The word “metaverse” has recently been the subject of much discussion in the scientific and technological communities, business, and finance, and as with most buzzwords, its definition is fuzzy, contested, and depends on who uses it. We know one thing for sure: Neal Stephenson coined the term in his 1992 novel Snow Crash to describe a fictional world in widespread use in the future he imagined. A virtual-reality world in Snow Crash, the Metaverse is a planet-encircling market where virtual real estate can be bought and sold, and 3D avatars are inhabited by VR goggle-wearing users who can change their appearance at will. Current conceptions of the Metaverse still draw heavily on these three elements – a VR interface, digital ownership, and avatars. All three are not necessary to the actual concept. The Metaverse is defined as a graphically rich virtual space, much like the real world, where people can do their usual daily activities such as work, play, shop, and socialize – in short, do what people like to do in person (or, more precisely, on the web). Often, metaverse advocates focus on “presence” as one of the key defining elements: feeling like you’re there – and that other people are there with you.
A new and open internet, Web 3.0, was brought to us by crypto and blockchain. An open network enhances interoperability and composability. Composability is important in this space, as explained in the Metaverse Masterclass. Because of this, blockchain, crypto, and Defense-in-depth innovation happen so quickly: blockchain companies and developers work together in an open-source project. The Metaverse’s composability will also foster exponential growth, similar to the Lego bricks. We will build a metaverse by the people, for the people. Each member of the Metaverse can construct their Metaverse bricks (see, for example, Decentraland, The Sandbox, Somniumspace, and CryptoVoxels). The Open Source movement has put games like Fortnite, GTA, and Counter-Strike at a huge disadvantage since they are not “Metaverse” games. These games do not operate on open networks and do not operate on Web 3.0.
It is possible that a video game version of the Metaverse already exists. Yet the Metaverse extends beyond the virtual worlds we are familiar with. Although this definition doesn’t describe the Metaverse, it gives insight into why all of us think it is important. The definition doesn’t apply to new technology or a vision for the future. The theory is rooted in the past and looks to now-commonplace technologies such as the internet and smartphones and assumes that a new metaverse must be invented to replace them. Entrepreneur Matthew Ball, who has written extensively about the Metaverse, explains it as “a kind of successor state to the mobile internet.”. Who can forget when smartphones revolutionized mobile technology, economics, and society? Businesses want to get ahead of the metaverse watershed, which will be equivalent to the internet watershed. Several things are wrong with Ball’s plan. Still, the biggest problem is his idea that the Metaverse will be a single network as open, interconnected, and interoperable as the internet is today. We should not make this assumption.
The modern-day VR technology allows a relatively immersive experience in a virtual world with a headset and two-hand controllers. As of today, VR can only influence our vision, hearing, and a limited amount of touch. Metaverse games use multiple blockchain protocols, including Ethereum, Solana, Tron, Cardano, Polygon, and BSC, and the infrastructure layer for Web 3.0 is in place. Digital assets can now be owned through NFTs. In-game currency, skins, space ships, clothes, guns, digital land, space ships, and art can now be owned/controlled by the players instead of the game developer. It is truly a game-changer! This is not something you’ve missed if you don’t know about it already. Quite the contrary, you are missing one of the largest cruise ships ever constructed! Similarly, play-to-earn games are consolidating their business models and redefining gaming.
The second stage will come when the mass market can buy haptic bodysuits and omnidirectional treadmills or shoes that will allow the whole body to move and feel in the virtual world like in the real one. These new applications will be able to provide about 80% of full immersion through full-body movement and the sense of touch. The applications, however, are still crude approximations of live sensory experiences. There will be limited corporate participation in Metaverses because they are open networks. Instead, DAOs – Decentralized Autonomous Organizations – controlled by the community will be the main source of funding, decision making, and implementation of upgrades to the Metaverse. Many freelance developers will be working for DAOs, and anyone can participate. A large number of jobs for the Metaverse will be created. A complete interoperability system will become a reality, enabling people and assets to travel from one Metaverse to another and exchange almost anywhere, just like physical assets.
Intimate, immersive experiences provide a sense that senses, objects, and environment are very real and have contributed to the excitement surrounding Metaverse. Meanwhile, the Metaverse will mimic all ten elements of the real world. A new creative arena, the UGC, allows Metaverse residents to develop content and applications for their own virtual worlds. Creators of Metaverse platforms will implement technologies that will grant scarcity to the Metaverse and handle digital asset rights through these technologies so that data becomes untameable. Less scarcity than the real world allows the Metaverse to surpass the real world in economic value. In a sense, the Metaverse can be viewed as a parallel world, weakening traditional “central privileges. The Metaverse’s governance structure is the core issue: who will be in charge of the virtual world’s governance. When the Metaverse is designed, all creators must determine who will have the final word on the virtual world and who will be financially responsible for it.
Advanced VR refers to technology that can send signals directly into the brain to create a virtual environment without any user interface. Neuralink is currently developing it. Initially, neuroleptic VR will be used for neurorehabilitation, but it will become available to everyone with time. In advanced neuroleptic VR, our consciousness can travel anywhere we want based on simulations of real-life experiences in our brains, while our bodies remain rooted to where they are. As we move into the next element, we will experience total immersion. There will be no way to tell the difference between “real life” and the Metaverse, as the Metaverse will be a seamless part of our everyday activities. It will be possible for people to meet each other in the Metaverse, have long-term relationships, and get married. But for fluid exchange and reproduction, IRL meetings are required.
Indistinguishability between the Metaverse and the real world. Recent advances in neurotechnology make it possible to 100% map the mind and upload one’s brain to the Metaverse. As soon as humans can upload their brains to the Metaverse, all limitations on their bodies will be removed. As a spiritual environment, the Metaverse will free humans from the shackles of body and mind worldwide. People must be persuaded this is something they want beyond just convincing them that they ought to do. As with a smartphone, the technology through which we access these worlds must be as convenient and comfortable to use as a smartphone and just as portable, or it will seem like a step backward from the mobile internet it’s supposed to replace. Even though the science-fiction appeal of such a virtual world seems obvious on the surface, one must ask how deeply we want to spend time there.
The aspect and functionality of the systems necessary to create a mature metaverse will be well understood. A potentially ubiquitous transformational system will be created using this infrastructure layer as the backbone. When our hardware innovations enable immersive virtual reality, along with ethical debates leading to a benefit to all of us, we will have one of the tremendous human advancements of all time. The perfect shape of the Metaverse is still to be realized, but its development is still in its infancy. As the Metaverse matures, bottlenecks will inevitably form, which must be broken through. The five main bottlenecks in the Metaverse are currently portability of access to virtual worlds, rules of governance, industrial metaverse applications, security and privacy issues, and energy supply.