How are we going to eradicate the luddite thinking when it comes to digital advancements? That’s what I’m exploring in my day-to-day life this week. The 1% wedge is making the digital gap wider largely due to the elitist technologies aimed at the haves rather than the have-nots. Just because someone doesn’t understand something, it doesn’t mean that they don’t want it. We need to get our thinking caps on in the west because even the older populations in Asia have this problem nailed.
Planet Earth: The Redux
Remember when the metaverse was fun? There were, I dunno, two or three platforms to choose from and now look. It’s a world of failed states for as far as the eye can see. Boring. Nonsensical. Useless. But climate change fighting? I kind of did not see this one coming. We made digital twins to explore systems and processes in simulation (read my book) but the digital twins are now becoming the darlings of the race. Researchers from Cornell University have suggested that the Metaverse could actually help lower the global surface temperature by up to 0.02 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. This might not sound like much, but it's a step in the right direction, considering how dire our climate situation is. The metaverse can revolutionise the way we meet, work, and collaborate, reducing the need for physical travel and its associated carbon footprint with ease! Imagine attending international meetings, conferences, or even social gatherings in immersive 3D environments without ever leaving your home! Meta has already initiated workrooms to facilitate virtual meetings, making this green vision a possibility. And now everyone’s fave tattooed hot dad Jensen Huang is using Nvidia Omniverse to develop E2, basically a digital twin fashioned on Earth. Tuvalu started it and Nvidia is how it’s going.
Putting the Boot In
The humble NFT is getting a kicking… again. This time the disgruntled hipsters are turning on the do-good folks to announce the death of the NFT. Wahahahaha! Seriously, wat? Though a recent report reveals that a staggering 95% of NFT collections have zero market value, it doesn’t sound like a death knell where 5% have values over a huge floor price. Beeple, anyone? RTFKT? Louis Vuitton? These have shown, and continue to show value long after purchase. The meteoric rise of NFTs in 2021 led to a flurry of investments and digital art sales, but now it appears that the vast majority of NFT holders are left with assets that hold no real value. And that’s the beef that us do-good utility folks have with NFTs. WE DO NOT WANT TO BUY A JPG and yet the hits still keep coming. While some artists and collectors thrived during the NFT boom, it's a stark reminder that not all that glitters in the Metaverse is gold. My advice is simple. If this NFT looks good and you like it, buy it, it’s a jpg. But if you want your NFT to work for you, find one that does something (like my current collection with YEON does).
A Divisive Digital Democracy (For All?)
Meta (formerly Facebook) that well-known online advertising behemoth is making moves to democratise access to the Metaverse. Last week it was free hugs with headsets and finally Meta has opened its Horizon Worlds metaverse “video game” (oh but I wish it was) to users on phones and web browsers. This means that more people will have the opportunity to explore and interact in the metaverse without the need for expensive VR gear. Thank you for listening, Mark, you’re about 3 years late but at least you showed up. This expansion is still in its early stages and that says to me at least that this device port is gonna be literally filled with bugs, accidental porn and anything else you can think of which will drain your phone battery and kill your joy. It’s only available to a select few for now—that’s how QA tends to work but hey it's a step toward Meta's vision of making the metaverse accessible to everyone, no matter their device. It's a big leap towards the Metaverse becoming an integral part of our digital lives but you will have to pay with your personal data, probably.
Digital Fashion for Dahhhlings
Imagine trying on clothing virtually before making an online purchase – it's a glimpse into the future of fashion, except it isn’t. The metaverse is changing not only how we socialise but also how we dress. Here comes this week’s monkeys with a typewriter moment: FabriX, a Hong Kong-based digital fashion initiative, is taking centre stage (seriously?) at London Fashion Week. Here we go, here we go, I am ready to be disappointed. Attendees can virtually try on specially commissioned designs from talented young designers, blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds. WOW! Set the time machine for 2020/2021 didn’t Gucci or Dolce and Gabbana do this spectacularly badly during the pandemic? This event should showcase the growing trend of digital fashion and how the metaverse is revolutionising the way we shop and express our style. Let me stop you there. I have this nailed. Trying to get some ham-fisted artists to produce something that won’t kill your phone is an artform where only the game developer is going to succeed.
Not Fade Away
In a fascinating yet somewhat eerie development, generative AI is enabling what some call “digital necromancy” – the recreation of the deceased through their digital traces. I talk about digital death a lot and while this technology allows people to interact with digital simulations of their loved ones, based on texts, emails, photos, and more—it’s going to explode into a huge business sector in the coming years. While this might sound like science fiction, it's becoming a part of our grieving and remembrance practices. People have long sought ways to keep the memory of the departed alive, whether through photographs, letters, or mementos. Generative AI is simply the latest tool in this age-old practice. While there are ethical concerns, it's important to remember that we've always used media and artefacts to commune with the memory of the departed. The difference is that a lot of million-dollar startups are preying on the weak and grieving to give them their familial equivalent of Tupac or Elvis. It’s creepy. What I would like to explore is how we can give people actual tools to do this than having digital funeral directors. What we really want after death is someone to burn our boner jams and that’s about it.
The Land of Broken Toys
China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) is getting serious about the metaverse. They’ve never been relaxed about anything to be fair. This week they're forming a working group to establish standards for this emerging technology sector. As someone who has created standards I can confirm it takes a nation to make shit happen. This is a significant move as China aims to become a global leader in setting standards for new tech, but to me this feels like a power move on the democratisation of future technologies. The metaverse is still in its early stages, and there's no consensus on what exactly it is (except when there is), which is where standards come into play (except when they don’t). MIIT recognises the challenges, including the lack of clear definitions, that the metaverse industry faces. But it will probably respond with power and that’s ok, this is what China does… well. With China's commitment to shaping the metaverse's future, can we expect exciting developments and perhaps a more structured virtual world? Nope. We can expect censorship and crackdowns, probably.
That's enough metaverse for this week. I’ve got a book launch to plan, but instead I’m procrastinating making a list of the next crop of disgraced celebs to try by social media. Not so much of a dead pool, more like a sleaze bucket. I’ve guessed at least 2 so far. You can read the latest and greatest long form stuff in our lovely hot off the press online where only we can do chaotic opinions and super takeaways in just one place
DO SOMETHING LESS BORING...
In my running series on AI saving your life. Forget the DJ - get into the music. It will set you free.
Pixelynx - a full on blockchain-powered music ecosystem for creators
Loudly - Create and edit songs to be the next Miley Drake.
Beatbot - It makes songs so you don’t have to.
Musnet - The ChatGPT of music. It’s OpenAI so that’s what you are getting.
Aiva - it’s a generator and a tool so you can write the theme tune and sing the theme tune (with AI).