The metaverse combines science fiction, technology, and games

The metaverse combines science fiction, technology, and games ...

I''ve ever been a huge fan of science fiction, technology, and gaming. So weve had a long tradition of adding sessions to the topic at our GamesBeat Summit events. It''s why we''ve been early to jump on trends like the rebirth of the metaverse, the naiveness of virtual worlds all connected, like in novels such asSnow CrashandReady Player One.

Our Metaverse Forum hosted a roundtable on sci-fi''s roots; speakers include Sean Keith, who runs our science fiction club, and head of content publishing strategy at Meta; and Jon Jacobs, an actor and futurist who goes by the avatar Neverdie. Years ago, he dove Entropia Universe, which was the first MMO with a real cash economy built in, and he made a big investment buying an island in the world then selling it for a profit.

If needed, Unger discuts about art and code and writes science fiction on how all these app-driven superpowers will transform the human race. Her debut sci-fi novel, Nucleation, is now available on Amazon, and her next novel The Extractionist will be available in July of 2022.

Because so much science fiction is becoming a science fact, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang has often claimed that his events were conducted in science fiction. In the past several years, as things that we once believed were science fiction, like AI, have become so real. And venture capitalists like Tim Chang of Mayfield have been using those ideas to fund startup.

Our roundtable is now available on a computer.

GamesBeat: This is not our first rodeo here on science fiction, technology, and games. Every few months, we read books that may be useful in the metaverse in a few months. I thought, What happened when Tim Sweeney started talking at our conferences, saying, "In a few months, we should build the open metaverse." It seemed so near term, however, I was irritated when he heard him begin saying this.

We used it as a springboard for a conference in 2017 that included science fiction, tech, and games. That was a lot of fun. We met Ramez Naam, who wrote the Nexus series, and Tim Chang. These two were interesting because Tim was basically a venture capitalist at Mayfield, and he was constantly asked for ideas for whatever he wanted to do, and if he could do that. It''s interesting to me that the relationship between SF and technology is tighter than we think.

Is there any one concept of the metaverse that you have inspired from Snow Crash, Ready Player One, or Neuromancer to think about it in some ways? Is there something more obscure that is an interesting perspective of the metaverse?

Kimberly Unger: The first thing she learned from Omnitopia was that people could learn more about their own lives rather than just inhabiting something that was provided for them. It was a fascinating exploration into the gatekeeping that goes along with those kinds of worlds, and how you might be able to have societal structures encroach upon a metaverse that is entirely personal.

Sean Keith: Two things. One, the reason I got excited about metaverses in the first place was from MUDs. Jon mentioned this. These metaverses now represent beautiful locations and picture-perfect quality. You run around this continuity between different digital experiences. MUDs were the blueprint of that back in the 90s. Thats how I got into the whole concept of metaverse.

MUDs'' central tenet is still very applicable to what we see with metaverses today. Youre with your friends in a digital environment interacting, having a good time, playing games, or simply talking. Even though metaverse now is a very beautiful object, it doesn''t have to be. Its people interacting with each other in a digital environment.

I''m not sure what my other answer is.hack/Sign, which was created in Japan. That''s a quite different way of interpreting what a metaverse might look like. Sometimes, we think about Snow Crash or Neuromancer, these kinds of stories, but other countries have quite varying views of what it might look like.

Along those lines, I visited that studio. Hironao Kunimitsu, the founder of Gumi, was inspired to think about the metaverse, and he spoke at our event. I havent seen anything about that, but it''s interesting to see that the metaverse is influenced by Sword Art Online, a popular anime series. It''s interesting to see that non-Western influences for the metaverse once again, but it''s also interesting to see it in the western world.

Jacobs: I''m racking my brains for the definitive answer for myself. However, I think that the mostreally I have attempted to throw everything away from the metaverse, by designing it. In Rocktropia, which was my blank canvas to envision a virtual reality that has previously existed in a science fiction community, everything I did was to the chagrin of the people who were very attached to the science fiction. I was merely drawing on pop culture in general, because I felt that everything belongs in there.

Before he passed, I made something with Motorhead and Lemmy. We built Lemmy''s castle, which he considered was world war II. He ended up using himself, because he realized it was too controversial. For me, its reallyeverything is fair game when it comes to the metaverse and its exploration.

Question: What role do you see sci-fi playing in developing technologies that will eventually become reality?

Unger: Every technology starts with an idea. There are possibilities everywhere. If you are not a science fiction artist yourself, you can also include science fiction in your career. VC projects, but in particular, they may be looking for ideas that go beyond science fiction. One of my very early experiences was working with a medical company that tried to create a Star Trek triorder.

If youre a science fiction writer, it may be difficult to write sci-fi in the near future. Before the Oculus Kickstarter concluded, I wrote the first draft of the book. It was quite a struggle to keep up. There is a very tight line between science fiction concepts and technology creation. Its not always conscious, but they do enrich in large part.

GamesBeat: I can say a few things to make a connection. Will Wright used to say that a dog-eared copy of Snow Crash was the business plan for every company in Silicon Valley. And then Jensen Huang, in the last few years, started saying that he was living in science fiction. He was now thinking more about how advances in AI have grown so quickly now that many things are more possible because AI is one of the greatest dreams.

We''re thinking about the use of that in Nvidia OmniVerse, and the simulation world that was originally intended to just test robots in a digital environment is now being used as a vast simulation environment for all kinds of applications. That might include digital twins of factories, where you design the whole factory with the robots in it, and then you test that digital world and build it in the real world once you have the design completed.

The Matrix Awakens demo for Unreal Engine 5 is a beautiful blend of science fiction and creating artificial realities. It is designed to look real enough that it makes you think the metaverse is just around the corner. These are just a few things I think.

Jacobs: It makes me think about how a lot of people are very much inspired by science fiction in the 1960s. You have Star Trek and other previous science fiction films, going back to Jules Verne or George Orwell. But what''s interesting is that those earlier science fiction novels were developed in a time when technology was not so fast as it is today. Its in the proof of concept stage.

Were a few steps back from things like warp drives or time travel. Thats still science fiction. But everything else seems to be doing it. Its happening. Today, to say that you can imagine something and make it happenit''s much more of a tangible concept than it had ever been.

Keith: If you think about it, science fiction books have existed for a long time. That was even before, I would say, the technology were now living in. Maybe 80, 100 years ago, science fiction authors would write about things they thought would happen a long time in the future. These are the days of a sci-fi age.

As we enter the information age, and as technology advances so quickly and allows us to do so many things, the concept of sci-fi is almost just becoming fiction. Today, science is immersive in all of us, but it''s really just fiction, with a heavier emphasis on the science component.

I just went through a search on the tricorder project. Qualcomm and the X Prize folks generously allocated $10 million to anyone who could create a tricorder, but a company called Final Frontier Medical Devices received $3 million in 2017 for that. More activity in the area in 2018 was mostly based on what I see there.

Question: From the last three questions,Kimberley explained how difficult it is to predict things in the near future. Weve often seen things like how Blade Runner still had pay phones. They didn''t think of cell technology becoming viable. But do you think that will drastically impact science fiction these days, or some of that kind of thing? Is it going to impact the genre at the core, what is written?

Unger: I think the genre is alreadyit that the genre is evolving, but that many aspects of it are explored at different points in time. Right now, we see a lean into social science fiction, where the what-if of the story is about how societies function. Even though it isn''t currently what you see in reports, it is still one of the best-performing genres of science fiction.

There will always be a place for near-term predictions. I believe the devote for those predictions being a miss will likely rise, as people learn how difficult it is to predict the iPhone.

GamesBeat: I thought it was interesting to see so many different AI-related science fiction films, such as Spielberg and Kubricks A.I., or Her. The movie Her felt so near-term. Its like, this is going to be the next version of your operating system, and youll speak to it the way that you talk to Alexa. It felt like something that was in our own world, talking about the consequences of being too attached to your operating system. That was fantastic film.

Question: Im interested in your perspectives on how real-world physical connections with the metaverse will be, how common do you think that will be to the social aspect of metaverse connections, removing people from the house?

Keith: While he is working on blockchain, a lot of people wonder if an NFT is beneficial to their users. One thing that has been recently discussed a lot is the physical world and the digital space crossing over, the interoperability between them. Im very bullish about NFTs and their ability to interact with the physical world future.

Think about the reasons for the users when they purchase an NFT, particularly in a game space. One of the most important issues is peacocking, showing off the digital assets you have. Now, with NFTs, the problem is they are often linked to these digital wallets. It isn''t as present or in-your-face as an LCD screen you might see at a conference.

These gigantic NFT screens that you can potentially show your NFT in the near future. You go to the mall. You have an NFT or some other form of digital asset. It doesn''t have to be on the blockchain. Perhaps an LCD screen picks up that and you see your NFT walking when youre walking. These kinds of transmedia or transphysical-digital concepts are already being explored by some companies. Now, you might see that technology moving forward in the next two or three years.

If you think about anywhere there might be a LCD screen, you might tap into that. If you work with an NFT project like Bored Ape Yacht Club, then you might say, well show them up on screen. That is. It entails their own inherent charm, which is the peacocking.

Genvid exhibited an interesting demo of one of the Times Square screens in New York City. It involved people controlling a game that they put on a big billboard using their mobile phones. Different people could control the big screen and what was happening on it. That was one of the most interesting concepts in terms of how cooperative might look in the future, in the real world.

While it also feels like there is the core vision of Meta and virtual reality as the metaverse, compared to the Niantics vision of an augmented-reality metaverse thats set in the real world. Something that enables virtual cute characters and other things to be seen in everyday life. Both businesses are investing a lot of money into those concepts.

Unger: The metaverse is not just VR, but also AR, because it''s a layer that transitions from your smart watch to your laptop to your VR headset to your AR glasses, which is significantly more in line with where all of these technologies are headed, thus there''s a space for almost any mode you can think of. Particularly when you start looking for social experiences and how people connect across time and space.

Keith says in his book Reamde, he has an area where people in a video game believe they''re protecting a castle. They inspect people coming in. In reality they''re at an airport doing TSA-like work, searching people for weapons and explosives. There may be a variety of creative possibilities for things like that.

Daniel Suarez''s books are a way of gamifying real-world tasks in the same way as those seen in MMOs. I might earn five dollars for picking up a package at Point A and delivering it to an NPC, who is really a live human, at Point B. Converting this digital task and gig-based economy into a metaverse layer that outlines the real world. That''s another take on it. How do you incorporate all these pieces until it''s no longer picking up

Jacobs: When you look at Disneyland, a lot of rides and experiences are quite archaic now. I think people would like to go into an environment at a theme park, where they walk in and embody their avatars. Were going to look back at places like Disneyland, I think, or Universal Studios as we know them now and consider it as the 18th century. There is huge potential there.

Keith: Theme parks now are actually built around things like Instagram. There are various locations in theme parks and designs, so people may see the park as part of their interactions with the digital space, such as taking pictures for Instagram. The parks will also build parts for the park, which allows users to take pictures and send them to the digital space. The relationship between the two is becoming more blurred.

Jacobs: This is how to build physical environments. A theme park or an event space is ideal, because you can invest in putting the appropriate sets for the physical experience.

GamesBeat: What are some of the deepest messages and social critiques we see in science fiction that seem to be true, whether they are coming true, or will come true? A lot of what George Orwell talked about in 1984, ideas about propaganda and Newspeak, the proliferation of fake news that weve seen here in the last few years. It certainly feels like that was prescient. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Unger: One of the ongoing onesthis goes back into science fiction for decades now. Its the notion that individuals should not be isolated that certain technologies or some experiences can be very isolating, but that we do things better as a whole. I was re-reading Asimovs I, Robot recently, a long-time favorite of mine. It struck me that there were parallels in that people were being physically separated further and further apart.

In the 40s and 50s, people were being able to communicate, and everything was donethis was written back in the 1940s and 50s, when they were using telephones and video screens to communicate. It''s now a running joke on the internet. I''ve left my house and now I have to wear pants again!

These sorts of messages about people and technology as an isolating force seem to be recurring in science fiction over these decades-long cycles. It appears to be more than one book at a time. It appears to continue to spread over time, and I see it as shown in what we were doing now with social media, most recently with the pandemic and with virtual reality. How do we as humans manage those scenarios and opportunities?

Jacobs: It''s interesting how much science fiction sits at the core of the stories, there''s an apocalypse in which people are denied the necessities of whatever universe the author has created. It all reached the point where everything was some Mad Max sort of thing. But in reality, the environment has now become very tangible as a game-changer.

In that regard, science fiction was incredibly prescient and beneficial in attempting to make people think about how to deal with this. Whether Elon Musk is making us to Mars as quickly as possible, or MMO builders, metaverse builders. If we do not need them, they may just be building the arks overnight. These universal ancestors, these worlds are being developed over decades to be immersive enough to anchor us in the future. They are also assisting us in the future.

Keith: For me, science fiction is primarily about science. All of them are very human stories. Its about how people interact with each other. Or maybe aliens or robots. Yet even the aliens and robots are often anthropomorphized in such a way that we can relate to them. One message that is unique and reflects on what Kimberley was talking about: people''s desire to be part of a community, to be connected.

In the late 90s, one of my favorite anime series was Cowboy Bebop. It''s still one of my favorites. There''s an episode in which this comatose hacker, who is all 13 years old, is basically creating a religion to facilitate people to interact with him on the go. I believe these things will come to an end. If you have a physical connection with people, then you should do it in a digital space.

We have yet discovered a lot of difficulties with organizing the digital space or becoming a member of a community. Things like bullying. Being taken advantage of. People send their bank information to people they have never met before. This one episode, for example, allows people to lose their interaction with the real world, and it is difficult to get caught up in the ebb and flow of a scheme. Theyre now buying NFTs and getting the rug out.

GamesBeat: I love this idea of walking a mile in someone elses shoes. In our opening speech for the event, weve seen that in Ready Player Two, where you could upload something to a YouTube-like platform, and your VR experience was there for someone else to relive as you saw it. This was said to be in Cyberpunk 2077, and somebody else put it back to life. That is, anyway, an interesting observation about an application that we would all want to see these days.

Another topic that''s always interesting is whether or not AIs are human? This tomorrow morning, Richard Bartle and Richard Garriott are talking at length about this topic. However, the subject that came to mind was the film Free Guy. I just bring them up so I can see if someone else has a suggestion.

Keith: With walking a mile in someone elses shoes, other people are addicted to their memories. I would say that Instagram and social media are similar to that already. Various people include individuals who share their memories and experiences. It already exist today in a much more watered-down version. If there was ever a possibility to plug someones memories into your head and live their life through your eyes, it would be what we see today on steroids.

Unger: There are a lot of games for good initiatives coming up. Traveling While Black was one of the games we developed in VR. Goliath, a series of experiences developed hand in hand with someone who has mental health problems, was just released. Or if you look at something like That Dragon or Cancer, games have tried to tackle this problem. Theyre never really going to understand, but they can approach another level of understanding through this stuff. It''s a natural progression.

Reminiscence is a series of works that has been created by Hugh Jackman. It''s easy to drop into a tank and repeat your own memories, then return to them, and all that is going on there. I''ve found that if you want to get rid of it again, you must also remember that person, regardless of whether or not. This is the first step in shaping progress. It''s also possible to get acquainted with other people.

Jacobs: Isnt it Snapchat that has the glasses now? Im not sure whos the most advanced there. But the moment that takes off, it will take us to an additional level. Were going to see a lot of that.

Snapchat is coming from GamesBeat. There is something from Meta sometime soon.

Yep, the Stories glasses out with Ray-Ban right now. I see the audience''s question about education. Were seeing increasing inroads into the way the metaverse can work with education. It''s difficult to get school districts to develop something that looks excellent on paper, but perhaps hasn''t been tested.

You have companies like Roblox that are constructing these educational events, taking the best ideas about educational gaming, and bleeding into kinesthetic learning that can really enrich individuals'' capacity to consume and internalize a topic. As the metaverse technology developers in a multimodal manner, were going to see these opportunities popping up more and more.

The actual thing Im seeing, youre in a museum, and there are some signs where you listen to some audio about whats on display. The next logical step is how you take that into the real world via something like AR, or take it into a virtual world like Roblox. But it may go so far beyond that. Were just beginning to get into that, simply starting to figure out how to allow the people who do those things to use the most appropriate educational depth they need to be effective.

GamesBeat: Weve made a long journey without mentioning Elon Musk very much. There is a lot of AI in those Tesla cars, and we have Neuralink as well. Somehow, now with Twitter, everything will be connected in some way, im certain.

Unger: I still grateful my digital devices. I''m not sure I want to break the habit. When I say, Hey Google, you complete the task, and I almost always say, Thank you. Partly because I dont want to get out of the habit. After all, you may have noticed that when someone on TV or in a movie finishes a conversation on the phone, they hang up without saying goodbye, or without a lengthy closing statement. Eep!

Without those social niceties, I feel like if we didn''t acquire some skill in dealing with our AIs, we would lose it with each other. If I keep making demands of my AI assistant without saying please and thank-you, then I''ll make these demands of my husband or my kids or my parents, or the guy I work with, without those social niceties. Thats going to cause a little more friction that has a negative effect on my relationships.

GamesBeat: There was always a sort of odd argument that video games would instruct us all to be successful criminals. However, you also don''t want to develop negative habits that you might somehow repeat in the real world. You don''t want to pick up bad habits in virtual situations that youd carry into the physical one.

Unger: Voice to text. When I talk to people, I do often dictate my punctuation out loud. I do so much dictating when I write that Ill leave a phone message and say that exclamation marks at the end of it. Establishing good habits!

When you go to the Quest and shoot, the Quest is fantastic when it comes to learning. Because shooting was so easy in computer games in the early days, it was point and click. You can have something in your hand and go on missions and so on, but once you have this incredible scenario, you can start to use your hands and get inside a motor or get inside a science lab.

Think about all the individuals who played healers in fantasy MMOs. I mean, why notsuddenly we can actually introduce a healer that is a medic, who actually has to perform surgery and first aid. That''s real learning. If you do that inside a game or whatever, you''ll confidently pick up understanding. I like the feeling of virtual worlds.

Keith: There''s an interesting historical perspective. This isn''t necessarily about science fiction in general. If you look at Isaac Asimovs Foundation stories, that entire series starts off with building an encyclopedia that encapsulates all human knowledge for the future so it won''t be lost. Weve made this. Wikipedia is a thing that you have at your fingertips. It''s interesting to see what kinds of similar perspectives we could make right now in the way Asimov did with Foundation and that encyclopedia

Jacobs: At the start of the internet, we were talking about scanning every book. It was difficult to imagine how long it would take, but it actually happened so fast, that all of this information is now. Now, we were confronted with what isn''t, or is there anything that has not been discovered before? You have to look far and wide to discover a book that hasn''t been previously seen and translated, or an old 78 RPM record for the 1930s. It''s all up there.

There was a time in science fiction when all we had was books. Today we have worlds, and those worlds are effectively created, or at least inspired, by science fiction writers. Perhaps our science fiction of the future is immersive environments. The metaverse is where we would set up that fiction.

Keith: With that continuityall these online worlds have a certain skill to have continuity between them. That''s the strategy of the metaverse right now. Whether thats bottom up, where a tiff of game developers or virtual spaces federate and allow for sharing information between each other, or top down, where a gigantic organization like a Meta creates this all-encompassing ecosystem that people buy into.

Jacobs: It''s the huge challenge of our time right now, by making that happen as much as possible. By forming those bridges between all parties.

Unger: The core driver, as Sean said, is not science fiction. It''s science fiction. It''s science. It''s all social. No matter how easy it is for us to isolate ourselves because of technology, it''s all still in the service of reuniting, which is this weird dichotomy that''s going on right now. If we can figure it out, it will let us go further and faster than we have imagined.

GamesBeat: Ill conclude with a review for the Ramez Naams Nexus series. I liked how much different real-world politics be extrapolated from what we see today into maybe 20 years down the road. Somebody invents a brain enhancement medication, but the United States treats it like an illegal drug, and a terrorist activity. In addition, the United States continues to establish an illegal drug, thus allowing humans to remain human. However, the creators of the drug are divided into political groups, attempting

I feel like this is the world we have right now, in which different parties will pursue different technologies for their own goals. Somehow you need a way to keep everything open. That''s excellent reading.

Unger: An interesting twist on futurecastingId take a look at Charles Strosss'' book Saturns Children, which is a sort of post-humanist narrative. What happens to all the robots and the AIs after humanity is gone? It looks at a vast metaverse-esque civilisation that im referring to today.

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