• Brussels, Berlin, Europe

What will become of our shared reality in the metaverse?

With the Foundation Metaverse Europe we started to ask questions and to think ourselves into a world in which Augmented Reality or the “Augmented Metaverse”, similar to the Internet today, will be part of our everyday life in the future.

The next development step after the cell phone is definitely the cool smart MR glasses, which have already been announced by Apple. Then comes the contact lens. Then the retina. Maybe.

I have experienced everything in my generation. No telephone (was a rarity in the 80s). Corded telephone. Cell phone. So let’s anticipate the relevance of what’s to come.

The fact is: technology is evolving. On and on.

And where is the human being? Are we seeing new subjects like “digital literacy”? No. Do we see digital natives working hand in hand with the old economy and working together with scientific research institutions on the “New World of Science Fiction”, shaping it and setting standards for a future in which we succeed in making sense of the metaverse, regulating it and recommending courses of action? No. Few.

Let’s talk plain Metaverse theme.

What we are seeing in Germany is that the various associations and institutions are only dealing with this in a very limited way. We see that the Federal Government’s Digital Committee once puts the topic up for hearing, discusses it with experts, and then puts it aside again. We see that money is invested far too cautiously in research projects from the government side, and we see that most of the large and medium-sized companies are of the opinion: “The topic of Metaverse is still much too far away.”

But it will roll over us, the wave will break over us with such force that we will not be able to see or hear. Let’s face it. Don’t we already have enough problems in Germany? The level of education of school leavers is already catastrophic and will continue to fall, the shortage of skilled workers that we already have will become a massive problem and the people who want to make a career, take on responsibility and have been educated at a high level at good universities will go abroad….

That’s where we stand in Germany.

Nevertheless, it is not too late to make a difference, to help shape the future and to take on the challenges of the future. We must, if possible before virtual reality infiltrates us more and more; as social media is already doing now, look at the opportunities and dangers at the same time.

After all, I’m speaking to an interested, educated community here: just imagine it very briefly:

What would a reality, our greatest common good, be if we lost it because everyone is surrounded by their own very personal data bubble in their field of vision? What will it feel like and what will the technology companies and platform providers do to feed me targeted data based on my interests and preferences? How do real people differ from AI-generated avatars? If one cannot distinguish who is human and who is AI and this is not regulated, what is possible in terms of manipulation and emotional influence in the metaverse? Much that is useful, but also much that will isolate people, will corrupt and that can lead to social and political division in society.

Just imagine this world where I meet real people, but at the same time can access directly in my field of vision what their preferences or political interests – or worse: what their social status or health status is. Or I pay for certain filter layers not to be displayed at all and thus live in a completely individualized and “purified world”, while another social class may not even be able to afford to use the cool mixed reality glasses at all and is thus in a way incapacitated.

What does that do to us humans? What mindset do we need to maintain mental self-control and integrate augmented reality into our lives meaningfully and smoothly as an “option,” “assistance,” and to “save time”?

Don’t we need something like “shared responsibility”?

I am really moved by these issues. That’s why I’m looking forward to your opinion about it in the comments. Let’s discuss the future of the Metaverse.

To stimulate discussion, I’ll insert here a quote from Konrad Zuse, who once said, “The danger of a computer becoming like a man is not as great as the danger of a man becoming like a computer.”

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