Metaverse is on its way but shall we care? Now, we know that Facebook is building its metaverse, and plenty of gaming metaverses are popping up. But what if you aren’t a gamer? Will this development affect you in any way? Or, in other words: is metaverse a game-changer or just another buzzword that will be forgotten when the hype is over?
Wikipedia defines the metaverse as a “network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection”. I would define it as a virtual world. It is not here yet, our technology isn’t developed enough to deliver a full metaverse experience. When the time comes, we may experience a metaverse as if we are living in a matrix, probably.
It is difficult to talk about it now because technological developments take unexpected turns sometimes. In one thing I am sure though: the metaverse in a decade will differ significantly from what we call a metaverse now.
But still, what can it look like?
I’d agree with Matthew Ball that a real metaverse is going to be a continuous network of worlds, without interruptions and pauses. One will be able to move from one world to another without leaving the metaverse.
I’d say that to reach this stage of development, we will need to switch to a different level of communication with computers. A keyboard, mouse, touchpad, touch screen will become obsolete. From external control elements (same keyboards, etc.) people will switch to internal control elements. What will those elements be? Now, we can imagine them as some kind of microchips but it is possible that something else may be developed.
Further, a metaverse will be an open market where users - businesses and individuals would freely participate in economic activities. At this point, many people stumble. What economic activities can be in a virtual world? And what will happen with the manufacturing, social life, education, etc. - with all industrial and social sectors in real life?
Manufacturing companies already create digital twins of manufacturing facilities thus reducing the use of energy and raw materials. For now, their application is limited. They are used to capture and analyze real-time data to further implement new workflows and optimize processes.
Over time, digital twins will be able to learn and create their own metaverses where they will test new ways to do business. It will enable companies to maintain productivity and foster innovation.
For education, a metaverse offers endless opportunities. Now, I see it as some kind of educational environment enhanced by metaverse elements such as virtual and augmented reality. But in the future, students will be able to use their avatars to enter any educational setting without limitations in time and location. Students will be able to switch to the metaverse educational environments remotely, exchange information, receive feedback, store data, and perform all the studies-related activities accurately and efficiently.
Employees can acquire new skills and improve the existing ones in a realistic environment where they are protected from making potentially fatal or costly mistakes.
Metaverse has the potential to become one of the most transformative factors in the healthcare sector. That’s why many leading hospitals are already joining the virtual world of a metaverse. It is expected that the global healthcare in the metaverse market will reach $5,373 mln by 2030, and the CAGR will expand at 48.3%.
The possibilities are endless from remote diagnostics and basic checkups to remote surgical assistance. In the future, we can expect that metaverse can be used for treating mental disorders and physical conditions that are incurable now.
The mentioned sectors are not the only ones that will be affected greatly or changed completely by a metaverse. This technology will penetrate all walks of our lives, and the impact is difficult to forecast. One thing is sure: the world won’t be the same anymore.
While everybody is talking about the metaverse benefits, we shall not forget about the challenges that it will bring.
How will one be able to prove that he is actually he? Everybody will be able to create any type of avatar, or even several of them, and mimic other people. This challenge can be addressed by developing new identity verification methods. For now, it is not completely clear how this can be done.
Even now, companies are struggling to keep their data safe. With the metaverse development, this task will become more complicated. New ways to protect person's data and property in the metaverse will be created, and it is very probable that to do so, users will have to provide even more data than they do now.
Currency and Payments
A metaverse space, once developed and implemented, will be huge. It will require a unified payment system with a new cryptocurrency (probably, existing crypto will be adopted for this purpose, too). And here, I agree with somebody who has commended one of my articles that probably, blockchain technology is too cumbersome to support the entire metaverse ecosystem. Eventually, something else will be developed for that purpose.
Regulation in the Metaverse
Once people start using metaverse commonly, a question of regulation will arise. How to protect users from manipulation, violence, and discrimination in a highly decentralized unmoderated environment? Or what activities can be considered criminal in a metaverse world and how they shall be punished? Many questions don’t have a reply yet.
A metaverse has immense potential if implemented and applied correctly. Initially, it will be a highly regulated system if we don’t want it to submerge itself into chaos and anarchy. Only over time, it may grow into a fully decentralized metaverse ruled by its members.
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