The metaverse is quite possibly the future of the internet. To help our readers learn more about it, we've started this metaverse interview series.
These are the questions we've compiled to ask experts in blockchain, DAOs, NFTs, and game development, within the HackerNoon community. The series is intended for tech professionals to contribute their insights about the current state and the future of the metaverse.
If you too would like to start contributing to Hacker Noon, you can do so here.
If you also want to publish your thoughts about the metaverse, answer the template here.
GM (Good Morning), to use crypto speak, or goodnight and everything else in between. I go by the handle of Tigerchops in the metaverse, and we’re here to talk about the metaverse. IRL, (there we go with the acronyms again), In Real Life, I’m a Cloud Solutions Architect. No, I don’t design those fluffy things in the sky, that would be more fun, I design IT solutions that live in remote datacentres. What are my personal interests?, obviously the metaverse, and NFTs, (oops another acronym), that’s Non Fungible Token, usually a digital asset such as a piece of digital ART or an avatar. I’ll talk about these later as they go hand in hand with the metaverse. I also have an interest in Cars and Motorbikes having been in the trade previously.
The Metaverse is a 3D digital representation of the real world, of sorts, for example a store in the Metaverse won’t be a replica of a real world store, it may not have walls or doors. But it will be recognisable as a store. Users will be represented by ‘Avatars’, a digital representation of them selves that they can choose.
The word metaverse is a combination of the words ‘Meta’ meaning beyond and Universe. The term was coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash.” However the majority of people will be more familiar with the 2018 Motion Picture ‘Ready Player One’ Based on Ernest Clines Novel of the Same Name. This representation is how most people will imagine the metaverse.
I currently hold a few parcels of ‘Land’, represented as NFT’s, in The Sandbox Game metaverse. I have some plans to build out experiences on these ‘Lands’ and I’m also looking at other Land offerings from other metaverse players in the space, one of those being Somnium Space. I’ll also be looking to help out on a few projects revolving around the metaverse, such as working with ,Roxel who are building customisable Avatars and social hubs that cross the various metaverse’s.
The Metaverse may well be the next iteration of the World Wide Web and in my opinion inevitable. However, how this will look depends on who is building the Metaverse. The Sandbox are building a voxel Based 3D Metaverse for gaming mostly. Then there’s Decentraland, with games, stores and social hubs. Somnium Space are covering all angles with social meetups, gaming and events. To be a true metaverse these will have to be linked up in some way. Speaking of the later, Somnium Space have investment from the Winklevoss twins’ Gemini fund, who are also advisors to the project. So with Mark Zuckerberg’s old rivals and Facebook becoming ‘Meta’ - a metaverse company, I think we are going to see a race to the top.
Much like how the World Wide Web made information more accessible and email revolutionised communications, the metaverse will bring opportunity to everyone. Take the Axie Infinity game, there are people earning more than minimum wage in their respective countries playing in the Axie Infinity metaverse. I’m not just talking about the poorest countries in African or South America, we can include European countries like Portugal. Then we can take a look closer to home with the likes of Yat Labs, who all work remotely and hold their company meetings in a virtual meeting room around a virtual table with the use of VR headsets.
Real world utility is creeping into the metaverse. It can seemingly bring people closer together, as shown we can conduct business but we can also can attend festivals and events. I myself recently attended an exhibition event in the metaverse with exhibitor stands, breakout rooms and various talks, all with out having to leave my home office and jet off around the world. I attended a music festival in decentraland, without contributing to environmental cost of the running and clean up of a real life festival.
Technology has advanced a lot and Covid has forced us to make use of it. It has been necessary to work remotely over Zoom or Teams, people have become used to this. However it still doesn’t replace being in a room with a colleague or a customer. We’ve already talked how Virtual Reality is enabling this with some companies, lets take this further, how about putting a suit on your avatar and going into an virtual opera. Your ticket is an NFT to allow you in to see the performance.
Today everyone carries a smart phone, maybe in the future you’ll be sitting in a Coffee shop in real life and headsets will have advanced to no bigger than a pair of glasses so you pop them on and have a friendly coffee with a friend on the others side of the world. Maybe you’re on a dating site but instead of swiping right on you phone you can pop on your headset and go speed dating. This is one vision of where this technology could take us.
As mentioned earlier there are a number of projects in the metaverse space and they all use their own currency, we have The Sandbox Game with their $SAND currency, Somnium Space with $Cube and Decentraland with $MANA. all based on the Etherthum ERC20 standard and these are readily exchangeable with each other via Ethereum. No matter what the future of the metaverse looks like we will be making payments for services and digital goods, cryptocurrency has a pretty big hold on that at the moment as the preferred method of payment and of course relies on Blockchain technology. Cryptocurrency is used in play-to-earn games and can be used to send cross border payments to family, these are helping to lift a lot of disadvantaged people out of poverty.
Then we have ownership of assets in the metaverse. You can’t show off your Ferrari or your Rolex watch in the metaverse, but you can show off your Plot of metaverse land, your digital art, your avatar and you can even dress your avatar with digital wearables. As in real life people want to display their wealth, and they will. This is why you can’t build a metaverse without Blockchain Technology. Blockchain provides proof of ownership. If you want to display your Bored Ape or your Cryptopunk, it will have to be residing in your crypto wallet or you wont be able to, your Avatar will have to be on the Blockchain and in your crypto wallet if you don’t want a standard guest Avatar.
I think development will speed up now that Facebook, sorry Meta, have revealed their intentions. That sends a message that it can’t and won’t be ignored. Somnium Space have quite a head start and are working closely with the development of VR headsets, and with Teslasuit to provide full body tracking and sensorial experience such as feeling the rain against your body, or feeling G force whilst driving a simulated sports car, it feels like they’re already light years ahead. That’s where we are now, reaching into the science fiction of motions pictures like Ready Player One with its full Haptic boot suit.
With Moore’s law, Gordon Moore stated ‘that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every two years, though the cost of computers is halved, and that this growth is exponential.’ I believe this is what we can expect from the metaverse. We can only image were we will be in 5 to 10 years either the fact we still have bulky head sets is going to scupper it much like having to wear glasses killed 3D home cinema, or we will find a way around that. maybe we all have immersive cubicles in our homes we can stand in. Maybe in 10 years we be plugging a connector into our heads to tap directly in to our optical nerves. Ok so perhaps I’m going a bit Matrix with that one but again the only limit is our imagination.
The metaverse will make the world seem a lot smaller. It will bring people closer together wherever they are and that can only be a good thing. There was a time when people had pen pals and wrote letters to each other across the globe, then they would send emails. In the metaverse they can sit in the same room, talk and play games. I hope that the technology will become cheap enough and accessible enough for people from disadvantaged areas of the world to be able to put on headset and go to school to get the kind of education they can’t access now.
Then we have the flip side of the metaverse coin. There will always be bad actors out to exploit the technology. We have the dark web and we had silk road, we may well see the dark metaverse and that sends shivers down my spine. Then we have authoritarian states who will censor and control what can be accessed and carry out state sponsored cyber terrorism, this is nothing new, but there will be large entities looking to control the metaverse and we’ve seen how influential miss-information campaigns can be on current social media platforms, and we’ve seen how much data they gather through our online activities. These entities cannot be allowed to wield this kind of power in the metaverse.
The metaverse is is very young, and doesn’t really exist but for a number of projects all trying to create their version of the metaverse. These projects are giving us a glimpse of the future but ultimately we don’t how it will evolve and what it will look like. It may be very different to how we imagine it now, but I think for certain, blockchain technology and NFTs will form the backbone. With Facebook joining the race to build the metaverse you can be sure everyone is taking notice.
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