In this article of the ongoing 4IR series, we’re gonna talk about one of the hottest buzzwords going around. Yes, it is indeed, the metaverse. Let’s dive into what it is, and what’s new about it. We’ll also debunk some of the misconceptions, and get to know some of the latest updates for our technology-embedded lives.
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What is Metaverse?
In simplest terms, it is a virtual world. A digital place where you can be present and interact with digital objects and other avatars. An integrated digital universe where users, businesses, and tech platforms can coexist and interact. It started as a means of mostly gaming and social media, but right as we speak it is broadening its horizon. Metaverse is becoming a very credible marketplace, a platform for digital events (with recreational values), for buying and selling NFTs, and so on.
To be frank, the concept of a simulated universe where users can interact with the world and each other is a rather old concept. Science fiction predates this concept as early as 1992, in a science fiction novel “Snow Crash” as an amalgamation of “meta” and “universe”. We have seen this concept in movies as old as “The Matrix” or “Lawnmower Man”. From fiction to reality, we get to see the transition first via the gaming platforms. It is often considered the 2003 game “Second Life” to be the first metaverse game because it combined many aspects of social media into a persistent three-dimensional world with the user represented as an avatar.
Metaverse is owned by Meta
The social media giant Facebook Inc. recently changed its name to Meta. They have started the recent uproar about the metaverse, leading a lot of people to believe that meta invented the metaverse and is going to own it. This, however, is quite far from the truth. In reality, they currently do own one of the metaverses. The virtual world created by meta is called Meta Horizon Worlds and can be accessed through their VR headsets formerly known as Oculus. However, there are many other metaverses that are older and have a big user base, Such as The Sandbox, Decentraland, etc.
Metaverse will be a monopoly
While many fear that the control of these virtual worlds will be in the hands of the big tech corporations and they’ll be exploiting us, this simply may not be the case after all. One of the core concepts behind metaverse tethers to technologies like web3, blockchain, and decentralization. And their primary protocol dictates that the control and ownership will be in the hands of the people who use it. Decentralization enables people to use their own computing power to make the metaverse function without being subjected to tampering and third-party intervention. With a secure monetary system based on cryptocurrency, the metaverse might be a safer space than the current social media we dribble through.
Metaverse consists of only gaming and social media
Not true as well. Metaverse is a continuously growing concept and will likely have many use cases. Some may include virtual meetings or events, interactive marketplaces, education, remote work, healthcare, banking, et cetera.
The fruition of metaverse to its ultimate envisioned extent is probably still a long way off. Some of the major reasons involve:
Decentralized and without proper governance, it will be hard to establish a balance between knowing who to trust online and people’s right to be anonymous on the internet.
The scarcity of quality internet around the globe.
The risks of a user being unaware of his/her real-world surroundings while being in a virtual world and the possibility of getting injured.
Cryptocurrency being still so volatile also poses an issue. The monetary system of the metaverse needs to be more stable in order to sustain proper economic balance.