Metaphors of the Metaverse

Step one foot between the real and the virtual

Before answering the annual hot question of “What is the metaverse?”, we must first answer the question of what impact sci-fi works can bring to the real world? 

“Golden Fleece” author Robert Sawyer said in a sharing that science fiction is the “WikiLeaks” of the scientific community, allowing the public to better understand the potential significance of cutting-edge research. “Science fiction authors do not imagine out of thin air. Any speculation we make must be well-founded. Many sci-fi authors are working scientists.” 

For example, Neil Stephenson, the creator of the term “meta universe”, studied physics and geography at Boston University, and has extensive experience in mathematics, cryptography, philosophy, currency, and the history of science. While writing the science fiction novel “Avalanche,” Stephenson also wrote technical literature for various magazines, and worked as a part-time consultant for the development of manned suborbital launch systems at Bezos’ Blue Origin Company. 

Metaphors of the Metaverse

In his works published in the 1990s, this sci-fi writer prepared two tubes of blood for the Internet industry twenty years later-cryptocurrency and meta universe. The anonymous digital currency system in “Diamond Age” and “Code Collection” has already become a reality under the efforts of Satoshi Nakamoto; the “fictitious place” depicted in “Avalanche” where everyone can participate and allow various cultures to collide with each other is almost At your fingertips .

In 1999, “Time” magazine selected 50 digital heroes, Stephenson was among them. The reason that makes him stand alongside many outstanding figures in technological innovation is that his book has shaped and influenced a whole group of IT people. It can be seen from this that science fiction writers have weaved a “spring dream” about the future, and latecomers get inspiration from it and evolve it into reality.

This is exactly yuan cosmic forces sweeping the world the amount of source. It depicts the most diverse near future in the most succinct expression. It is an imagined community bred by people with different positions and different interests using the current social environment as a hotbed. The era has chosen the meta-universe, and the meta-universe is shaping a new era.

Imaginative community about the future

The publication of “Avalanche” was also the initial stage of the Internet’s entry into the public eye. People are concerned about the changes that this new thing can bring to politics, economy, and humanity itself, and try to give it the lofty mission of breaking the old order of the industrial age and establishing a new order . As Negroponte said, the Internet will “flatten organizations, globalize society, decentralize control, and make people more harmonious.”

A generation deeply influenced by the countercultural movement of the 1960s firmly believed in this. They eliminated their confusion about the future, anger and fear of reality in the process of reclaiming the “electronic frontier.” Different from the technological eschatology, class antagonism, and pessimism shown in the basic paradigm of cyberpunk works, this generation still maintains technological optimism at the beginning of the rise of the Internet. It is necessary to build the cyberspace into a personal computer and the Internet. Ideal society.

Has experienced a number after decades of development, supported by modern personal computers and the Internet community is not as optimist wish to bring a decentralized, equitable and harmonious, free society, but getting closer The prophecies in cyberpunk’s works-giant companies master the infrastructure, young people become a big screw in the hardened class, and American college students who shouted “We are humans, don’t be made into any products” decades ago same.

However, in addition to industry and bureaucracy, some pioneers of the Internet are also evolving into new pillars of the old system, betraying their original ideals. All this is like Apple in 1984 will tell you in the advertisement that because of the MAC computer, “1984 won’t be ‘1984’”, in 2020 Apple will become “make 2020 becoming ‘1984’” in the Epic advertisement. The initiator. Social emotions urge people to eagerly achieve new breakthroughs through technological iteration, ideological change and entrepreneurship.

Metaphors of the Metaverse

The new utopia represented by the meta-universe, which can break away from the shackles of the body, institutions, and times, has just become a concrete manifestation of this social mood. This is reflected in the counter-cultural movement, where 750,000 young Americans have returned to their homeland, and established in rural areas far away from the system and far from the urban collective communes; in the age of the Internet, they are defined as personal computers, virtual communities, and cyberspace. Space and electronic frontier. Behind these manifestations is an extension of the same idea or emotion.

In this imaginary community condensed by technological evolution, social reflection, and individual demands, it accommodates geeks who advocate idealized equality and freedom, entrepreneurs who seek to establish a new order in the cracks of giants, and the vested interests of trying to continue business hegemony. Stakeholders, media advocating new things, confused young people who have lost the meaning of life, speculators seeking to maximize profits, and swindlers who want to make a fortune, together present a modern version of the exhibition of blind people and elephants.

Untie technology and imagination

The evolution of technology is the realistic basis for the existence of the meta-universe, an imaginary community, and it is also calling for the arrival of the meta-universe.

The meta-universe framework defined by venture capitalist Matthew Bauer includes eight technology stacks: hardware, network layer, computing power, virtual platform, protocols and standards, payment methods, meta-universe content services and assets, and consumer behavior. If it is classified, hardware, network layer, and computing power are the technical cornerstones that lay the foundation of the meta-universe; virtual platforms, protocols and standards, and payment methods are the framework for building the meta-universe; meta-universe content services and assets, and consumer behavior are Specific application to the meta universe.

The improvement of the first two categories depends on the evolution of technology. Cloud computing provides Metaverse with computing power and storage solutions, which can untie individuals from computing power. The birth of the blockchain has provided Metaverse with a set of confirmation and transaction systems to support cross-layer and cross-ecological value exchange. The development of AI technology will further liberate individual productivity and creativity, and ensure the richness and quantity of content creation ecology.

However, people’s doubts about Metaverse are basically due to the limitations of existing technologies. For example, AR/VR headsets are difficult to use for a long time; the computing power cannot support the simultaneous access of one billion users; and the network is difficult to bring to cloud games. Access experience faster; AI and human interaction are often in a state of intellectual disability, etc. Even cloud games, which many people regard as the first step towards the meta-universe for human beings, are still in their infancy and have not brought people an improvement in experience.

Metaphors of the Metaverse

In the introduction by Guo Jianjun, CEO of cloud game technology service provider Weiling Times , the transmission and computing costs of cloud games are relatively high. Blockchain squeezes part of GPU resources, and the network threshold restricts the increase in the concurrency rate of cloud game users. More importantly, the existing games require each player to have a client to run, and the cost increases linearly, which is not suitable for cloud games. It requires CP to participate in the establishment of a new game structure to reduce the operating cost of cloud games. .

Extending the time dimension, technological changes and evolution should not be limited to when AR/VR and other display technologies will usher in technological milestones, nor will it be restricted by when will reinforcement learning and unsupervised learning usher in angels One kiss, but how to provide creative ability for more people, so that they can turn imagination into reality without considering computing power and algorithms. The meta universe happens to be the best expression of the future of the development of this technology.

In the 1960s, young people had hoped to connect isolated communes to form a small kingdom where everyone was equal. Meta universe’s upgrade to this ideal is to lower the threshold of creation by providing scenes and tools, and try to make everyone a builder of the big world or a small world , thus having their own paradise. With this as the final criterion, people can more accurately judge who is a product belonging to the meta-universe era.

Open up the value chain between reality and reality

It should be noted that lowering the threshold of creation with technology only completes half of the closed loop of the entire meta-universe, and the other half is to build a market that connects virtual and reality, so that user creation can generate value, so as to stimulate user creativity and realize Complete closed loop. From the current point of view, blockchain technology is more suitable as a tool to achieve this goal. This is also the practical significance of NFT outside of hype. It can confirm the rights of everyone’s work and generate value recognized by the real society.

To a certain extent, under such a market system, the real society is only a part of the meta-universe. And only recognize open up between the real world and the virtual world, in order to interact quite endless beauty so that people now realize the initial flow to create value in the virtual world. This is like the popularity of Loot. The equipment described in the eight lines of text in the virtual world has no real experience. If it can’t be exchanged for US dollars, it is just a simple setting.

This kind of value link based on NFT has shortcomings. Judging from the two rounds of popularity of digital currency and NFT, speculators have brought a lot of bubbles. The purchase of an NFT avatar at every tens of thousands of dollars has triggered discussions about “IQ tax”, “big scam”, and “short-lived”. It has not yet spawned the “vast social practice” described by Yikai Capital CEO Wang Ran. “, so that Loot may become the first generation of cross-platform and cross-game equipment in the meta-universe in the future.

Metaphors of the Metaverse

The reason is that each round of hype lacks practical scenarios, but the initiators and active participants especially hope to create new terms to promote their complete separation from the old world. The fact is that most people will still understand a new concept based on their existing experience. Just like when I saw Loot’s news, I couldn’t understand why this ancient board game product was so popular until I Read Wang Ran’s article.

As for the easy-to-understand blockchain games such as CryptoKitties and Axie Infinity, they are just rounds of mining and gambling games. The connection with the metaverse may just be that everyone uses blockchain technology. On the OpenSea platform, which handles 98% of the NFT transaction volume, most of the transactions come from well-known projects such as CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club, and the transaction volume of these projects has experienced a sharp increase in August, and there has been a significant decline .

Relying on collection hype and gambling games is difficult to establish a true circulation ecology, and blockchain technology cannot provide a solution for this. The core problem that needs to be solved is where users can complete their creations and let their creations be known to more people. So the conclusion is that blockchain is a sufficient condition to open up the value chain between reality and reality, not a necessary condition.

Step one foot between the real and the virtual

Putting aside the idealistic complex influenced by science fiction works and returning to the rational speculation of science fiction, the meta-universe is not an endless fantasy, but a process that is happening and developing.

“Tickets to the meta universe may be diverse, but the will and impulse to go to the meta universe must first come from the content, not the medium. In fact, the meta universe can cross the medium, no matter what terminal you log in from, and no matter what you are. Whether it is AR/VR/MR or just a simple two-dimensional, you can enter the meta-universe.” Wang Ran analyzed in the article. “But the premise is that there must be something in the meta universe that will attract you to stay.”

This is exactly why Roblox is able to seize the tuyere of the meta-universe. Duan Zhiyun, vice president of Robles, introduced the two development flywheels of Robles on the 36Kr forum: supporting massive content ecology through massive investment in technology, using content and social effects to form a connection between people and communities, two flywheels The goal behind it is to satisfy people’s inner spiritual needs.

Metaphors of the Metaverse

This is actually a space for users to evade reality and realize creation at a lower cost. Moreover, in this space, those who were originally frustrated in reality have the possibility to realize the value chain with the real society through creation. In the prospectus, Roblox divides users into developers and creators. Developers make games, and creators create avatars and other accessories. Compared with the high-priced NFT auctions on OpenSea, creating on the facilities provided by Roblox is more effective.

From a broader perspective, most people have already stepped into the virtual space with one foot. This is like two Chaka salt lakes appearing on Douyin, one is beautiful and the other is desolate. More and more young people are trying to escape the repetitive and boring work and life through new occupations brought about by new technologies, gain income in virtual space, and provide expenditure for real life.

“Humanity does have a future, and this future will continue for a hundred, millennia, or even millions of years. This is the most important and simplest point of science fiction predictions. Mankind must have a future-perhaps this kind of firm belief It is the most important and most wonderful prophecy.” Sawyer said.

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