🔮 Simulations are the best use for the Metaverse
Meta's 10 billion dollar bet, models of reality, and the series Upload
The Metaverse. Is this the next phase of the internet? Why are so many companies and experts involved in this? And what is the possible impact on our own reality? I’ll take a deep dive on this topic.
I also write about a great privacy friendly browser and a funny series about virtual immortality.
🔬 Deep Dive - Metaverse
The future of the internet. In Silicon Valley, the term ‘Metaverse’ has been used for this for years. About a year ago, on October 28, 2021, the term went mainstream. Then Mark Zuckerberg announced that the parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp, Oculus and Instagram was getting a new name: Meta.
Is Metaverse the same as virtual reality? What does it have to do with cryptocurrencies? Does Meta also own the Metaverse after the name change? (answers: no, something and no)
A clear definition is on Medium by Aaron Frank:
the Metaverse is the Internet, but also a spatial (and often 3D), game-engine-driven collection of virtual environments.
Right now, programmers are building these virtual worlds, funded with ridiculous amounts of money. For example, Meta invests 10 billion dollars a year in the development of the Metaverse.
Although I'm skeptical about the Metaverse, I think simulations are one of the better uses.
For example, two weeks ago I gave a lecture at the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. They have a digital twin of the North Sea. The aim of this simulation is to provide better insight into spatial plans and especially their consequences.
The North Sea is not the only example. Tesla trains the software of their cars in a simulation of San Francisco made with Unreal Engine. With Earth-2, Nvidia is building a digital twin of the Earth with the aim of combating the climate crisis.
Beautiful examples of the North Sea, Tesla and Earth-2. But there are also a few caveats:
Until now, better predictions do not prompt us as humans to change our behavior;
Models of reality are always an approximation;
It is not always transparent which underlying choices have been made in the data, processing, algorithms and display.
Anyway. With all the hype and investments from big companies, as a futurist, I can't avoid staying up to date with what's going on.
In the coming years I am especially curious how we as humans shape the Metaverse and how it will shape us. Do we prefer a virtual world for this world? What does it mean for our relationship with our body?
In short, this topic will probably come up again in this newsletter!
📺 Media & Tech tips
Interesting articles, books, podcasts, videos, documentaries I recommend to check out!
1. BOOK / It’s a cliché, but I liked the book better than the movie. I am talking about Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. In this story, main character Wade Watts is trying to solve puzzles in the OASIS (a sort of Metaverse). I loved the references to popular culture and video games!
2. TOOL / Sometimes you can take small and simple steps to better protect your online privacy. I have been using the Brave browser for over two years now. Why: Brave is based on Chrome, but does not collect data about your behavior, prevents (advertising) companies from following you and 8 other arguments.
3. SERIES / In line with virtual worlds is the series Upload (7.9 on IMDb). It is a science fiction comedy starring Robbie Amell, Andy Allo and Allegra Edwards. The premise: after your death, you can choose to continue living virtually in a perfect simulation.
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