Very few people have not heard of the term Metaverse since it took the tech world by storm this year. The spark was officially lit when Facebook changed its name to Meta, declaring itself a forerunner in enabling a Metaverse awakening. The term Metaverse was first created in 1992 by science fiction author, Neal Stephenson, describing it as a three-dimensional virtual world where humans not only interact with each other but with virtually constructed creations through representations known as avatars. The Metaverse is also being called Web 3.0, the third version of the 1990s - 2000s original Web 1.0, with Web 2.0 being the internet as we know now.
Let’s further dissect the term Metaverse: It is a blend of the Greek word meta (meaning beyond) and universe, loosely translating to “the beyond universe”. As for the viewpoints on Metaverse and what it represents, there are two different perspectives. Some simply see it as a virtual environment where people connect, play, work, and earn money, making much of what we do online today a part of the Metaverse. The other point of view considers the Metaverse as a decentralized universe fully inhabited by people as avatars or partially in the form of hybrid realities.
Metaverse allows for endless creativity, and this is evident by the emergence of many unique concepts, such as that pertaining to our industry; Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). NFTs, which are increasing in popularity, are simply cryptographic tokens that exist on a blockchain and cannot be replicated. They can also be used to represent real-world items like artwork and real-estate, tokenized to allow them to be bought, sold, and traded more efficiently with less probability of fraud*.
Now, the second perspective of the Metaverse Web 3.0 views NFTs as buildups to the Metaverse and not part of it. Still, both outlooks believe that NFTs play a crucial part in realizing a fully-fledged Metaverse concept, particularly during times when the traditional economy no longer offers long-term opportunities. Moreover, NFTs draw their appeal from the fact that they promise a mechanism to create new assets unconditionally.
Regardless of the definition of Metaverse, people are already feeling the effects. According to a Grayscale report, USD 200 million were spent this year on Metaverse Web 3.0 sales and is estimated to start generating USD 1 trillion in revenue annually. In tandem, Bloomberg estimates the virtual world market to grow to USD 800 billion by 2024.
Many major companies have already recognized the economic potential of virtual reality, Boeing for example is planning to build its next plane in the Metaverse, and platforms like MANA, Axie Infinity, and Sandbox present the opportunity to buy virtual land plots using in-house cryptocurrencies.
Still, some are still skeptical of the whole matter including one of the world’s richest men, Elon Musk, who believes that the probability of humans fully disappearing into the Metaverse is very slim. He rather sees a chance of it happening in the distant future with the help of Neuralink, his neurotechnology company that aims to develop brain implants to enhance human physical abilities and enable them to connect to devices such as computers.
Despite the unlimited possibilities that could be realized in the Metaverse, along with its numerous positive outcomes – like generating more flexible global employment and increasing labor wages – the biggest challenges remain the lack of security over data, ID, property, to name a few, jeopardized privacy, and the conflict between the different jurisdictions in varied parts of the world.
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