The Metaverse stems from “Snow crash” by Neil Stephenson. A book I would highly recommend. Technological progress typically occurs out of common sight. Science fiction often provides the general public with the clearest view of the future.
The Metaverse: And How it Will Revolutionise Everything
The Metaverse is now a hype, and I decided to pick up “The Metaverse: And How it Will Revolutionise Everything”. A book that is supposed to explain the Metaverse. If I would summarise, the book explains why and how the Metaverse might, can’t and should develop and why it is difficult to predict what the Metaverse will be. What makes technological transformation difficult to predict is the reality that it is caused not by any one invention, innovation, or individual but instead, requires many changes to come together.
What is the Metaverse?
The definition alone we can’t agree on. Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella has described the Metaverse as a platform that turns the “entire world into an app canvas”, others describe it as a number of virtual worlds, immersive 3D, digital twins, 3D internet, simulations, games, metagalaxies, Web3, mirror words, a parallel plane for human leisure, labour, and existence, virtual nations, a massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds, the multiverse or maybe even the universe (we all live in a simulation).
The problems with the Metaverse
The problems with the Metaverse are the headsets, the rendering, the computing power needed, latency, the different networks, interchangeability, data storage, payment, standards, rules, synchronisation, sharing, response times, reliability, decentralisation, edge computing, ownership, different operating systems, closed vs open, architecture, bandwidth, infrastructure, the capability of the devices, cycle times, game engines, file formats, revenue models, compensation models, identity, IP, the field of view, miniaturisation, haptics, the cameras, scanning, developers, blockchain, 4G/5G/6G, GAFAM, regulation, governance, etc.
Predictions from the book
- VR and AR headsets will fundamentally reshape our pedagogical practices. Not only are real-time rendered 3D technologies helping educators to take the classroom (and classmates) anywhere, but the rich virtual simulations that are on the horizon can greatly augment the learning process. Students will “build Rome in a semester” and learn how aqueducts work by constructing them.
- Every company will need to operate their own virtual worlds, both as standalone planets and as part of leading virtual world platforms.
- Elon Musk touts a future where your Tesla earns you rent as a self-driving car when you’re not using it yourself—better than just being parked in your garage for 99% of its life.
- By 2026, hundreds of millions of people will be sitting on numerous (effectively) duplicated outfits across their many previously played games—and will doubtlessly resist buying those outfits again.
- As 3D collaboration grows, standards will naturally emerge.
- At least through the 2020s, it’s likely that most devices for the Metaverse era will be those we already use.
- Today, millions of people exercise each day using digital services such as Peloton. Peloton has since expanded into real-time rendered virtual games, such as Linebreak, where a cyclist controls a wheel rolling across a fantastical track to earn points and dodge obstacles. Mindfulness, meditation, physiotherapy, and psychotherapy are likely to be similarly altered by a mix of electromyographic sensors, volumetric holographic displays, immersive headsets, and projection and tracking cameras that collectively provide support, stimulation, and simulation never before possible.
- It’s increasingly common to hear that the future of “linear media”, such as films and TV shows, is VR and AR. We can expect rich interconnection between film and interactive experiences (broadly considered “games”).
- We may use VR to attend games virtually, but it’s more likely that the games we watch are nearly instantaneously captured and reproduced into a “video game.”
- Betting and gambling will be transformed as well. There are already tens of millions of people placing online wagers, using Zoom-based casinos, or enjoying game-based casinos such as the Be Lucky: Los Santos in Grand Theft Auto.
- Changes to the sex work industry are likely to be even more profound than those experienced by Hollywood,
- Today, less than 5% of video gaming revenue comes from advertising. There are many other potential ad units inside a virtual world—commercials played by in-game car radios and virtual soft drinks branded like real-world ones.
- A consumer who buys a physical Brooklyn Nets jersey or Prada bag might also get the rights to a virtual or NFT simulacra or a discount when buying one.
- Rich real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds will assuredly make radicalisation easier and offer better training to those who never leave their native country.
- Misinformation and election tampering will likely increase, making our current-day complications of out-of-context sound bites, trolling tweets, and faulty scientific claims feel quaint.
Statistics from the book
- Adopt Me! ‘s virtual world has been visited more than 30 billion times—more than fifteen times the average number of global tourism visits in 2019.
- EVE Online places its hundreds of thousands of monthly users into a single, shared virtual world that spans nearly 8,000 star systems and nearly 70,000 planets.
- Microsoft Flight Simulator’s “virtual world” is nearly 2.5 petabytes large, or 2,500,000 gigabytes—roughly 1,000 times larger than Fortnite.
- Fortnite’s PC and console game files are roughly 30 GB in size, but online play involves only 20–50 MB (or 0.02–0.05 GB) in downloaded data per hour. That online games remain “mostly offline” is even a surprise to avid gamers.
- In games such as Fortnite, Roblox, or Grand Theft Auto, avid gamers become frustrated after 50 ms of latency (most game publishers hope for 20 ms).
- The median time for data to be sent from one city to another and back again is 35 ms.
- One shot in the studio’s 2017 film Coco had nearly eight million individually rendered lights. At first, it took over 1,000 hours, then 450, to render every frame in the shot.
- Renders and calculations required for the Metaverse must be created every ~0.016 or, better yet, ~0.0083 seconds.
- Twenty-five million virtual items were made in 2021 alone, with 5.8 billion earned or bought.
- From Q4 2018 to January 2022, average monthly players increased from an estimated 76 million to more than 226 million (or 200%), while average daily players grew from around 13.7 to 54.7 (or 300%).
- In 2021, the combined revenues of Roblox, Minecraft, and FNC represented less than 2.5% of gaming revenues in 2021 and reached fewer than 500 million of an estimated 2.5 billion–3 billion players.
- Roughly half of all games today run on Unity, while Unreal Engine’s share of high-fidelity 3D immersive worlds is estimated at between 15% and 25%.
- Facebook announced that the Oculus Quest 2 had sold over 10 million units between October 2020 and December 2021—a figure that beat Microsoft’s new Xbox Series S and X console, which was released around the same time.
- In March 2021, the US Army announced a deal to buy up to 120,000 customised HoloLens devices from Microsoft over the following decade.
- Google’s fifth-largest acquisition ever was the smart wearables company Fitbit, which the company bought for over $2 billion in early 2021.
- In 2022, hundreds of millions of people spend hours each day inside real-time rendered virtual worlds through smartphones and tablets—and these devices are rapidly improving.
- Almost half of the American smartphone users can now create and share virtualisations of their homes, offices, yards, and everything inside them.
- An estimated $6 trillion was spent via credit card in the US in 2021, with an average of $90 across more than 50 billion transactions.
- An estimated $2 trillion was processed globally by PayPal, Venmo, and Square’s Cash App, with an average of roughly $65 per transaction across more than 30 billion transactions.
- In 2021, consumers spent more than $50 billion on digital-only video games (in contrast to physical discs) and nearly $100 billion more on in-game goods, outfits, and extra lives. As a point of comparison, $40 billion was spent at the theatrical film box office in 2019, the last year before the COVID-19 pandemic, and $30 billion on recorded music.
- In 2020, an estimated $700 billion was spent using iOS apps.
- In 2021, WeChat processed an estimated US $500 billion in payments, with an average value of only a few dollars each.
- Throughout 2021, roughly $45 billion was spent on NFTs.
- In late 2021, some 5,000 outdoor enthusiasts used a DAO to purchase a 40-acre plot of land near Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming,
- Roughly 20% of the world economy is now digital.
- Tencent games reach more players, generate more revenue, span more intellectual property, and employ more developers than any other publisher in the world.
The above gives you an indication of the book. It is very technical. But there is an important message. The internet was developed by nonprofits; The Metaverse is being pioneered and built by private businesses for explicit commercial purposes. We should avoid at all costs that one company will dominate the multiverse. If one central company gains control of the [Metaverse], they will become more powerful than any government and be a god on Earth
The listed problems show how complex the multiverse is. But if you wait for the exponential curve, you can expect some exciting and unexpected developments. Already standardisation and interoperability are underway. Governments are starting to unbundle operating systems, and the paradigm is shifting to the new generations taking over.
Companies are already investing, and you can expect more to follow. By the end of 2021, automotive giants (Ford), physical fitness brands (Nike), nonprofits (Reporters Sans Frontières), musicians (Justin Bieber), sports stars (Neymar Jr.), auction houses (Christie’s), fashion houses (Louis Vuitton), and franchises (Marvel) had all made the Metaverse a key part of their business—if not the centre of their growth strategy.
Snow Crash is better
I enjoyed Snow Crash a lot better than “The Metaverse: And How it Will Revolutionise Everything”, but it will give you a complete understanding of the thinking behind the Metaverse. The book you should read too is “Dawn of the new everything“.
My main concern is not the Metaverse, but why we are focussing on creating alternative worlds while the one we really live in is on fire. If we don´t keep the real one going, a virtual one will be pointless. I will also doubt that virtual worlds will ever be able to capture the feeling of sunshine on the skin or swimming in the ocean. Unless we for direct implants into the brain, and then I refer to this sentence, “if one central company gains control of the Metaverse, it will become more powerful than any government and be a god on Earth”.
The matrix will be chicken feed…..
PS The link to the Genesis Machine is here.