The Metaverse Handbook

The Metaverse is now one of those buzzwords we can expect to hear about for some time to come. With that in mind, I just finished reading my latest book titled The Metaverse Handbook. The book covers the following:

  • What the metaverse is, why you should care about it, and how to build your metaverse strategy
  • The history of the metaverse and primers on critical technologies driving the metaverse, including non-fungible tokens, XR, the blockchain, and web3
  • How to unearth unique metaverse opportunities in digital communities, commerce, and immersive experiences

Given the experiences of the last 2.5 years, an ability to feel like we are together when we are not takes on more importance. Renji Bijoy, Immersed VR’s founder and CEO went as far as to say that VR is less of a novelty and more of a quality-of-life tool. But as with everything else, there are paths that enhance humanity and those that diminish it. The book explores both the possibilities and the challenges. I have added to my book library.

Our Immersive Future

I have long believed that the way we interact as humans is on an accelerating journey towards massive change. Whether the next interaction frontier involves the brain or a broad Metaverse vision, it is almost certain that how we interact will change. There have been several waves of change to our interaction paradigm through at least three stages of transformation. However, the next transformation will alter many long-standing beliefs, and as we explore possibilities, emerging scenarios can be very illuminating.

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Web3

The current buzz surrounding Web3 represents the convergence of multiple domains. In the past, Web 3.0 represented the semantic web, which focused on making Internet data machine-readable. Web3 has moved to a broader place, including the Metaverse and decentralization. The metaverse is described by Wikipedia as a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection. The metaverse itself is a huge buzzword these days, but its origins date back to Author Neil Stephenson when he coined the term in Snow Crash, a dystopian cyberpunk novel published in 1992. In the novel, the metaverse is described as a 3D shared virtual world – a whole universe of shared virtual spaces seemingly linked together with an ability to teleport between them. Games like Minecraft and Fortnite are close to the vision that he foresaw. You can explore more on the metaverse here.

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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 Reality Converges With Fitness

A scenario I explored when looking into the Future of Sports was improving our fitness in virtual ways. As our bodies are immersed into games or eSports, athleticism matters. Where the view of gaming in the past was a teenager or young adult wasting away in front of a screen, virtual reality is turning that view on its head. In this recent Article, author Clint Carter describes the serious workouts he enjoyed virtually. In essence, your body is the games controller, and your fitness level plays a major role in how you do. Here is a description of one of those games from the article:

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Eight Trends Amplified By COVID-19

I just finished another book and added it to my Library. Pandemic, Inc. explores eight trends that are amplified by the current pandemic. Author Patrick Schwerdtfeger believes we will see more change in the next 12 months then we saw in the last 12 years. He views the current crisis through an optimistic lens, seeing a time of incredible change, but also opportunity.

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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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Immigration, Innovation and the Coming Migrations

The Future is Faster than you ThinkI recently added a new book to my Book Library. Authors Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler explore the acceleration of technology and the Upheaval we are likely to experience in the coming decade. Diamandis and Kotler investigate how exponentially accelerating technologies converge and impact both our lives and society as a whole. They ask key questions like: how will these convergences transform today’s legacy industries? What will happen to the way we raise our kids, govern our nations, and care for our planet?

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Can you Reunite with a Lost Loved One?

In a recent book titled A World without Work, author Daniel Susskind described two fields of computing: computational creativity and affective computing. According to wikipedia, computational creativity is a multidisciplinary endeavour that is located at the intersection of the fields of artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, philosophy, and the arts. The goal of computational creativity is to model, simulate or replicate creativity using a computer. This field of computing explores whether Creativity is the Sole Domain of Humans.

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Ray Kurzweil Predicts: Disease, Reality, and Brain Interaction

Ray Kurzwiel has always been very good at predicting; which will make some of his recent predictions scary for some and fascinating for others. That’s the general reaction when people are exposed to some of what Futurists see coming. Out of the 147 predictions he made in his various books, only 3 turned out to be totally wrong. With that knowledge in hand, this recent Article describes some of Ray’s recent predictions. Scary, fascinating, or some combination of the two? Here is a look at three of his recent predictions:

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Trends that could change everything in the next decade

CCS Insight delivered a set of future predictions at its annual future-gazing event in London on Thursday 3 October. CCS InsightA longer than usual time frame was the focus, stretching to 2030. A total of 90 predictions were released. I include some interesting ones below.

 

PREDICTIONS

By 2021, algorithmic and anti-bias data auditors emerge to tackle “pale, male and stale” artificial intelligence.

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Mapping the Path of Innovation

In a recent post, I asked my readers to help me identify those catalysts that force the actions required to steer our future towards advancing our human development. Feel free to respond to the Poll. The number one response was the rapid pace of innovation. That response supports my own opinion that the pace will ultimately force stakeholders across multiple domains to take action. Much like the Domain Convergence that occurred during our most Transformative Period in History, convergence is required if we are to take the correct path towards human flourishing.

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The Future of Retail

The National Retail Federation (NRF) kicked off it’s annual event this week, and with it comes an opportunity to consider the future of retail and the type of changes we might expect. Colleagues at Tata Consultancy Services (Kevin Mulcahy, Bill Quinn, and April Harris) pulled together their thoughts ahead of the event. You can explore the future of Retail via this Article, and/or the short video below.

Globalization’s Third Act

Globalizations Third act

Globalization could be entering its third act. In a book titled The Great Convergence, Author Richard Baldwin describes the three constraints that have limited globalization: the cost of moving goods, the cost of moving ideas, and the cost of moving people. The first two acts of globalization occurred when the cost of moving goods and ideas dropped. While globalization raised the standard of living in several developing economies, the third constraint limited the breadth of impact.

In his closing chapter, Mr. Baldwin explores the possibility of a third act. This act is driven by dramatic advancements in areas that address the third constraint. If the cost of moving people were to drop, developing nations like South America, Africa, and others could be the beneficiaries of this third act. How will the cost of moving people drop? What advancements enable this third act? In his closing chapter, Mr. Baldwin touches on enabling innovations and their fascinating potential. Here is a brief look at these innovations:

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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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Video Playlist Highlights Changes in the World of Sports

After producing a short video on the Future of Sports, the reimagining the future team curated a video playlist that explores potential changes in the world of sports – influenced by various advances in science and technology. The short introductory video above provides a link to the playlist. The poll below looks at who is most impacted by these changes – please take a moment to respond to the poll.

Next Generation Education

The World Economic Forum estimates 65 per cent of children today will end up in careers that don’t even exist yet.

“Individuals and companies that succeed in the future will be those who adopt the philosophy of lifelong learning,” says Nigel Heap, managing director of Hays UK and Ireland. “Businesses that facilitate the resources, tools and time to support learning will not only have employees who are more engaged, but their business will be better placed to face challenges and remain innovative.”

From the Future of Learning


I’ve attempted to link innovation and our well-being via a visual that I’ve shared previously in this forum. It allows us to envision our emerging future and leverage story telling techniques to describe it in ways that become actionable. One of the most critical aspects of this emerging future in my humble opinion is the future of learning and education.

Reimagining Education

Our education system must prepare individuals for the world that is, not the one that was. It must ensure that those educated embody the qualities and competencies essential to life in a society very different than our industrial past. Among them are: creativity, critical thinking, innovative thinking, curiosity, social intelligence, a collaborative spirit, adaptability, entrepreneurial spirit, connecting dots, and knowing how to ask the right questions. Our need for life-long learning and unlearning drives us to reimagine education and transform through combinatorial innovations that leverage AI, Mobile, Cloud, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Big Data, and more. Some of the facets of next generation education include:

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Future Sports: Connecting the Dots

Last week, I presented on the future of sports at a fund raiser for the Rutgers University Women’s Soccer team. A local Article on the topic captured the high-level themes, but for those interested, here is the full presentation along with two very good reports I tapped into from Delaware North on the future of sports: The Future of Sports 2016 Report and The Future of Sports 2015 Report.

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