A fictional analysis of the huge implications of the Metaverse
As the Metaverse rises to dominate the landscape of the future, we are left to ponder the impact it will have on our energy footprint.
The dystopian tales of the Matrix and the takeover of AI flash through my mind as I consider the potential for the human population to shrink, our interests shifting away from the fundamentals of real life - family, children, and the discovery of genuine connections and experiences.
In the long run, the Metaverse may well bring about a reduction in population and a scaling down of polluting industries, leading to a decrease in energy consumption sustained by renewables.
But at what cost?
This fictional post invites us to consider the overlooked aspects of new digital technologies and the ramifications they may bring.us reflect on a bigger picture.
As the world population continues to grow, so too does energy consumption.
In the last 24 hours alone, the population has increased by 120,000 people, each of whom consumes an average of 60 KWh per day.
This has led to a growth of 0.0015% in both population and energy consumption. Since the end of World War II, population and energy consumption have been closely correlated and have seen a rapid increase.
Currently, the Metaverse is drawing our attention to a range of technological devices that allow for immersive virtual experiences, such as virtual reality headsets, immersive sound, and wearables that engage other senses.
These devices, along with video games and experiential software, are becoming increasingly realistic and immersive.
We often refer to real life as the result of the circumstances and choices that shape our experiences, including our birth, gender, culture and religion, and the people and institutions we encounter.
Real life is a consequential state, shaped by both our own choices and those of others, and constrained by both surmountable and insurmountable barriers.
However, the Metaverse offers the possibility of experiencing multiple virtual lives, traveling without boundaries, and developing relationships all over the world in "real" time.
It acts as a digital Aladdin's lamp, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in our desires and convince our minds and senses that the virtual is real.
The M(etaverse) Chart describes 4 Phases for the transition from real to virtual life
As the Metaverse emerges as a source of entertainment, we must consider the possibility of a dystopian future in which it reverses the trend of human population growth and energy consumption.
With just a flutter of digital butterflies, the trajectory of humanity could be irrevocably altered. Will we allow it to happen, or will we take a stand and shape our own destiny? The choice is ours.
As in any Tsunami the first waves generate curiosity and a sense of attraction…
As we continue to witness the increasing influence of digital technologies on our lives, we are faced with a range of unsettling trends. The rise of social media, the spread of fake news, and the impact of digital technologies on our behaviors and investments all point to a future in which the pervasiveness of these technologies will only continue to grow.
In this current moment, we are seeing not just younger generations, but older ones as well, devoting increasing amounts of their time to screentime and virtual reality applications. It is only a matter of time before the "real" Metaverse becomes a reality.
Children, in particular, will come to empathize with their avatars as they become more connected to the digital world.
As we move into Phase 1 and the mass adoption of the Metaverse becomes more likely, the consequences of this shift will be uncertain. We will increasingly ask ourselves whether AI is good or bad, and whether we risk being erased by sentient artificial entities.
It is likely that Phase 1 will close around 2025, when the Metaverse will no longer be a mysterious and neglected concept, but rather a force to be reckoned with in its true social and economic potential.
The Metaverse tipping point will occur around 2050
In Phase 2 of the Metaverse, we can expect to see a significant acceleration in the adoption of this new digital realm. More and more people will allocate their time and economic resources to the Metaverse, seeing themselves less as physical beings and more as avatars that represent them in the virtual world.
This shift will be especially pronounced among those born after 2025, who will come to see the Metaverse as a natural and integral part of their lives.
As avatars, we will be able to purchase our own virtual homes, inviting other avatars over for parties or movie nights, and furnishing our spaces with digital furniture from top brands. We may even have the opportunity to host VIP guests for a fee, and indulge in virtual cocktails that give our avatars special powers and attractiveness boosts.
This phase of digital consumption is likely to last for about 25 years, at which point (in 2050) we will reach the tipping point at which half of our lives are spent in physical space and half in digital space. The Metaverse will have truly arrived.
Metaverse Farms will replace physical ones for good
In Phase 3, we can expect to see a real disruption of the physical economy as more and more people turn to the Metaverse for their needs.
Real factories will become obsolete as Metaverse factories or farms take over, and there will be no need for new buildings, furniture, or cars.
Physical activities and their associated needs will be minimized as people essentially live in their own digital rooms.
Beauty and appearance will no longer be physical, as people focus on enhancing their avatars with the best virtual clothes and techniques to make them unique and distinguishable.
The physical economy will be reduced to its bare minimum, with traditional schools, entertainment venues, physical stores, and public transportation all disappearing (a trend that began in Phase 2).
By the end of Phase 3, most of our time and economic resources will be focused on and within the Metaverse. The virtual world will have come to dominate our lives.
Life is delegated to AI and so procreation…
In Phase 4, which we can assume will take us into the 22nd century, the scenario depicted in "The Matrix" will come to pass. Most of the human population will be permanently connected to the Metaverse, with only a select few (an elite) having the time and means to live in physical space.
AI-driven automated systems will power the physical bodies of those connected to the Metaverse, ensuring their "health" and well-being. At the behest of elite governments, AI will even handle artificial procreation, with newborns being immediately transferred to the Metaverse upon birth.
At this point, the economy will be almost entirely digital, with physical life being experienced only briefly as newborns transition from artificial wombs to the Metaverse. The virtual world will have become our permanent reality.
Will the Metaverse decrease or raise global energy consumption?
The growth of energy consumption has always been tied to human population, as more people require industries, transportation, commercial and residential buildings to support their daily lives.
However, as more and more people spend time in the Metaverse and virtual reality, their relationships with real people will change.
The desire for "ideal" virtual relationships may lead to a loss of interest in interacting with others in the physical world, resulting in a decrease in procreation and overall population.
No longer will there be the same desire to have one physical family when we can have as many virtual families as we wish.
This shift will also impact a large number of physical industries, leading to a decrease in their energy consumption.
After 2050, we can expect energy consumption to be largely devoted to data centers (or Metaverse farms) and to supporting the basic needs of humans, such as food and transportation.
The human population is likely to steadily decline to a plateau level managed by AI, which will also optimize energy consumption and handle artificial procreation.
This will be the case if the human elite, those not fully connected to the Metaverse, dictate this course of action.
Returning to the future energy footprint…
The transition to renewable energy is a long-term trend that will continue to grow over the next few decades. To make this transition successful, it will require significant investment in power transmission networks and storage.
While it is important to consider linear factors in predicting the future, we must also consider the potential for exponential growth of certain factors that could dramatically change our world. Examples of such factors include the development and adoption of the Metaverse, outbreaks of viruses, and prolonged shortages of food and water.
It is up to us to determine whether we can create a harmonious and balanced future, or if we are headed towards extreme scenarios such as a world that is too hot to be livable or a world in which we no longer experience physical, conscious existence.
This "fictional" post is meant to be a provocation to think early on about how to ensure a balanced and concrete approach toward reducing the energy footprint caused by humans, without necessarily going through a Matrix scenario!
Comment here or write me your thoughts! Thank you. Max