Metaverse, rewriting the brief history of the future of mankind

2021, the first year of the Metaverse. Internet companies have deployed the Metaverse, including Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Nvidia, Baidu, Tencent, NetEase and other top companies. Facebook even changed its name to Meta Platforms in one fell swoop, demonstrating its determination and ambition to enter the Metaverse. These sweeping crazes are illustrating the fact that we are truly entering the Metaverse era from the era of big data. Whoever enters the Metaverse first will win the future first.

Matthew Ball, the father of Metaverse business and the world’s earliest and most comprehensive trendsetter to introduce the Metaverse, believes that the Metaverse will bring changes to every aspect of people’s lives. In his new book, “The Metaverse Changes Everything,” he reveals how the Metaverse is truly built, and how it will comprehensively change the way we work, live and think.

The term “Metaverse” first appeared in the 1992 novel “SnowCrash” by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson. Although far-reaching, Stephenson does not give a clear definition of the Metaverse in this book. What he describes is a persistent virtual world that is connected to almost every aspect of human existence, interacting with it and interacting with it. make an impact.

While most people don’t realize it, like Vannevar Bush, Stephenson’s influence on modern technology has grown over time.

The conversation with Stephenson inspired Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who founded Blue Origin in 2000. As of 2021, Blue Origin is considered the second most valuable company of its kind, behind Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Two of the three founders of Keyhole, now Google Earth, have said their idea came from a similar product in Avalanche, and they invited Stephenson to tour their company.

Stephenson’s novels have also been the inspiration for various cryptocurrency projects, the construction of non-encrypted networks of decentralized computers, and CGI-based filmmaking. CGI technology can perform motion capture on actors, so that people who are thousands of miles away can sit at home and get a live-like viewing experience.

Although Stephenson’s work has had a profound impact on the world, he has been a constant reminder not to take his work literally, especially “Avalanche.”

When asked by Vanity Fair in 2017 about his influence on Silicon Valley, he reminded everyone to remember: “Avalanche was written before the Internet and the World Wide Web as we know it, and the content in it was just my rubbish. mess.”

Therefore, we should not over-interpret some of Stephenson’s specific visions. Although he coined the term Metaverse, he was far from the first to come up with the concept.

In 1935, Stanley G. Weinbaum wrote a short story called “Pygmalion’s Spectacles”, which revolved around a magical goggle resembling VR glasses. Being able to make “movies that are both visually and aurally immersive…you’re in the story, and when you talk to the shadow, the shadow responds”.

Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Veldt” (1950) imagined a small family in which parents were replaced by a VR nursery, and the children were so addicted to it that they didn’t want to leave. Lock your parents in the nursery and kill them.

In 1984, William Gibson popularized the term “cyberspace ace ” with his novel Neuromancer . He defines cyberspace as “an sympathetic hallucination that billions of legitimate operators in every country experience every day…a graphical representation of data drawn from every computer in a human system. Of unimaginable complexity. Sexuality. Light zigzags in nonspatial thinking, data clumps and clusters, like city lights, moving away.”

Notably, Gibson refers to the visual abstraction of cyberspace as a “matrix.” Fifteen years later, Lana Wachowski and Lily Wachowski redefined the term in their film of the same name, The Matrix.

In the film, “The Matrix” refers to an ongoing simulation of Earth in 1999, but in 2199, all of humanity is forcibly connected to this simulated planet indefinitely without knowing it. The purpose of this simulation is to appease the human being and keep the human consciousness perpetually immersed in the hallucinations. Because in the 22nd century, conscious artificial intelligence has been using humans as biological batteries after conquering the earth.

From science fiction to reality, technology is far more optimistic than literature

Regardless of their vision as writers or directors, the virtual worlds they paint are dystopian. However, for the actual Metaverse, we don’t have any reason to believe this is inevitable.

Drama is at the heart of most novels, not necessary for a perfect society.

More instructive than Stephenson’s novel is the many efforts to build virtual worlds over the past few decades. This history shows not only how the Metaverse has developed over the decades, but more of its nature. These possible Metaverses do not center on conquest or profiteering, but on cooperation, creation, and self-expression.

The emergence of text-based virtual worlds in the 1970s is believed by most to mark the formation of the primordial Metaverse. The text-based virtual world mentioned here is “Multi-User Dungeons” (MUD). Multi-user dungeons are actually the software version of the interactive role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.

In the game, players can communicate using text commands similar to human language, explore a virtual world of NPCs and monsters, gain equipment and experience, and ultimately reclaim the magical Holy Grail, defeat evil wizards or save princesses.

The growing popularity of MUDs has spawned the illusion of Multi-UserSharedHallucinations (MUSH) or Multi-UserExperiences (MUX).

As technology developed and the game Second Life launched in 2003, many people, especially those working in Silicon Valley, began to think about the possibility of parallel virtual existence.

In 2007, the platform also built a virtual stock exchange to help companies doing business on the platform raise funds using the platform’s issued LindenDollars.

Most importantly, Linden Lab, as a developer, was not involved in mediating or facilitating deals in Second Life, nor was it actively directing what to make or what to sell. Transactions are conducted directly by buyers and sellers based on perceived value and demand. In general, Linden Lab operates more like a government than a game maker.

The company provides user-facing services such as identity management, title registration, and a virtual legal system. But its focus isn’t directly on building a universe around Second Life, but on enabling a thriving economy through ever-improving infrastructure, technological capabilities, and tools to attract more real-world developers and creators.

They will create things to do, places to visit, and things to buy for other users. This allows the platform to attract more users, which in turn generates more consumption, which in turn attracts developers and creators to invest. To this end, Second Life also provides users with permission to import virtual objects and materials outside the platform.

By 2005, just two years after Second Life’s launch, its average annual GDP exceeded $30 million, and by 2009 it exceeded $500 million, with users cashing out $55 million that year. for the real world currency.

What really conveyed its concept to the mainstream audience is actually the virtual world platform “Minecraft” and Roblox, which only emerged in the first decade of the 21st century.

Minecraft and Roblox also focused on kids and teens, so both platforms are not only more capable, but easier to use.

Throughout the decade of the early 2000s, a group of users collaborated in Minecraft to build a city roughly 1,300 square kilometers in size, roughly the size of Los Angeles.

Scale isn’t the only thing that wows the platform; in 2015, Verizon built a phone in Minecraft that could make real-time video calls to the “real world.”

In February 2020, when the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic spread, a community of Chinese players in Minecraft quickly built a 1.2 million-square-foot hospital exactly like the real world, paying tribute to the “real world” workers in and received extensive media coverage around the world.

A month later, Reporters Sans Frontières commissioned players to build a museum in Minecraft, which was assembled in 250 hours by 24 virtual builders from 16 different countries, using a total of Over 12.5 million game pieces.

By the end of 2021, more than 150 million people are using the Minecraft platform each month, more than six times the number when Microsoft acquired the platform in 2014. But that’s still nowhere near the scale of new market leader Roblox, which has grown from less than 5 million monthly users to 225 million.

Combined, the two games have accumulated more than 6 billion hours of user usage each month, corresponding to 100 million different game worlds designed by more than 15 million users.

As the first decade of the 21st century drew to a close, many other platforms began to emerge.

For example, in December 2018, the blockbuster video game Fortnite launched a creative mode, while also trying to become a social platform for non-gaming experiences.

In 2020, hip-hop star Travis Scott, now also a member of the Kardashian clan, put on a concert that was watched live by 28 million players and millions more on social media live streaming.

From MUDs to Fortnite, the decades-long history of social virtual worlds helps explain why the inspiration for the Metaverse has shifted from science fiction and patents to real consumer behavior and the frontiers of enterprise technology.

We are now at a stage where these experiences can appeal to hundreds of millions of people, and their boundaries lie more in the human imagination than technical limitations.

In mid-2021, just weeks before Facebook announced plans for the Metaverse, Tim Sweeney, CEO and founder of Fortnite developer Epic Games, tweeted about the company’s 1998 The pre-release code for UnrealTournament’s game, adding “Our desire for the Metaverse has been around for a long, long time…but only in the last few years have we been able to scrape together a usable parts.”

This is the trajectory of all technological change.

The upcoming battle for control

Over the past 70 years, the “primitive Metaverse” has grown from text chat tools and MUDs to a web of vivid virtual worlds with population sizes and economies that rival small nations. This process will continue in the years and decades to come, bringing more realism, diversity of experiences, participants, cultural influence and value to virtual worlds. Eventually, one of the versions of the Metaverse imagined by Stephenson, Gibson, Baudrillard, and others will come true.

And in this Metaverse, there will be many “wars” for supremacy. They will be between tech giants and renegade startups, fighting over hardware, technical standards, tools, and content, digital wallets and virtual identities. And this battle is not simply about expanding the market size or “turning to the Metaverse” for survival.

In 2016, long before the term “Metaverse” entered the public eye, Sweeney told reporters: “The Metaverse will be more permeable and contagious than anything else. If a central corporation controls the Metaverse, it will Become more powerful than any government, or even become a god on earth. While you would think this is a bit of an overstatement, from the origins of the internet, that may not be the case.

The foundations of today’s Internet have been built over decades by consortia and informal working groups consisting of government-sponsored research labs, universities, independent technologists, and institutions.

These mostly not-for-profit groups typically focus on building open standards for sharing information between different servers, making it easier to collaborate on future technologies, projects and ideas.

What if the internet was created by multinational media conglomerates to sell widgets, serve ads, capture user data, or control a user’s end-to-end experience: downloading a JPG image might cost money, Downloading a PNG file may cost an additional 50%. Video calls may only be available through the broadband operator’s own app or portal, or only available to those served by the same broadband provider.

When the U.S. government sued Microsoft in 1998 for allegedly violating antitrust laws, the crux of the case was Microsoft’s decision to bundle its own proprietary Internet Explorer browser with the Windows operating system.

However, if the Internet was created by one company, would it still allow a competing browser to exist ? If the company were alone, would it allow users to do whatever they want on these browsers, or access and modify any website they choose?

Tech giants have spent the past 10 years looking for ways to shut down their ecosystems in order to secure a user and developer base, while also expanding into new territories and crushing would-be competitors.

They forcibly bundle many of their services together, prevent users and developers from easily exporting their own data, shut down various partner programs, and block the development and release of open standards in every possible way because it would cost them money and even shake things up. their industry dominance.

These tactics generate more users and greater profits, which effectively shut down much of the Internet. Today, developers have to obtain a license and pay a fee in order to obtain these. And users have little ownership of their online identities, data or rights.

It is at this point that the fear of a dystopian world in the Metaverse seems reasonable.

The Metaverse means that people’s work, life, leisure, friendship, wealth, happiness, identity and time will continue to grow in the virtual world, not just the expansion of these parts of the real world through digital devices and software or auxiliary.

It will be a parallel world for millions and even billions of people, sitting on top of our digital and physical economies and combining the two. As a result, the companies that control these virtual worlds and their virtual components will be more dominant than those leading the way in today’s digital economy.

At the same time, the Metaverse will sharpen many of today’s digital challenges, such as data rights, data security, disinformation and radicalization, platform power and regulation, technology abuse, and user happiness. So, the philosophy, culture, and priorities of the companies that lead in the Metaverse will determine whether the future is better or worse than the present, not just more virtualized or more profitable.

As the world’s largest companies and most ambitious startups plunge into the Metaverse, we users, developers, consumers and voters must understand that we have the power to decide our future and the ability to “reset” the status quo. “. The Metaverse can be daunting, if not scary, but it also offers an opportunity to bring people closer together, transform industries that have long resisted disruption and must grow, and build a more egalitarian global economic system.

This brings us to one of the most exciting aspects of the Metaverse: how limited it is today. How to really build the Metaverse?Matthew Ball will reveal it to you in “The Metaverse Changes Everything.”

Metaverse, rewriting the brief history of the future of mankind

Title: “The Metaverse Changes Everything” Author: Matthew Ball, Publisher: Zhanlu Culture/Zhejiang Education Press

About the Author

Matthew Ball

The forerunner of the Metaverse, the first person in the world to systematically introduce the Metaverse, is known as the founder of the Metaverse. His insights on the Metaverse have had a profound impact on Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and more. He has served as a strategic executive of Accenture and head of Amazon’s global strategy. At the same time, as an investor with a vision for the future, Ball is the managing partner of Epyl lionCo., a well-known early-stage venture capital fund, and the Makers, the world’s largest game venture capital fund under management. Fund’s venture capital partner.

The father of Metaverse business, with his future vision and unique investment vision, is keenly aware that the Metaverse will subvert our work, life and way of thinking. In the enlightenment guide “The Metaverse Changes Everything”, he gave a systematic framework and action line for building the Metaverse, dedicated to helping everyone benefit from the Metaverse Age. At the same time, he also pioneered the creation of the Metaverse Research Institute and is the manager of the Roundhill Ball Meteverse ETF fund.

As a deep thinker in the Metaverse field, Ball is committed to inspiring human thinking to build a better future. Universe” topic article. In July 2022, Time Magazine will feature his article “Into The Metaverse: The Next Digital Era Will Change Everything” as its current cover article.

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