2021 is coming to an end, a year where hybrid working and remote jobs have also taken center stage due to the pervasive Covid-19 pandemic. The Metaverse, NFTs and Metaverse Tokens have been and still are on everyone’s lips. But what is the metaverse and can we already glimpse a new way of working?
We probably think of science fiction first: the term metaverse was first used in the science fiction novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson in 1991. The metaverse is presented there as a kind of global virtual reality in which users are represented by avatars and populate a virtual world. The Metaverse is therefore not a game, it is not about winning or losing, rather it represents a real alternative to the physical world, a digital reality in its own right. Let’s call it global, a virtual reality that can extend to all aspects of our physical reality. And of course, this is also reflected in the world of work. Because it also means that the world of work that we follow on our laptops in Web 2.0 is mapped in 3D in the metaverse.
Overall, the Metaverse, along with other digital innovations, can help us make the way we work more productive. The world of work is outsourced to some extent, on a virtual level. Already today, due to the digital possibilities of Web 2.0 and the new reality of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are seeing an increase in the number of hybrid workers. This has long been prevalent, especially in the crypto industry. Web 3.0 will differ from today’s Web in that it actually represents an all-encompassing digital level and therefore different professional groups can relate to it. If, as many experts expect, Web 3.0 and therefore the metaverse grows to such an extent that it provides an alternative to the physical world, Web 3.0 will generate far more revenue than we know from our current web. .
One of the many institutional investors in the Metaverse is Grayscale, the world’s largest cryptocurrency wealth manager. The Grayscale Bitcoin Trust accounts for approximately 3% of the circulating supply of Bitcoin. In Grayscale’s Metaverse report, the wealth manager analyzes the economic power of Web 3.0. He particularly highlights the so-called Play-to-Earn (P2E) system, through which players can sell their services, art or other content in free games. The report also highlights various niches and projects that are likely to be important in the coming period. Arguably, according to Grayscale’s analysis, revenue in and across the metaverse will increase significantly.
By working in the metaverse, we could, in the broadest sense, make our society more productive and efficient. Common standards and protocols that link disparate virtual worlds and augmented realities into a single connected metaverse could help us work together and avoid duplication. The technical and monetary possibilities seem endless. Greg Cross, self-described tech nomad and co-founder of tech company Soul Machines, explained in a recent blog post that humans “in the future (…) maybe (can you) create a digital version of yourself or multiple versions of yourself that can then go out and do things to make money for you or your business . And while doing something else is much more fun.”
While critics of these artificial intelligence (AI) solutions insist that digital workers could take over some jobs, Cross says they will create more jobs than they take. At the end of the process, there will always be a human making the final decisions, monitoring and troubleshooting the digital workforce. Moreover, according to Cross, digital solutions will not complement specialists, but strengthen them: think of teachers or employees in the health sector.
There are several active ways for users to earn money through play-to-earn games. Game universes such as Fortnite, Roblox, Decentraland, The Sandbox or Minecraft already implement them today. In-app purchases with your own game tokens enable the exchange, acquisition and sale of digital assets. Trading and selling NFT will be just as much a part of the job offer as teachers, journalists, architects or management consultants in the metaverse.
Besides the tremendous economic opportunities, moving work and professions to the metaverse also offers other obvious benefits. This is especially true of the hybrid work environment that has emerged from the accelerated shift to digital communications and remote working due to the Covid-19 pandemic. More immersive experiences in the metaverse could also help overcome some of the challenges of the current work-from-home status quo, like zoom fatigue.
Confidentiality and identity
However, the metaverse is still in its infancy, as the technology has yet to mature. Several potential pitfalls and problems must be overcome if the concept of working in the metaverse is to take hold and become a success. Some of the most fundamental issues, especially with the decentralized metaverse, involve trust, privacy, and identity.
When it comes to data protection for employees, the trend is increasingly moving in the direction of Metaversum. Digital projects that combine biometric data and verified copies of government ID documents in NFTs promise to give users a foundation of identity in the metaverse. The attributes included in the NFT depend on the will of the user. However, if someone wants or needs to confirm their age in the metaverse, for example, to get a certain job, they can simply refer to their NFT. Such a system also suggests a type of regulation in a digital world and therefore moves away from an anarchic image of the metaverse.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg estimates that it could take 5-10 years for the core features of the Metaverse to take hold. While some aspects of virtual reality already exist, the Metaverse is technically still in its infancy. Persistent online worlds, players where you walk around the landscape with avatars and move much of your life from the physical world to the virtual world, virtual reality headsets and fast broadband already exist. So it’s only a matter of the near future where we too can get to know the metaverse better. It is therefore only a matter of time before the first users ply their trade in the metaverse, in the virtual representation of our world.
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