The Great Reduction: A Metaverse Counterpoint

I would define reductionism as the concept of depicting something – or rather mirroring or simulating something – that can pass as a useful and entertaining copy of the real thing.

Gerd Leonhard – The Great Reduction

Yesterday I posted about the Metaverse and shared a video that described how Norway envisioned a future where the Metaverse provided endless possibilities, improving the lives of generations to come. Having seen the post, Futurist Gerd Leonhard shared one of his recent posts with me.

As he and I have discussed in the past, the future is all about balancing the opposing forces of innovation. This has always been true about innovation, reflected in examples like fire positively transforming the world, but also burning down villages – and so it is with the metaverse. The quote and related post above positions the counterpoint to the Norway video. I’ve included a separate video from Gerd’s post below that underscores his message.

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The Metaverse

Once a niche concept beloved of tech enthusiasts, the idea of a centralized virtual world, a “place” parallel to the physical world, has careened into the mainstream landscape this year, as epitomized by Facebook’s decision in October to rebrand as Meta

Peter Allen Clark – The Metaverse Has Already Arrived. Here’s What That Actually Means

That quote from a recent article speaks to the growing buzz around the metaverse. As the article states: “the promise of the metaverse is to allow a greater overlap of our digital and physical lives in wealth, socialization, productivity, shopping and entertainment. Essentially, the metaverse is an evolution of the current Internet. Although today’s version involves goggles, tomorrow it’s all about glasses. John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity describes the use of glasses this way: “You’re walking by a restaurant, you look at it, the menu pops up. What your friends have said about it pops up.”

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Talking To Ghosts

Storytelling is a powerful way to communicate in a world as fast-moving and uncertain as ours. Jason Fagone demonstrates its power in a brilliantly written piece on mental health, loneliness, grief, and isolation. It is a very long article, but incredibly impactful. He tells a story of a grief-stricken freelance writer that lost his fiancée to a rare liver disease. In telling the story, Jason shows both the power and fascination of current day innovation, and its fear and destructive potential. It effectively describes our need to balance these opposing forces of innovation. Some background: Jason Rohrer, a Bay Area programmer, launched Project December, which is powered by one of the world’s most capable artificial intelligence systems, a piece of software known as GPT-3. It knows how to manipulate human language, generating fluent English text in response to a prompt.

This text-based experiment created a new kind of chat service that lies at the heart of this story. He created various personalities and proceeded to communicate with them. During one exchange with a bot he named Samantha, he asked her what she would do if she could walk around in the world. This exchange led to a realization:

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Virtual and Augmented Reality Likely To Accelerate

In early 2019, I described the Three Focus Themes for the year. They were Acceleration, Convergence, and Possibilities. Little did I know that one of those themes would factor so prominently in 2020. In a recent Presentation, Mehlman, Castagnetti, Rosen & Thomas – a full-service, bipartisan government relations firm – describes 2020 as the year where forces already in play experience a great acceleration. One of those forces is mixed reality.

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Blurred Reality

It is no longer a surprise to witness something progress exponentially.  Add to that list virtual reality and its near term application in retail, games, sports, and other. As it progresses, the way we interact transforms slowly – and then suddenly. This is a great example of a building block on the science and technology curve spawning a scenario or shift on the future scenario curve – BLURRED REALITY.

Our Emerging Future

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