From Humans to Metahumans
Updated: Nov 10, 2021
In the book, Life 3.0, Max Tegmark begins by positing a scenario in which AI has exceeded human intelligence and become pervasive in society. He takes us through different stages of human life since its inception:
Life 1.0 referring to biological origins,
Life 2.0 referring to cultural developments in humanity, and
Life 3.0 referring to the technological age of humans.
It's quite refreshing to think about the technological age of humans especially against this backdrop of an increased brouhaha over 'metaverses'. What would the world look like? Will the physical and digital realities get more interweaved.
These are all important and reasonable questions.
After all, If we think about it more closely, We are already omnipresent (present everywhere digitally).
We are already omniscient (knowing all information digitally).
We will soon become omnipotent (all-powerful digitally).
At the moment, we're simply staring at our screens all day, every day. From emails to activity trackers to stock portfolios and games. Our social, cultural and economic lives are being built around a mobile phone.
Whenever we are digitally involved, we are migrating from a physical universe to a digital universe. It's just that the current version of metaverse corresponds merely to swiping glass slabs or staring at desktop screens. An upgrade to this mode of interaction is coming soon.
The base principles of metaverse are still counter-intuitive in nature. That it is not 'real' in the real sense. It's a similar argument used to dismiss Bitcoin as a fugazi, a Ponzi scheme or some magic internet money emerging out of thin air. However, what is imagined can very much be real. Facebook likes are not real but are very much valuable. The same thing goes with Video game scores, Follower counts etc. But it doesn't stop there. What is imagined can be even more valuable than what is 'real'. The surface area of your online clout seems to be more valuable than that of your local neighbourhood. Bored Ape Yacht Club memberships are skyrocketing.
If we are what we spend time on, then we are essentially cogs of a powerful global social computer in the cloud.
‘Real world’ assets might lose their lustre once people realise they’re spending far more time in the virtual world than the physical world.
Once the genie is out of the box, it is difficult to push it back inside.
Any 0-to-1 technology (internet, mobile phone, electricity etc) is difficult to stop once it crosses the chasm. Instead of suppressing this genie, we should find new ways to co-exist with the Internet. We are at an important junction right now.
The Internet itself has gone through three main cycles:
Web 1.0 (read)
Control is being restored to individuals instead of corporations.
There has been a Cambrian explosion of innovation when it comes to Web3.0 Decentralised news where users are incentivised to combat fake news. Decentralised music streaming where fans could partially own the music of their artists. We're essentially decentralising everything.
The next phase of the internet will forever change the way we learn, work and play. Traditional roles would be redefined to suit this decentralisation.
We will see architects transitioning to designing 3D landscapes in the metaverse.
Real estate brokers buying digital properties on virtual lands.
Service designers making the metaverse more seamless by tackling interoperability issues.
Artists selling NFTs.
Technology is progressing at an alarming rate.
Ray Kurzweil in his Law of Accelerating Returns talks about how advanced societies advance at an even more advanced rate because they are advanced. If the paradigm shift is 2x in 10 years, it would be 1000x in 100 years! (CRAZY)
In this backdrop, any other case of metaverse not being possible can be attributed to a severe 'lack of imagination'. If we can't beat them, join'em. Digital and physical realities would combine in a seamless, frictionless amalgamation.
The current interfaces we use to navigate the digital realities are not that exciting TBH. We still are stuck to our tables and chairs, laptops and screens, mobile phones and scrolls. These 2D interfaces are not so comfortable for metaverse travel, but would certainly improve.
These 2D interfaces would be replaced as we soon become cyborgs in the truest sense. The interfaces would be seamlessly integrated with our human bodies. What Facebook is doing with Oculus Rift is just a teaser. Technology would become a part of us.
Aided by this revamp of interfaces, we might soon be living and travelling everywhere forever. We re-emerge as digital hunter-gatherers as fail to distinguish any observable difference between our virtual and physical worlds.
The metaverse would help us get closer to the three attributes fundamentally attributed to God. Being Omnipotent (all-powerful) Being Omniscient (all-knowing) Being Omnipresent (present everywhere).
Metaverses becomes an equitable force allowing everyone to truly participate and access. To stretch this utopian vision a bit further, in the distant future, Blind people can NOW see. Differently-abled can NOW fly. The neurodivergent could create their own cloud societies where diversity is no longer viewed as a 'problem'.
The world is going to get infinitely more complex and magical. It would not be surprising when metaverse economies are soon going to exceed the size of the current economy.
TL;DR: It's never going to be the same again.
To summarise: Metaverse evolution would augment our current way of interaction digital/physically We would move beyond just using our visual and auditory senses but to actually move around and interact like digital hunter-gatherers. The metaverse should hopefully be more equitable in essence.