It has been almost two years since Facebook fully embraced the concept of the Metaverse. During the Facebook conference held on the 28th of October in 2021, Zuckerberg proposed altering the company’s name to Meta. Simultaneously, he announced a significant shift in the organisation’s primary business focus towards Metaverse. This phenomenon can be considered to have garnered global attention during that period. The primary underlying factor is that the notion of the metaverse remains relatively nascent, contributing to its limited familiarity among most individuals (Prieto et al., 2022).
The metaverse predominantly consists of a collection of emerging technologies, constituting a holographic digital domain parallel to our conventional physical reality. This definition encapsulates the paradigm shift brought about by the advent of the Internet era and the subsequent realization of digitalization.
In addition, the positioning of the Metaverse results from combining various digital technologies, including blockchain technology. At the same time, the paradigm of digital economic transformation is reinforced by the addition of digital financial advancements such as decentralized finance (DeFi), the Interplanetary File System (IPFS), and non-fungible tokens (NFT) (Prieto et al., 2022).
But this idea is not an innovation. The term “metaverse” first appeared in a novel of Snow Crash in 1992 by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson. This book – 306 pages in total – mentions the Metaverse 119 times. It is aligned with the cyberpunk movement popular in the early 1990s.
This article will explore the complex implications of the Metaverse, including its ability to reconfigure the framework of our society and its far-reaching impact on numerous.
Understanding the Metaverse:
The rise of the Metaverse is a testament to the development of our era. As a product of this era, it incorporates cutting-edge technology to provide society with a novel digital platform. These technologies span 5G, VR, Web 3.0 and artificial intelligence, among many other new technologies. Target? Build a new world built by digital technology, parallel to our traditional universe – the Metaverse.
The Metaverse is characterised by a persistent, collectively shared, three-dimensional embodied online space that features avatars using real-world metaphors without many physical limitations. This unique feature came into focus during the COVID-19 pandemic when the Metaverse managed to gain widespread attention, leading some to refer to 2021 as the first year of the Metaverse.
In this age of the evolving metaverse, it functions as more than just a virtual learning environment or a digital creation space. Some have even proposed it as an interface to replace the current World Wide Web. This proposition arises from a fundamental characteristic of the Metaverse, a virtual environment where the principles of physics may be manipulated, and novel experiences can be generated, with constraints solely determined by our imaginative capacity.
In addition to its scientific import, the Metaverse possesses the capacity to catalyze advancements in the humanities. The Metaverse has the potential to offer novel interpretations and viewpoints to traditional disciplines such as philosophy, sociology, and other humanistic systems, hence expanding the intellectual boundaries of existing fields.
The Metaverse and Social Interactions
The COVID-19 pandemic has substantially changed the global landscape of social norms and practices. The increasing prevalence of internet platforms is attributed to the transition of persons’ activities from offline to online domains. Simultaneously, the emergence of the metaverse will fundamentally transform the landscape of virtual social engagement. This section explores how the Metaverse is reshaping social interaction and analyses its probable ramifications on virtual communities.
The inception of the Metaverse can be attributed to the aspiration of augmenting our interactions within the virtual domain and revolutionizing conventional modes of engagement. Through the creation of virtual environments, individuals have the opportunity to engage with acquaintances in a variety of science fiction-inspired settings within the digital realm. This feature enables individuals to participate in a diverse array of social interactions from the comfort of their own homes. Moreover, individuals engaged in a virtual environment assume dual roles as both passive participants and active creators. Individuals have the ability to utilize a diverse range of innovative instruments in order to construct unique characters, social settings, games, and other associated materials.
The progression of virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) technologies has facilitated the development of enhanced immersive interactions inside the metaverse. Individuals have the ability to engage in communication through nonverbal cues such as gestures, facial expressions, and body language, so enhancing their virtual interactions.
The global landscape of social norms and practises has undergone substantial transformations in the aftermath of the COVID-19 epidemic. The popularity of internet platforms is on the rise as individuals increasingly transition their activities from offline to online environments. The potential of the Metaverse lies in its ability to transform lifestyles by eliminating the constraints and restrictions of virtual existence, hence offering a heightened level of immersion and realism in interactive encounters. This section explores how the Metaverse redefines social interaction and its potential impact on online communities.
Just like the scene in the movie “Ready Player One“, one day in the future, people can switch identities anytime and anywhere, freely shuttle between the physical world and the digital world, and study, work, and make friends in the “metaverse” composed of virtual space and time nodes, shopping, travelling, etc.
Metaverse, a virtual world built on the blockchain, is a decentralised platform that allows players to enjoy ownership and autonomy. Through immersive experience, virtual reality is brought closer to reality. Furthermore, individuals engaged in the Metaverse assume dual roles as both active makers and passive participants. A wide range of creative tools are at their disposal for the purpose of designing novel characters, social places, games, and other creative endeavours.
Advancements in virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) technology have significantly contributed to the enhancement of immersive interactions inside the Metaverse. Individuals have the ability to engage in communication by utilising non-verbal cues like as gestures, facial expressions, and body language, thereby enhancing their virtual encounters.
The Metaverse exerts a significant influence on virtual communities. The formation of communities is facilitated by the presence of shared interests, activities, or goals. The utilisation of a shared virtual space enables members to engage in interactions, hence facilitating the development of a sense of belonging and cohesion within the community. This aspect can prove to be more difficult to achieve in alternative online environments.
Nevertheless, the advent of the Metaverse also presents obstacles for virtual communities. Concerns about privacy, security, and the digital divide may impact the inclusivity and accessibility of these virtual communities.
The Metaverse and Its Impact on Economy and Business Transactions
The emergence of the metaverse promises to transform internet platforms and interaction models and drive significant shifts in the economic landscape and business structures.
Emerging Business Models and Job Opportunities:
The rapid progression of the metaverse in recent years has catalysed the emergence of countless pioneering projects and enterprises. An exemplary illustration of this phenomenon can be observed in the emergence of virtual real estate platforms, including The Sandbox, Decentral, and Crypto voxels. These platforms allow users to develop and enhance their online profile, granting them a feeling of satisfaction and personal value inside the metaverse.
The emergence of these business models highlights the significant influence that the metaverse is having on the socio-economic structure. Simultaneously, these advancements are expected to create many novel employment prospects, including positions such as virtual reality developers, designers of digital assets, and virtual tour guides, among others. With the continuous expansion and evolution of the metaverse, there is an anticipated increase in demand for roles associated with it.
The widespread availability of virtual business opportunities has significantly increased the visibility and acceptance of virtual currency in the metaverse. The transition, as mentioned earlier, can be ascribed to the implementation of blockchain technology, which facilitates secure, transparent, and decentralised transactions. This development has the potential to facilitate the extensive integration of cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as conventional means of transaction within the metaverse.
Moreover, the metaverse’s ability to provide heightened immersion and involvement may introduce innovative modes of commercial engagement. Business entities have the potential to develop distinctive virtual encounters or commodities, thereby fostering novel methods of conducting transactions and patterns of consumption.
Challenges and Considerations:
Nevertheless, incorporating the metaverse into the realm of economics and commerce is not devoid of its own set of obstacles. It is imperative to handle potential challenges such as data security, privacy concerns, and the digital divide issue. Establishing comprehensive norms and standards for economic activity within the metaverse is of utmost importance to ensure equitable and ethically sound practices.
In summary, the metaverse can profoundly transform the economy and commercial interactions. However, it also introduces novel obstacles. As we progress, it is crucial to confront these problems to guarantee a fair allocation of the economic advantages associated with the metaverse and fully exploit its potential.
Ethical considerations in the metaverse:
As discussed, and illustrated above, it also highlights the primary limitation of the Metaverse, which entails a set of ethical problems that necessitate resolution. The concerns, encompassing privacy, ownership, and inclusion, present substantial obstacles that necessitate meticulous examination and strategic resolutions.
The preservation of privacy holds utmost significance within the Metaverse. The tracking and storage of users’ personal information, behaviors, and interactions in virtual worlds give rise to concerns around the utilization and accessibility of this data. It is imperative for the Metaverse to establish explicit norms and regulations pertaining to the collecting, storage, and utilization of data. Furthermore, it is imperative to provide users with the opportunity to exercise control over their personal data, and it is essential to get informed consent prior to the collection of any information. The Future of Privacy forum offers additional discourse pertaining to these subjects.
The emergence of digital assets in the Metaverse has given rise to inquiries over ownership and intellectual property as people engage in their creation and interaction. The establishment of clear ownership and the delineation of the manner in which these assets are utilized or exchanged are of utmost importance. Furthermore, it is imperative to establish a well-defined policy pertaining to the violation of intellectual property rights within the Metaverse. The World Intellectual Property Organization offers significant materials pertaining to these matters.
The Metaverse ought to be a platform that fosters inclusivity, accommodating individuals of many backgrounds, abilities, and geographical locations. Nevertheless, the digital divide has the potential to generate disparities in both access to and engagement with technology. It is imperative to exert endeavors in order to guarantee universal accessibility and affordability of the Metaverse. Moreover, it is imperative for the Metaverse to cultivate a secure and inclusive atmosphere that is devoid of any form of harassment or discrimination. The Internet Society offers valuable perspectives on the establishment of an all-encompassing digital environment.
In summary, the Metaverse presents a plethora of prospects, yet concurrently entails significant ethical deliberations. As the exploration and development of the new virtual world persist, it becomes imperative to address these concerns to establish a secure, fair, and inclusive atmosphere for all participants.
The Metaverse: A New Era for Internet Institutions, Economics, and Digital Rights ©2023by Jianxi Fang is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Crypto voxels. (n.d.). A blocky metaverse. Www.voxels.com. Https://www.voxels.com/
Conti, R., & Schmidt, J. (2021, April 29). What Is An NFT? Non-Fungible Tokens Explained. Forbes Advisor. Https://www.forbes.com/advisor/investing/cryptocurrency/nft-non-fungible-token/
Datta, D., & Bhattacharya, M. (2023). Development of Cognitive Intelligent Mechanism for Sustainability of Bigdata: A Future Shape of Metaverse. Springer EBooks, 3–25. Https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-29132-6_1
Decentraland. (2019). Decentraland, a virtual world on open standards. Decentraland. Https://decentraland.org/
Kraus, S., Kanbach, D. K., Krysta, P. M., Steinhoff, M. M., & Tomini, N. (2022). Facebook and the creation of the metaverse: radical business model Innovation or incremental Transformation? International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 28(9), 52-77.
Khan, S. W. 1, Raza, S. H. 2, Zaman, U. 3 1 S. of M. T., & Communication, U. U. (2022). Remodeling Digital Marketplace through Metaverse: A Multi-Path Model of Consumer Neuroticism, Parasocial Relationships, Social Media Influencer’s Credibility, and Openness to Metaverse Experience. ProQuest, 337–365. Https://www.proquest.com/docview/2745057364?accountid=14757&parentSessionId=rUNraqt61Ntop360Tf8yr%2BOPjUyFWBiGynTenOQQLNQ%3D&pq-origsite=primo#center
McKay, D. (n.d.). What Is the Interplanetary File System (IPFS) and How Do You Use It? How-to Geek. Https://www.howtogeek.com/784295/what-is-the-interplanetary-file-system-ipfs/
NFTs, the Metaverse, and Everything Web 3.0 [Book]. (n.d.). Www.oreilly.com. Https://learning.oreilly.com/library/view/nfts-the-metaverse/9781098140090/?sso_link=yEs&sso_link_from=university-of-sydney
Prieto, J. de la F., Lacasa, P., & Martínez-Borda, R. (2022). Approaching metaverses: Mixed Reality interfaces in youth media platforms. New Techno Humanities, 2(2). Https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techum.2022.04.004
Sharma, R. (2021, March 24). Decentralised finance (Defi) Definition and Use Cases. Investopedia. Https://www.investopedia.com/decentralized-finance-defi-5113835
Stephenson, N. (1993). Snow crash. Bantam Books.
The Sandbox. (n.d.). A Decentralized Gaming Metaverse Made By Players. The Sandbox. Https://www.sandbox.game/en/