Metaverse is much more than a buzzword. It offers the world’s creators and collaborators unprecedented opportunities to create value. Don’t be fooled by the fraudulent rebranding on Facebook, Metaverse belongs to everyone, not just the big tech companies.
The real victory of the Metaverse is that it will allow the quality of your work and the contents of your character to become the most valuable currency for you. That’s why I think in a world full of inequality, the Metaverse couldn’t have come at a better time.
The truth is that you are already in the Metaverse. When you open the app, the GPS tag places your current location on the globe. This blue dot acts as a digital version of your physical self, representing your location in both the real and digital world.
In the most basic sense, the metaverse is simply the transfer of physical objects into the digital world. More sophisticated Metaverses have been increasing in years; Linden Labs created the highly successful game Second Life in 2003, while Roblox collected 150 million users, and Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, is worth $28.7 billion
Don’t let the latest big tech maneuvers intimidate you. Metaverse is much larger than a handful of companies; It belongs to the global community of creators, builders and programmers whose hard work is giving birth to the next age of the internet.
But technology is as good or bad as the humans who use it. Blood transfusions, ambulances, and EpiPen came from the military but ended up being life-saving innovations for the rest of humanity.
The Metaverse could be the same. Like the Internet, Metaverse will democratize knowledge and foster collaboration. However, unlike the Internet, it can clear up many of the identity controversies we see in the workplace today.
In today’s workplace, identity often trumps the quality of your work. In the United States, women can expect to earn 79 percent of a man’s average salary, and black men can expect to earn 87 percent of a white man’s average salary. When the world lives behind avatars, identity is chosen and not assigned. Metaverse presents a very real opportunity to rebuild the world of work, while leaving systemic bias at the door.
In the Metaverse, we can expect to be fairly compensated for the work we do. With the Metaverse, we can expect the emergence of a DAO or Decentralized Autonomous Organization. A DAO is an organization of anonymous individuals working together to achieve one goal. Much like cryptocurrencies, the DAO is based on a decentralized power structure. Users get a vote, compensation, based on the value they created, and nothing else.
A teenage programmer from Nairobi can team up with a high-level executive in Seattle. Neither of them will know their mate’s location, race or gender, all they can know is the quality of their code.
This may sound strange to us, yet Gen-Zers are actually citizens of the Metaverse, and it shows. Young gamers from all over the southern world earn more money than their parents by participating in the “play to earn” video game model. Teens make millions by selling NFT art. The Metaverse is already bridging the wealth gap between generations, and that’s just the beginning.
Money aside, I believe the Metaverse has the potential to facilitate the best of human impulses, while suppressing the worst. Of course, human affairs are never that straightforward. As Tim Berners said of the Internet, “We expected everyday life on the Web to be like everyday life on the street, with its rough edges and its smooth edges.” While I think the Metaverse can smooth out those jagged edges, as long as humans are involved, they will always be there.
Ultimately, the more people we can connect with, the more empathetic we become. By keeping us in constant contact with people and events abroad, the Internet has greatly expanded our “circle of empathy” and allowed us to connect with others like never before.
The recent Hong Kong protests, for example, have been driven by social media. Indeed, the Ukrainian protests facilitated a network of anonymous discord channels that were able to broadcast the regime’s crackdowns to the outside world.
The spread of information allowed protesters to organize, educate and send signals to the international community. There is a reason for authoritarian countries – such as China and North Korea – to restrict internet access.
The same thing happened after Gutenberg invented the printing press. When books could be mass-produced, suddenly everyone had access to the activity of adopting a large perspective; reading.
I think the Metaverse is the next phase of this. While the internet has blown up our access to information, it’s still an intricate collaboration of the tool, as any weary fellow Zoom in will tell you. Metaverse can solve this problem and will push boundaries, time zones, and even language barriers even further.
People are right to fear the Metaverse. However, we cannot allow Silicon Valley to hijack the next internet revolution. In a world of seamless digital collaboration, merit will prevail while identity will be just an afterthought. This is a world we can and should be proud of building for ourselves and our children.