Virtual Society

Throughout history, the world has experienced tipping points – or a fundamental change in the nature of being human. How many have occurred throughout human history is subject to debate. From my perspective, we have experienced two and could be heading towards a third. Several forces are converging to create the possibility of a third tipping point. When we consider the advances of artificial intelligence, biotechnology, human-machine convergence, advances in brain science, and new computing paradigms – it’s not a stretch. Add to that list the evolution of virtual societies.

We are all the product of our experiences, and as the spectrum of possible experiences expands, so too will the very definition of what it means to be human

Herman Narula – Virtual Society

In his new book, Herman Narula looks at what he calls ancient Metaverses – for example, the Egyptian Pyramids. In these examples, there is a connection between these “virtual worlds” and the real world. For instance, the world of sports is basically a virtual world that impacts the real world. The book titled Virtual Society draws on the lessons from history and our fundamental human needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. It then applies that learning to envision possible futures for virtual societies. The author describes the progression from gaming and the current day definitions of Metaverse, to a world of virtual societies undistinguishable from the real world. It is in the latter stages of this progression that the definition of a tipping point may be met. A very provocative look at a possible future. I recommend the read and have added it to my library. The Amazon abstract is included below.

AMAZON ABSTRACT

“A fascinating, provocative case that the metaverse will not merely transform our virtual experience—it may actually enrich the quality of our lives” (Adam Grant)—from the visionary co-founder of one of today’s most innovative technology companies

“This important book offers a highly persuasive argument that the metaverse, a new kind of virtual world, marks a profound next stage in this long human quest for fulfillment through creation.”—Chris Anderson, head of TED

The concept of “the metaverse” has exploded in the public consciousness, but its contours remain elusive. Is it merely an immersive virtual reality playground, one that Facebook and other platforms will angle to control? Is it simply the next generation of massive multiplayer online games? Or is it something more revolutionary?

As pioneering technologist Herman Narula shows, the metaverse is the latest manifestation of an ancient human tendency: the act of worldbuilding. From the Egyptians, whose conception of death inspired them to build the pyramids, to modern-day sports fans, whose passion for a game inspires extreme behavior, humans have long sought to supplement their day-to-day lives with a rich diversity of alternative experiences.

Rooting his vision in history and psychology, Narula argues that humans’ intrinsic need for autonomy, accomplishment, and connection can best be met in virtual “worlds of ideas,” where users have the chance to create and exchange meaning and value. The metaverse is both the growing set of fulfilling digital experiences—ranging from advanced gaming to concerts and other entertainment events and even to virtual employment—and the empowering framework that allows these spaces to become “networks of useful meaning.”

Bloomberg Intelligence recently predicted that the metaverse will become an $800 billon industry by 2024. But its implications, argues Narula, will lead to far more awe-inspiring possibilities than a spigot of cash. The arrival of the metaverse marks the beginning of a new age of exploration—not outward, but inward—with the potential to reshape society and open the door to a new understanding of the human species and its capabilities.

Rigorously researched and passionately argued, Virtual Society is a provocative and essential guide for anyone who wants to go beyond superficial headlines to understand the true contours and potential of our virtual future.

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