Say goodbye to the real world and hello to the Metaverse. A virtual world within reality, the Metaverse has gained much attention in the past few weeks due to Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement. Facebook will be going Meta. What exactly does this mean? How will day-to-day life change? How soon until you never have to leave the house again?
Don’t expect change overnight, but it is coming, so best be prepared.
If you have no idea what the Metaverse is, then you probably have some research to do. Here is my simple way of describing it. Picture it is as if you were living in a video game, except it isn’t a game. It is a video world. In the next ten years, expect to see the computer engineering world boom with artificial intelligence, augmented reality (e.g. Google Glass), and technology like haptic clothing. The first of which currently being designed are gloves with hundreds of motors in them that will use inflatable pads to simulate the feelings of touch while in the Metaverse. Shaking hands may no longer be acceptable in the real world, but in the virtual one, you’ll be able to feel the grip of a friend or new acquaintance from thousands of miles away.
This is the future, like it or not. COVID-19 pushed us indoors, and billions of dollars are being spent to keep us there. Social media companies, advertisers, video game companies, even hotels are getting in on the virtual world. While still several years away, even a decade by some estimates, the Metaverse is going to transform the way that humans connect. Of course, I think there will still be real-world interactions. They will just be diminished, and maybe that isn’t a bad thing. For example, with less need to commute to work, there will be less cars on the road and less smog in larger cities.
In 2020 the world was forced to close shop and stay inside. And the planet thanked us for it. Carbon emissions dropped for the first time in a century. City skylines in Los Angeles and Beijing cleared for the first time in years. Maybe, it isn’t such a bad thing for us to be inside a bit more often.
Instead of being forced to lockdown by a global pandemic, what if we choose to do it on our own? What if we decide that we don’t want to go to the grocery store, the mall, or the movie theaters at all. These are routines that we have become accustomed to out of necessity, but we can order food and clothes easier than ever now through apps like Amazon and Deliveroo. As for movies, does anyone really love sitting in a chair 10 minutes after the last person, while your shoes stick to the ground, and you bump elbows with a stranger? Sounds more like a night at Coyotes than the movie theater. I’m not arguing for a secluded society. Just questioning whether we are doing the best for humanity on our current path, and I think more people should question it too.
There will always be hesitations to new technology, but I think eventually everyone comes around or gets left in the dark ages. In twenty or thirty years, you might not have to leave the house to see your doctor for example. You just meet them at the virtual doctor’s office in the Metaverse, they diagnose you, and your virtual pharmacy sends your meds via drone 20 minutes later. No waiting times, no standing next to other people with a cold, and no possibility of spreading infection. Without access to the Metaverse, you won’t get to see a doctor.
The idea isn’t that you’ll never have to leave the house, it is that you’ll only need to leave it when you want to. But day to day errands, work, shopping, gaming, gambling, sporting, eventually will all be done through the Metaverse. It isn’t the end of the world, just the beginning of a new one.