Hey kids, Zuckermoji wants us all to move into cyberspace. So what are we waiting for? Last one in’s a Sheeple!
Right now, alongside blockchain, the metaverse is hailed as the world’s biggest tech bandwagon, thanks in large to two years of pandemic separation driving us deeper online for our social succour.
That’s two years of brands scrambling for new ways to stay in front of our eyes, and with the social worlds of Roblox, COD, Fortnite and Minecraft sucking millions of young (but increasingly older) souls within, they spotted a fertile ground to start seeding.
With the run into 2022 and the arrival of bigger players in the mix—who could ignore the fanfare of Facebook morphing into Meta, followed by Microsoft’s acquisition of ActivisionBlizzard—shit, as they say, is getting real, and the big brands are grabbing their tickets to jump on board; certainly, nothing heralds the arrival of a thing to be taken seriously more than the joint injection of over $100 billion (US).
But in the wake of this momentous advent, the big questions we find ourselves wondering are, “What will it be?” “What will I do there?” And, most importantly, “Will it really be any good?”
Here’s the thing, no one can possibly know yet, but, in principle, we should all really hope it is good for one very big reason… (insert drumroll) it might just save the world!
Starting with fashion. It’s one of the planet’s top contributors to climate change accounting for about 10% of global carbon emissions (and rapidly rising), and nearly 20% of the total wastewater, and let’s not get into the even murkier waters still swishing around labour and manufacturing methods. Yes, clamouring for that next thing to show up in has always come at a bigger price than we’d like to think.
Step into the Metaverse, however, and with the touch of an app icon, we can find ourselves doing the Dice Walk at The Weeknd concert in our new limited-edition N(ike)FT Air Maxs that instantly flash up our peer approvals as we ‘sync along to ‘Save your tears’. Or, why not shimmy up the red carpet in our limited drop, aquadescent Balenciaga ball gowns at the Meta Met Gala? All the while IRL we’re sitting ‘not so pretty’ in our favourite, saggy track-dacks, but, most importantly, all at a fraction of the ‘global’ cost.
And how did we arrive there?
Well, were we lucky enough to get into the actual Met Gala (no chance) we’d have flown half way round the world, and with annual aviation adding a billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, ‘landing’ within the metaverse makes it a whopping environmental saving.
Of course, most of us aren’t high-flyers and have to settle instead of taking ride-shares to our nights out or driving our own cars to our meets. But with nearly 20% of total global emissions coming from passenger vehicles, that metaverse meeting, despite Zuckerberg’s insipid, initial renderings, never looked so good.
And very soon it will look a lot better. As the metaverse gains sophistication, with the rapid evolution of CPUs and GPUs—thanks to those multi billions mentioned earlier and our old friend, Moore’s Law—the ability to visualise and manifest actual destinations and, of course, completely new destinations and experiences, will increase exponentially; scale Everest without the climber-jam and risk of frostbite; take turns at the wheel of a 65 Mustang on route 66 with your BFF, or create a new better BFF with the metahuman project and design your own destination while you’re at it.
We are truly entering an age when anything digital is possible and the metaverse is where it will happen. Again, all in the comfort of our homes where the footprint we leave literally won’t be as visible as the one in nature.
Which brings us to the only real question: energy? What about the horrific cost of mining for all those NFTs, and all the countless gigawatts to power the gazillion metaverse devices and servers?
Like the rapid increases in the metaverse space, the other area with huge, vested financial interest is (and always has been) the energy sector. As we transition away from fossil fuels, solar generation efficiencies are constantly improving and other, complimentary, mass storage forms of energy like battery and green hydrogen are making massive moves forward. And as for data mining costs, Etherium, where most NFTs are currently validated, is moving as we speak to a proof of stake model at a 99.95% reduction in energy consumption (note: other big blockchain NFT supporters like Solana and Cardano already operate on a proof of stake model).
So, when we look forward (whether we like it or not) to that Ready Player One future where we’re all glued into haptic headsets like Wade Watts, let’s try not to balk at its dystopian rough edges, and instead try to look at it with green-tinted (augmented) specs, knowing that it’s a future in which we may well be easing our human burden on this wonderful planet and giving it some much needed R&R.
And who knows perhaps our next major tech iteration, where we fully download ourselves into the metaverse (or whatever we’re calling it by then) will solve the problem entirely as we thrive off pure energy alone.