Metaverse Investigation Report: Changes in the hustle and bustle beware of “meta-hegemony”

If a few countries control the development direction of the human Metaverse ecology through a comprehensive monopoly at the hardware and software levels, and then master the new industrial model represented by the Metaverse and even the new global industrial chain, will they eventually form a new type of hegemony – Yuan hegemony ? At that time, how will the latecomers break the game?

The Metaverse suddenly became a global topic, followed by a “blowout” of concepts related to the Metaverse in various media—limited NFT (non-fungible token) collectibles, virtual real estate speculators, trillions of dollars A new market… At a time when the Metaverse is becoming a new reality, how will this concept from 30-year-old sci-fi work affect the future of humanity? What kind of changes will it bring?

property rights issues

Before looking into the future of the Metaverse, we must first clarify the question of the moment: what is real in the virtual Metaverse.

It must be admitted that the social virtualization of human beings and the business virtualization of enterprises exist objectively. From this extension, more and more people enter the Metaverse space, and some of the office decorations and virtual character dresses produced here are also objective. On this level, the Metaverse doesn’t seem to be much different from the phenomenal online game “Second Life” that was popular many years ago. It’s just “old wine in a new bottle” and a 3D upgrade of the traditional web.

But if you go deep into its structural foundation, you will find that a new type of network with blockchain and distributed cloud as the underlying infrastructure has brought virtual space into a new era. All items in the Metaverse become user assets recorded by the public blockchain through NFTs and smart contracts, and are witnessed and guaranteed by the “consensus” of all network participants, which is the biggest difference from previous online games and social products.This means that once the network products are closed or the operation is stopped, the situation that all the assets of users will be vanished will be fundamentally changed. At the same time, the public blockchain relies on the “consensus” of the whole network to operate, and does not rely on a specific operator, which means that the provisions in the traditional user agreement that restrict users’ control over virtual assets will no longer have a place.

Metaverse Investigation Report: Changes in the hustle and bustle beware of "meta-hegemony"

The Metaverse is strengthening the technological advantages of developed countries. Source: GJ

It is not difficult to see that the biggest difference brought by the Metaverse is property rights, which is also one of the biggest features endowed by Web3.0. Any digital object created by any user in the future network, such as uploading a selfie photo on a blog, creating an original article on a forum, or making a virtual item in a game, will be recorded through the public chain, so that it can be displayed on the entire network.” Consensus” gives it ownership, and the functions of transfer, mortgage, lease and other functions derived from this smart contract are further capitalized. Here, the conferment of property rights is not the operator of a specific network platform, nor is it an official organization in reality, but the Internet participants based on the blockchain, especially the public chain, use cryptography to keep accounts. The irrevocable “consensus” made, that is, once the public chain is used, it means the recognition of property rights changes based on this “consensus”.

Because of this, the Metaverse is considered to have great potential, as it has the potential to expand the human labor model – behavior in virtual space can also create “valuable” products, thus forming a similar The concept of “virtual labor”.It may sound too fantastical, but more and more individual designers are indeed earning income through this model, and more and more companies are entering the virtual space, where companies can be built and recruited in a very short period of time. Personnel, start business activities, meet real human needs and create value.

In addition to the Metaverse in the public domain, the local Metaverse space (often based on private blockchains) created by some governments and enterprises with “digital twins” will also have an immeasurable role in promoting productivity. In addition to cases such as Seoul and Barbados that have moved government affairs to the Metaverse, many companies have begun to design and simulate products here, and Boeing is the most typical example. It is entirely predictable that in the next few years, a large number of manufacturing companies will move production links into the Metaverse to speed up development and design, and even real-time remote control through a virtual reality interface, allowing employees to remotely control everything in factories and laboratories, opening up the connection between virtual and reality. production boundaries.

The integration and unification between different Metaverses is also an issue worth exploring. The current Metaverse NFT assets are difficult to use across platforms – for example, a virtual fashion purchased in Metaverse A cannot be used in Metaverse B. In the face of a limited customer base, whether there is a competitive or cooperative relationship among the numerous Metaverses, whether there will be a Metaverse that becomes a “dead universe” due to unfavorable competition, or the formation of a single monoverse that dominates has always been a question. Recently, Caduceus Metaverse released the first Metaverse protocol on the blockchain, and expects to become the core infrastructure in the Metaverse, which means that different Metaverses can recognize each other’s blockchain-based NFTs, which means With the “cross-plane” circulation of NFT, it is very likely to create a “Metaverse group” with large and small Metaverses. Any user entering a Metaverse means entering all Metaverses.

Multiple concerns are repeatedly raised

With the rise of the concept, some concerns about the Metaverse in international public opinion have also been repeatedly mentioned.

Privacy is one of the highest concerns. Taking Meta as an example, it has not been able to get rid of the trouble caused by the invasion of user privacy after changing its name. It is even considered that its intention to enter the Metaverse is to monitor users’ acquisition of data in a more comprehensive way. After all, in the world of the Metaverse, users’ actions Every move, every word and deed are exposed on the server, and user privacy will face more serious risks. U.S. columnist Whitney Webb’s outspoken criticism that U.S. tech companies and social platforms “have all become intelligence contractors for the (U.S.) government,” a situation that could get worse in the Metaverse.

Implementations based on virtual technology are also considered “unhealthy”. Medical professionals reminded of the possible health risks of long-term use of virtual devices; technology madman Musk commented that “no one wants to put a TV on the tip of the nose”; Iceland launched a realistic travel advertisement and sarcastically said “no need to wear stupid Helmets”; tech geeks even pointed out the Metaverse or the ending of humans being enslaved by machines in the “Matrix” movies.

Metaverse Investigation Report: Changes in the hustle and bustle beware of "meta-hegemony"

Some concerns of international public opinion about the Metaverse have also been repeatedly mentioned. Source: GJ

In this regard, in addition to the tit-for-tat debates between Metaverse platforms and technology giants, they are also trying to change people’s cognition with actions. For example, surgical assistance and medical training are based on virtualization technology; while fitness applications on the Metaverse allow people to connect to sports gyms and gyms in the Metaverse through headsets while performing sports such as jogging and yoga in reality. Fun with family and friends; the Metaverse also seems to have a special role in aging, such as enabling elderly people with limited mobility to enjoy a rich social life. At present, although the controversy may always exist, the application of the Metaverse in the fields of medicine and health may gradually change the negative impression that the Metaverse causes the degeneration of human body functions, and even becomes a “brain in a vat”.

The winds of speculation that prevail in the Metaverse are also an increasingly apparent problem. In some well-known foreign forums, communities and video websites, various propaganda of the Metaverse getting rich, which are difficult to distinguish between true and false, are often seen, and more people are encouraged to join the “gold rush”, and some even directly analyze the trading market on the virtual trading platform. . The current popular hype style of the Metaverse has a tendency to miss the “Century Opportunity” if you don’t participate. Although many financial people and institutions have warned of the bubble risks that are forming in the Metaverse, they still cannot prevent more and more speculators from entering, and continue to raise the auction price of virtual assets.

In addition, some traditional problems have also appeared in the Metaverse world one after another. A female user complained that her avatar was subjected to indecent behavior by another male character, and there was a debate about the nature of the behavior and whether there were consequences. In another scene, an anti-vaccine activist spreads anti-intellectual remarks in a virtual rally, and many people worry about this: Is there no way to control the spread of false information in the Metaverse?

In terms of energy consumption requirements, the Metaverse’s computational requirements also bring greater troubles. If human beings really need to increase computing power hundreds of times in the future, where can such a huge amount of energy be obtained? Could the virtual low-carbon model touted by some Metaverse builders turn into another “carbon trap”?

“Yuan hegemony” may be taking shape

Although the Metaverse has a beautiful picture, just like the impact of previous industrial revolutions in history, the new industry represented by the Metaverse may still bring some happy endings and some sad endings.

From the perspective of the infrastructure and application development of the Metaverse, industrial monopoly and uneven development are taking shape. Whether it is high-end computing chips, terminal head-mounted display equipment, or the already formed Metaverse application platform, almost all of them are controlled by a few countries. It can be said that they monopolize the entire industry chain of the upstream and downstream of the Metaverse. Although the original intention of the Metaverse is to be decentralized, the underlying implementation of the Metaverse is accelerating its centralization. In developed countries, especially the United States, the first-mover effect of buildings near the water is still very obvious.

From the perspective of the industrial revolution, the Metaverse heralds a new industrial pattern where virtuality and reality coexist, and its prototype has quietly emerged. Virtualization technology in the Metaverse will undoubtedly change the mode of human-computer interaction in industry, and virtual space will also integrate global workers to work more efficiently. Various “digital twin” smart devices created by Metaverse training are continuously deployed into reality and communicated with them through the Internet of Things, which will make unmanned and intelligent more and more popular. At that time, countries that cannot integrate into the Metaverse will be increasingly marginalized in the new industrial landscape.

Metaverse Investigation Report: Changes in the hustle and bustle beware of "meta-hegemony"

The Metaverse life imagined by people is rich and colorful. Source: GJ

From the perspective of the industrial chain, Metaverse will break the old real industrial chain and create a real “low-carbon virtual internal circulation” economy. Taking the fashion industry that has entered the Metaverse as an example, traditional clothing and luxury goods need to achieve a long chain of “design-production-transportation-consumption”, which often needs to be split into the global industrial chain. In the fashion industry in the Metaverse, just by putting the design on the digital platform and publishing it as NFT, the realization of profit can be completed in a few minutes, all the intermediate links are thrown away, and there is no carbon emission – if the electricity consumed It also comes from clean energy. Such convenience and speed are not only a market that cannot be missed for large enterprises, but also for small and micro enterprises and individuals. The low-carbon virtual internal circular economy where both production and consumption are completed within the Metaverse is undoubtedly amazing – and for enterprises in the traditional intermediate production link, this may be a “soul-chasing sword” that seals the throat. .

The future is always full of uncertainty. If we are indeed on the eve of a change, how should we deal with it? If a few countries control the development direction of the human Metaverse ecology through a comprehensive monopoly at the hardware and software levels, and then master the new industrial model represented by the Metaverse and even the new global industrial chain, will they eventually form a new type of hegemony – Yuan hegemony ? At that time, how will the latecomers break the game?

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