What is Metaverse and how it can impact the future ? (5 mins Read)
Metaverse is the new internet which will blend all the elements of online games, social media, virtual reality, augmented reality and cryptocurrencies. Metaverse will bring a novel phase of interconnected virtual experience which will change the future of work.
Metaverse will need a range of technologies to function, AR and VR being the two most obvious ones for accessing the metaverse, however 5G, AI, blockchain, cryptocurrency etc will be needed too. All these will provide not just a way to share information like in social media, but also provide experiences like games, meetings and some other new forms which we are not yet be aware of. Most importantly it will provide a strong feeling of presence which we will have with the other people whom we interact with. All of these can be tied together within an economy where goods and services are purchased and sold much like the internet of today.
What will be the impact of metaverse on jobs?
One of the most obvious impacts that the metaverse will have on the jobs is that new types of jobs will be created.
The existing technology needs to be more developed in order to access the metaverse like AR/VR glasses and the spaces, apps and ecosystems in the metaverse need to be built by the creators and the developers, which is a part of the reason that 10k new employees will be hired in Europe by Facebook.
Mark Zuckerberg also lays out some key parts of the metaverse which will have large roles in opening new job opportunities:
- The largest and the first is gaming , a series of social games like chess and ping pong but with digital avatars facing us rather then staring at a screen to play with friends. Moreover, a number of new VR games which will be available on quest and become more interactive and immersive as the time goes by. As the gaming industry is continuing to expand, it is expected to hit $200 billion by the end of 2024, so it’s easy to see that at least a good proportion of gaming will shift to the metaverse and away from the screen based interaction.
- One of the most challenging things to imagine about the metaverse is the building of products within it. A new ecosystem needs to be created for the products such as buying a new skin for your avatar and being able to use it across the metaverse, rather than just in the game where you bought it as it is today. The metaverse idea will take this to another level which goes beyond gaming and which will open up a creative space/economy where digital product creators can earn a better living and new businesses can be built to take full advantage of this. Depending on the size, it may be that a substantial portion of the global economy in the future would only be partially connected to the real world, while the rest would exist exclusively in this new digital frontier. The online ecosystems which we have today, like the online communities which use the social media to communicate, are only the start of this trend.
- Metaverse would impact remote work significantly. Starting from the pandemic and people working from home, the ability to interact in an immersive way with colleagues across the world, but this is still far away from the new idea of metaverse. Microsoft presented Microsoft Mesh earlier which essentially will do the same thing. However, the metaverse needs to be seen not as a singular Facebook initiative but one that would be built by several organisations. A great example of this are the several product design teams which used the VR headsets during the lockdown to help visualize collaboratively what they were working on while working from home.
- Adding on to the previous points, of entirely new businesses and work being generated for the metaverse, we have already started seeing entirely new forms of work coming up. One of the unique examples is the Axie Infinity Blockchain game which comes in the form of play to earn. Players earn huge rewards in the form of cryptocurrency tokens, which can then be exchanged for actual money and there are people even from the lower income countries who have made this as their main source of income. Although this game is still in the early phases there are a number of such games which are already available and being further developed and would be incorporated into the metaverse to enable self sustaining digital economies, however this is still a few years away. Though these new spaces are being created as a very exciting venture, they probably won’t be developed without some issues and the privacy issue has been in the center for a long time.
CONCLUSION: The ultimate question that needs to be posed is whether the metaverse will bring about a net benefit or net loss to our society which seems to be struggling with large issues of economic frustration, growing ideological polarisation and uncertainty of the future in the face of the pandemic. But again, perhaps a new ecosystem where less anonymous and more immersive interaction exists will enable the breakdown in the conversation to be resolved. Considering the speed at which technologies are being developed and companies are implementing new ideas around immersive reality, it's only a matter of time before the metaverse becomes a solid reality.