On September 20, the 8th Blockchain Global Summit hosted by Wanxiang Blockchain Lab was held in Shanghai. Li Ming, chairman of the IEEE Computer Society Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology Standards Committee, delivered a keynote speech on “Metaverse Research and Exploration”. In the speech, Li Ming explained the background of the development of the Metaverse and stated that NFT is a digital asset. Credentials gradually became popular, greatly promoting the development of the Metaverse. From its value point of view, NFT is helpful for content assetization, asset confirmation, intellectual property protection, etc. In addition, Li Ming also said that the initial concept of the connotation of the Metaverse is the integrated logical expression of the digital consensus ecology. The key elements of the Metaverse include organization, identity, assets and activities, and the blockchain can support the development of the Metaverse from these four aspects. The ecology is divided into 5 layers of architecture: technology, content, economy, collaboration and governance systems; and the impact of the Metaverse on human society in terms of technology, content, economy, collaboration and governance.
The following is the full text of the speech:
Hello everyone, my name is Li Ming. It is a great pleasure to participate in the 8th Blockchain Global Summit, and thanks to Wanxiang Blockchain for the invitation. Today, I would like to share with you our research and exploration in the field of the Metaverse.
As we all know, the Metaverse has arrived. Baidu, NVIDIA, Unity, Sandbox and other large domestic and foreign Internet companies and related enterprises have all entered the Metaverse industry. The emergence of the Metaverse is not accidental, it is facilitated by relevant factors such as policy, technology, business, society, etc.
As far as policies are concerned, China, the United States, the European Union, Japan, and South Korea have all released policies in related fields such as digital economy, artificial intelligence and virtual space; at the technical level, the development of a new generation of information technology and the proposal of Web3 have greatly promoted The development of the Metaverse; from a commercial point of view, the financial and data dividends of the Internet have basically peaked, and investment targets have decreased; in addition, film and television works and novels in the social field have played a role in promoting the development of the Metaverse.
The background of the development of the universe
The development of the Internet is divided into three stages, Web1, Web2 and Web3. Web1 is a read-only network, Web2 is an interaction network, and Web3 is a value network. Compared with the iteration of Web1 and Web2, Web3 is mainly based on some existing problems of Web2, and puts forward corresponding principles such as asset clarity, fair income, privacy protection and data sovereignty.
But from another perspective, email is message-oriented, OA is transaction-oriented, ERP is business-oriented, and the current Internet platform is data-oriented. At present, we have been able to carry out activities related to messages, transactions, business, data, etc. in the virtual world. If the virtual world can further contain value activities, then it will form a better ecology.
It is generally believed that Web1 is to log in to different websites through username and password to obtain information, Web2 is able to interact on different platforms, and Web3 proposes to be able to use one identity to access all Internet services. In fact, one of the essences of Web3 is to establish a universal ID, which binds a series of related content and information such as user articles, social relations, identity information, and short videos to the user’s personal identity.When the platform needs user information, it can purchase personal information through commercial activities or authorization, so as to truly return personal data to users and realize data sovereignty.
In recent years, people have gradually explored the technical, financial and social attributes of blockchain. The technical properties of blockchain have been developed for many years, so I won’t go into details here. In terms of economic attributes, the current emergence of FT and NFT has promoted the development of DeFi, Fi and SocialFi; in terms of social attributes, DAO (distributed self-organization) has also explored innovative collaboration models in recent years. In this process, different countries have different regulatory methods.
At the same time, the development of human-computer interaction directly contributed to the emergence of the Metaverse. Human-computer interaction is not AR/VR, AR/VR is just one of the technologies of human-computer interaction. Human-computer interaction includes AR/VR, holography and brain-computer interface. Just as we think headsets are not phones, phones are not the Internet, and AR/VR is not the Metaverse. The Metaverse includes the complete process of entering the digital world with the help of human-computer interaction technology, and completing a series of activities in the digital world, and then further reacting to the physical world. This process of first entering and then exporting is the embodiment of the true Metaverse.
In addition, as a digital asset certificate, NFT has gradually become popular among the public, which has greatly promoted the development of the Metaverse. From its value point of view, NFT is helpful for content assetization, asset confirmation, intellectual property protection, etc. But it also has many problems, including risks associated with financial compliance, hype, investment, and more. NFT will have the following trends in the future:
1. Content Aggregation. The current creators sell digital collections or NFTs on a platform, and many of their product pricing or profit sharing ratios are regulated by the platform, but this method violates the essence of the creator’s economy. In the future, a content aggregation platform may appear, and the Internet platform will be used as a sales platform for distribution, so as to complete the circulation process of digital collections or NFTs.
2. Identity Aggregation. Currently, users need to use different wallets to buy and save NFTs on different platforms, which is more complicated for users. I believe that in the future, there are even some cutting-edge projects that are exploring the application of identity aggregation, that is, no matter which platform users buy NFT or digital collections on, they can put them in one APP, and there is no need to download a bunch of APPs to store the data on different platforms. NFTs.
3. Utility Benefits. At present, many NFTs are just selling pictures. Under the different regulatory requirements of different countries, these NFTs are difficult to circulate freely, so their value cannot be reflected. In the future, NFT should become something with special meaning and function, such as passes, props or vouchers in the Metaverse, so that the real value of NFT can be released. At the same time, some NFT browsers, search engines, etc. will appear in the future, and these tools will further enrich the NFT ecosystem.
The integration of a new generation of information technology provides a very important support for the emergence of the Metaverse. The new generation of information technologies such as the Internet of Things, cloud computing, and big data are data-oriented technologies. For example, the Internet of Things is used for data collection, big data is used for data processing, artificial intelligence is used for data utilization, cloud computing is used for bearing, resource scheduling, and data transmission. Blockchain provides a credible consensus tamper-proof mechanism and incentive mechanism, while human-computer interaction is mainly to help users enter the digital world. Each individual technology has a long history of development, but no phenomenon-level application has ever appeared. Only by integrating a new generation of information technology can the application of the industrial Metaverse, commercial Metaverse, and industrial Metaverse be supported.
What is the Metaverse?
There are many articles on the Internet about “what the hell is the Metaverse”, and there are many opinions in the academic world, including Meta, Microsoft, Amazon and other big companies also have some explanations for this, but we think these are all about the meaning of the Metaverse and narrative descriptions of the effects.
Based on the idea of ontology, we have explored the nature of the Metaverse. Not only that, but we also analyze some nuances of the Chinese and English meanings of the Metaverse. The main meaning of “meta” in English is “on… It is understood as “primary, first, and essential”, and the “universe” in the Warring States period was “the upper and lower four rings are called the universe, and the ancients and the present are called the universe.” Therefore, the universe can be understood as the corridor of space and the tunnel of time. It can be seen that the Metaverse includes two dimensions of time and space.
To discuss the connotation or essence of the Metaverse, we must first clarify what the Metaverse has to do with the new generation of information technology and the digital economy at the macro level. As shown in the figure below, blockchain is one of information technologies. After information technology is integrated, it can promote information technology services, thereby promoting digital industrialization.
Metaverse is a huge digital ecology, which can attract more users to consume information, thereby promoting industrial digitization, and further promoting the development of digital economy through industrial digitization and digital industrialization. In this process, it is not difficult to find that the blockchain and the new generation of information technology are infrastructure, while the Metaverse is a digital consumption ecology that jointly promotes the development of the digital economy through “one push and one pull”.
Similarly, based on the ontological approach, we also analyze the connotation of the Metaverse from four aspects: conceptualization, clarity, formalization, and standardization. Conceptualization needs to find the key elements of the Metaverse, clarity needs to find the key components of the Metaverse, formalization needs to explore the process of engineering practice of the Metaverse, and standardization needs to propose a conceptual term and development direction that the whole society can agree on. After a series of analyses, we have obtained a preliminary concept of the connotation of the Metaverse: the Metaverse is the integrated logical expression of the digital consensus ecology.
The key elements of the Metaverse include organization, identity, assets and activities, and the blockchain can support the development of the Metaverse from these four aspects.
Traditional platforms are prone to monopolistic organizational forms and business models, while Web3’s point of view is that “users and builders jointly own the network”. The “DAO” based on blockchain technology can provide Web3 with a model that maximizes the scope of consensus under the premise of compliance with supervision.
Traditional authentication methods are prone to security risks and data abuse. In the Metaverse, both virtual people and virtual bodies must have identities, so that the corresponding responsible subjects can be found. Blockchain can provide a distributed identity authentication system for identities in the Metaverse.
Assets are bound to be generated in the Metaverse, and assets-centered scenarios need to form a sustainable ecology and even an economic system. Blockchain is the best solution in current technology to support the whole life cycle process of assets.
All activities in the Metaverse converge into data, and blockchain can support privacy protection and data security.
We divide the ecology of the entire Metaverse into 5 layers of architecture: technology, content, economy, collaboration and governance system.
1. The technical system is the integration of a new generation of information technology;
2. The content system mainly provides an open, creative, diverse and sustainable content scene for the Metaverse, thereby allowing more users to enter the Metaverse;
3. The economic system can provide the incentive mechanism and rights protection mechanism required by the Metaverse;
4. The collaboration system is a response mechanism in the Metaverse that can realize multi-party collaboration and self-organization, so that more people can reach consensus in the process of collaboration;
5. The governance system provides corresponding social and governance rules for the Metaverse, including copyright protection, digital authentication, content supervision, as well as physical rules such as conservation of physical energy and universal gravitation.
Today we mainly introduce the technical system. We divide the technical system into 5 layers, including network, system, service, scene and space.
The network layer of the Metaverse is similar to the traditional Internet architecture, including communication, storage, computing and network technology. However, taking computing as an example, the real-time 3D scene rendering in the Metaverse requires a lot of computing, which puts forward higher requirements than computing on the traditional Internet. The meta-system is the integration of a new generation of information technology, and the meta-service includes content operation, privacy computing, identity authentication, incentive mechanism and asset management, and based on this, it supports the corresponding applications of industrial manufacturing, social entertainment, cultural tourism, etc. in the meta-scenario . In addition, a series of activities in our Metaverse require corresponding equipment in the outer space to cooperate, including location awareness, human-computer interaction, sensory touch, etc.
At the same time, the future of the Metaverse does not mean that there is only one Metaverse in the world. There may be different Metaverses in different fields, such as financial Metaverses, education Metaverses, etc., but each Metaverse must be able to communicate with each other. Therefore, in the entire technical system of Metaverse, corresponding standards such as cross-platform identity authentication, content interaction, and asset circulation need to be considered. At present, many major cities in my country have released relevant policies of the Metaverse, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, as well as cities such as Wuxi, Chongqing, Xiamen, and Hangzhou.
In terms of enterprises, for example, Xiyang of Baidu and Yaotai of NetEase are platforms built by large domestic enterprises in the field of Metaverse, in order to support users to enter the Metaverse. In addition, in the “2022 Hurun China Metaverse Potential Enterprise List” released by the Hurun Research Institute, China Mobile, China Telecom, Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu and other companies are on the list, and they are also gradually entering the Metaverse.
There are many different types of foreign Metaverse companies, including “economic system + content creation” companies represented by RobLox, SandBox, and Decentral Land, companies that develop engine tools represented by Unity and NVIDIA, as well as Meta and Microsoft. It is a comprehensive enterprise that not only does peripherals, but also production tools and specific applications.
By comparing the development of the Metaverse industry at home and abroad, we can find that the domestic Metaverse development is lacking in the production layer, and many AR/VR games and applications in the industry are made with Unity or NVIDIA’s Ominiverse. Therefore, my country’s Metaverse industry needs to accelerate the development of the Metaverse production engine.
The Metaverse’s Impact on Humans
In addition, we also analyze the future impact of the Metaverse on humanity in terms of technology, content, economy, collaboration and governance:
At the hardware level, the current monitors, mobile phones, TVs and other terminals may all be replaced. Although users now enter the Metaverse in the form of AR/VR eyes, they may enter the Metaverse through devices such as virtual work pods in the future, so the current terminal display devices may basically be subverted. At the same time, the mouse and keyboard in the hardware are basically useless in the Metaverse, and will be replaced by new terminal equipment.
At the software level, the current browsers, input methods, in-vehicle systems or operating systems may all change due to the arrival of the Metaverse, and input methods and browsers may no longer exist.
Therefore, the entire software and hardware industries will basically be subverted by the Metaverse.
In the future, we hope to truly realize the return of copyright to creators in the Metaverse. In addition, the way of creation in the Metaverse will also shift from 2D to 3D.
On the economic front, the application of digital currency may be further expanded, and may even generate a tax on digital assets.
The innovation of collaborative methods may generate new occupations, including digital building administrators, digital collection designers, etc. may all be new occupations.
In terms of governance, for example, a series of identities such as virtual digital people and cyborgs, who should bear the main responsibility, and how to manage new fraudulent behaviors will become new governance issues. Even in terms of social governance, there may be corresponding social governance institutions such as the Digital Public Security Bureau or the Industry and Commerce Bureau. To sum up, the development of the Metaverse in the future will have a huge impact on our production and life.
At present, standardization organizations at home and abroad attach great importance to the standardization of the Metaverse. Internationally, IEEE has recently established a Metaverse research group, while Khronos Group has joined some internationally renowned companies, such as Meta, Microsoft, Epic Games, NVIDIA and other related companies to establish a Metaverse standard forum, as well as companies such as Sandbox A Web3 Open Metaverse Consortium was also established to propose Metaverse standards and facilitate collaboration between Web3 and other industries. In China, three Metaverse standards have been released recently, and various groups are vigorously promoting the development of Metaverse group standards.
As far as the standardization direction of the Metaverse is concerned, we hope to build an industry consensus and promote technology for good. In the formulation of standards, we must take science and technology as the leading principle, promote technological development as the main direction, and obtain the best practices in the industry through practical applications, and finally reach an industry consensus.
Regarding the future development of the Metaverse, we also have certain thoughts. The core idea is to “encourage the exploration of crowd intelligence and promote the emergence of innovation”. The development of an industry or the emergence of new business scenarios requires the cultivation of a large number of applications to achieve innovative breakthroughs. Although theoretical guidance is useful, it still requires a certain scale of application exploration before such emergent innovation can occur. In this process, we give the following four suggestions:
1. Unify industry consensus
Strengthen the research on the Metaverse technology system, service system, economic system and governance system, clarify the technology development path of the Metaverse, explore the basic theory of the Metaverse, and form the industrial standard of the Metaverse.
2. Explore technology integration approaches
At present, a single technology has developed to a certain extent, but if we want to achieve technology inheritance, there will still be many problems. In addition, a series of problems such as distributed identity authentication, cross-platform/cross-ecological interconnection, flow of digital assets and governance of digital content also need to be solved urgently.
3. Innovative application scenarios and business models
Promote the innovation of intelligent manufacturing, information consumption, smart city and other related scenarios in the digital environment, and use new technologies to upgrade traditional industries while establishing innovative business ecosystems such as industrial Metaverse, urban Metaverse, and financial Metaverse.
4. Strengthen research on scientific and technological ethics governance
This aspect mainly includes researching and judging risks related to privacy protection, technological discrimination, algorithm kidnapping, illegal fundraising, etc., formulating a series of strategies such as financial service management, content and asset compliance supervision, digital copyright protection, etc. Promote efficient governance mechanisms.
That’s all I have to share with you today. Standards are the cornerstone of discovering the basic laws of the world and accelerating the progress of the digital society. More experts are welcome to join in the standardization work. Thank you.
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