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Which metaverse do we want?

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

Simulation Technology for Ecosystem Wellness through Antifragile Resource Deployment (STEWARD) blog series - part 6 of 7 (part 1)

The STEWARD blog series focuses on how to win the Second Cold War. But that may be among the least of our problems. Here are some gloomy predictions for the next two decades. Not what anyone likes to think about, but it's no use burying your head in the sand.

Starting with the next ten years:

Now 2030-40. Even more unsettling. Apologies in advance.

The seismic tech change will be the convergence of atoms and bits. In his latest trilogy, William Gibson refers to this as the Jackpot. In his vision, it follows and cleans up an interconnected set of apocalyptic events that wipe out 80% of the human race. And if you want a futurist, he’s the real deal, since for 40 years now most of his predictions have come true - the exceptions being a few early ones about sentient AI and aliens, a burst of youthful enthusiasm that he’s long set aside.

This is a lot more than chips with everything. Even more than 3D printing, smart clothing, smart buildings / streets, smart implants, ... It is about the metaverse encroaching on a reality in which computers are controlled by the mind. Cyberpunk writers have been forecasting since the 1980s that this liminal zone would be dominated by corporate machinations and underpinned by dark dealings in a half-lit netherworld. Right now, that’s exactly what is happening.

The world sat back while Bitcoin gave McMafia a route to market free from surveillance. What will bad actors do once virtual incentives drive real-world behaviours? If more than 70% of people would reveal their computer password in exchange for a bar of chocolate, think what they would do, isolated at home in a never-ending pandemic, for membership of an elite chatroom, powerful game items, or a Non-Fungible Token that gives early access to the latest Marvel movie. What freedoms would they give up? Actions would they take? Moves would they support? The attack on Capitol Hill was a shot across the bows from the metaverse.

That’s partly why I feel so strongly that we need to put in place a healthier metaverse - one that has a positive relationship with the real world. In this blog series, I propose the STEWARD initiative. Whatever route we choose, at some point governments must take a stand and build a sustainable alternative to what is currently forming. With the metaverse, Not Losing may no longer be an option. We have to Win.

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