I’m responsible for looking at the future of human-machine interaction — from the future of trust and higher education to the future of quantum internet and IoT. And when looking at, and projecting out likely futures, there is no lack of differing perspectives, conflicting information, and challenges to the groupthink driving our companies and cultures in certain directions.
I recently listened to the Money in the Metaverse episode of Azeem Azhar’s Exponential View podcast, which addresses blockchain, cryptocurrency, and the Metaverse. The podcast’s two speakers, Azhar and Citi’s Rohit Ghose, discussed a couple of perspectives that I’ve also expressed and advocated for within my circle – opinions that have been considered unpopular.
In this series, I’d like to share my perspectives and opinions on Web3, the Metaverse, and the future of human-machine interaction. Perhaps together, we can challenge and grow and ultimately all end up better prepared for the Internet that will develop in the next decade.
I’m unintimidated in holding well-informed but counter-cultural opinions about certain things concerning the future of human-machine interaction. About the Metaverse. About Web3 and NFTs. About the Future of the Internet (and how we will interact with it). After all, the only weakness in holding an unpopular opinion is the unwillingness to change if new information invalidates it. I’m always willing to change my perspective with new information.
Defining terms for the future of human-machine interactions
A natural part of my role and responsibility has revolved around the Metaverse, which we’ve been actively engaged in exploring and building the infrastructure for over the past several years. For many, the Metaverse is a mysterious concept that brings to mind virtual reality gaming and blocky Roblox avatars. Some identify Second Life as the original Metaverse, with a robust GDP worth a shocking $500MM.
It makes sense for me to share a few definitions here to set the stage for the next installments in this blog series on human-machine interactions in the future.
What is the Metaverse?
Definitions of the Metaverse vary, but these are some of my favorite interpretations:
“The metaverse is the moment in time where our digital life is worth more to us than our physical life.”— Shaan Puri, former Twitch Manager
“The ‘Metaverse Continuum…’ is a spectrum of digitally enhanced worlds, realities, andbusiness models poised to revolutionize life and enterprise in the next decade.”— Accenture
— Ryan Gill, Cofounder & CEO of Crucible
“First coined in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 Sci-Fi novel Snowcrash, I see the Metaverse as the gradual convergence of the digital world with the physical world.
A world where we no longer notice a distinction between our digital avatars and our physical selves. A world where smart lenses and BCI devices enable us to be surrounded by information – interactive information for work, entertainment, education, and more. This is the next iteration of the internet.
And as dystopian it may sound, this is the next iteration of life.”
“Metaverse” isn’t the only term cited when discussing this new paradigm. Omniverse and Multiverse are others bandied about, and those concepts touch on a critical factor in defining the embodied internet. And there is also some debate about how the Metaverse will interact with the concept of Web3.
What is Web3?
Since Web3 is another buzzy term, I’ll also share my definition of Web3, which some people see as the next version of the Internet. However, a Web3 experience is different than our web experience today (Web2) in a few ways:
How Web3 differs from Web2, today’s web experience:
- Instead of living on centralized servers, Web3 is hosted on a decentralized platform outside the control of large tech companies, making it a more neutral, democratic place.
- Instead of content being created largely by companies, Web3 is creator-driven and collaborative, leveraging cryptocurrency as payment for creations and assets designed by anyone creative, sometimes minted as NFTs.
- Instead of a place where Big Tech can collect user data, Web3 is a place where data is publicly verifiable. Users can see what happens with their data through the transparent ledgers innate on the blockchain, controlling and protecting personal data from being unethically used or abused.
- Web3 is secure, allowing people to log in using blockchain-based authentication (such as “SIWE” & “EIP-4361”) and blockchain-based identity (such as “ENS”) instead of using human-generated passwords, or centralized password managers, which can be stolen from hacked sites.
The Web3 concept has been lauded by cryptocurrency investors, innovators, startups, and venture capitalists investing heavily in decentralization. Now that we’ve defined the Metaverse and Web3, we can move on to the six unpopular opinions I will share. Stay tuned for the next blog in this series!