Virtual Society: The Metaverse and the New Frontiers of Human Experience

Virtual Society

Virtual Society


ISBN: 0593239970


„Virtual Society: The Metaverse and the New Frontiers of Human Experience“ von Herman Narula ist ein fesselndes und tiefgründiges Werk, das sich mit der Entstehung und Entwicklung der virtuellen Welt und ihrer Auswirkungen auf die menschliche Erfahrung beschäftigt.

Über den Autor

Narula, Mitgründer und CEO von Improbable, einem Unternehmen, das sich auf die Entwicklung von skalierbaren und verteilten Simulationen spezialisiert hat, bietet in diesem Buch eine ausgewogene Mischung aus technischen Details, kulturellen Beobachtungen und philosophischen Reflexionen. Dabei nimmt er den Leser auf eine spannende Reise durch die Geschichte der virtuellen Realität, den Aufstieg des Metaverse und die möglichen Auswirkungen auf unsere Gesellschaft und unseren Alltag.

Über das Buch

Der Autor beginnt mit einer Einführung in die Grundlagen der virtuellen Realität und ihre Ursprünge, bevor er sich auf die rasante Entwicklung des Metaverse konzentriert. Durch seine Expertise in der Branche bietet Narula einzigartige Einblicke in die Technologien, die den Aufbau und die Nutzung des Metaverse ermöglichen, und beleuchtet die Herausforderungen, denen sich Entwickler und Nutzer gegenübersehen.

Ein besonderes Augenmerk legt Narula auf die ethischen, sozialen und wirtschaftlichen Implikationen der virtuellen Welten. Er diskutiert die Vorteile, die der Metaverse für Bildung, Arbeit und Unterhaltung bietet, warnt aber auch vor den potenziellen Gefahren, wie etwa dem Verlust der Privatsphäre, der Entfremdung von der physischen Welt und der Ausbeutung von Nutzern durch Unternehmen.

Das Buch ist hervorragend strukturiert und reich an Anschauungsmaterial. Es sind zahlreiche Fallstudien enthalten, die zeigen, wie Unternehmen und Einzelpersonen das Metaverse nutzen, um Innovationen voranzutreiben und neue Geschäftsmodelle zu entwickeln. Diese Beispiele bieten dem Leser ein tieferes Verständnis dafür, wie die virtuelle Welt in den verschiedensten Bereichen eingesetzt werden kann.

Herman Narula schreibt in einem klaren und zugänglichen Stil, der sowohl technisch versierte als auch weniger technikaffine Leser anspricht. Die Leidenschaft des Autors für das Thema ist in jedem Kapitel spürbar und trägt dazu bei, den Leser in die Faszination des Metaverse einzutauchen.

Insgesamt ist „Virtual Society: The Metaverse and the New Frontiers of Human Experience“ ein aufschlussreiches und inspirierendes Buch, das sowohl für Experten als auch für Laien interessant ist. Es bietet eine tiefgründige Analyse der technologischen und gesellschaftlichen Aspekte des Metaverse und regt zu Diskussionen und Reflexionen über die Zukunft unserer digitalen und physischen Welt an.

Zitate und Takeaways

“One day this book will be read by a person without a body”

“We already know with some confidence that the mind is a machine that processes information. Connecting it to a computer—one with the capacity to simulate an entire world—is a fully plausible outcome and, I would argue, an inevitable one”

The vision of a virtual future

“This vision of a virtual future might strike you as dystopian. Maybe you envision humans being reduced to rows of bloodless, pulsating brains in jars, or you worry that technological change is happening too fast. Maybe you fear that our own world may devolve into waste and chaos as we escape into cyberspace. Perhaps to you the prospect of a life mediated by machines seems like one in which we’ll be deprived of our essential humanity.
But I’d challenge you to set aside your preconceptions and consider the following: Throughout the history of our species, we humans have always imagined other, better futures for ourselves, intangible worlds that we expect to be more fulfilling and experientially rich than our daily lives. Our ability to visualize and believe in these futures is itself a cultural technology, one that we use to improve our experiences of life and reality. Depictions of the afterlife, created by artists for millennia, aren’t just manifestations of religious devotion: They are extensions of an ongoing human impulse to instantiate the intangible, to visualize ideal worlds and thus make them real. We have always wanted to see, feel, and understand more than we do, and in pursuit of these goals we have consistently tried to transcend the limits imposed on us by biology and geology, and extend ourselves into potential worlds mediated only by our minds.“


post-human-technologies will soon produce robust virtual societies that will transform the way we live on Earth, while redefining what it means to be human

Many worlds

“Before long, people will earn money in virtual worlds by performing an array of jobs that will match and exceed real-world jobs in terms of salary, accessibility, and satisfaction. The inevitable expansion of economic opportunities within these other worlds will have a transformative effect on human society.In a decade or two, the locus of our culture, economy, and society will shift from a single world—the legacy “real world,” you could say—to many worlds.”


“tech soothsayers are often correct about the general direction in which society is headed while also being wildly wrong about the specifics of the journey from here to there. Just think of the dot-com crash and the demise of so many companies that, while in the right field, had the wrong model of how value was created therein. The public is not well served when a new technology’s loudest promoters cannot clearly explain its point or its purpose. Opaque and breathless narratives of the future tend to breed cynicism and resentment. This state is where we’re at right now with the metaverse.”

Culture adapts to technology nonlinear

“We almost always fail to understand that culture adapts to technology in nonlinear ways. If you had told most investors at the dawn of the internet that, in twenty years, people would be trading badly drawn JPEGs for millions of dollars while obsessively photographing every meal, or that a system like blockchain could be developed by entirely anonymous individuals, nobody would have believed you.”

Ancient Metaverses

“The megaliths at Göbekli Tepe may seem to you like a product of a distant and alien past. But I believe they represent a fundamental human impulse, a power that we still manifest today. The first monuments erected by humans weren’t carved out of stone so much as out of ingenuity. They were living ideas birthed into existence through collective agreement, imaginary forces imbued with the power of life and death, virtual worlds created through the force of a society’s collective imagination. For 10,000 years, humans have found ways to make the unreal real, just by willing it so.”

When words become worlds

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world,” Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. When we verbalize these worlds of ideas, we begin to create social models of them, ones that people other than ourselves can begin to access and use. In a meaningful sense, then, our words create our worlds. The common phrase “visualize a better world”—one in which world peace is the norm, for example—fundamentally means to visualize a virtual world, one in which that idealized outcome has already come true, and then to use the truth of that world to create equivalent value here on Earth.”

Shroud of Turin

“The Shroud of Turin, for instance, is considered priceless not because of the inherent worth of the fabric upon which its famous image appears, but because society deems it valuable. That value is an expression of belief in another world that has become substantially important to our own. It is a virtual object that, in its function, is not dissimilar to the works of digital art that so many people today find hard to understand: a discrete, irreplaceable token imbued with value localized within a constructed world of meaning.
It might seem like a stretch to compare the Shroud of Turin to a non-fungible token (NFT). But the differences between the relics of yesterday and the virtual objects of today and tomorrow—between virtual worlds accessed by the ritual imagination and those worlds accessed by Wi-Fi—aren’t as stark as you might initially think.”

Virtual Worlds

“Virtual worlds are not and have never been just games, and imagining, creating, and role-playing within them is not just an entertainment activity. In the present day as in antiquity, they are and have been fundamental human accomplishments: units of cultural technology that create substantial intrinsic and extrinsic value for the societies that deploy them. The new digital manifestation of these socially constructed realities will be just the latest in a long sequence of modern and ancient metaverses. The line connecting Göbekli Tepe to the immersive digital worlds of the future is perhaps more direct than you might think.”

Point of view

“ If you insist on viewing the world exclusively from the standpoint of productive utility, not only will you fail to understand the past, you will fail in your efforts to create an optimal future.”

Socially Constructed Realities

“…socially constructed realities are cultural technologies created by humans to help enhance and order their lives. They represent another stage on which society conducts its business. Wins and losses in the world of sport impact relations between countries, and can act as another form of diplomacy. Imbuing certain people with fame creates models to follow for others. We use the “other world” to magnify the psychological value to us of our everyday lives by infusing ordinary things and occurrences with meaning. We “play in a virtual world” and score “virtual points” with social meaning because something deep inside us compels us to do so. Fulfilling these needs correlates to positive mental and emotional outcomes.”

“Virtual worlds change the real world in ways that we cannot really predict when we create them. All that we can reasonably predict, in fact, is that those other worlds will in fact change our own given sufficient time and depth of belief. You could even say that we create these worlds precisely so that they will change our own.”

“The world of the Huldufólk is a socially constructed reality that, even today, matters enough to regularly affect daily life in Iceland. It’s real enough to stop a road from being built, and while skeptics might consider belief in the Huldufólk to be an unnecessary impediment to progress”

“The value transfer from one world to another often takes that form, where the other world offers a necessary pretext for taking desirable action in this world.”

The Limitations

“Not only does this metaversal future bring with it the possibility of creating more fulfillment, meaning, and value for more people and societies than ever before, it will also allow us to construct other worlds that are more transparent and democratic than their predecessors.”

“There will be many differences between a modern virtual world and these ancient metaverses. The worlds we create with computer code will be infinitely more complex and immersive than their predecessors. They will be more capacious and accessible than ever. They will be places that you can visit, places where the parameters will be clear and understood by all. You won’t be reliant on a high priest to tell you what’s happened and why. These worlds will have understandable and explorable rules, which means that you will be able to find your own valuable truths therein.”

Work, play and the purpose of free time

“I don’t want to work / I want to bang on the drum all day.” With this classic couplet from his 1983 song “Bang the Drum All Day,” Todd Rundgren captured the complicated relationship among work, leisure, and personal fulfillment in modern society”

Leisure is essential to civilization

Leisure is essential to civilization,” wrote Bertrand Russell in his 1935 essay “In Praise of Idleness,” arguing the merits of seeing labor as a means to an end, rather than as an end in itself.
The parameters of the optimal “work-life balance” have evolved over time, in tandem with the changing nature of the economy. Western society no longer offers the abundant opportunities for communitas that, throughout history, have counterbalanced the demands, pressures, and hierarchies of the workaday world. As we stand at the brink of the coming age of virtual society, and all the social and economic changes that this new era will bring, we have a unique opportunity to reexamine these parameters—and to redefine the nature of both work and play while optimizing for peak fulfillment rather than just peak productivity.”

“The best virtual worlds, however, are gymnasiums for the mind, environments that are purpose-built for human fulfillment.”


“Until the practice was ruled illegal by the Supreme People’s Court in October 2021, many Chinese companies expected their workers to abide by the “996” work culture: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days per week.”

Automation, computerization, and outsourcing

“Automation, computerization, and outsourcing; a general corporate emphasis on maximizing shareholder value; widespread wage stagnation; and the ongoing shift from an industrial economy to a data economy have transformed the nature of both blue- and white-collar middle-class labor—as well as middle-class leisure.”

bullshit jobs

“David Graeber argued that automation has created a vast reservoir of “bullshit jobs,” in which many people “spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed.”


“and a machine that runs twenty-four hours per day will produce the most widgets of all. As such, at many factories, the workday is divided into eight-hour shifts, so that there will always be people on hand to keep the widget machines humming.”

Work no more than 4 hours a day

“In a world where no one is compelled to work more than four hours a day every person possessed of scientific curiosity will be able to indulge it, and every painter will be able to paint without starving, however excellent his pictures may be,” wrote Bertrand Russell, arguing that society should use industrial technologies to shorten the workday and make all men and women members of the leisure class. What happened in practice was very different. As the grand machine grew more and more efficient, producing more and more things to higher standards in less time—and, just as important, as other parts of the world caught up to the West and began to compete in world markets—the pursuit of productivity was decoupled from the pursuit of a better, richer life for workers.”


“Gaming is a massive, multibillion-dollar industry, with worldwide revenues in 2020 sitting at just around $180 billion, according to MarketWatch—more than was earned by the global film industry and all North American professional sports combined.”

“But if video games are black holes of ratiocination—if they’re vectors for addiction and lethargy—then why do they seem as involved and complex as a detailed hobby or an industrial process? Gaming seems substantially different from other addictive behaviors, such as smoking opium or drinking, for instance. ”

“The amount and variety of cognitive activity required by the virtual environments of today suggest that video games aren’t just an escape from the real world: They’re an alternative, one that is poised to meet the sorts of psychological needs that are no longer being met by society in its quest for increased productivity. Rather than scorn or fear these virtual worlds that are now commanding so much of our time, we should learn from them, and find ways to incorporate those lessons into the real world.
To understand why video games are becoming ever more complex, and how virtual worlds will integrate with our own, we must transcend this recent model of a society where endless productivity is the ultimate good, and examine the scientific understanding of the raw motivations of human beings.”

Purpose and Fulfilment

“In a 2010 interview with ABC World News Tonight, the physicist Stephen Hawking asserted that “work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it.” In the context of modern society, there’s a lot of truth to that statement. Not only is your job a means of earning the money that you need to live—a meaningful need—but there is an inherent satisfaction in feeling like you are a productive member of society, like you are playing a small part in making society function.”

“As a result, many people today are putting in long hours while juggling multiple jobs and gig work, none of which offer the same sort of steady income and long-term stability as the jobs enjoyed by earlier generations.”

“If work gives you purpose, at least in part, then it stands to reason that when you lose your work, you lose your sense of purpose. As David Graeber noted in his book Bullshit Jobs, losing one’s purpose can be a psychologically devastating experience. It can make you question your place in this world, and whether there’s even any point in going on. In a de-ritualized world that no longer officially values engagement with socially constructed realities, if you can’t find purpose at work, it can be hard to find purpose at all.”

“Productivity tends to increase over the long term, because the machines and programs used in work contexts are improving all the time. But as machine labor becomes more central to production processes, human labor will necessarily become more and more marginalized.”

“Likewise, we all inherently know that even the most stable, productive jobs aren’t necessarily fulfilling ones. Many jobs are repetitive and boring, replete with recurring tasks that do not really stimulate or challenge the worker. Many workplaces, likewise, do not prioritize employee satisfaction; instead, they take it for granted that productivity creates satisfaction. But I would argue that work is not fulfilling because it’s productive. Workers are most productive when their work is fulfilling.”


“If you stop and think about the times that you’ve felt burned-out at your job, it’s likely that they correspond to times when you haven’t felt heard or valued by your managers and colleagues, or times when your tasks have lacked the sort of complexity necessary to make a job feel consistently interesting. In these sorts of disempowering situations, you may well decide to put the minimum effort toward your labors. ”

“Good jobs and games lead with fulfillment, then expect productivity to follow.”

Management and Motivation

“Consciously or not, people want to be able to experience continued success—they want obstacles that they can learn to surmount, not ones that will thwart or bore them every single time—which is why it is so fundamentally dispiriting that so many of our jobs seem to be stuck in an endless, enervating loop.”

“Instead, humans have innate needs for complexity and fulfillment. We want to feel good at things, challenged by things, with a measure of control over our own choices and a sense of belonging within our milieu. We want to use our ingenuity to create value, both for ourselves and for the worlds that matter to us.”

“But games can be tuned to prioritize principles of fulfillment much more easily than a job can.”

Better experience for better living

“Whether we’re traveling the world in order to expand our perspectives, attempting to acquire a new skill or hone an existing one, or simply pursuing a hobby that brings us joy, there is great psychological and practical value in doing things that excite, engage, challenge, and change us. One could even argue that the point of our journey through life is to maximize these sorts of experiences, while minimizing harmful ones.”

“The optimal experience, then, is both fulfilling and useful: one that provides intrinsic satisfaction while also catalyzing personal growth and productive change.”


“Deci and Ryan argue that humans are motivated by their fundamental needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness: the building blocks of human fulfillment and psychological growth. Autonomy is, basically, the desire to set your own agenda: the freedom to articulate and pursue your own goals and projects while exercising control over you own behavior. Competence is the need to feel good at things: to be able to grow in knowledge and accomplishment, to acquire and master skills and deploy them in a range of environments. Relatedness is the need for a sense of connection with the people around you: those feelings of attachment and belonging that can make you feel included in and uplifted by group dynamics.”

“Make no mistake: Virtual experiences are real experiences.”

“If games can provide their players with intrinsic fulfillment, then expansive, networked virtual worlds will be able to boost those fulfillment levels and convert them into social value.”


“Travel is a classic example of an experience that is not directly productive yet is understood to be a worthwhile use of time. The concept of the life-changing youthful sightseeing adventure is rooted in an Enlightenment tradition known as the Grand Tour, in which wealthy young people would mark their entry into adulthood by spending months or years immersing themselves in all the art, culture, and history that Europe had to offer. ”

“The purpose of virtual worlds is to efficiently and reliably create fulfilling and useful experiences for their participants.”

“The experiences that I call near experiences are those that are available to us right now, or will be available to us soon, based on the technologies that we currently have or are immediately on the horizon. What I call far experiences are those that we can credibly expect to have at some point, based on the expected evolution of the technologies we use to create and access those experiences.”

“Take, for example, the process of making new friends and building new relationships online. There are plenty of stories of people who have never met in person becoming real friends based exclusively on the exchanges they’ve had over time on the internet.”

Experience turn into friendship

“Research shows that sharing a memorable experience with a stranger is a reliable way to create a lasting bond with that person and turn a stranger into a friend.”

“As the military aphorism goes, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” There’s no way to really know whether a plan will work, or exactly how or if the plan is flawed, until it’s deployed. Then, if and when the plan doesn’t work, it’s usually too late to scrap it and devise a better one.”

Currency of virtual worlds

“The worlds that do a good job of meeting their users’ experiential needs will thrive, and the ones that do a bad job will ultimately fail. In his book Italian Journey, the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe explained that the purpose of his own extended European trip was to “discover myself in the objects I see.”

A Framework

Neal Stephenson’s book Snow Crash, for example, coined the term metaverse and popularized the term avatar. In his story “Burning Chrome,” William Gibson both neologized the word cyberspace and defined it as a network-aided “mass consensual hallucination.” Where’s the lie?”

“According to many of these parties, realism in the context of digital environments is broadly synonymous with photorealism. Do the world’s avatars look like actual people, not cartoons? Do its backgrounds resemble the sort of visuals you might see in a live-action film or television show? When the wind blows in the context of a virtual world, can you see an avatar’s hair ruffle?”

“Eventually, all of this complexity may mean that virtual worlds will end up feeling more real than the real world.”


“Even if you could have afforded your own VR headset, there wouldn’t have been very much for you to do with it. In the 1990s, most internet users were still connecting to CompuServe and AOL on dial-up modems.”

Virtual Reality

“The first wave of VR failed not just because the graphics weren’t hyper-realistic or because the infrastructure wasn’t yet in place for it to succeed, but because people couldn’t find fulfillment within these virtual worlds.”

Immersion without experience is just a visit to a wax museum filled with eerie, static figures, or, at best, a ride at Disney World: a rich environment, but one in which you nonetheless must stay on the preordained path.


“Habitat went offline in 1988, but the lessons of its open-world architecture and fulfillment-centric model have been reflected in a succession of massively multiplayer gaming environments that have redefined what it means to exist in a virtual space. From Second Life to Minecraft to Eve Online, countless games and virtual worlds have since presented players with open realms in which they are free, within the parameters of both the game and the technology that powers it, to choose their own destinies.”


“As of August 2021, Minecraft boasted more than 141 million monthly active users. People don’t get sick of Minecraft.”


“The good news is that a virtual world needn’t exactly mirror the real world’s level of depth in order to support a society.”

“Eventually, virtual worlds will function as “what-if machines” that we can use to answer questions about things, so that we can go from a society that is often stymied by complex problems to one that can learn how to better manage complexity in the real world”

“But infinity is not achievable in the real world. Rather, our maximum operations per second are limited by the capacities of the technologies that undergird the virtual worlds we build—and as we approach those limits, our virtual worlds can start to feel a bit shaky.”


“There have been a multiplicity of metaverses throughout history, and the same will be true in the digital sphere. There will probably also be a metaverse of metaverses—a megaverse, perhaps—that connects the various metaverses together.”

“Will the metaverse be a centralized virtual space with multiple points of entry, or merely a loosely related constellation of virtual world–type experiences?”

Metaverse Ontologies

“The metaverse has been defined variously as an “even more immersive and embodied internet” (Mark Zuckerberg), a “living multiverse of worlds” (Jon Radoff), a massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds which can be experienced synchronously and persistently by an effectively unlimited number of users with an individual sense of presence, and with continuity of data” (Matthew Ball), an “engaging digital landscape” where you can “bicycle, surf, motorcycle, drive, compete, tell stories, be told stories” (Strauss Zelnick), and “an aspirational term for a future digital world that feels more tangibly connected to our real lives and bodies” (The Verge), to cite just a handful of the more cogent definitions I could find.”

Sebastian Winklers definition metaverse

The metaverse is a movement or moment rather than a destination.


“The Holodeck and the Matrix stood apart from the real world; they weren’t integrated with it in the way that tomorrow’s metaverses clearly will be. The Matrix, you will remember, was born out of a machine dystopia; it was integrated with the real world in a way that brought no value to the world’s human inhabitants.”

Meaning and the Metaverse

“A metaverse is more accurately described as an “other world” of living ideas that intersects with our own world in various ways. These worlds of ideas feature shared histories, shared economies, and imagined sets of events or states of affairs that serve as the basis for a mythology. They are populated by personalities, events, and things whose persistence is powered by the collective belief in their existence. Those things in turn are connected to and have real consequences for the society that creates them.”

Metcalfe’s law

“Metcalfe’s law, which holds that the value of a network grows in direct proportion to the number of connected nodes within the network, applies to a metaverse both as the number of connected participants grows and as the number of useful experiences available therein grows.”

“A maximally valuable metaverse will allow for the free creation and flow of value within and between worlds, wherein the value derived from an experience in one world will also be consequential in the other worlds. It will facilitate ideation and ingenuity from a broad range of participants, rather than consolidating the experience-creation and meaning-assignation process in the hands of a chosen few. It will be conducted on democratic principles and invite democratic engagement, which will end up being better both for the metaverse itself and for society at large. The more people who can create and retain value within the metaverse, the more people there will be who want to use it.”

Kardashev scale

“The Kardashev scale tries to dramatically simplify the process of evaluating the advancement of a society by looking at its ability to harness energy. Kardashev civilizations come in three types, beginning with present-day society and culminating with a theoretical civilization that’s able to harness the entire energy output of all the stars in a galaxy.”

“ metaverse, as I’ve mentioned, is akin to a game that a society plays together, albeit one that has real consequences and is designed for fulfillment, not escapism. It’s a productive game, built around the concept of a constructed world of meaning. The basis for this productive social game is that we all agree to treat it as if it is real. The content and fulfillment found in a metaverse will be delivered by people acting out of individual self-interest, coming together to build and expand worlds by adding their own components to them, one by one. A metaverse will change people’s lives for the better if and only if it allows all participants the chance to hold a meaningful stake in its health, growth, and success.”

“It’s fair to assume that if a software product is sufficiently engaging, its users will disregard the developer’s ideas of how they ought to use it, and will instead come to use it in ways that serve their own interests and needs.”

“The modern internet is dominated by a handful of massive, vertically integrated companies that own all of the data generated by the users of their platforms.”

Own the platform, own the user

“The “own the platform, own the user” model has become the one that every other tech company feels it must follow if it, too, wishes to one day become a Silicon Valley megacorporation. The corporate psychological legacy of Web 2.0 is that a staggering number of founders and investors are convinced that monopoly is the lone path toward prosperity. But this divisive, controlling model won’t work as well with the metaverse because of the very nature of what a metaverse is. The corporate model of the metaverse would almost certainly not be one in which the community of users would feel any stake in or responsibility for the health of the ecosystem—and it definitely wouldn’t maximize the metaverse’s potential value.”

“People want fulfillment from their virtual experiences first and foremost, and in a truly valuable metaverse these fulfilling experiences can and will be mediated by all sorts of interfaces and all sorts of devices”

“A valuable metaverse will also need a transparent method of governance and a means by which to encourage ethical, prosocial behavior within it.”

“n order for that to happen, all parties to an optimally valuable metaverse must share a philosophical concordance: a shared investment in certain core values and in the core meaning of the metaverse project.”

“Like the pyramids and the 100 Year Starship Project, the metaverse that I’ve just described is a project that will likely require billions of work-hours before it even comes close to full fruition—though it can create a lot of value along the way, and it can be built in stages. Creating a vibrant set of virtual worlds, and a virtual economy that links all of these worlds and the experiences available therein, will be a multigenerational endeavor.”

“The Exchange can help promote these premises, and it can also help instill the ethical infrastructure necessary to protect against the prospect of the metaverse going sour and becoming an antisocial ecosystem.”

Virtual jobs

“An optimally valuable metaverse will make humane, creative jobs more accessible to more people than ever before in human history. I believe that these jobs will represent a viable solution to the crisis of purpose that affects the world of work today.”

“If the value provided by the worlds in a metaverse is represented by the useful experiences they offer, then the most valuable worlds will be the ones with the widest variety of high-quality experiences.”

Real money

“It’s ten years from now. You had a long day in the real world, and after finishing work and putting the kids to bed you want nothing more than to be around other people and relax in a friendly, familiar environment. So you strap on your headset, log into the metaverse, and head over to Roger’s, your favorite virtual tavern in your favorite virtual world: 1990s World. The benefits of virtual pubs are obvious: You’ll get the same convivial atmosphere you’d get in a real pub without having to actually travel to the pub, pay for a babysitter, or wake up the next day with a hangover. But the specific selling point of Roger’s is Roger himself: the warmhearted flannel-clad bartender who’s always quick with a joke, a sympathetic ear, and a story about that one time he met Kurt Cobain.”

“Although it might seem like a long road from here to there, the fact is that many of us are already working virtual jobs. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the trend toward jobs entirely mediated by computer screens. Thanks to remote teleconferencing apps, workflow software, social messaging services, and the rise of “work from anywhere” policies, many of us never meet our co-workers in person, never see the inside of an actual office, and have no direct connection to our work products.”

Downside of decentralization

“What this means in practice is that, far from breaking up the old power structures in society, successful tech companies often grow so powerful that they become the de facto centers of society. ”

“There are no clearly defined penalties for flooding the network with junk and misbehavior, and there are also few infrastructural methods for removing and discouraging junk. The only entities that can take concrete steps toward removing junk online are the platforms that also profit by its distribution.”


“It is easy to get people to become addicted to junk.”

“Decentralized systems struggle to compel individual nodes to agree to do what is best for the entire network. In computer science, a foundational concept relevant to this issue is known as the Byzantine generals’ problem.”

Network success

“How do you optimize for network success in a system where you know that, at a certain point, some nodes will fail the group? Is it possible to build a system that is strong and resilient enough to produce positive outcomes while withstanding individual actors’ efforts to gain advantage for themselves—a system that can sustain multiple betrayals without completely collapsing?”

On Speciation

“Plato’s allegory of the cave”

“There will come a day, not far from now, when we look back on our lives in 2022 as if we, too, had been chained to the wall of a cave, staring at flickering shadows, unable to imagine that our current diet of experiences is an artificially limited one.

“Human development is the process of growing into a fuller way of being”

“The trouble, of course, is that once you exit the cave, you can never return. Though those who never leave the cave may find its confines rich and comforting, someone who has seen the rest of the world would find the cave torturous.”

“It is natural to resist these changes. In the allegory of the cave, Plato suggested that the other cave-dwellers might kill anyone who tried to make them leave the cave. The cave-dwellers hated the world of “more,” considering it to be less than their world of chains and shadows. In truth, though, they were really just afraid of what the outside world might mean for their established way of life. They worried that whatever lay outside the cave might turn out to be worse than literally being chained to a wall, forced to stare at shadow puppets for their entire lives. We cling to what we know, and sometimes have trouble believing that the unknown might be better, not worse, than our present circumstances.”

Outer Space, inner experience

“The futurist Robert J. Bradbury once suggested that the best reason to travel into space would be to harness the energy of an entire star to power a massive megacomputer that could, perhaps, run infinitely complex simulations: a structure known as a Matrioshka brain.”

“The real/virtual binary will be a distinction without a difference.”

“And yet, within the show, the Holodeck was still sometimes framed as a version of Plato’s cave. The ship’s crew were dissuaded from spending too long in the Holodeck, from getting too obsessed with it. This miraculous space that could convincingly simulate any terrain, any experience, and any era was thought to be a potentially dangerous distraction from reality.”

Into the post human future

“Charles Babbage envisioned his Analytical Engine—the first programmable mechanical computer—in 1837, video games and the internet weren’t on his mind, let alone the prospect of connecting one’s brain directly to a digital machine.”

“Joy, sorrow, terror, exhilaration: All of these feelings will be magnified in the metaverse. The metaverse will be consequential, and within it will be mirrored every known consequential human activity—sport, culture, love, loss, war, protest, and ritual ceremony, for instance—as well as brand-new ones. Fulfillment isn’t primarily about pleasure, it’s about meaning, and the metaverse will create brand-new frontiers for meaning.”

“Imagine a world where you can inhabit the body of a Galápagos tortoise and speed up time so that you can pack its entire lifespan into the hours between breakfast and lunch.”

“By now, I hope you understand my basic definition of the metaverse: a network of meaning that links various worlds within a set and facilitates the transfer of value between them”

“The metaverse is a prism, and when our shared context hits the prism it’s going to refract into infinite beams going in infinite directions. If you extend the premise of an optimally valuable metaverse out to its logical conclusion, then humanity’s presumed baseline of one shared reality encompassing common concerns will one day cease to exist. “Fragmentation” is a word often used in a negative context. When people think about the fragmentation of experience, they generally think about economic and social disparities: the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots, those who will benefit from the future and those who won’t”

“In the metaversal future, we will face an entirely different set of practical and ethical questions, and we should start asking them now. ”

“Instead, we must do so fully expecting that the metaverse will transform what it means to be human.”