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Ascending Earth 2.0?

According to space studies, there areprobably billions of earths and hundred billionof galaxies omnipresent in the universe. However persistent questions arise with regards to what constitutes the entire universe? Despite that space excursions are no longer restricted to astronauts,as space tourism is expected to become the new hot travel destination(though at a whooping exorbitant cost)! A fantasy and mystery brought to life bythe greater vision of the founders of Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Blue Origin and the endless laudablehard work dedicated by their teams over decades. Though paramount questions about space tourism remain unanswered, ethical implications require to be corroborated, individuals are thrilled by the idea but need to be wary of the consequence of such an activity.

As the world population expands exponentially and earth’s resources deplete atan equally rapid rate, it may seem apparent that humans may find a new home on different planets over the next century.Studies are conducted day in and day out to explore various planets to find precious resources that once were found on planet earth. Will life thrive in outer space akin to how we live on planet earth? Jeopardy wanders over space at it may become a victim of pollution, an outcome of space tourism (space travel creates pollution in space, a problem space tech startups are targeting). Will we have a population of individuals who will be legitimate citizens of space than earth?

While these are all assumptions and presumptions. The presence of numerous earths remains an enigma to all, however Earth 2.0 is budding in the background due to the ‘Metaverse’! The internet is swamped with articles on the metaverse hence a topic worth to consider! So, what does the metaverse mean? Metaverse was coined in the sci fiction novel titledSnow Crash by Neal Stephenson in 1992. In factMark Zuckerberg intends to make the metaverse accessible to all individuals. He articulates the metaverse as an experience in which individuals will be submerged in the internet v/s the present experience of looking at it. How far will the metaverse manifest into the reality? How will it work? What will be its impact be on the humanity?

‘Metaverse’, ‘Mirrorworld’, ‘AR cloud’, ‘MagicVerse’, ‘Web 3.0’ are just some words that have gained traction to describe the radical metaverse. Metaverse is deemed the third generation of the internet. Whilst its predecessors Web 1.0 enabled basic services such as emails or accessing the internet. Web 2.0 upped the ante revolutionizing the human interaction and convenience with the launch of social networking, e-commerce, online payments, online streaming and the internet as we know it. Metaverse/ Web 3.0 brings with it a gamut of unimaginable services accentuating the mélange between physical reality, virtual reality and augmented reality. The face of internet that is yet to be discovered, is undergoing radical transformation, that will humanize the internet experience. Graduating to offerreal time virtual immersive, interactive, 3-D experiences with regards to commerce, networking, co- working and so forth.

Our digital twin will exist in the metaverse engaging in activities that are synonymous to our earth lives. Be it from working to shopping, playing to earning real money, buying property to befriending strangers, holograms or NPCs (non player characters – commonly found in gaming) or attending concerts. In the metaverse buildings, avatars, names or land can be purchased or virtual digital assets can be traded utilizing cryptocurrency or NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) facilitated by blockchain. PS:Imagine something similar to Fortnite or Roblox!!!

Media + entertainment + gaming+ tech = creation of metaverse

The metaverse will literally become Earth 2.0 as it will have its own functioning economy, culture, real estate and so on,a replica of our physical world. A much-needed regulatory system will need to be created to maintain law and order, perhaps the metaverse may have their own politicians, business tycoons, investors, real estate tycoons, cyber army, brands and there is more than meets the eye. We’ll be citizens of more than one earth, perhaps holding virtual passports or identity cards. The metaverse will allow consumers to teleport from experience to another and within varied realms from any device.

Experiences and content in the metaverse will be user generated or created by brands complemented by functionalities of ML and AI. Imagine the user generated content on social media or YouTube. For a fully functioning economy, brands will need to identify new markets and scrutinize consumer behaviors, preferences and habits. The concept of business 2 robot 2 consumers will gain relevance as robots will maintain relationships with the consumers, just like how it works today with social media conversations or chatbots but via a 3D experience.

Brands can bid a farewell to excessive use of adverts by creating/ joining immersive or interactive experiences. For instanceWendy’s hosted a Food fight mission on Fortnite that was live streamed on Twitch hence attracting 7,400 followers (from nil followers) on the gaming platform. Following this strategy tapered their advert expenses drastically whilst attracting consumer eyeballsand creating stronger brand loyalty. In fact, brands themselves can create the metaverse. Fortnite or Roblox are apt examples of providing the metaverse like experience. However we are still oblivious, if there will be multiple metaverse or a single umbrella metaverse with smaller branches of metaverse create by brands? Just like how we have numerous social networking websites, games and so forth under the umbrella of the internet.

Privacy, security, identity will be significant issues to consider as the metaverse takes shape. Apparently, technocrats believe that the orchestration of privacy management or privacy managers (as massive amounts of data will be generated and it’s their responsibility to ask owners which data to reveal/ trade or conceal) and identity managers (who will distinguish who we are and hide our real identities) may bring with them law and order in the metaverse. 5G and quantum computing will amplify the way towards the metaverse.

Roblox has a full functioning economy as players can create their own games, earn money and reinvest it in the platform itself to purchase additional functionalities for their characters. Creators in the Roblox economy earned $110 million in 2019. The Second Life economy has created $60 million from the businesses operating in the game. This is insane!!!Facebook is working on Horizon Workroom (an app used on Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset) that intends to offer real time work experience /office experiences interacting with collogues, attending meetings and job interviews. The future of work is yet to radicalize!!!

The reduction in the price and weight of VR headsets or introduction of substitutes (VR contact lenses, gloves) will actin favour of the metaverse experience.  Apparently AR glasses by Apple will play a pivotal role in upping the ante for the metaverse (if it is launched in the market).  Individuals will desire for Gucci or Prada skin for their virtual avatars. Providing fashion houses an opportunity to embed themselves in the virtual world aka metaverse. All businesses have the opportunity to enter the metaverse. Some individuals may believe that they can obtain whatever they lack in the metaverse akin to the concept of Second Life. However, we’ll need to maintain a strong connection with our physical earthly lives.

Investors and VC’s are taking the metaverse seriously. For instance, Samsung Asset Management has launched a metaverse fund to foster technologies that will accelerate and complement the metaverse eg: VR, cloud computing, gaming, 3-D tool designs, online payments, platform businesses, mobility and luxury goods industry. Governments will play a critical role in the execution of the metaverse and to what extent they will want it to develop, interfere with our real lives, economy, culture, politics and so forth.After Zuckerberg’s speech investors and VC have activated their investment mode to decipher which start ups and technology to support that will supplement the metaverse. All seem to be in the FOMO state. Before entering Earth 2.0 ethicalimplicationsneed to be scrutinized.

How feasible will the metaverse even be? Nobody is sure, we seem to be far away from it.

How far will we accept this new lifestyle?

What about the widening digital divide?

How many will be able to afford it?

Will it be a healthy decision?

How will we distinguish between reality and fiction? (We’d be lost )

How can we interact with virtual avatars? Wouldn’t we crave face to face conversations?

Wouldn’t people become victim to loneliness, depression, delusions? Wouldn’t the metaverse feel like being part of a game that is never ending taking us away from our realities?

How would the Earth 1.0 and Earth 2.0 exist concurrently?

Will people want to permanently live their life on Earth 2.0?

These questions need answers.The future is being created with the metaverse and only time will reveal its offerings and impact on our society.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article are views of the author in general and the author does not hold any legal responsibility or liability for the same.)


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