MANTA—The Brain of Tomorrow’s Metaverse (1/4)
Please read in conjunction with
So what is the Metaverse?
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney believes that the Metaverse will become a real-time 3D medium with a completely fair economic system, one that people participate in on an unprecedented scale.
Roblox CEO David Baszucki believes that the Metaverse is a long-lasting, shared 3D virtual space, within which people take on their personalized avatars to participate in entertainment, work and creative activities.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg thinks of the Metaverse as the next-generation computing platform after the mobile internet, saying the Metaverse may also be seen as the Internet with an actual form that can be experienced sensorily.
Tencent CEO Pony Ma said the gate linking the real world to the virtual world is open. Whether it’s constructing the real world based on the virtual world, or mirroring the physical world to the digital world, we are providing ever more real experiences to users.
In fact, it might be difficult to put an academically solid label on what exactly is the Metaverse. After all, all newborn industries would be difficult to define.
In fact, the Metaverse is both real and virtual. It builds a platform that links the real and the virtual worlds. In the real world, people’s lives can go on like normal. On the one hand, the virtual world can copy the fundamental logic of the real world. On the other, the virtual world may also transcend the limitations of time and space, presenting people with wholly new experiences for socializing, entertainment, investment, etc.
In addition, the Metaverse is just like the real world in that besides supporting all forms of activities in the real world, people’s diverse identities, assets, economic systems, cultural customs, laws and regulations can all be reflected in the virtual world. The Metaverse creates a portal to the digital world so that more people can participate.
A Crossroad for the Metaverse
Countless experts have predicted that the Metaverse is the ultimate form of digitalization. It is the upgraded version of the Internet. But there are two problems plaguing today’s version of the Internet.
A highly centralized Internet is against the ideal of “freedom and openness” advocated in the early days of the Internet. As tech giants control more and more users’ data, they have no restraint at abusing this power to infringe upon user privacy.
If user privacy can’t even be guaranteed in the current stage of the Internet, how are we going to solve this concern after the Metaverse has removed the limitations of time and space?
It’s not difficult to imagine that with the Metaverse bringing the real and the virtual worlds together, users will spend considerably longer time online. Companies facilitating the Metaverse will undoubtedly take the opportunity to peep deeper into user information and monitor their behaviour in the Metaverse.
Without a doubt, the Metaverse will collect personal data in quantities and forms unmatched by today’s Internet. And because of that, the industry should also take on the responsibilities that come with it. To protect data from theft and abuse, the collection, storage and management of data are likely to be put under stronger regulation in the future.
In many countries including China, there are personal data protection laws in place regulating the collection and use of user information. Companies are required to seek user approval before using their personal data. But in reality, it is nearly impossible to give users the ability to track exactly how their data have been used. This task will be even more challenging in the Metaverse.
Computing Power Shortage
The Metaverse will speed up the integration of the real and the digital economy, and the combination of computing power and high-speed internet will lay a solid foundation for the growth of the Metaverse.
Arguably, computing power is the determining factor for how well the virtual world can integrate with our real world.
To build a platform where all types of virtual activities take place, firstly we need to realize that all the content and visual effects in the virtual world are made possible by graphics rendering consuming computing power. Secondly, to give users an immersive and low-latency experience in the Metaverse, we need a high-speed network and the capacity to process astronomical quantities of data, in addition to technologies such as VR/AR, big data, blockchain and AI.
The speed of communication depends on our computing capacity, which determines whether or not we can have a real-world-like low-latency experience. Take Free Guy for example. In the movie, what is happening in the real world can affect the existence of Free City. If computing power was cut off at the end, then Guy wouldn’t have been able to make it past the border of the Free City into the Edenesque world created by Keyboard.
History has proven that computing power will bring about a quantum leap in technologies. Because of this, the demand for computing power in the tech sector is always greater than the supply, especially now with the popularization of the Metaverse, which will remain the largest consumer of computing power so far in human history. Conversely, computing power will also determine the ceiling of the Metaverse.
An unprecedented challenge facing humanity is whether stable and sustainable computing power can be found to support the development of the Metaverse.
As we can see, the issues of privacy protection and insufficient computing power are two obstacles facing the Metaverse, which is now at a crossroads.
For the sustained growth of the Metaverse, we must find the solutions.
1. How to guarantee data security in the Metaverse?
2. How to provide enough computing power for the Metaverse?
3. Are there mature technologies right now that we can apply to the construction of the Metaverse?