It's a combination of two words - meta and universe.
Meta, in ancient Greek, meant to ‘transcend’ or ‘go beyond’. So in our context, meta means transcending or going beyond the limitations of the physical world. So what about the internet, you may think? Meta would now mean going beyond the internet to another whole new realm.
It depends on the context you use the word in. For example, as per physics, the universe would mean all the galaxies, stars and celestial objects that we’ve explored. With help from space technology, satellites, telescopes and other scientific equipment. In our context, we can consider the internet as a universe because of the number of people using it to socialize and make their lives easier.
We can think of the Metaverse as an interconnected realm of virtual and 3D worlds. All built using the storage capacity of all internet enabled devices in the world. So, imagine the Metaverse as a gigantic internet, where physical separation is not a limitation anymore. The purpose is to remove all physical barriers to communications, commerce, and trade. From this vantage point, the Metaverse now becomes an alternative universe. A universe where artificial intelligence, blockchain, big data and hardware, are all connected.
No, it's not. Despite the prevalence of the internet, there are many restrictions across the world. The movement of people, data, capital and technology is not completely free. The current iteration of the internet means the dominance of an advertising driven business model. It's about collecting data rather than building products and services that would be useful to people for the long-term.
Second, our financial system that makes the world go round is not a part of the internet. Now, you must think, how is this possible? Because you pay for products and services on the internet all the time right? Well, yes, and no. Yes, banks and financial institutions use electronic means of payment transfer. But their systems are not a part of the internet like how website building technologies are. Their systems are separate. Blockchain technology has baked payments on the internet. Cryptocurrencies are a better way of handling monetary policy. Software will drive money supply and management.
Third, and most important, centralized software do not operate with each other. As users, we cannot take along our records with us wherever we go on the internet. This is because current internet platforms want to use network-effects to ensure that you never leave their platforms. They want to use data to target you and change your behavior in subtle ways. Decentralization of the internet, and the Metaverse will change these issues.
The Metaverse is not ready. While games like Fortnite, Roblox and other open world games grant us the feeling that we are, they lack many properties. Even decentralized applications are not yet, because users cannot move from one to the other.
Second, we need to wait for a lot of improvements in both hardware and software standards and technology. For instance, most of the current internet is still blockchain-based, which should be the de facto database of the metaverse. VR hardware is still expensive for a majority of the world’s population, most of whom still use feature, 2G, 3G and 4G phones. In fact, a perfect metaverse will need speeds of 5G and beyond, which is still in trial stages in most of the world.
The Metaverse is inevitable. It's a matter of time.
Last updated on:15th February 2022