Will the Metaverse change our way of being in the world?
Yes, although not in a revolutionary way, but gradually. Generally, the expectations that are produced in forums, social networks and discussion spaces seek to be high-sounding, scandalous, to gain attention.
Those who gain attention gain followers, likes, invitations to conferences, forums, university lectures, or worse, become influencers, that is, attracting attention in a scandalous way can be a good business.
Therefore, there is a fierce competition to win the competition in defining the Metaverse as:
a.- A new nightmare of world control, the final Big Brother, without limits, lethal. You will spend your life strapped to a helmet and forget about the physical world, like the characters in Steven Spielberg’s movie Ready Player One.
b.- A panacea for many problems derived from the interconnection, and the use of digital technologies in companies, education, recreation and medicine.
c.- A quantum leap in the human condition, which will also further segregate the world’s poor (those who cannot pay for the connection, buy headphones and other gadgets), in relation to the elites and the professional and wealthy classes (those who can buy them).
d.- An unbridled and dangerous business that has already bankrupted several cryptocurrencies. Or the other way around, cryptocurrencies have gone bankrupt, and since they were the support of the NFTs of some ventures in the Metaverse, they have collapsed large projects of companies such as Google, Meta, and a few others, which we will analyze at another time. Although, nevertheless, they continue to invest “at a loss.”
THE STORY, STUPID, THE STORY
If we look carefully at history, we can see that some discoveries and inventions have radically revolutionized the way of life of the human being on the planet.
Three of them have no known author: the domestication of fire, agriculture and the wheel. Mathematics, the medicinal use of plants, metallurgy, are also in that range. There is astronomy, irrigation systems, animal domestication, and many others.
But it happens that, as discoveries, inventions and technologies accumulate, the leaps become less revolutionary, more cumulative and gradual: we discover germs, and then pasteurization, and later the principle of vaccines.
Vaccines for various diseases such as polio or tuberculosis have been developments or by-products of previous spectacular Copernican turns in biology. Accumulation and gradualism have made us trust that, for example, we were going to develop effective vaccines against COVID 19.
This is a subject that has been studied by the philosophy of science for decades, and that has been developed by Thomas S. Kuhn, in his famous text The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which was mandatory in any curriculum of a school of philosophy.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE METAVERSE?
Mutatis mutandis, what about the Metaverse?
As Brett Forsberg says, in a forthcoming book, to understand the development of the internet, and the budding multiverse, we must think about the telegraph, the telephone, and the gradual development of personal computer processing capabilities.
All these accumulated inventions and technologies, plus the well-intentioned work of thousands and millions of people in the same goal of interconnection (not necessarily imposed by any center of power eager to conquer the entire planet, although if they tried they did not succeed), they have resulting in the way of living in which we humans develop today.
But it has taken us more than 30 years to get from the first computer-to-computer modems, and the first Motorola cell phones, which were like thick bricks, to the Smartphones, the touch screens, the Wi-Fi, the satellite Internet.
And human beings have gradually adapted, by trial and error, testing, taking the good that remains, and discarding the not so good that lags behind.
We have become accustomed to glasses to correct myopia and astigmatism. But there was a time when myopic people were condemned to not be able to enjoy a dignified life, a good job, they were outcasts.
I remember the first laser radial keratotomies that were performed in Colombia, at Dr. Barraquer’s clinic, to definitively correct myopia. It was a technology developed in the USSR by Dr. Svyatoslav N. Fyodorov. Thousands of Venezuelans traveled to Bogotá, to definitively cure myopia with small incisions in the cornea, which corrected the “lens” of the eye, and returned focused vision to the people who suffer myopia (I include myself).
Then came the intraocular lenses, and the cataracts disappeared. Of course, for the persons that can afford it.
Following this line of argument, the multiverse is going to be the continuation of Internet 2.0, with collateral additions, which are going to add up, assembling, like a Lego, according to an unpredictable movement of humans, as happened with Internet 2.0 when the platform or HTML interface was created, and anybody could have his page, share information, create content, start his or her store or set up his or her party in the digital world.
It will be with Internet 3.0, decentralized, with 5G navigation, with powerful image processors, amazing video cards, and powerful data processors to act and react live in 3D, tools we don’t have yet, but that are being developed here and there, because they are essential, very important and lucrative components, of what the Metaverse is going to be. That is, without these tools, there will be no Metaverse, although we still do not know for sure how the Metaverse is going to be, although has been prophesied to be immersive, permanent, in 3D, accessible to anyone with a good connection, the helmet, the glasses, the gloves, etc.
We are not going to live all day in the Metaverse (not for now), because no one can resist with headphones and glasses for more than two or three hours, no matter how addicted they become.
The human body, the eyes, are not yet adapted to “dwell” in the Metaverse for a lot of hours, and even less to replace the real world with this 3D, digital world.
Another thing similar but not the same, collateral, is augmented reality, the ability to have glasses with information from the Internet, which give you access and interaction while you walk, ride a bicycle, or on the windshield of your car, with voice or touch technology to facilitate interaction.
It will be necessary to reckon with AI, of course, and with quantum computers, in the future, with enormous data processing capacity.
Probably someday we’ll have the capability to transmit data using photons.
Perhaps we will insert many of these gadgets into the human body (just like we insert an intraocular lens after removing a cataracts), or if we can achieve grafts of hybrid chips, half biological, half artificial, like the ones that – say the conspiracy theorists – they graft certain extraterrestrial races onto the humans they abduct and take to their ships and laboratories.
Then, and perhaps then, in some 50 or 100 years, we will be totally different humans, as different as a Cro-Magnon-sapiens from a Heildelberg one, although remember that they mixed, and that their genes live on in us, in happy disorder.
We are not going to be able to stop the race towards the Metaverse, and there is no point in trying, that ambition is part of our human nature.
But controlling it, beginning to discern what uses are ethical, what perversions we want to avoid, is part of the duty that we as humans have ahead of us. Assuming we care about future generations, of course.