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Recently, Mark Zuckerberg stirred the waters by renaming Facebook “Meta,” and announcing that it will focus on building Metaverse solutions.
However, long before 1992, the science fiction novel Snow Crash first used the term “Meta,” referring to humans as avatars that interacted with each other and software agents. From now on, the Metaverse could change reality as we know it, or at least blur its boundaries with virtual worlds. The possibilities of the Meta world could be endless and could potentially overtake every aspect of our lives. We are already partially living in a virtual world, but with more functionalities and higher immersive power, we will be less likely to realize how much time we are spending in our ‘’new reality.’’ Hints of the Metaverse already exist in games such as Minecraft and Roblox, and they just scratch the surface of what is possible.
While Metaverse has stirred up quite a lot of backlash, and some opinions are rather discouraging, some benefits may be seen. The Metaverse world will offer endless possibilities to reinvent yourself and build the world you want or immerse into the world you like. Within the Metaverse world, you can choose from millions of worlds without physical boundaries or the material and distance limitations we face in the real world.
Humans are dreamers, inventors, and creators by nature. With Metaverse, we will feel like superheroes, which is why, despite its criticisms, Metaverse will work more likely than not. The Metaverse has the potential of offering endless opportunities to individuals who often find it difficult to assimilate in the real world. Introverts, creators, and people with extremely high IQs may find Metaverse highly stimulating, as they are in charge of not only their own actions, but the environments around them as well. This type of world could also introduce a new way of treating mental health conditions such as anxiety, which often spark from the overwhelming feelings our surroundings impose on us.
Our current everyday life and a lot of world issues stem from human biases and human nature. We often replicate the same biases into the new systems we invent. While it is difficult to create AI and meta systems without a human bias, in the virtual world and Metaverse (which will allow for the creation of a new world), we could limit those biases and learn from the mistakes we’ve made in the world in which we currently live. We are on the brink of creating a new world that can be a better, worse, or identical version of the one we are in at the moment. The second and the third options would be wasted opportunities to fabricate the more ideal world toward which we constantly strive.
Virtuality could offer us a world with fewer major social issues such as inequality and discrimination, among others. One might argue that this is a naive idea since in the simple online world we currently inhabit, we have so much hate speech, cyberbullying, and fraud. Indeed, even in Hobbes’s philosophy, humans are like machines that pursue their own self-interests mechanically. Confucius and Mencius thought that human nature is essentially good, while Hsün Tzu considered it essentially evil. John Locke, on the other hand, described the human mind as a ‘tabula rasa’ (blank slate). While no universal truth exists about what our human nature is and how it will be replicated into new worlds which are about to be created, I bet most people would like to live in a world of less pain and more possibilities to realize their potential. If society rejects changing what is currently slowing us, we will experience no growth or progress.
So maybe Metaverse is not just the beginning of Web 3.0. Maybe it’s about doing better this time, starting with a tabula rasa, and proving that we are not subjects of our pre-determined human nature—that we as a society can learn from our current world’s faults and create a better one. Maybe Metaverse will be an existential and philosophical revival of who we are as humans, and the mistakes of today will vanish in the world of tomorrow if we only realize them and are willing to progress.