From a relatively small set of applications for early adopters, Zuckerberg’s dream to get rid of Apple-Google dependencies, attempts of yesterday’s crypto-adepts to change their shoes into the web3 umbrella, and the aspirations of consulting agencies to launch a new topic to sell last year snow, the Metaverse is gradually turning into a multi-layered structure that penetrates different spheres of life.
The Metaverse is more likely to exist than it is not. We can judge the presence and development of the Metaverse, as it used to be with the Internet, rather retrospectively. All failures are washed away by blockchain rain from the tablets of history, and even the Web Archive may no longer be aware of the thousands of mistakes made. But we remember that we were driven by an idea. And we were moving the Metaverse when no one could explain what it is.
🔮 Insight. Digital Drugs
The real "digital drugs" and highly immersive experiences become a social problem.
The medical practice of virtual reality applications for the treatment of psychological disorders and diseases, as well as rehabilitation, raises questions about the regulation of the use of VR as a pharmacy. Government agencies are gradually developing the practice of certifying such solutions.
Meanwhile, scientists and gamers are simultaneously (but we will give a link only to the first ones) studying the psychedelic effects of using VR. It's slowly becoming clear why Mark Zuckerberg enjoys having his meetings on the Oculus device instead of Zoom: research shows that VR is noticeably more addictive than games.
Sooner or later, this will lead to the fact that a new wave of hype will sweep across Reddit, TikTok, and Youtube, seriously frightening parents and compassionate journalists: truly wireless digital drugs. The fears of fanatics, who seemed in the early days of the Metaverse far from technological progress, turn out to be a reality not virtual, but quite physical. Too realistic, too authentic, and too addictive. "Too much" will be the bane of the metaverse.
Regulators will raise the issue of the necessity of certification and banning "all these metaverses". And experience providers will once again show a magic trick of industry self-regulation through the age rating system.
⚗️ Experiment. Metaverse Bubble
The first wave of Metaverse first and virtual-first small and medium businesses.
The bubble grows and rolls with the punches: while web3 is being replaced by web4, the Metaverse as a big idea is still afloat. The outlines of the target user experience are changing, Apple is gradually entering into the game, and the microelectronics factories relocated to the USA are finally reaching the target capacity. Everything is ready for a dash into the green world of the Metaverse. And even the crypto winter seems to be coming to an end.
The first generation of (surviving) startups, small and medium-sized businesses created exclusively for and on the Metaverse (or even on the "Metaverse as a Service" platform) is being formed. Journalists expect a great confrontation: the unicorns of the Metaverse era (but not the Decentraland) against the tech giants. Neil Stephenson is still not convinced that VR is needed for the Metaverse.
Investors are starting to haunt the virtual thresholds of startups, and consultants are starting to knock at the doors of corporations, proving to them that this is a "new topic". It's time! As it was ten or fifteen years ago with "cloud-born" companies, now they have a chance not to miss the moment.
⚙️ Practice. Green Taxes for the Metaverse
Green (carbon) tax for Metaverse and virtual experiences balances for a hybrid approach mixing digital and physical worlds.
The hands of environmentalists and a new "Greta Thunberg" reach the Metaverse. It turns out that, of course, Mark Zuckerberg is personally to blame for global warming, because no one else consumes as many energy resources as the Metaverse does. (Well, at least Intel promises that the Metaverse will require an order of magnitude more computing power than we currently have, so we tend to believe Greta from the future.)
For governments around the world, green regulation is proving to be a handy lifesaver to rein in the biggest IT corporations with their exorbitantly large data infrastructures. A green tax on computing and, as a result, on the Metaverse leads to a little "sober" search for a more natural balance between the digital and physical worlds, tying the choice to the carbon footprint left and the power cost.
When this turns out to be not enough, a tax on foreign profits received from the local population could be the next move. It has already proven to be valuable for managing global app stores and large IT services.
🚸 Risk. The Metadivide
A new "digital divide" emerges.
Society is divided into those who are in the meta (short for the Metaverse), those who are on the topic, and those who are neither in the meta nor on the topic. Politicians from the 2000s are missing the second technological wave, and even less understand where their grandchildren are passing. And the grandchildren, inspired by digital battles and global collaboration beyond language barriers, do not understand what geopolitical games their fathers and, especially, grandfathers play.
From Twitter to the Mastodon, there are calls to give the elderly people a new PlayStation 6 with a PSVR-3 helmet and a new super-realistic Civilization from Sid. Meanwhile, the TV blue screens and radio broadcasts promise to return to the true traditional values of the ancestors.
Parents of a new generation are worried that their children will stop writing essays and taking tests on their own and everyone will get hooked on ChatGPT and its followers, not realizing that extra-large AI models are the new search engine, and completely forgetting how they laughed at their parents' teachers, forcing those to write in ink without accepting ballpoint pens.
In this series of posts, I share pieces from the Corporate Metaverse report (v2) written by Constantin Kichinsky and based on the original research on the topic done by Constantin Kichinsky, Aleksei Kalenchuk & Ekaterina Filatova in 2022.