What Is The Metaverse And How Can We Prepare?
The Metaverse is being discussed a great deal more. Of late, many of the mainstream publications started to pick up on this idea. Both Facebook and Microsoft mentioned it on their earnings calls.
But what is the Metaverse? Is this something fictional or will it evolve into something real?
There is a lot of confusion about the subject so we will delve into it. That said, we are seeing some of the early pieces going into place.
To start, we must realize this is mostly in the conceptual stage. Hence it is going to be a long time before this idea emerges in practical form. In fact, there will be iterations of it since it is dependent upon technological development.
We can look at it this way:
Full simulation Metaverse where people have a choice of where they are spending their lives: Mid-to-late century
Immersive gaming-like experience that incorporates work, play, entertainment, and socialization: mid 2030s
3-D Based Internet
One of the major premises that we are about to see emerge is the idea of the Internet moving from a flat screen to 3-D. Through mixed reality, Hololens™, or even BCI, how we interact is going to change.
This alone is going to open up the door to many possibilities. Obviously, it takes gaming to a completely new level. Graphics improved a great deal over the last few decades to the point where they are near cinema quality. VR will only push this further ahead, enriching the experience.
Augment Reality (AR) is also going to have a huge impact. This will be the bridge between the physical and digital worlds. Many are debating AR versus VR which is pretty inane. Both are going to be part of the next couple decades.
The transition to 3-D is going to remove the wall between us and the Internet. Instead of it being "out there" it is something we are a part of. It will be all around us along with being ubiquitous.
Hence our relationship to it is going to be radically altered.
Contact Among Individuals
Another major concept of the Metaverse is the idea that we can interact directly with large numbers of people. This is what will make it "life-like". It is also what will delay the full implementation of it.
Our present Internet architecture is not designed for this kind of experience. It was created in a manner that connects node-to-node. Hence, we have single connections at a time.
Even if we look at something like Facebook, that is built using this same architecture. Even if you are interacting with hundreds of "friends", in reality you are just interacting with the Facebook server as are they. All interactions are on a one-to-one basis albeit at high speeds.
One of the features many cite in the Metaverse is to have a *virtual concert. The idea is that a virtual arena can house hundreds of thousands of people (avatars).
Here is a prime example of where progress needs to occur. At a concert, we can interact with all those around us. We get the experience of everyone at the same time, not just the one person next or in front of us. With the present architecture, this is not possible.
It is going to take decades before we see the new development of protocols that can handle it. So far, few can even imagine what that will look like.
We know this is a technology that is getting a lot of attention. Quantum Computers are no longer theory. A number were constructed and used for basic quantum purposes. Thus, they are a reality, albeit in the embryotic stages.
The challenge now is to scale them along with bringing down the cost. Much of this decade and into the next will be spent on this. At the same time, we will start to see applications developed.
Quantum will take us to a radically different computing realm. To start, it will provide a lot more horsepower. This is vital for the Metaverse. With all that is imagined, there is no way we would get there with classical computers.
If also is believed Quantum Computers will give us processes that are impossible right now. There are theories that quantum is the basis for the evolution of the universe. Hence, if we can capture the process, we can replicate that, but at a much faster and deterministic pace.
Being able to do this will be vital to long-term vision of the Metaverse. There is still considerable questions to what is possible and what we can achieve with quantum. Since we are at the early stages, much of what is discussed is theoretical.
Blockchain And Cryptocurrency
Here is an area that many of us are familiar with. It is also a large piece of this idea of the Metaverse.
Blockchain is going to be a foundation. We need a way to record data in a much different manner. If we are moving away from the node-to-node only idea, then server-based systems will not work. Therefore, something different is required.
When we utilize blockchain, we instantly have the ability to transmit value. This was the development of cryptocurrency. At the same time, the storage mechanism also makes it the ideal technology for "ownership rights". Here again, we see how NFTs fit into the picture.
While many in the present system dismiss cryptocurrency, it is an essential part of the next generation Internet. This is a technology that was developed in the digital realm. We see nothing physical about it. That is what is required to serve in this new arena.
Our current monetary system was established based upon physical attributes and then converted to digital. While it worked to some degree, there are many shortcomings. Cryptocurrency does not have that issue. It is already set up in the digital realm and can easily evolve into the virtual. Already, those discussing the Metaverse are pointing to the need for NFTs.
A Completely New Realm
There is little dispute that the Internet changed the way we work, socialize, entertain, and communicate. The online world is not something that is unfamiliar to most. We saw a blending of the two with much of our physical realm converted. Shopping is a prime example where a large portion of all is done online.
The Metaverse will duplicate this outcome, taking things to another level. We are going to emerge from separate entities to a blending of things. What people term Web 3.0 is an early stage iteration of this entire concept.
We are going to see a realm that is built upon blockchain, accessed via VR devices, powered by Quantum Computers, and have AI running all throughout. These technologies will likely converge around the mid 2030s to really created a new Internet. It is going to become experiential in nature.
The Play2Earn is a preliminary concept that applies to the world being described. It is an idea that is already shifting the lives of people. In a few years, it will be a common approach. Tens of millions are likely to be earning their living off this environment. There are those in the younger generation who will never have a traditional job.
Technological acceptance is still generational. Those who grew up in the time of vast technological change are more apt to embrace newer way of doing things. One of the reasons why online shopping rates increased so much is because of the death of older people. Those were the ones who were still shopping in physical stores exclusively. The Boomer generation, while not completely all in on technology, did spend much of their careers using computers as opposed to the generation ahead of them. Now that they are taking over as the older generation, at least a portion of their transactions are online.
Industries will be changed by the Metaverse. Many will find they are not suited for that environment. We are also going to see a shift. For example, television and films are going to be harmed by the advancements in gaming. As we enter a 3-D realm, gaming will enable us to be a part of the experience. Instead of watching, we will be participating and creating. This is why gaming companies are likely to outpace traditional media outlets that focus upon video.
Those who are involved in cryptocurrency are going to have a head start in the understanding of what is unfolding. Those who amass holdings in this area are going to find themselves positioned to take advantage of opportunities as they are developed.
We are watching something that is going to, eventually, be interoperable. The key will be when gaming pieces, or at least the value in them, can be transferred from game-to-game. Thus, more wealth will be created as walls fall between the different corporate gardens that we see in place now.
At this point, the framework that most have of this concept is limited. Most point to something like Ready Player One* as an example. While that is true, it is only a part of this. The Metaverse is going to be something much bigger.
What we are seeing today is akin to Prodigy or CompuServ. Those were early Internet companies that were highly successful as things starting to get going. In time, they ended up failing. Games such as Splinterlands and Axie Infinity are trailblazers in a similar fashion. We will see if they can keep evolving and developing to remain an important part of the blockchain gaming world.
Either way, the process is started. By the end of this decade, it will become a lot clearer where this all can go. For the present moment, too many technologies need advancing before we can even thing about the Metaverse as something realistic.
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