The Metaverse: A Dystopian Nightmare?

As technology keeps advancing, the ways to interact also evolve over time. Metaverse has been a hot topic in the digital world for how it transforms the way we connect – that can either be beneficial, or disruptive, to businesses.

Jason Foster shares his insights on the metaverse: what it means, its characteristics, where it has come from, and where it can go in the future.


Metaverse… what?

The word is credited back to a sci-fi film called “Snow Crash”. It was launched in 1992. The use of the term metaverse has steadily increased in books and some films until the recent explosion on social media.

According to Mark Zuckerberg, “The metaverse is a virtual environment where you can be present with people in digital spaces. You can kind of think of this as an embodied internet that you are inside of rather than just looking at it.”

It’s as though you’re inside the internet and you’re interacting with physical people in a digital space, rather than just looking at the internet and interacting with people through the lens of a screen.

Essentially, it’s a collection of technologies that exist as augmented reality, virtual reality, high throughput networks, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, online commerce, virtual meeting technology like zoom, virtual event platforms, online gaming concepts and more.

Basically a collection of all these technologies that create a new upgraded version of what we currently know as the internet.


Metaverse characteristics

One of the leading organisations looking at this from a certain lens is the law firm, Norton Rose Fulbright. They talk about the characteristics of the metaverse that allow this embodiment of ourselves in an online space, to help understand what needs to be in place for the metaverse to exist now. There are five things that they talk about.

  1. Persistence. Metaverse will exist regardless of where you are, or time of day.
  2. Synchronicity. The participants of the metaverse who are engaging with the metaverse or interact with one another in the digital world in real-time, react to the virtual environment, just as they would in the physical world. We’re at the same time interacting in the digital world in real-time, in a very similar way that we would in a physical world.
  3. Availability. Everyone will be able to log on simultaneously. There’s no cap on the number of participants.
  4. Economy. This is really the important one as it’s going to accelerate metaverse adoption everywhere. People, including those in businesses, will be able to supply goods, supply services, and exchange those goods and services for value that people will recognise.
  5. Interoperability. The metaverse will essentially allow participants to use their virtual things, products, services, or their persona across different experiences, on the metaverse. This is a total cross-platform capability.

To summarise

Organisations are working on how we more closely blend physical and digital – rather than fully immersive digital – which takes you away from any kind of real social interaction, and puts it all in the digital space. We must put the controls and relevant guard rails in place. Which will mean we support a much brighter future. Digital and physical interaction with each other, rather than leaving the current world behind and moving to this new digital space.


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