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 By now you’ve probably heard about the existence of a metaverse, but what exactly is it? What is it used for, and how do you access it?

As a note, before writing this post, I had no in-depth knowledge of the metaverse, so I am in no way an expert. However, I am sufficiently skilled at researching & presenting information in a way that’s easy to understand, so hopefully this post will achieve that in helping you to comprehend this complicated, yet exciting concept.

What Exactly is the Metaverse?

That depends on who you ask. Some believe the metaverse is going to become a new reality, while others see it as little more than a glorified VR game. Most people will answer with a dumbfounded look, and little more than a “Well, uh…”

In 1992, Neil Stephenson, science fiction author coined the term “metaverse” in his novel “Snow Crash” and described a street within it:

“Like any place in Reality, the Street is subject to development. Developers can build their own small streets feeding off of the main one. They can build buildings, parks, signs, as well as things that do not exist in Reality, such as vast hovering overhead light shows, special neighborhoods where the rules of three-dimensional spacetime are ignored, and free-combat zones where people can go to kill each other.”  [3,4]

At its core, the metaverse is a 3D visualization and expansion of the internet, and as Wired points out:

 

“Mentally replace the phrase ‘the metaverse’ in a sentence with ‘cyberspace’. Ninety percent of the time, the meaning won’t substantially change.” [1]

 

By acknowledging that fact, we can remove some of the mysterious fog surrounding the metaverse and begin to slowly grasp the concept of it. It is a persistent, digitally structured world; meaning that it’s active whether you’re online or not and can thereby be developed over time in a permanent state.

How Does the Metaverse Work?

The metaverse utilizes VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) to connect the user to a virtual world, though it may also be accessible via PCs, consoles, and mobile devices in the future. By using persistent servers, the world is accessible at anytime from anywhere with an internet connection, and has the capability to save personal data to your profile such as purchases, currency, and more.

 

“The metaverse is a massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds which can be experienced synchronously and persistently by an effectively unlimited number of users with an individual sense of presence, and with continuity of data, such as identity, history, entitlements, objects, communications, and payments.”

 

             -Venture Capitalist, Matthew Bell [5]

 

 

Part of the metaverse’s appeal is that it would not be controlled by one entity but rather by the community within it. This is done using blockchain technology that will in effect prove the existence of digital assets using 11,000+ nodes to verify each and every change made. Blockchains are commonly used for cryptocurrencies and NFT marketplaces in today’s society. To learn more about blockchains, cryptocurrency, and NFTs check out What is an NFT and Why Should I Care? 

The Metaverse Now & Later

Right now, the metaverse is in the very early stages of development, but the process is moving relatively quickly. “Facebook”, who recently rebranded as “Meta” has allocated $10 Billion dollars toward development of metaverse assets, and Microsoft has seemingly begun looking into development as well with their recent purchase of Blizzard. The game developer is well-known for designing various MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) games, suggesting that Microsoft may be doing their own work on metaverse expansion.

What could the future of the metaverse hold? The answer is potentially everything, but Rizwan Virk, author of The Simulation Hypothesis names a few of the possibilities stating that he imagines it:

 

 “…to eventually include augmented reality (or AR, where smart glasses project objects onto the physical world), portable digital goods and currency in the form of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrency, realistic AI characters that can pass the Turing test, and brain-computer interface (BCI) technology.” [2]

 

 

Personally, I find this description to be equally enthralling and terrifying. It sounds like the start of every “artificial intelligence gone wrong” movie I’ve ever seen, but I’m very interested in where it’s headed. Virk continues to write about his concerns surrounding the development of the metaverse, citing that it brings us closer to “The Simulation Point”; the point at which humans are no longer able to effectively distinguish the physical world from virtual reality.

Why Should I Care?

To be honest, you probably don’t need to bother just yet. That being said, the project is expanding very quickly, and it may very well become part of everyday life within the next 5-10 years, or sooner. It may be something you’ll want to learn more about out of curiosity, or for potential business opportunities. Some early adopters are already building their own spaces in the metaverse in preparation for what’s to come.

So, while it might not matter today, in a rapidly changing world, we need to be capable of quickly adapting to new ideas and technology. Ensuring that it is handled properly to avoid the aforementioned “AI gone wrong” scenario. Keeping up to date on what is happening in the world around you can only benefit you.

When Will I Be Able To Use The Metaverse?

 Numerous tech giants are working to build the infrastructure for the Metaverse, but right now there is limited functionality, and it is primarily accessible for developers and businesses looking to get an early look at what’s brewing. Mark Zuckerburg, CEO of Meta (Facebook) believes we will have a fully functioning metaverse within 10 years, but the truth is, it could be even sooner than that.

 In terms of what is needed to make the metaverse a reality, the majority of it already exists. Digital currencies, massive online servers, and virtual reality have been around for a while now and have been advancing rapidly. The metaverse is just a way to pull all the technology we have into one space and use it to its maximum potential.

TL;DR

Metaverse is a fancy word for cyberspace, or an otherwise digital universe. In theory, it will be a nearly infinite world of persistent servers, in which you can buy, sell, play, watch, or learn anything you want. It will provide an individualistic experience, saving currencies, digital goods, and more to your avatar that can be taken with you around the various servers in the metaverse.

 The metaverse will not be owned by any one entity, and will integrate not only virtual reality, but augmented reality as well. It could be fully operational within the next 10 years and has the potential to change the way we do almost everything.