Exploring the Metaverse

“Metaverse” is a word that is on everybody’s lips these days, but what does it actually mean? In this article, we take a closer look at how the virtual world is competing with the real world, how NFTs will fit into the metaverse, and what opportunities it may offer to users.

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@enter.artPUBLISHED 11TH FEBRUARY 2022

How virtual reality is competing with the physical world

We live in an increasingly virtual world. 85% of Americans say they go online every day, and 31% claim to be online almost constantly. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then, that the internet has begun to resemble the real world more and more. This is the idea behind the metaverse, which many have described as the inevitable future of the internet.

With tech giants like Microsoft and Facebook expressing their intentions to explore and expand it, the metaverse has been a hot topic of conversation lately. Describing exactly what the metaverse is, however, is a little complicated. Let’s explore the possibilities it brings.

What is the metaverse?

The term metaverse dates back to 1992, when science fiction author Neal Stephenson first released his novel “Snow Crash.” In it, he described the metaverse as a realistic, 3D world in which users could meet in a virtual space that mimicked reality.

In real life, the metaverse may not look so different from Stephenson’s thirty-year-old vision. It generally describes an iteration of the internet as a singular world which is accessed via virtual and augmented reality technology. Futurists envision the metaverse as a place where users can experience any aspect of their lives, from working to gaming to socializing. Workplaces can benefit from the proximity of office life without leaving their home office. People can attend concerts in their living room. The possibilities are endless.

Metaverse prototypes already exist in spaces like Decentraland, Second Life, and AltspaceVR, but these are all closed systems. They do provide an interesting preview, however, of what’s to come. The true metaverse that futurists are preparing for will be a single, converged platform.

Opportunities in the metaverse

The metaverse will open a new world of possibilities for those willing to dive in. It’ll most likely change the way people approach already-existing careers. The metaverse could have entire office complexes and even cities in which employees can work together or complete tasks independently with the aid of VR technology. For instance, an architecture firm could virtually gather around a rendered 3D model of a future construction project in order to better view it as a whole.

In addition to providing opportunities to existing careers, the metaverse will open the door to a host of new career pathways that couldn’t have existed before, many of which are extensions of programming and other tech-centric careers that do exist already. These new careers are likely to include roles like:

●       Metaverse Planner – When the metaverse is fully up and running, someone will need to be in charge of planning and implementing a company’s vision for metaverse adoption and expansion. This person will likely act as the middleman between upper management and programmers, translating large-scale ideas to workable concepts.

●       Hardware Technician – Yes, the metaverse will be entirely virtual, but you’ll need devices to be able to get in. These can be cameras, headsets, sensors, and other technology we aren’t yet familiar with. Not only will someone have to design and manufacture these items on a large scale, but technicians will be needed to make repairs and implement updates.

●       Metaverse cybersecurity experts – Cybercrime is already a rampant problem, but the metaverse is likely to exacerbate it. NFT and cryptocurrency theft, personal data leakage, and identity (avatar) theft are just three likely areas where the metaverse will need experts to fight for the rights and safety of those who use it. It’s likely that there will eventually be a large host of new laws, regulations, and governing bodies to keep the metaverse safe, but in the meantime, it’ll probably be a bit like a virtual wild west in there.

●       AR/VR Research Scientist – Yes, AR/VR research is already underway at major universities across the globe, but once the metaverse becomes a part of mainstream life, the field will explode in an unprecedented way. Unifying everything into one singular metaverse will be an enormous endeavor with complexities we can’t yet dream of. We will need a wave of scientists to experiment, troubleshoot, and maintain the integrity of the system as a whole.

How can NFTs be used in the metaverse?

NFTs are quickly becoming one of the most popular assets of the digital world, but as the metaverse expands, they’ll likely only become a bigger part of daily life. NFTs will make ownership of digital assets in the metaverse work similarly to ownership of physical items in the real world. The possibilities are endless, but some uses are safe to predict.

●       Real estate – Because the metaverse will exist as a virtual, physical space, that space will be a commodity much like land in the real world. NFTs can allow for ownership of specific places. Though travel in the metaverse will work differently than in real life, important areas with prime real estate are sure to emerge. If you want to open a business in the metaverse, for instance, you’ll want a busy, highly-visible spot to put it.

●       Avatars – While existing in the metaverse, you’ll want a visual representation of yourself. These already exist in social media and online gaming, but they’ll be even more fundamental in the metaverse.

●       Fashion – Avatars themselves will be important, but custom add-ons, alterations, and “skins” will allow for endless variations of self-expression.

Governance in the metaverse

Considering tech titans like Facebook and Google will be on the cutting edge of metaverse implementation, many are worried about who will act as a legal authority. While current versions of the metaverse aren’t in dire need of governance, this won’t be the case when millions of people live the bulks of their lives in a singular, digital space. This is doubly true when they open businesses there. But if the metaverse exists outside physical space, who will govern it?

As of yet, there are no global governance mechanisms in the works for the metaverse, but that’s likely to change. How this government will work is still a matter of some debate. Many governments around the world have already discussed their individual plans. South Korea recently announced a Metaverse Alliance to encourage advancement of the technology. Barbados has plans to open a virtual embassy. China has also expressed support of the metaverse, but only if it follows Chinese regulations. Obviously, this won’t be agreeable to other countries. Overall governance will be easier said than done. For now, all we can do is pay close attention to how it plays out.

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