Reality Media 9: The Moon Landing for the Metaverse
‘Qualia’ is the term of art in philosophy and consciousness studies for the ‘what it’s like to experience something.’ The way a rose looks and smells are essential to how we experience a rose. The rose qualia is different from the tulip qualia, though they are more similar to one another than either is to the cat qualia.
So what is the qualia of the metaverse? What does it feel like to be in one? What should it feel like to be in one?
We have speculative fictional accounts from Snowcrash or Ready Player One or the Matrix, but I am convinced we don’t need to lean on fiction any more. In fact, we can point to a full spectrum metaverse experience this past week: the war in Ukraine. If we keep thinking the Metaverse is a technology platform, we will miss the woods for the trees, for it’s the experience that counts, not the particular tech on which it’s grounded. Consider the following list of metaverse features:
Immersion: here you go
Augmented Reality: here you go
Realtime maps of the fighting: here you go
And in the annals of unintended consequences, you don’t want to give away troop movements because they left their phones in their pockets.
The automation of work: here you go
Fake news that looks like real news, here you go
Cryptocurrency speculation, here you go
The Neo of the Ukrainian Matrix: here you go
Snark: here you go
All of these sources are coming together because of a major world event. The energy unleashed by that event is:
precipitating investments of time, energy and money by millions of big and small actors; which in turn is
leading to a densely interconnected network of individuals and institutions who are creating a collective reality on the fly.
It as if Elon Musk had said, I’ll hand over $100 billion of my fortune to anyone who wants to create a worldwide metaverse with first person shooter games, real time location tracking and mapping, massive money flows, a select group of elite players and hundreds of millions of extras, and Putin had raised his hand and said: I got this.
The ongoing war is the hand-crafted prototype that will be broken down into chunks and repurposed for everyday experiences.
The Ukraine war is like the moon landing for the Metaverse: the massive (if unplanned) investment out which arise many smaller outcomes.
What’s missing in this picture is the second by second surveillance of every single object and action that’s essential to a full blown Metaverse. For that, you will have to travel from Kyiv to Washington.