It is a necessary choice for the Metaverse to enter the carbon neutral path

Editor’s note

On March 18, 2022, Chief Researcher Chen Yushi and Senior Researcher Yuan Hongzhe of Hengqin Digital Finance Research Institute published an article titled “Metaverse and Carbon Neutrality” on the MIT Technology Review website.This official account is now forwarded here for readers’ reference.

The Metaverse and Carbon Neutrality

Origination: The Metaverse and Carbon Neutrality

Catering to the global trend, Metaverse has taken root in my country in the past year—relevant industrial policies have been issued in many places, and Metaverse has been incorporated into the planning of the corresponding digital economy development. [1] The term Metaverse first comes from the novel “Avalanche” written by Neal Stephenson in 1992. With the release of the movie “Ready Player One”, the concept of the Metaverse is more visualized in front of us. Metaverse is defined by investor Matthew Ball as a large-scale, interoperable, real-time rendering of a network of three-dimensional virtual worlds. The Metaverse is synchronized and continuously experienced by an effectively unlimited number of users, with a sense of personal presence and continuity of data expression. sex, such as identity, history, rights, items, communications, and payments. [2] In this paper, the authors argue that at a time when digital transformation is deepening, guiding the Metaverse into a sustainable carbon-neutral path is a necessary political choice to solve the short-term survival and long-term development of mankind.

Digital transformation represented by the Metaverse is a trend and a reality

The emergence of the Metaverse is inevitable: on the one hand, the Metaverse is a system that integrates the development of the digital economy and relies on the comprehensive utilization of numerous technological systems. On the other hand, the Metaverse provides an open creative system that satisfies people’s needs for respect and self-actualization. The Metaverse is both a technological and a cultural change.

With the continuous influx of technology giants, the Metaverse has also become a representative of the digital transformation model. Digital transformation refers to the integration of digital technologies and solutions into all areas of a business. Digital transformation requires a fundamental shift in how businesses operate and deliver customer experiences and benefits. This will completely reshape the customer experience, business model and operating model.Deliver value, generate revenue, and increase efficiency in new ways. A new survey of business executives by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that 85% of companies are accelerating their digital transformation since the outbreak, and business leaders urgently need to digitize and modernize their processes. According to the survey, many respondents recognize that their business models are outdated. 64% of respondents said their companies need to build new digital businesses to help them achieve this. 【3】

In the post-epidemic era, “digitization” and “greening” have become the main themes of global economic recovery. Digital technologies also play an important role in the global response to climate change. According to the “Digital Carbon Neutralization” white paper of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, digital technology can be deeply integrated with key carbon emission fields such as energy and power, industry, transportation, and construction, effectively improving the efficiency of energy and resource use, and realizing the duality of production efficiency and carbon efficiency. Digitalization is becoming an important technological path for my country to achieve carbon neutrality. On the other hand, the acceleration of global digital transformation and the growing demand for computing power, as well as the wider application of 5G, have driven the vigorous development of information infrastructure, while bringing about an increase in energy demand and carbon emissions. The energy consumption of the information and communication industry cannot be ignored, and there is an urgent need to take the road of green and low-carbon development. 【4】

Inseparable from carbon neutrality

It is worth noting that carbon neutrality must be considered to achieve sustainable digital transformation, and we currently lack consideration of the sustainability of the development path of the Metaverse. Supporting the development of the Metaverse requires massive amounts of energy and computing power. However, developing the Metaverse on our current path will face the collapse of the physical world. As “Ready Player One” shows, the world in 2045 is on the verge of collapse due to an energy crisis, and the protagonist Wade only feels real in the immersive virtual world “Oasis”. Science fiction is predictable, and as our technological level is getting closer and closer to the scenes depicted in science fiction literature, we should also re-examine the humanistic trends in these literary works and the warnings to mankind by the dystopian satire in the novels. All the crises we are facing now show to some extent that the current economic and social development model or way of operation is unsustainable. If this line of development continues, the physical world in the future will become a mess, and we can only live in the virtual world. Therefore, we need to think about how to maintain the coordinated development of the physical world and the digital world, and the combination of virtual and real envisaged by the Metaverse must also consider sustainable development.

The main contradiction between the Metaverse and carbon neutrality

While the development of the Metaverse gives us hope for a new economic growth point, at the same time we are clearly aware of the growing challenge of achieving carbon neutrality. The main contradiction between the Metaverse and carbon neutrality is mainly reflected in four aspects: energy demand, computing power distribution, energy security, and digitization and energy-saving effects.

Although the Metaverse can solve certain development problems, it also increases energy demand

From the agricultural age to the industrial age, to the current digital age, the energy structure and social governance structure are synergistic. In a specific energy flow process, the technologies and processes that people use are subject to a common energy relationship. In the agricultural era, the common feature of all civilizations is that agriculture has become the main driving force for the development of civilized society. The energy used for human production is mainly human, animal power, and renewable energy such as wind and water. The population, which is an important productive force, is restricted by land resources, etc., and its growth is slow. Subsequently, in the industrial age when productivity began to be marked by the use of steam engines, and the productivity began to be marked by the use of steam engines, and most of its energy sources were non-renewable energy sources such as coal, oil, and natural gas—science and technology played an increasingly important role in productivity . At this time, industry and commerce gradually replaced agriculture as the main pillar of the development of human civilization, and gradually changed the appearance and nature of agriculture.The development of productive forces has weakened the constraints on human production. Coupled with the improvement of medical and health conditions, the rate of population growth has been greatly accelerated, and a population explosion occurred at one time. The rapid population growth, in turn, poses a threat to resources. In the current digital age, with the frequent occurrence of events such as the new crown epidemic, floods and wildfires, and the debate on climate change and development rights among participating countries at the Glasgow Climate Summit, we once again recognize the systemic risks and realizations of climate change. The importance of carbon neutrality.

Scholar Zhu Jiaming pointed out: “In human history, every progress is actually achieved in encountering a crisis and surpassing a crisis. Every time a crisis deepens to a certain extent, it cannot be solved under the original model and dimension. Only by building a new model, expanding the dimensions, and solving the crisis, human beings enter a new stage. Why did human beings move from an agricultural society to an industrial society, and from an industrial society to an information society? That is because, the problems encountered by the agricultural society, the agricultural society If it cannot be solved, there will be an industrial society; if some problems in an industrial society cannot be solved, there will be an information society.” [5]

When an energy circulation process reaches the entropy boundary, new energy technologies and institutions will take its place. [6] When we found that under the previous growth model, the growth potential is indeed approaching the limit, the continued consumption of fossil energy has brought about a new climate crisis, and the existing system can no longer support the original economic growth model. Under such circumstances, we have to propose sustainable development and low-carbon transition. We can see from the distributed energy structure in the agricultural era, to the centralized energy structure in the industrial era, and now our country has proposed a new power system with a new energy structure as the main body. The energy structure is once again shifting to distributed. We see: On the one hand, the energy Internet and distributed energy structure have accelerated the changes in the decentralized social structure; Structure and efficient energy conversion rate put more demands.

The development of the Metaverse needs the support of computing power

The development of the digital economy represented by the Metaverse is inseparable from the support of computing power. Therefore, my country has also proposed the strategy of “calculating the east and the west”. “East Digital and Western Computing” originated from the “National Integrated Big Data Center Collaborative Innovation System Computing Power Hub Implementation Plan”, which was jointly issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, the Central Network Information Office, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and the National Energy Administration. Solve the core problems of insufficient computing power in the west and limited resources in the east. The joint notice of the four departments is mainly to improve the layout level. The “Western Computing” node forms an overall “4+4” layout. The initial plan is to maintain the average annual growth rate of the national data center rack scale at around 20% by the end of 2023, and strive to increase the average utilization rate to more than 60%. The power exceeds 200EFLOPS (one EFLOPS (exaFLOPS) is equal to one hundred floating point operations per second (=10^18) times), and the high-performance computing power accounts for 10%. The computing power of national hub nodes accounts for more than 70%. 【7】

Behind the layout of the digital strategy of “East and West” is due to the national energy system of “transporting energy from the west to the east” and the overall consideration of the demand for renewable consumption. The main purpose is to transform the clean energy advantage of the western region into an economic advantage. With the increase in energy demand in the eastern and central regions, the energy supply radius continues to extend westward. The abundant renewable energy resources in the western region will play an important role in providing green power for the eastern and central load centers or realizing the replacement of fossil energy. It is expected that when carbon neutrality is achieved in 2060, the proportion of non-fossil energy power generation in my country will increase significantly, and wind, solar and hydropower in the western region will play an important role in it. According to Xu Bin, deputy director of the Innovation-Driven Development Center of the National Development and Reform Commission, currently, the use of ‘green electricity’ in data centers accounts for about 20% of the total energy consumption. Through the ‘East and West’ project, the data center industry can increase the use of green energy such as photovoltaics and wind power in the western region. If the previous 20% of ‘green power’ use can be increased to 80%, in 2025, the reduction of The carbon emissions are equivalent to 1.6 Beijing’s total carbon emissions. 【8】

The digital strategy of “East and West” also represents the consideration of the flexible use of computing power centers.With the continuous improvement of the digital level of people’s production and life, data centers all over the world are forming larger and larger server clusters, which require a lot of energy to operate, and the energy consumption per unit building area is 10-50 times that of standard commercial office buildings. , the impact on the environment cannot be ignored. According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), 2% of U.S. energy consumption is used for data center operation, and with the development of information technology, the energy demand of data centers and servers will increase. Under the background that all walks of life are trying to reduce carbon emissions, researchers in the field of information put forward the concept of “information batteries (IB)” that use data to store energy, that is, when the power supply is sufficient and the price of electricity is low , such as when the light conditions are good or the wind is abundant, the data center uses a group of servers or virtual machines to perform certain calculations in advance, and cache the results locally for easy retrieval; by configuring IB with limited computing power and strong coordination capabilities The manager implements the coordination of real-time computing tasks and pre-computing tasks. The benefit of this approach, the researchers said, is that it does not require additional infrastructure or specialized hardware, allowing data centers to perform computations when renewable energy supplies are plentiful, replacing about 30 percent of current data center energy needs. 【9】

Metaverse development is limited by energy security concerns

In the process of shifting from a centralized energy system to a distributed energy system, energy security has once again become the focus of attention. In the third quarter of 2021, nearly 20 provinces across the country experienced power outages. Due to the problem of my country’s coal and electricity price system. Coal prices rise, electricity cannot rise, power plants lose money, and once a point loses money. At the same time, the proposal of carbon neutrality has made the assessment of energy indicators a rigid indicator in the five-year plan, and emission reduction has changed from an international political issue (climate change) to a domestic political issue (carbon neutrality).

Energy security is not only a domestic hot issue, but also affects the international situation. As the situation in Ukraine continues to escalate, the EU believes that its own energy security has been impacted, which makes many countries give priority to ensuring energy, and put development goals on the back burner. This view can be traced back to the “Energy Impossible Triangle” theory proposed by the World Energy Commission (WEC). This theory, inspired by economist Mundell, moved the “impossible triangle” of macroeconomics to the energy sector. This view holds that clean, stable and cheap energy cannot be taken into account at the same time, and only two of the three can be sought. If a country seeks cheap and clean energy, the stability of energy supply may be difficult to guarantee. In 2021, the energy trilemma index released by WEC evaluates the energy policies of 127 countries around the world: in terms of the composite index, the United Kingdom, France and Germany are ranked 4th, 5th and 7th respectively in the composite index; but in terms of energy security On the other hand, Germany is only 10th, while the United Kingdom and France are outside the 10th. 【10】

Due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, gas and coal prices in Europe have soared. According to reports, European coal prices rose to $470/ton from less than $200/ton previously. Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies to Europe have been disrupted due to sanctions on Russia. The disruption to gas supplies comes as Europe faces record gas prices.The tight supply has caused energy bills to rise sharply, forcing the government to provide billions of dollars in subsidies to consumers struggling to heat. The TTF benchmark Dutch natural gas price, known as the “wind vane” of natural gas prices in Europe, rose to nearly 200 euros/MWh from 75 euros/MWh on February 23. 【11】

Just imagine, when the proportion of the country’s GDP is mainly created by the digital economy, if faced with similar energy security issues, the development of the digital economy will become water without a source. The development of the Metaverse that we are looking forward to is itself a problem of globalization, but due to energy constraints, the globalization of the Metaverse cannot be supported without regional energy autonomy, and the digital capability gap will be reflected in the energy gap. Without solving the energy problem, the Metaverse can only be an attic in the sky.

Questionable energy-saving effects of digital transformation

One of the main manifestations of digital transformation is the increasing number of production and consumption forms that use digital as a carrier. The digital transformation represented by the Metaverse provides a variety of services, and these services can be divided into two categories: one is virtualization, which represents the complete or partial replacement of pre-existing goods (such as books, music, videos) in digital form or services (such as healthcare), or the provision of entirely new goods or services (such as online video or video games). The second is optimization, which usually refers to information and communication technology (ICT) to improve the design or operation of various technologies, systems and processes (e.g. construction, logistics, industrial processes). This also leads some experts to believe that the ICT revolution is net energy-saving, and the digital transformation approach represented by the Metaverse will form the basis for a new round of green growth.

However, we consider this claim to be controversial. On the one hand, we can see that the development of the digital economy does offer many benefits for reducing energy demand and carbon emissions. For example, e-commerce can replace personal transportation needs and improve logistics efficiency, through digital monitoring and control, energy consumption in use (e.g. building energy management systems, smart homes, industrial process control) can be optimized, and telecommuting can replace commuting and business travel . On the other hand, the development of the digital economy has simultaneously brought about huge energy consumption and a rapidly growing carbon footprint. Some carbon reductions from equipment that can use energy efficiently or are based on green materials are being offset. Digital transformation has brought about a dramatic increase in the number, power, complexity and application scope of digital devices. Digital technologies, represented by the Metaverse, can shape new industrial needs, but these services require complex energy-intensive systems to deliver.

Inductive analysis of 31 past literatures by Victor Court and Steven Sorrell: If only direct and substitution effects are concerned, most studies show that electronic publications, electronic news and electronic music have great energy saving potential, but e-commerce and electronic video/ The game has less potential. The extent to which these energy savings are achieved depends on the technical characteristics of the relevant systems and the behavior of the users. Given the variety of results, there is no consensus on the scale of potential energy savings that digital transformation can bring, and in many cases e-materialization increases energy consumption. 【12】

Coincidentally, according to the IEA, global internet traffic has surged by more than 40% in 2020 due to the increase in video streaming, video conferencing, online gaming and social networking. Since 2010, the number of global Internet users has doubled, and global Internet traffic has expanded by as much as 15 times. Scientists previously put ICT’s share in greenhouse gas emissions at between 1.8% and 2.8%. [13] But the latest findings suggest that global computing is more likely to be responsible for 2.1% to 3.9% of greenhouse gas emissions. 【14】

This means that the carbon footprint of ICT is even larger than that of aviation (which emits 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions). Currently, driven by digital transformation, the energy use of ICT is growing at a rate of 5%-10% per year, which means that its share of society’s total carbon footprint is increasing accordingly. [15] In order to avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change, the development of the Metaverse must make its greenhouse gas emissions compliant with the Paris Agreement, which is carbon neutral. With carbon neutrality as the development constraint for the Metaverse, the Metaverse will become a greater enabler of productivity and utility

Socio-Tech Imagination: The Metaverse and Common Paths to Carbon Neutrality

A sociotechnical imaginary is “an ideal vision held collectively, institutionally stable, and publicly enforced, enriched by a shared understanding of the forms of social life and social order that are enabled and supported by scientific and technological progress.”[16] When When mapping this definition to the Metaverse, we find that the Metaverse itself, due to the numerous technological bases it covers, constitutes a “sociotechnical imagination”; and this is important for our analysis of the Metaverse’s social roots and policy effects significance.

The Metaverse and the Carbon Neutral Sociotechnical Imagination

The socio-technical imagining of Metaverse-like virtual worlds has a long history. The three major Abrahamic religions are in their respective religious classics, Thomas More in Utopia, Tommaso Campanella in Sun City, John Valladin Andrea in Christchurch, but The imaginary worlds depicted by Ding Alighier in “Ten Days” and Li Ruzhen in “The Mirror of Flowers” are too numerous to mention. Such imaginary worlds are common, although they vary in form, content, and location.

The imagination of the virtual world is full of dismantling and reconstruction of the real world, so that people’s good wishes can be realized to a certain extent in the artificial environment. In the mythology of the past, the good life did not exist in the real world, but was confined to a lost golden age or a world beyond death, perhaps a religious paradise or a secular hermit tradition, The Literary Gregorian The state of Huiliang or political utopia in Buddha’s Travels. For most, however, this vision of the good life is difficult to achieve overnight—an escapist fantasy that is at best a pleasant but pointless entertainment. Utopians who seek to realize their dreams are considered unrealistic and even dangerous. [17] Sometimes, such a virtual world embodies not only an imagination, but people’s understanding and pursuit of multiple values. In the Metaverse, these pursuits are reflected in the establishment of multi-dimensional space. As an individual, you can simultaneously meet the needs of accompanying family members, meeting customers, and self-improvement.Therefore, the virtual world is not only a dream to enjoy, but also a vision to pursue.

Different from the social-technical imagination of the Metaverse, the social-technical imagination of human beings to environmental problems is mainly composed of three types of ways of coping with environmental problems. The first category is the response to early environmentalist problems with local solutions, such as river pollution and biodiversity destruction. It took shape in the 1970s and became a social movement different from the Cold War and high-level politics at that time. The key to such problems is that local problems can be solved locally, and there is no global link. For example, over-harvesting leads to the destruction of local vegetation, and afforestation can correspondingly carry out local ecological restoration, that is, local problems can be solved locally.

The second type of response is when the problem becomes a global issue that threatens survival, such as climate change, an international environmental issue that cannot be demarcated and cannot be resolved locally. While people are still responsible for environmental degradation or loss of biodiversity, there is little we can do to fix the problem and reverse the trend. So far, relying only on scientific knowledge is not enough to solve such problems, and the focus of related discussions has changed from trying to solve the problem to how to better adapt to the new environment. This makes people realize that it is human nature itself that causes these kinds of environmental problems, that is, we are unresponsive to subtle environmental threats that are not embodied in a specific type of object.

The problems faced by the third type of coping approach are inappropriate attitudes and actions taken by people towards environmental issues, such as just treating environmental issues as daily administrative issues, or ignoring people’s own needs and taking drastic measures. For example, the forced closure of highly polluting factories without prior notification of the situation. Therefore, the response should advocate looking at climate change through the lens of opportunities rather than obstacles, knowing that these problems cannot be solved immediately, but to explore the possibilities. For example, the green benefits are realized through the mechanism of the carbon market, thereby incentivizing enterprises and financial institutions to support green transformation. 【18】

Obviously, whether it is a Metaverse virtual world or the earth environment where human beings live, people have a complex attitude towards their imagination of the space they live in, and this kind of contradiction contains both longing, doubt and even helplessness. It also contains the interaction between people and the environment.

How humans interact with their environment: Metaverse implications

An important manifestation of the connection between the Metaverse and carbon neutrality is the relationship between people and the environment, that is, the way we see people interacting with the environment in which they live. Solutions to alleviating the catastrophic effects of current interactions on humans and species diversity generally focus on two categories: one is technooptimism, which believes that technological progress can solve all development problems; the other is the end of consumerism, the current high-income countries People’s living standards are unsustainable, and addressing the challenges posed by climate change must begin by reducing people’s desire to consume. 【19】

Amazingly, the Metaverse can teach us from both types of solutions. First of all, although the concept of the Metaverse itself is not a product of technological optimism, its evolution has been accompanied by a large number of technological advances, and each technology that supports the concept of the Metaverse has also contributed to the people’s good expectations for technology to improve life. Whether it is smart agriculture or smart mine management, open sandbox games or online concerts, or even energy production, the explosive growth of scientific and technological achievements has greatly reduced the cost of people’s pursuit of a higher standard of living, and helped the supply side. products and services are more widely exposed to the demand side. Even in the presence of the “Jevons Paradox” phenomenon, today’s increasingly cheap renewable energy sources are guiding the future of the Metaverse on a low-carbon path. In such a scenario, the tense and antagonistic relationship between man and the environment is eliminated through technological transformation.

Secondly, the Metaverse-style virtual world can bring a larger experimental scene for the interaction between people and the environment. With a certain sense of immersion, people can more intuitively realize that their every move will have an impact on the environment on which they live. Big or small, and can add up to an impact. Its significance lies in a kind of consciously empowering effect, which plays an important role in revitalizing people’s subjective environment-friendly willingness and sense of responsibility. In such a scenario, people regard themselves as a part of the environment, and achieve a holistic symbiosis by cooperating with other parts in the environment combination.

The politics of choice cannot be ignored

The fact that we cannot ignore is that in the construction of the mainstream Metaverse concept, man is still the subject of the activities of the Metaverse. Due to its own material structure, such a subject has to rely on a low-carbon development path to deal with major threats in its material living environment. This is our basic political aspiration for survival as human beings.

Technology is not neutral in its co-development with values, organizations, environments or knowledge. Winner sees technology as political. [20] Businessmen and companies may purposefully choose technology to dominate the technological development path. To a certain extent, the influence of large Internet companies on our society is no less than the influence of legislation and authorities on us. Technology affects the way we perceive the world around us, process observations, and store information. It also affects the flow of some important knowledge. In past experience, we have seen that some Internet giants will emphasize certain values ​​and make them more important, such as personalized push and free software services, and divert or even kill the cultivation of some values, such as user privacy and attention diversion. Technology has transformed our relationship with each other and with nature. People should use the Metaverse as a consensus tool for sustainable development and build the Metaverse with new protocols, tools and algorithms.

Creating a Metaverse Path Based on Carbon Neutrality

What leads the Metaverse to carbon neutrality is the common political determination and courage of human beings, and it may also become a process of path creation. First, let’s review how we got to today’s social development model. Norgaard believes that the traditional social development model is a linear development model. People establish scientific systems through observation and practice, and science is committed to the development of new technologies and social organizations, as well as the development of new resources to meet the needs of development. The advancement of science has led to the increased use of new technologies by educated people, and the increased production of material goods by new technologies has led to the continuous depletion of natural resources. While new technologies bring about changes in the value system, the value scale of science is constantly being redefined. People’s way of life has been changed by development patterns, and these changes have further influenced our choices of social organization and technology. 【twenty one】

It is a necessary choice for the Metaverse to enter the carbon neutral path

Image adapted from Norgaard original image

What is highlighted in the diagram above is the gap between human understanding of the relationship between natural and social systems and the actual state in which systems maintain their own balance. The lack of awareness of this part of the disorder is the reason for the unsustainable development in the past. Our existing economic activities often irreversibly alter the interactions of natural systems and social actors. People continue to introduce new technologies and define new production relations, such as industrialized production methods, financial institutions, and the establishment of corporate models. The starting point behind these systems is to maximize productivity and maximize value acquisition and distribution with an imagination. It is our ongoing pursuit of a single economic value, underpinned by prejudices based on universality and objectivity, that continue to lead to unforeseen changes in social and environmental systems. Just as we see the ongoing political hesitations and disputes over global climate change negotiations are the legacy of imperfect scientific views.

Based on this concept of path development, we found that the facts no longer follow a linear feedback relationship – it is increasingly difficult for us to predict the pros and cons of the existing development model, as well as the potential consequences and disasters. Under the increasingly complex interaction of natural systems and social systems, the path and mode of development are no longer clear, and it has become increasingly difficult to reach a consensus on goals or processes. From the current climate issues and economic development issues to the anxiety behind the Internet giants’ participation in the Metaverse, they are all facing difficult path choices, and they are also an epistemological explanation for the unsustainable development of the past. Path dependence means that once a system such as an economy, society or technology enters a certain path (whether good or bad), it will continue to strengthen itself under the action of inertia and lock itself on this specific path. It can be said that what the current Internet giants advocate is the route of path dependence. Therefore, the Metaverse should not simply be considered as the next economic growth point of the same economic development model, but a tool for developing a new path of a different economic growth model. The core of the new path is sustainable development, which is the creation of paths that meet carbon neutral standards.

Our socio-technical vision of carbon neutrality is largely a reflection on existing development models, emphasizing that the call for sustainable development is in fact an understanding of natural systems, technology, social organization, knowledge, values, and their interactions resonate. It can be said that this new understanding is actually a rejection of the traditional extensive economic development model. Since the establishment of my country’s dual carbon goal, we can see that the concept of sustainable development is replacing the concept of development in the past, and the potential for such reform is huge. When the idea of ​​carbon neutrality as a meta-belief, it does not become the direction of the development agenda, we will also enter a new stage of development. The process of changing policy objectives will also make industries with difficult transitions eliminated by the times, and some deep-rooted interests will also be redefined.Therefore, creating the Metaverse as a path for sustainable transformation needs to break the setting of dependence on the original path. The Metaverse can become a tool for integrating carbon neutral ideas and providing technical support, providing a desired narrative of expanding productivity from space and time dimensions, and then developing a new path for a different economic growth model. When the initial conditions for developing the Metaverse are set as sustainable development, and the self-reinforcing mechanism is guided by stakeholders and consciously locks the path based on the sustainable development goals, the Metaverse will become a process from path dependence to path creation.

History tells us that human understanding of social transformation is a political choice, as is modernization, as is digital transformation and carbon neutrality. In the 1930s, Amsterdam, which once used bicycles for 75% of the population, regarded the use of bicycles as an outdated and backward way of life and an obstacle to modernization. The city created dedicated bike lanes not to encourage bike use, but to marginalize it, leading to a precipitous decline in the number of cyclists in the city before the 1970s, with bikes not even allowed on the main roads . With the rise of counterculture and environmentalism in the 1970s, the call to restore the right of way for bicycles was gradually transformed into the implementation of policies to support cycling, and now Amsterdam is known as the “cycling capital of the world”. 【twenty two】


Therefore, we must face up to the lack of understanding of sustainable development in the existing society, and at the same time understand that the construction of the concept of the Metaverse has a technical side and undoubtedly a political side. A Metaverse system suitable for human use must be a Metaverse with clear political orientation and policy goals: it does not necessarily have uniform operating rules, nor does it necessarily have a uniform governance method, or even divide by national boundaries, but it must There are guides, intentional or unintentional, by designers; and we, as a human group facing the rigors of the material world, must affirm that such guides aim for a carbon-neutral material world.

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