The Metaverse: Past, Present, and Future
The metaverse is a term that describes a network of interconnected digital spaces that span the entire internet. The metaverse is a hypothesized iteration of the internet as a single, universal, and immersive virtual world that is facilitated by the use of virtual reality and augmented reality headsets. In the metaverse, users can interact with each other and with digital content in a way that is more realistic than is currently possible on the internet. The concept of the metaverse has been around for decades, but it has only recently begun to gain traction due to the increasing popularity of virtual reality and augmented reality headsets, as well as the growing interest in blockchain technology. The metaverse market revenue worldwide was estimated at 65.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2022 and is expected to rise to 82 billion U.S. dollars in 2023, before surging to 936.6 billion U.S. dollars by 2030 (Statista, 2022). The latest trend of metaverse has been integrating AI and GPT with metaverse to create more immersive and interactive experiences. This article will explore the origin, development, and future of the metaverse.
Terminology from the Past
The term metaverse was coined by science fiction author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. In the novel, the metaverse is a virtual world that is used as an escape from the real world (Zenou, 2022). The novel was influential in inspiring many attempts to create a metaverse in the early 2000s, but none of them were successful. One of the most notable attempts was Second Life, which was launched in 2003. Second Life was a virtual world where users could create their own avatars and interact with each other. However, Second Life never became mainstream and eventually fizzled out.
Booming Industry with High Potential
The concept of the metaverse has been revived in recent years due to the increasing popularity of virtual reality and augmented reality headsets, as well as the growing interest in blockchain technology. The global extended reality (XR) market which includes augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) reached 29.26 billion U.S. dollars in 2022, rising to over 100 billion U.S. dollars by 2026 (Statista, 2022). Blockchain technology provides a secure and transparent way to store data, which is essential for storing digital assets in the metaverse. Many blockchain companies like Sandbox and Decentraland utilized the blockchain technology to create metaverse (enafn.com/1104375395/Best-New-Metaverse-And-Web3-Crypto-Project-To-Invest-Now). In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of virtual reality and augmented reality headsets, as people were looking for ways to connect with others and experience new things while staying safe at home.
In 2020- 2021, there were a number of companies that were working on developing metaverses. Some of the most notable companies included Meta (formerly Facebook), Microsoft, and Roblox. Meta announced its rebranding and its vision to build a metaverse platform that would enable users to connect across various apps and devices (O'Brian & Chan, 2021). Microsoft unveiled its Mesh platform that would allow users to collaborate and share holographic experiences across different devices. Roblox continued to grow its user base and revenue with its online gaming platform that allowed users to create and play games in a shared virtual world.
The metaverse market revenue worldwide was estimated at 65.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2022 and is expected to rise to 82 billion U.S. dollars in 2023, before surging to 936.6 billion U.S. dollars by 2030 (Statista, 2022). One of the key drivers of the metaverse development is blockchain technology. Blockchain technology is a type of shared database or ledger that stores information in blocks that are linked together by cryptography (IBM, n.d.). Blockchain technology enables secure and transparent data storage, which is essential for storing digital assets in the metaverse. Digital assets are any items that have value and can be represented digitally, such as cryptocurrencies, NFTs, virtual land, and avatars (Investopedia, 2022). Blockchain technology also enables decentralized and distributed control of the metaverse, which means that no single entity or authority can manipulate or censor the data or transactions in the metaverse (McKinsey, n.d.). The trend of using blockchain technology to power the metaverse is expected to continue as more and more companies are investing in the metaverse and blockchain development, and as the technology is becoming more accessible and affordable for users.
Current Trend and Future Application of AI in the Metaverse
The latest trend of metaverse has been integrating AI and GPT with metaverse to create more immersive and interactive experiences. GPT can be used to generate text, images, and audio that can be used to create realistic and engaging virtual worlds. For example, GPT can be used to create virtual avatars that can interact with each other in real-time. GPT can also be used to create virtual worlds that are based on real-world locations. This can allow users to explore and experience different places without having to leave their homes.
Another trend is to use GPT to create more personalized experiences. GPT can be used to learn about a user's interests and preferences. This information can then be used to create virtual worlds that are tailored to the user's individual needs. For example, GPT can be used to create a virtual world that is filled with the user's favorite books, movies, and music.
Here are some blockchain metaverse companies that have begun to use AI in their metaverse:
- Decentraland: Decentraland is a decentralized virtual world that is built on the Ethereum blockchain. Decentraland allows users to purchase virtual land, build structures, and create games. Decentraland is using AI to create more immersive and interactive experiences for its users. For example, Decentraland is using AI to generate realistic weather conditions and to create virtual creatures that can interact with users.
- The Sandbox: The Sandbox is a decentralized virtual world that is built on the Ethereum blockchain. The Sandbox allows users to create, own, and monetize their own gaming experiences. The Sandbox is using AI to create more immersive and interactive experiences for its users. For example, The Sandbox is using AI to generate realistic landscapes and to create virtual characters that can interact with users.
- Axie Infinity: Axie Infinity is a blockchain-based game that allows users to collect, breed, and battle digital creatures called Axies. Axie Infinity is using AI to create more immersive and interactive experiences for its users. For example, Axie Infinity is using AI to generate realistic battle scenes and to create virtual trainers that can help users train their Axies.
- Sandbox VR: Sandbox VR is a virtual reality company that is developing a platform for creating and sharing virtual worlds. Sandbox VR is using AI to create more immersive and interactive experiences for its users. For example, Sandbox VR is using AI to generate realistic environments and to create virtual characters that can interact with users.
- Rec Room: Rec Room is a virtual reality social platform that allows users to create and play games together. Rec Room is using AI to create more immersive and interactive experiences for its users. For example, Rec Room is using AI to generate realistic avatars and to create virtual worlds that are based on real-world locations.
Overall, the latest trend of using GPT and metaverse together is to create more immersive, interactive, and personalized experiences. This is leading to the development of new and innovative ways to use the metaverse.
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