A 2042 remake of the popular 1982 Bollywood song “Yeh tera ghar, yeh mera ghar”
It’s 2042, and the human experience is transformed by the metaverse. Schoolverse, gymverse, workverse, dinnerverse, movieverse, etc. are common now with none of the dystopian apocalypse baggage. Electric flying cars and drones are mainstream, with commercial jets transitioning to renewables. A pair of glasses enhance your real world view with emails, games, music, etc. that your smartphone currently does on a tiny screen. Ecommerce, work, movies, etc. are no longer restricted to a tiny smartphone screen but unique universes that you apparate/enter/fly-in/what-have you with avatars for assistance/support. Your art collection at home is virtual with an NFT gallery of painting, 3D sculptures, and other abstract art that you flaunt with your friends while experiencing movies with the protagonist, making decisions for him that determines the outcome of the movie.
Like the infinite virtual real estate of the internet, every person, business, and enterprise on the planet has infinite meta-universes generating terabytes of data every day. This data is owned by the same people, businesses, and enterprises instead of businesses, governments, and institutions - power back to the people. And each person literally has their own server farm for their metaverses, data, and their digital twins. A precursor to a connected conscious? Maybe. And that is not limited to their data footprint, but their medical records (we left the cumbersome paper trail around early 2030s) and personalised genetic treatments, 3D LiDAR/holographic memories (for lack of better words to call the future of photos and videos), food/dining, sports, and the list goes on. Great sci-fi predictions have come true in a path much different than expected.
Why do we need automobiles when we have perfectly healthy horses? Why email when we have couriers/postal systems for centuries now? God forbid smartphones when we have landline phones. #enoughsaid. Technology is at the core of human progress, and software is at the core of technological progress. Great progression requires great leaps of faith, and the 3D experience is one such leap of faith. And why is 2021 the key year for the meta-ecosystem?
The metaverse is a part of the meta-ecosystem, specifically the experiential part of it. There are other components that we overlook - like data footprint, and ownership, security of all ecosystem components and supporting hardware (end-user level, and infrastructure) for computations and storage. To set some context, every user today generates at least tens of megabytes of data everyday through email, social media, content consumption, and communication, and this is independent of metadata generated by the user’s device (e.g. geolocation, Android/iOS diagnostics, let’s not forget laptops, etc.). This is from a 2D screen of your smartphone or laptop. Replacing this with the 3D metaverse will generate 10x-100x more data everyday. This data:
To set a bit more context, 3 billion users on Facebook generate let’s say on average 10mb data a day, that’s 30gb of data stored with Facebook only everyday - or roughly equivalent to an iPhone SE (32gb). On the metaverse, this will be 3200gb or 3.2tb of day everyday that’s no longer stored with Facebook, but stored with the users. This data should be secure to ensure it is not compromised in anyway, and simple enough at the same time so that users understand what they do with their data - not like complex legal language of end-user license agreements of today.
2021 is the turning point in these discussions, and startups who will lead the meta-ecosystem of the future already exist to build their solutions on new distributed frameworks - alias Web3. This is the promised land from the current centralized management of the internet to a future decentralized internet.
The mindset change
Recently, I was in a panel discussion, and there was an interesting point about people’s mindset. I paraphrase Anshul Rustaggi at Totality Corporation - people should be comfortable with having decentralized authority. For millennia, we have always looked up to centralized authority like tribal leaders/kings, the houses of power, financial regulators, social media, etc. for our welfare.
That makes soo much sense because the meta-ecosystem attacks the existing order of things where power, users, data, and authenticity is all decentralized with collective frameworks (that you choose to opt-in) to determine the future of the collective. If done wrong, the meta-ecosystem will be controlled by a corporation or a handful of corporations who run the infrastructure and we are back to centralized authority. I’m not sure if we have ever achieved decentralized authority at a scale as large as we are today at any point in history - this is a the first time humanity will be embarking on such an experiment at this scale.
So, what next?
Be aware about the technological changes that will drive the meta-ecosystem, and try out Web3 applications. This is still years away from mainstream, but pick up the skills today, and you will build the ecosystem for the world. You will start seeing many job roles in these areas in the next few years, and it is wise to pick up the skills right now and be pioneers in defining the future of connected communication. At the same time, my fellow millennials, pick up skills, invest and actively participate in Web3 discussions to shape the future. And the baby boomer generation, you are the decision makers - run experiments, quickly see results, and course-correct, but don’t delay decision-making. It is best to be a part of this global movement rather than playing catch-up.
On this side of time
To be sure, technology is not the panacea for all social ills and societal challenges we face today, and those will continue to exist, but hopefully to a much lesser extent than current times. As we rewind back to our reality today, key ecosystem partners like NetApp are providing the scaffolding for future applications like Fabrik create categories that were in the realm of sci-fi just a few years ago.
Looking forward in-time, does the future look scary, underwhelming, exciting, or overwhelming from this side of time?