they can walk through the front door of either, leading average users to become more open to exploring DeFi and eventually realizing all the benefits that DeFi has over the traditional banking system.
- Interoperability: We are already seeing multiple separate metaverses being built such as Facebook’s Meta, Microsoft’s Mesh, Nvidia’s Omniverse, Decentraland and the Sandbox. A united, seamless metaverse that connects all these separate metaverses is likely years away. Blockchain is working on interoperability solutions with projects such as Cosmos and Polkadot leading the charge. While users can jump from Mesh to Decentraland, it isn’t seamless and the two are not interoperable as it stands now but hopefully, someday, they will be.
- Accessibility: This is a big one. The metaverse will be able to be accessed by anyone in the world with an internet connection. This opens doors for opportunities that were never before possible. The metaverse will completely level the playing field in terms of jobs and opportunities. No longer will it matter what country you are from or what the economic state of your home country is in, users in the metaverse will be able to chase the same opportunities equally.
We have already begun to see the impact of this with games such as Axie Infinity completely changing the lives of many residents in impoverished countries such as the Philippines and countries such as Venezuela where the residents are seeing their wealth torn away due to hyperinflation. Many residents in these countries have turned to blockchain gaming metaverses as a means of survival to earn a decent income and provide for their families.
For further reading about how impactful and revolutionary blockchain play-to-earn games are, I have articles where I explore those topics further in our Play-to-Earn Gaming article and The Future of Blockchain Gaming article.
The Metaverse and Daily Life
So far, we have explored why the metaverse is exciting for gaming geeks, DeFi degenerates, crypto crusaders, and NFT collectees, but what about for the average everyday layperson?
If we go back to thinking about what people use the internet for outside of gaming, primarily shopping, banking, research, watching YouTube/Netflix come to mind and I am sure you can think of countless others. All of these things will eventually make their way into the metaverse, many already have. Let’s look at some particular and interesting use cases.
- Events- Virtual events and concerts have already been taking place in the metaverse. This is a great use case as anyone in the world can attend these events without having to fly or drive for hours and pay a fortune just to watch their favourite artists perform. Artists such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Deadmau5 have already performed virtual concerts and Decentraland has even hosted its first virtual multi-day music festival with over 80 artists in October of 2021. There have even been conferences such as the Cardano 2021 Summit which was hosted virtually.
Warner Music has also recently announced its partnership with metaverse the Sandbox to host virtual concerts in a hybrid musical theme park and concert hall. Warner Music is the home to huge artists such as Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Michael Bublé and more. We could be seeing some serious heavy hitters performing concerts in the Sandbox later this year.
- Food delivery- This one is obvious. You just spent all day in the metaverse attending virtual concerts, blasting aliens, attending conferences and now you’ve worked up an appetite. Not your avatar, the real you. Well, no worries, McDonalds has got your back. That’s right, McDonalds has filed for multiple metaverse patents and has announced plans to open locations in the metaverse. The plan is for your digital avatar to travel to a digital McDonald’s location in the metaverse, order some delicious grub and the food will be delivered to your door in the real world. Talk about convenience! I am sure this is the first of many businesses that we will see follow suit.
Too bad the Calories Won’t be Virtual Image via twitter.com/JoshGerben
- Shopping- Another obvious one but still awesome. Fashion giants Prada and Louis Vuitton have busted into the metaverse in a big way, as have athletic titans Nike and Adidas. As it stands now, we can shop for clothes in the metaverse for our digital avatars to wear, showing off our sweet new Nike kicks while travelling around the metaverse. Each of these items of clothing are minted as NFTs but shopping will likely become much more than that.
Do you know that cool scene in The Matrix where the characters need clothes and weapons and all of a sudden a shelf full of both flies past them? I think shopping in the metaverse might be a bit like that. Imagine an exact replica of yourself in a virtual world and changing clothes and outfits can happen at the snap of a finger.
Once you find something you like, you can simply check out and have the real outfit delivered to your home. The same can go for shopping for appliances or whatever you need from sites like Amazon or Ikea. Imagine having a digitally recreated version of your home and seeing how it would look as you kit it out with whatever you need from the Ikea metaverse. That would make home renovations and decorations a breeze!
Interestingly, one company that is already leveraging this revolutionary tech is clothing brand H&M as they are using augmented reality for customers to be able to see how they would look in certain outfits.
- Visit the Doctor- I’ll bet you weren’t expecting this one. There is an absolutely amazing, innovative and ambitious project that is already being built out from the input of medical, scientific, and pharmaceutical professionals from around the world, working to create the first healthcare metaverse experience. Aimedis has created the first medical and scientific NFT marketplace and is bringing healthcare and medical insurance to the metaverse.
I can’t cover this project in as much detail as they deserve in this article, but I don’t think it is difficult to understand how revolutionary this can be. Imagine having access to healthcare from anywhere in the world virtually, and thanks to blockchain technology, your entire medical history will be verifiable, tamper-proof, and accessible to healthcare professionals across the world who specialize in different industries.
- Work- With metaverse technology advancing, there will be less of a need for businesses to rent office spaces or for employees needing to show up to a physical office space for work. This will help companies save drastically by reducing overhead costs and enable them to hire the right talent from anywhere in the world as they will no longer be restricted by only being able to hire locally. This technology will also allow for employees to engage with one another and collaborate in ways not possible in the physical world, not to mention, the ability to work remotely which will provide opportunities to work for international companies.
- Sports/eSports- eSports gaming tournaments are becoming massive and are now being tuned in and streamed by more viewers than there are people who watch the World Cup or Superbowl. The video game and eSports industries have grown substantially and continue to do so every year, and this was a trend playing out even before the revolution of the play-to-earn gaming model which is going to bring even more gamers into the blockchain gaming space.The metaverse will likely become the go-to place where people will watch sporting events and eSports gaming tournaments.
- Banking and Accounting- I know I already mentioned banking DeFi protocols, but even brick and mortar businesses are setting up shop in the metaverse. Prager Metis, a leading international advisory and accounting firm became the first CPA firm to open an office in the metaverse Decentraland. Investment banking giant JP Morgan have also become the first bank to open shop in the metaverse.
This opens up a world of possibilities. The fact that users can now access these services from anywhere in the world is massive for both customers and the company. With location no longer being a restriction, the metaverse provides companies with a global clientele and provides clients with access to some of the most reputable names in the industry who may not have a branch near their physical location.
- Economic Stimulus Incentives- When the internet was first created, early users and creators likely had no idea what sort of things people would build on top of the framework, the innovation it would create, the impact it would have on the global economy, or how it would evolve. The early internet looked nothing like the internet we use today. The metaverse, though in very early stages, is already beginning to spark innovative inspiration in many around the world. South Korea’s Ministry of ICT, Science and Future Planning has pledged a whopping $186.7 million dollars to create a broad metaverse ecosystem to support the growth of digital content and corporate growth within the country.
- Film and Television- The metaverse is a natural place for the existence of TV streaming and movie releases. As much as I love going to the theatres to catch the latest superhero or horror movie, sadly, I am quite certain that movie theatres as we know them have a finite lifespan and the metaverse may drive the final nail in the coffin for cinemas. Trends already show fewer moviegoers heading to the theatres as we find ourselves streaming films from the comfort of our homes instead. It is likely that we will soon be attending metaverse theatres for screenings of our favourite shows and movies, especially now with so many blockchain companies working on turning shows and movies into NFTs.
Disney has already announced ambitious plans for a Disney theme park style metaverse, and their streaming platform Disney+ likely has some metaverse plans of its own. Netflix is also making moves in this direction as they recently hired former Meta Platforms Oculus executive as the VP for their game development. By hiring one of the top metaverse executives from Meta, I think one can be confident that Netflix has their sights set on this direction.
I could go on all day about all the different use cases and possibilities in the metaverse and still not cover everything as the possibilities are as vast as what we can dream up. However, if you start to consider that everything that currently exists on the internet, and everything that exists in real life can be recreated in a metaverse, plus all the things we have not even developed or can conceive of yet, now you begin to see the scope and opportunity that lay within this new digital frontier.
If you want to find out more about which brands are making a big entrance into the metaverse, check out Guy’s video on The Biggest Corporate Metaverse Moves.
The Future of the Metaverse
Allow for a bit of imaginary leeway here, but it isn’t difficult to imagine a future where people spend the majority of their lives in a metaverse, especially if you consider the metaverse as the next evolution of the internet and all the hours we spend looking at screens now may translate to hours spent in the metaverse.
The metaverse has many sceptics, as any new concept or innovation inevitably will. Many people, even Elon Musk himself, thinks that the idea of strapping a TV to your face and abandoning the real world for a virtual one seems ridiculous and unlikely. Sceptics are quick to conclude that the metaverse will not become anything more than a fad.
Though I would argue that if you went back 40 years and told people back then that the majority of the world today would spend the majority of their days staring at screens, they would likely be sceptical as well, considering it unlikely or feeling it would be a dull existence, yet that is precisely what we do.
In fact, studyfinds.org says the average person will spend a total of 44 years of their life looking at digital devices! Of course, the previous generation would likely think this is absurd, just as metaverse critics now thinking we will abandon the real world for a virtual one is absurd, but I think the stats show we already have ditched much of the real world for digital devices.
I feel that the play-to-earn blockchain gaming model that will be one of the main driving forces behind metaverse adoption hasn’t even begun to have its full impact realized yet, either. We have already seen how millions of gamers have turned to games like Axie Infinity to earn an income in impoverished nations or due to job losses during the pandemic restrictions. Many of these early blockchain games are enjoying mass levels of adoption despite high barriers to entry to get involved, and the gameplay itself is quite simplistic and unimaginative.
As we know them today, Metaverses are also quite simplistic, and there are already more exciting metaverses being developed all the time, such as Bloktopia and the Cardano built Pavia. Next-generation gaming metaverses such as Star Atlas are also being developed, which feature higher quality graphics, better-developed storylines and more enticing gameplay. These further developed metaverses are likely to attract more users and bring more people into the virtual space.
I can imagine in the most extreme scenario, a world where a large percentage of humanity quit their jobs to pursue careers in the metaverse, or where a lot of people are forced to turn to the metaverse if automation continues to remove people from the workforce and as world economies continue to face economic hardships If just about anything we do in real life can be done in the metaverse, that will lead to a lot of jobs needed to be filled there. We are already seeing early development in the need for roles like real estate agents, event planners, managers, designers, artists, builders etc.
One interesting report released by the World Economic Forum estimated that over 65% of children entering primary school today will work in entirely new job roles that don’t even exist yet due to the advancements in technology growing at such a rapid pace. The opportunities that will exist in the metaverse will be virtually limitless.
If you are still not convinced that the metaverse will play a significant role in the future, I think humanity has shown quite clearly that we seem to love nothing more than experiencing everything that the world has to offer from the comfort of our own homes. I am not here to say this is a good or a bad thing, but current trends show that we seem to be doing everything in our power to avoid having to go outside and socialise with others.
Think about the industries and companies that are flourishing: video games, Netflix/Disney+ TV streaming, Amazon home shopping, Uber eats and food deliveries right to our door. In the investment space, many refer to the biggest stocks as the “FAANG” stocks. This stands for Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google. These are the most successful companies globally, and they all have one thing in common. They are all companies that provide a service that we can access from our homes and avoid venturing out. I feel this trend alone is enough to help most people realise the potential behind the metaverse.
As I was writing this article, my colleague Julie-Anne presented me with an interesting iteration of what she believes a version of the metaverse could look like. I wanted to include her view in this article as everyone is quick to think of video games and Ready Player One when we think of a metaverse. Still, Julie-Anne has a fresh and interesting take on it. She went on to write:
“Imagine a virtual office where one goes to work. A filing cabinet is packed with lots of different folders and documents. Accessing these documents require a link where access is restricted based on groups of people or even individualised to the page numbers. These files are, of course, all stored in an IPFS-ish kind of blockchain. As the admin person, I have full access rights to all documents.
Instead of just working from home, I “rent” office space in a virtual world and do my work there. If there is a need for a conference call, I jump right in through a URL (similar to what we do with Zoom now) which brings me to the conference area where it is hosted.
In my office, the furniture/stationery I use has a public/private button where I can choose to disclose where I bought/rented the items. If you click on the public link and decide to purchase, I get a commission directly from the supplier. Renting is usually the way to go as there is always something new being developed. It saves having to renovate the whole space. If it’s something I like enough, there’s always the rent-to-buy option.
Some of the pieces are actually 3D-scanned from actual items in the real world. I can also choose to 3D-print any item I like that is available in the metaverse and have it exist in the real world.
At the end of the workday, I head back to my virtual home for some R&R. I can see my neighbour next door, Ms Influencer, peddling her wares in her show home. However, since I’ve ticked the privacy checkbox on my own virtual home’s URL, this means that no one can see what my home looks like, courtesy of a privacy-NFT. It also means my home won’t show up on any kind of aerial map and, instead, will look like an empty lot.
Ms Influencer next door is going gangbusters with her business. People are traipsing in and out of her place all day long as they gather to admire her good taste in whatever she’s promoting. She’s marked her house as a public URL, so anyone can look up her house and visit. Very low security. Every single item in her house is also tagged with a public URL to make it easy for potential customers to buy what she has.
There’s also a mini stage in her front/backyard, depending on if she’s using the front or back garden for her shows that are broadcasted to the world. I think she only shows up just for the shows as the items practically sell themselves when she’s not around.
When it comes to socialising, I have my haunts. A bookshop with my favourite comfy reading chair, that lamp looks really nice. I might get it for my home. A cosy cafe with my kind of music (they have a few different kinds to choose from). Or the public garden with a beautiful array of plants and flowers that also changes with the season.”
Cases For and Against the Metaverse
Here are some instances that create a strong case for the future of the Metaverse and some that some that oppose the idea of it.
For the Future of Metaverse
The emergence of the virtual economy: The emergence of the virtual economy. The Metaverse can create a robust virtual economy, offering new job opportunities and income sources. Virtual real estate, digital art, and online services are areas where people can earn and trade, boosting economic growth. It’s not just about gaming or social interactions; it’s an ecosystem where real economic activities occur. People can earn a living, trade assets, and build wealth, just like in the physical world.
Enhanced social interactions: The Metaverse can break down geographical barriers, allowing for more immersive and interactive online social experiences than ever before. It’s not limited to text, voice, or video; users can interact in a shared virtual space, leading to more engaging and meaningful connections.
Education: Imagine attending a class or training session from anywhere in the world, interacting with instructors and peers as if you were in the same room. The Metaverse can make this possible, offering unprecedented access to quality education and training resources.
Against the Future of Metaverse
Privacy Concerns: The extensive data required to create personalized virtual experiences can expose users to significant privacy risks. In a world where data is currency, the Metaverse could ultimately invade privacy. Every action, interaction, and preference could be tracked and monetized, raising serious ethical and privacy concerns.
Addiction to technology: It could exacerbate technology addiction. As the Metaverse becomes more engaging, the risk of people spending excessive amounts of time online, leading to social isolation and mental health issues, increases.
Economic disparity: The Metaverse could widen the economic disparity. Those with access to advanced technology can significantly benefit, while others without such access are left behind. Those with access to technology will have opportunities to learn, work, and earn in ways that those without such access cannot, potentially exacerbating economic and social inequalities.
The future of the Metaverse is a topic of intense debate, with strong cases both for and against its widespread adoption. The potential benefits, including a virtual economy, enhanced social interactions and revolutionized education, are weighed against significant concerns about privacy, technology addiction, and economic disparity. The evolution of the Metaverse will likely depend on how these challenges are addressed and the safeguards put in place to mitigate potential negative impacts.
What is the Metaverse? Closing Thoughts
It is difficult for many people to consider a future where we forgo the real world for a virtual one. I thought it seemed unlikely until I started thinking more about it and realizing that we have basically already done exactly that.
We have been attracted to the most primitive forms of virtual reality and augmented reality through basic computing devices. If we are so easily enthralled and captivated by what will seem like primitive devices ten years from now, imagine how much more enticing virtual worlds will become as they become fully immersive, with endless experiences and adventures just waiting to be experienced, not to mention the infinite job and income-generating possibilities that will exist.
The implications and considerations of what this will all look like are interesting to ponder. I mentioned this little mind-bender in another one of my articles on blockchain gaming, but I feel it fits well here and may leave you with an interesting closing thought to mull around.
There is a nihilistic yet plausible theory that states that we are already all living inside of a computer-simulated metaverse. Some of the great minds of our time, such as Elon Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson, have even given credibility to that theory. Tyson even went as far as stating that there’s about a 50/50 chance we are living in a simulation. So maybe we are already just simulations inside of a metaverse, and we are creating another metaverse, and someday our metaverse avatars will also create their own little simulations. The whole thing is enough to send one spiraling down a tinfoil hat fuelled rabbit hole.
With that thought, I will bring this article to a close before things start getting too far off the rails.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Who knows, perhaps someday soon, I may be writing, and you may be reading the next Coin Bureau article from the metaverse.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.