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John Lam's Blog


This is an interesting take on the metaverse that I haven't seen before:

The idea that (metaverse : digital) is like (singularity : AI) is certainly a possibility. As Shaan (with a healthy dose of unhelpful crypto speak) correctly says, we've been on a rapid trend towards more a life in a virtual world that is more detached from our physical world thanks to ever improving technology.

Where I disagree with Shaan's tweet is how long this has beeng going on. It's been going on for much longer than 20 years; from the creation of the printing press, we have been on a path to ever increasing amounts of media/digital/online in our life. We have been spending more of our time in front of some other piece of technology and less time in the "real world". When you are reading a book, watching TV, playing a video game, or wearing a VR headset, you aren't in the "real world" - you can be doing those activities from anywhere - your physical environment doesn't matter. You're immersed in these experiences.

At what point does the value of the virtual world become greater to us than the value of our physical world? To some extent, the pandemic has started pushing our work to be more online work and it's not a huge leap to imagine that we are moving more towards a world where the experience of being in an online meeting in the metaverse is better than the experience of being in a real-life meeting.

Perhaps Ben Thompson is right - the metaverse-as-a-place will start in businesses who will buy this expensive technology for their employees, much like how the PC revolution started. It has the characteristics of disruption; it is worse on some dimension (e.g., the fidelity of the experience) that the mainstream cares about but better on some dimension that the early adopters care about (e.g., you don't need to live close to an office to go to work) - and it's on a steeper slope of improvement.

I know I'll be watching this area closely and learning. It's tempting to want to dismiss this because of the dystopian takes on this technology. But that's not an excuse to ignore it or try to block it. Technology is chaotic neutral and can't be un-invented. It's up to all of us to create a better experience for ourselves using it.