The metaverse, an issue of sovereignty [1/2]

What is “metaverse ”?

The ” metaverse “, sometimes translated” metaverse »In the language of Molière, is a word formed by the terms« meta »(environment) and« verse »(universe). A term that therefore almost means “parallel universe” or “alternate universe”. Meaning, a digital world where people live and interact; a world superimposed on the physical world.

the metaverse there is still a very clear definition. But we can identify empirically at least three key and structural criteria:

  • First criterion, the metaverse should emulate the real world. That is, try to imitate it but not a complete or realistic copy. A metaverse so allow users to progress in fictional worlds or with fictional characters, but all this while keeping some of the codes in the real world.

  • Second criterion, the metaverse can be accessed quickly and intuitively via computer (smartphone, computer, television, etc.).

  • Third scale, the metaverse sustainable, i.e. this alternate world continues to exist, just like the real world. If a user logs out, the metaverse continues to thrive without it. This is undoubtedly the most important criterion, as it creates addiction and mass adhesion, by producing a FOMO effect (Fear of Losingliterally the fear of losing something): the user stays connected or is constantly connected, because he or she is afraid that something will be lost during his or her absence.

the metaverse is a term that focuses on a very broad set of possibilities. In fact, this term encompasses more of a concept than a technology, more of a social value than a real breakthrough innovation, more of a form of social organization than of a technical or scientific invention. The idea is simple: allow people to live more in a virtual world. Even to replace the virtual world with the real world.

In the computer world, the idea of ​​creating an identical digital universe is quite old. Since the inception of the Internet, many or less successful attempts have emerged, the most famous of all likely to remain. Second life, a kind of realistic cyber republic, counting up to 1 million users. In a very different genre, the video game EVE Online offers a consistent world over many years where players compete for control of entire galaxies. In another category, World of Warcraft is already a kind of metaverse medieval-fantastic allowing you to thrive in a beautiful fictional world, to organize guilds, to sell other players, to fight, and so on.

More of these stimuli, which will make some millennials nostalgic, there are also many new examples, which speak even to high school and college students. Minecraft and its thousands of consistent servers, GTA Online and its “roleplay” servers that seek to replicate the real world, Pokemon GO and augmented reality… A rapidly expanding phenomenon in an interconnected world. But most of all, an event that exploded with the COVID-19 crisis.

Due to successive incarceration, most of the world’s population is locked up, in cramped spaces, for days or weeks. Virtual worlds then appear as a quick way to escape, to find friends from school or work, to have fun and get away from the real world, which can arouse anxiety and uncertainty. During the incarcerations, in Europe as in other parts of the world, the use of online games and social networks therefore exploded, at levels that have never fallen since. Lesser-known observers are touched by the fact that part of the world’s population has escaped video games and artificial worlds. However, the problem is actually deeper and more serious than that.

The marks and the ”metaversization ” of the world

Until 2020, the aforementioned virtual worlds remain de facto simple worlds of video games. Granted, players spend a lot of time there, to the point of forgetting real life for some. But the boundary remains very clear between the virtual world and the real world. However, since 2020 and its subsequent closures, some companies have gone ahead and seen these virtual worlds as a way to establish a power that they can no longer use in a world under imprisonment. That’s why real -world companies are slowly taking over the same universe and so on. metaversesthus helping to constantly remove the boundaries that exist between the game world and the real world.

For example, the event Fortnite organizes real-life events right within its game: in April 2020, rapper Travis Scott gave a concert, in-game, in front of 12 million people. Again, the game Roblox partnered with major brands such as Vans and Gucci, to offer players in-game access to the clothes they buy in real life; and vice versa with real -life access to a copy of the clothes they bought in the game. Similarly, the company Atari paid a few hundred thousand euros to buy land with his image in the metaverse: The Sandboxa metaverse who use the technology blockchain ruled by decentralized cryptocurrency sand. Similar examples abound, with companies willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire virtual display ads, virtual land, or virtual objects. In other words, to control this digital world.

These identical worlds seem to be flying at an astonishing speed, an event inspired by the health context that inspires the digitization of the world and human relationships, an event in which some brands are -surf na. Granted, by observing all of this, we may be tempted to view it as a trend effect or a delirium of some who are not on stage and ultimately more and more users. But it’s “hurry” to metaverse raises ethical and political questions.

If it is true that until now all these identical universes were built on support and in addition to the real world, this trend is repeated as the first precedes the second. Real life experiences and relationships then become commodities that can be digitized. For some users, this is now the real world supporting their virtual life. Players work the day to have enough virtual money to spend on their game, usersInstagram thinks of their lives with the purpose of showcasing it on their social media timeline, and so on. Physical life has become a way of our virtual life. Digital is no longer a means, but an end in itself.

From there, there is only one step to cross to prove that, in the world of tomorrow, one will marry the metaversethat children will have fun and learn in the metaverse, that parents will work on metaverse and help their children with their homework metaverse. There is only one step to prove that tomorrow we will work in the real world to get enough purchases of branded clothes for her virtual avatar, so that she is well dressed for the company meeting that took place in metaverse. There is only one step to prove that tomorrow we will work in the real world to have enough money to take a vacation or a concert with our friends in metaverse.

Seems unreal. However, the question will not arise tomorrow. It emerged yesterday, during the Facebook era, and society as a whole is following the model proposed by social networks. In other words, humanity is ripe for metaversethat is to say it is ripe to look formal in a strict and technical way, which is already the case in practice: we live in virtual bubbles, a digital existence interspersed with physical moments.

the metaverse so it is the only extension of a way of life that has been recorded but until then has not been completed for technical reasons. the metaverse, it is the promise of being able to continue to enjoy indefinitely while the real world loses more flavor. the metaverse, it’s the promise of sustaining consumption forever, even if resources run out: buying a car or boarding a plane in the “metaverse” is just one line of code for users. So companies can end up selling things they no longer need to make, which they can generate through lines of code. Travel agencies can sell road trips and cruises without having to manage the movement of their customers, and without having to expect possible repeated incarceration. As long as people value their virtual double, this digital economy will operate, reaping a lot of revenue. This in the end is metaverse, the formalization through technology of a reality that already exists in power through social networks and the digitalization of the world. Now this is really the basic key to understanding the whole of this subject: since metaverse just the end of a long process, the actors of today’s digital economy are in a good position to maintain their dominance and build a more comprehensive form of supremacy.

the metaverse so not a space but a moment. This is the time when our virtual life becomes more valuable than our real life. A moment in time when the integration of the web into all elements of our lives, through connected things, will give birth to a new way of consuming, working, having social relationships, and finally having a your identity. We are already paying more attention, and therefore faster, to our digital lives. the metaverse so that is the time when our lives move almost all over the world into the virtual world, which can only be a process (already going on) for a few decades.

Matthias Hauser

Part 2: The metaverse, an issue of sovereignty [2/2]

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