Facebook has invested $10 billion in the metaverse. It’s so bullish on this new state of existence that it changed the name of its parent company to Meta.
That sounds like a timely investment, as Goldman Sachs is putting the value of the metaverse at $12 trillion. That’s more than enough to buy the 30 largest companies on the Dow Jones, including Apple and Microsoft at today’s prices … and leave enough money left over to enjoy 58 billion large Dominos pizzas and 2.5 billion bottles of Dom Perignon to wash them down with.
With so many investments and market projections being made for what’s coming, it’s easy to miss what’s here.
The metaverse has already changed the way that we live and work, offering us a hybrid state of existence right now.
Some technological developments are so big, they change our behavior. The really big changes alter perception, so much so, that it becomes difficult to remember what life was like before their arrival. Our current, hybrid existence falls into the latter category. I believe it’s the reason why so many consumers, investors and even technologists have missed its arrival, and misunderstand its potential to be linked to a fully digital existence that won’t ever arrive.
Our new existence is what I like to refer to as the “hybrid-verse.”
I think those terms are inadequate because they reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of how we’re accessing and interacting with the metaverse.
I think it’s better described as a “hybrid-verse.” It’s not a mix of realities, or an extension of one reality or another. It’s a true hybrid of three different states of being — the physical universe, a web 2.0 internet and data-based world and the metaverse.
The hybrid-verse is here now and, unless you’re reading this story as a printout in your cabin in the woods, you’re living in it.
This new state of existence snuck up on many of us. And, while many are looking to the next stage of human experience — an all-metaverse existence — I would argue that our hybrid way of life isn’t going away anytime soon.
No Bolognese in the metaverse
There are certain experiences that are either impossible to duplicate, or are not desirable to duplicate, in the virtual world. If you like to cook, you want to see, touch and smell your organic tomatoes before you buy them … not to mention eating them, after you’ve finished stirring them into your spaghetti sauce.
Of course, you might also want to see the sustainability certifications for the farmer who grew those tomatoes, in store and before checkout. And you might also want an interactive assistant to remind you to pick up heavy cream when it notices that you’ve bought every other ingredient for Bolognese and you’re heading to check out without it in your cart.
In a perfect world, none of those elements are replaced by any other — they’re all necessary, but are synergistic when they’re combined in an intelligent way.
It’s more than a mix. It’s a hybrid, pulling out the best of the physical, data and virtual worlds. This idea of a hybrid-verse incorporates a very humanistic technology into an already adaptable and willing generation.
This hybrid-verse integrates smart, personalized and immersive digital content into our physical reality. It’s a world that seamlessly blends the physical with the virtual, encouraging interaction with, and between, organic and digital entities and objects.
Right now, we don’t think of the hybrid-verse being in our lives except, perhaps, with its most novel applications. We use our GPS-enabled phones to catch Pokémon on the way to the subway, or a holographic Whitney Houston goes on a world tour eight years after her demise or a surgeon performs remote surgery on a patient thousands of miles away using a robot and AR glasses.
But artificial intelligence has a very real place in our tangible environment. And closer and more advanced integrations are coming.