The Metaverse: How far away is it from being realised?

Just to preface that the Metaverse is a single, shared, immersive, persistent, 3D virtual space where humans experience life in ways they could not in the physical world.

Now, I am going against the grain here and will admit that I like what Meta is doing in trying to get the ball rolling on contructing a Metaverse environment, however, I do have some skepticism as in, will it be built? Are they too early, is it a fad? Or is this the next logical phase of the evolution of the Internet?

Well the first thing to say of course is that the metaverse, as you have described it here, already exists. Zuckerberg’s Metaverse is already a persistent virtual environment in which people can do things that they cannot in the real world.

But I guess that you are alluding to hyperreal VR; something akin to the Holodeck?
I would say that this is far off in terms of tech, but probably not so far away in terms of time.

There are VR headsets that have sufficient resolution that people can be fooled about whether an object is real or not. They are expensive, non-consumer items, but in time we can expect them to become both cheaper and better.

In terms of touch, haptics has a long, long way to go, but it seems that a combination of willful disbelief and the brain’s ability to adapt mean that we don’t actually need to authentically stimulate the sensory receptors for people to get the experience of “touch”.

The two main challenges remain:

  1. Movement. If we want experiences to feel real, and not make us feel ill, we need the feeling of acceleration both in terms of translation and rotation, and ideally with the user being able to do both with his/her actual limbs.
    Each aspect of this is hard, let alone doing all together, especially for a consumer model.

  2. Complexity of environment. Having 3D artists make worlds and computers render them is still a bit of a slow process for generating anything like the complexity of the world we see around us.
    That’s why the most natural experiences are with augmented reality…full VR still has something of the Mario 64 feel.

I’m on record as believing that one day most humans will spend most of their time in some kind of VR or at least very deep AR. If I had to bet, I’d say that day is at least a century away though.

There are more intractable issues in the concept than technological. Namely the requirements of “single” and “shared.”

I’m a fan of Raph Koster, who’s been involved in many online worlds for a long time. He’s a strong proponent of a metaverse, but is very skeptical of how it can get done.

Quote from the article:

Koster said that players have not been that interested in item portability, and the fact that 3D is not really a salve for a lot of the typical experiences the players want.

“Each of these should be regarded as a challenge, not as a permanent barrier. But to enter into this space without seeing these as major unsolved problems with decades of standing is to not really be aware of our own history,” Koster said.

One example is this dream about data portability, or taking the things you buy in one game, like a sword or an avatar, to another. He said data portability can’t happen without standards, and standards are a social coordination problem.

“And worse, there is a social coordination problem that centralizes control,” he said. “If we dream of decentralizing things, we have to deal with the social challenges of getting potentially thousands of developers aligned to one direction. Bear in mind that right now, the two major game engines are Unity and Unreal, and they do not even agree whether the “y axis” means up. That is how far apart we are on basic standards.”

If you ignore the fact that it’s a scam with no product behind the virtual world you are ‘investing’ in, its already here: Earth 2

Welcome, Player
Earth 2 is the Geolocational Metaverse meaning that any place you stand in the real world is digitally represented inside of Earth 2.

We are building a pristine 1:1 scale digital replication of our planet Earth. Earth 2 is one of the most successful startups in history and has grown into the biggest Virtual Land Registry in the world with over 100 million tile land parcels sold.

At Earth 2, we think of the Metaverse as a Massive-Open-Seamless-World that people instinctively relate to through the perception of what exists and what is real around them. We strive to evolve into a new metaphysical presence and cement our place in the history of the Internet’s evolution.

What is your concern here? We basically have one single shared internet, Now I would imagine that in practice you would have a number of different sub-realities hosted by different groups but so long as there are links between them and similar protocol, I don’t see how this is a violation of the overall concept.

So how do you enforce a protocol? I don’t think that the current internet model would really align with the idea of a single “universe.”

In the Earth2 example, what would stop the creation of Earth3, etc.?

Apologies, seems I misunderstood the OP.

Like the Sims? Watch Fassbinder’s film World On A Wire, which is really a 2 part TV movie thing. It’s an incredible film.

But I don’t think any form of virtual reality can make it possible for humans to experience anything they can’t experience in the real world. There’s virtual reality, and then then is reality. One is the real deal, the other is not. And this is from someone that dropped acid maybe 300 times back in the day. After the first few trips, every trip is the same trip. With reality, whew, you just never know!

I guess I just don’t understand the point. We have a real world for doing real things in, like work and social gatherings. We have fake worlds for fake things, like video games and movies. And we have ways of overcoming the shortcomings of the real world, like Zoom meetings and virtual doctor appointments.

What is the goal of Meta? They seem to be advertising it as work-related, but why would someone want to work in a virtual world? We already have virtual meetings, so what does an entire virtual world add to that? Fancy backgrounds and character skins? I’m pretty sure we can already do that too, without spending billions of dollars creating an entire virtual planet first.

Maybe it’s just a lack of imagination on my part? By why aren’t the people selling this idea doing more to explain why anyone would buy it? It’s like building a giant building and just hoping some customers show up and figure out some way to use it and give you money. Rather than having any kind of plan before starting construction.

Without a plan, how do you know if you succeeded? Without stated goals, how do you know whether you’ve achieved anything? That’s my answer. It will be “realized” soon after someone can clearly state what they’re trying to realize. Until the conditions for failure or success are given, they can neither fail nor succeed.

An interesting article was published in New York magazine about this, and a couple of things crop up.

First from the article:>

In Zuckerberg’s vision, the metaverse will be nothing less than the internet’s next iteration, one for which he will control both the hardware (Facebook bought headset maker Oculus in 2014) and the software (Meta has been snapping up companies even tangentially related to VR).

Once we’re plugged in, Meta will have unparalleled access to users’ lives, even the parts the company is not now surveilling.

Not how I want to live.

Then, the article made me think this is an updated version of the old AOL chatrooms, when people would come into a room and immediately ask, “ASL?” for age/sex/location, insert an ASCII image of a rose and say, “A rose for all the pretty ladies,” and then “jump” into a “hot tub” and “buy” a round of “drinks” for everyone else.

It was then I decided (around 1997) that real reality was better than virtual reality. This metaverse is the same thing…the difference was the AOL version was text only, while Zuckerberg’s is…not much better.

How far away is it from being realized? I think Zuckerberg’s version is a flop and as such, it’s very far away. People will use VR/Metaverse type things as games, but not truly live in it.

I can see it possibly being in use in product design where there’s a benefit of being able to move and manipulate, as well as move around, an object in 3d space.

People even at Meta don’t seem all that interested in Zuck’s Metaverse. From what I’ve read there is fairly little participation.

I’ve read, as you have no doubt, oodles of science fiction set in something like the Metaverse. In none of them has anyone ever had to go to the bathroom. Solve that problem and I might be interested.

Do I have a solution to that problem?