People’s Daily Online: The origin, development and enlightenment of the meta-universe empowered by new technology

2021 can be called the first year of the concept of meta universe. The “old term” of Meta Universe 30 years ago suddenly became popular in the post-epidemic era and kept appearing in the public eye. Facebook announced in July that it would transform from a social network company to a Meta Universe company, Tencent , ByteDance, and Microsoft. , Google and other large domestic and foreign technology companies have also entered the game. What is the meta universe? What about its emergence, development and future direction? What are the enlightenments it brings?

1. The development history of Metaverse

The initial concept of the meta universe originated from the science fiction novel “Avalanche” published by Neil Stephenson in 1992. The novel describes the perception and understanding of two parallel worlds of a generation of Internet people born out of the real world, in which the concept of “metaverse” is mentioned for the first time. It is generally believed that the development of the meta universe has generally gone through the following stages:

The first stage is the classical meta universe with literature, art, and religion as the carrier. For example, Dante’s “Divine Comedy” contains the imagination of the “soul residence” that humans have experienced through ups and downs, a closed-loop type of perfect universe. The second stage is a neo-classical meta-universe based on the forms of science fiction and video games. Classic works include Mrs. Shelley’s science fiction novel “Frankenstein”, JK Rowling’s “Harry Potter” created around the new century, and the film “The Matrix” released worldwide in 1999. The third stage is a highly intelligent meta-universe with “decentralized” games as the carrier. The first landmark event was the launch of “Second Life” (Second Life) based on Open3D by an American Internet company in 2003. Since then, Roblox released the game “Roblox” compatible with virtual worlds, casual games and user-built content, Mojang Studios in Sweden developed the game “Minecraft”, and Facebook announced that Facebook Horizon has become a social VR world and became an important node in the third stage. .

Throughout the development of Metaverse, every revolutionary advancement is inseparable from the blessing of technology. Then, how to define the third stage meta-universe empowered by new technology? The definition given by Wikipedia is a 3D virtual space with link perception and sharing characteristics based on the future Internet based on physical reality augmented by virtual reality. Venture capitalist Matthew Ball’s definition of Metaverse is persistence, synchronization and real-time, no restrictions on participation with a sense of personal presence, becoming a closed-loop economy, spanning the digital and physical world, and providing unprecedented experience in all these experiences Data, “content” and “experience” created and manipulated by various contributors are populated. Roblox CEO Baszucki believes that Metaverse must meet at least eight key characteristics, including identity, friends, immersion, low latency, diversification, everywhere, economic system, and civilization. Ma Huateng regards Metaverse as the true Internet. Although there is currently no unified definition of the third stage meta-universe, it can be seen that it belongs to the digital existence of human beings, parallel to the real world, intercommunicating with it, but independent of the real world, and people can socialize in it. And work.

2. The characteristics, future and risks of the meta universe

Metaverse is now in the middle and late stages of the third stage of development, and its main characterization is embodied in the construction of a virtual ecosystem empowered by technology clusters such as network and computing technology, artificial intelligence, video game technology, display technology, and blockchain technology. Especially in the post-epidemic era, people began to try in-depth exploration and new attempts on the meta universe, such as: virtual concerts, virtual education, virtual finance, virtual seminars, virtual creation, etc. The third stage of the meta-universe development started with games, and as the game-based infrastructure and framework mature, the boundary between the game and the real world will begin to dissolve. It is conceivable that in the future, people will be able to switch identities, shuttle between the real world and the virtual world, and even study, work, make friends, shop, and travel in the meta-universe. In this regard, the American scholar Rabindra Ratan also outlined the key directions and requirements for the future development of the meta-universe-a sense of reality, interoperability, and standardization.

Reality: Only by creating an immersive feeling in virtual space, and even creating a “digital twin” of the real world, can online interaction be more “realistic” and improve the quality of people’s communication. Interoperability: It means that people’s virtual existence can be seamlessly switched between the “various planets” (such as work planet, entertainment planet, etc.) in the meta-universe. This vision requires technology companies to break the barriers of the existing small garden-like “ecosystem” and create a more open and decentralized world. Standardization: Technical standardization is the basis for the interoperability of various platforms in Metaverse, and the mass-oriented media need a unified technical standard to be widely adopted.

However, it is worth noting that the rapid development of Metaverse is accompanied by corresponding risks. Many experts and industry insiders have also raised their concerns for this. For example: How to determine the value orientation, system choice and order of the meta universe? How to formulate the internal economic rules of the meta universe? How to avoid the inherent monopoly of the meta universe? How to maintain the positive interaction between the real world and the meta universe? and many more. Of course, these are the challenges that Metaverse may face in its long-term development. For the mass media, especially the mainstream media, what enlightenment does Metaverse bring?

3. The Enlightenment of the Metaverse

In the face of the hot meta-universe, some people also questioned: “This is a technological fantasy that may not be realized in the next few decades to make up for the current exhaustion of innovation.” Because from the current level of technological development, the imagination of the meta universe may be too advanced, not only because AR, VR and other technologies still have big flaws and need to be further improved, even key elements such as the virtual economy system are just on paper. But for game companies and Internet giants, as important participants in the meta universe, they seem to have found better marketing points, and they are all revealing to the outside world their information about actively exploring and integrating elements of the meta universe.

In view of this, the mainstream media should not only avoid following the trend and hyping the concept of the metaverse, especially economic news, they must report the metaverse events comprehensively, truthfully and objectively, and they must also reasonably guide the public to scientifically understand the metaverse. They can try to invite experts in related fields to comment on the metaverse. Universe conducts in-depth discussions to enhance the public’s rational and scientific understanding of the metaverse and prevent it from falling into a capital trap due to excessive speculation by investment companies. The mainstream media used the guidance of public opinion to pierce the bubble risk of Meta Universe in the investment market, guide investors to invest rationally, and call on the capital market to return to rationality. At the same time, as the exploration of new media by human society, the meta-universe provides a new paradigm for individual connection. It gives a certain target orientation to the development of mass media, especially to the development of mainstream media. Perhaps in the not-too-distant future, when Metaverse’s technology, systems, systems, and related legal, ethical, and moral conditions become mature, mainstream media can coordinate the government, technology companies, and the public to participate in the construction of Metaverse, especially It is necessary to help the public establish a healthy interactive relationship between the real world and the virtual environment.

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