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The past and present of the meta universe

  A ghost, the ghost of the meta universe, wanders the human world. For a time, thousands of people argued about Metaverse, and countless companies wanted to wear the hat of Metaverse. Some people are happy and some are worried. Some people think that the meta-universe is the future, some people think it is a bubble, and some people think that it is a drug, which will corrode people’s hearts and even lead mankind into an abyss that cannot be restored.
  So, what is the meta universe? This is a concept derived from science fiction and the oldest dream of mankind. We can regard the traditional real world as a real universe. At the same time, we had another universe a long time ago, which is the imagined universe: literature, painting, drama, film… In the past, these two universes were Separate from each other, it is impossible for us to actually walk in while watching “Dream of Red Mansions”. But what is interesting is that “Dream of Red Mansions” really described such a scene, and more specifically imagined a very sci-fi traversing device: Fengyue Baojian. In any case, the desire to transcend reality and enter the imaginary universe from the real universe is real and strong. With the development of science and technology, the boundary between these two universes has begun to be broken, and they have become more and more integrated with each other. For example, shopping, which is a very real thing, can now be completed in the virtual world, and even virtual currency can be used, and this virtual currency is obtained through virtual activities in the virtual world. It can also be said that human virtual activities are becoming more and more substantial. The result of this fusion is the meta universe.

  Network and games have a symbiosis mechanism and a trend of co-evolution, which lays a physical and psychological foundation for the metaverse in terms of virtualization, interactivity and leapfrogging. The player of the game is the new subject of the meta universe.

  In this sense, the journey of mankind towards the meta-universe began with the first scribbles made by our ancestors in the caves tens of thousands of years ago. The meta-universe is another space where the human spirit is projected. All human art has its own meta-universe attributes.
  The development of digital technology has pushed mankind’s construction of the meta-universe into a new stage. The computer network is a more concrete version of the meta universe. It is not only like traditional literature and art, it is our imagination and fiction, it is also realistic, and it itself increasingly affects reality and becomes reality. Social media has a self-organizing mechanism that can produce content by itself, evolve continuously, and form an organic ecology. This is very close to the source of the term Metaverse, the scene in the science fiction novel “Avalanche”: a diverse river and lake with its own operating mechanism. It is virtual, but it is closely related to reality. The meta-universe can be understood as an enhanced version of the Internet. At present, there will be in the meta-universe: connection, isolation, projection, escape, mutual assistance, confrontation, reality, illusion…all these existing elements will be strengthened Appear in the form of.
  We can also think of games as another form of meta-universe. Many people in Metaverse related industries say that Metaverse is not a game. Zuckerberg also emphasized that this is social and office. They want to untie Metaverse from games. In fact, the meta-universe and the game are of the same origin, and they are two sides of the same one. Understanding the meta-universe requires the perspective of the game, and vice versa. Let’s take “Avalanche” as an example. People who play games today will understand from this novel that the metaverse inside is a massively multiplayer online game, full of various game scenes: avatar, play, tasks, rules, world construction etc. Cyberpunk novels represented by “Avalanche” are also prophecies of the Internet, and the Internet later developed to a large extent in accordance with the scripts of these novels. Network and games have a symbiosis mechanism and a trend of co-evolution, which lays a physical and psychological foundation for the metaverse in terms of virtualization, interactivity and leapfrogging. The player of the game is the new subject of the meta universe.
  So, what is the difference between the current meta-universe and “traditional” games and networks? Meta universe can be regarded as the next generation of games and network products. Those previous generation products still have many limitations, such as the screen is 2D, you are still outside of that world, and you can’t really walk in. The new generation of meta-universe is a dimensional improvement, and you will further “walk into” this world in various ways. Then of course, this will also use the latest technology, that is, the virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality technology that I have lonely advocated for many years. After years of accumulation, these technologies have begun to take shape, appearing in the consumer and commercial fields, showing off their demeanor.
  Of course, it is far more than hardware advancement. The core here is the breaking of boundaries and the improvement of dimensions. The meta universe is a new kind of transcendence and integration: information, social interaction, games, education, work, reality, virtual…These previously divided fields have been more and more integrated with the development of technology. We will become both readers and authors, audiences and actors, producers and consumers, educators and educators. And these activities will have a more immersive and interactive mode, that is, the game mode. People’s game nature will merge with various human activities, and work and study will become more interesting, more convenient, and more creative. This sounds so exciting, and this is the fundamental reason why I have always been optimistic about virtual reality and games. Now, this long and slow trend seems to suddenly become stronger.
  If people can complete shopping, office, planting, mining, education, medical care, socializing, marriage and love in the virtual world, and in a more relaxed, fun and free way, what changes will happen to the traditional real world? Do we still need to live in reality? Do we still need to endure all kinds of isolation, queuing, congestion, and traffic jams in reality? Will people increasingly migrate to the virtual world? Perhaps, in the not-so-distant future, we still retain our physical and real existence, but just treat them as a shell, a kind of most basic hardware, and devote more energy to building and enjoying our software. , Our content and applications, that is, the virtual world?
  This is also the biggest controversy over the meta universe. There is a denial of the meta universe, thinking that the meta universe is too illusory: can the meta universe allow people to eat braised pork? Yuan Universe currently cannot allow people to eat braised pork directly, but the two are not in opposition to each other. Why can’t you build Yuan Universe with braised pork in your mouth? Virtual and reality are originally two sides of the same one, and now the relationship is getting closer and closer. For example, the office application of Horizon Workroom launched by Facebook (now renamed Meta, which is the Metaverse of Metaverse) can make people work more efficiently and happily in the metaverse. It can create real value and can also be exchanged for fragrance. Braised pork in brown sauce.

The author plays VR “Star Wars: Vader Immortal” in Disney California, USA.

  There is also a fear of the meta-universe, thinking that the meta-universe will destroy mankind. These people borrowed from Liu Cixin’s critique of virtual reality, believing that the metaverse allows people to easily satisfy all kinds of desires in a virtual way, thus eroding people’s will to explore outwards. There are many misunderstandings in this. Liu Cixin is of course a space school and believes that the future of mankind is the sea of ​​stars, but he is not opposed to virtual reality itself. On the contrary, he believes that this is an indispensable technology for space development. Because the exploration and development of space is inseparable from IT technology including virtual reality artificial intelligence, it can enable us to complete most of the work in space exploration without humans taking risks. He believes that the ideal situation is that human introverted development and extroverted development proceed at the same time and promote each other. In his “Golden Field”, it is the hundreds of millions of people on the earth who use virtual reality technology to get along with the astronauts on the distant wrecked spacecraft day and night in a virtual way, establish a strong empathy, and promote the government on the earth. Huge investment was made to build a more powerful spacecraft to carry out rescue operations, thus promoting the development of aerospace industry.
  So, does the meta universe have a bright future? Wait a minute, too happy. I am optimistic about the megatrend of this meta-universe from the perspective of human nature and technological development, but the recent craze, IMHO, is mostly hype. The new meta-universe vision needs the support of powerful virtual reality equipment. I own almost all of these devices and clearly know their limitations: insufficient computing power of the chip, insufficient definition, too small field of view, image delay, insufficient positioning of body movements, dizziness, and insufficient content. More importantly, the current equipment is too large and heavy, and it can damage the hairstyle when worn on the head. These all need to be resolved by the development of technology and the development of content. It will take at least 5 to 10 years for the metaverse to become a more mainstream reality, and a lot of long work is needed in this area.
  Mankind is undergoing a profound change. In the past, our life was the life of the flesh, our reality was the reality in front of us, and our world was the world around us. With the advent of the telegraph, telephone and television, mankind has begun to enter the era of communication. You may think that this is just communication more convenient, but this is more than the progress of tools, our lives, the fundamentals of human beings have changed. If people are information, as more and more interpersonal information can be transmitted in an instant way, the traditional boundaries between people will gradually be broken, and the distance will begin to disappear. Digital and the Internet push the relationship between people and the world into a new century. The meta-universe is the embodiment of the development of this relationship and the new growth point of the human spirit. Just like the Internet and AI, the meta-universe is not a question of whether it will come, but a question of its form.
  The meta universe is a process, a process of fusion of reality and virtuality. Without virtuality, there is no imagination, there is no reconstruction of reality, and there is no development of civilization. There is no reality without virtuality. All art is a combination of virtual and reality, and it is a meta-universe in a sense. Art and life move towards a new fusion with the development of science and technology, this is a new stage of the meta universe. Of course, this will also be a long process of exploration.
  On the day the meta universe came, human beings were reborn.
  (The author is a professor of Chinese Department of Fudan University)
Related concepts
Cyber

   This word originated from ancient Greece. The original meaning was “helmsman” and the extended meaning was “control”. Later, the genius mathematician Norbert Wiener published “Cybernetics” and resurrected the word “cyber”. “Control” is connected with digital information, so that cyber has become almost synonymous with computers and the Internet.
Punk

   It was originally a simple and rude music genre. In some areas, “punk” is also called “traitor”. For example, if you dare not answer the call from the boss after get off work, it is very “punk”. Even if you don’t have the guts of punk, you must have a punk heart to break free from the shackles of various nets in life. This is not only the nature of birds and fish, but also the nature of humans.
Originator of the Metaverse: Science Fiction “Avalanche”

   Cyberpunk, the simplest understanding is “high-tech, low life”.
   Neil Stephenson’s “Avalanche” is the most representative sci-fi work of post-cyberpunk. Stephenson has created a three-dimensional digital space that is not the Internet as previously imagined, but a three-dimensional digital space that is closely connected with society, parallel to the real world, and people who are geographically isolated from each other in the real world can communicate and entertain themselves through their respective “avatars”. All people in the real world have a “network clone” in this virtual world. This virtual world is called “Metaverse” in the English original. It consists of two words: Meta and Verse. This Metaverse is now in a mess-the metaverse.
Possible forms of the meta universe

   The movie “Top Player” is often considered to be the closest representation of the meta-universe concept. In the movie, people in the real world can enter the virtual world called “Oasis” through VR equipment, and entertain, work and even live in it.
   At present, the concept of Metaverse mainly focuses on social, games, content and other entertainment fields. In the future, the penetration of Metaverse will mainly occur in areas that can improve the efficiency of production and life. Based on VR/AR and other display technologies and cloud technologies, a smart city guided by the True Internet, a closed-loop virtual consumption system has gradually formed, a virtualized service form constituted by the organic connection between online and offline, and a more mature digital asset finance Ecology constitutes an important part of the meta universe.
   The future meta-universe will be an open and closed system that can coexist or even be partially connected, the large and small universes are nested with each other, the small universe has the opportunity to expand and expand, and the large universe has the opportunity to collide and integrate, just like our real universe. Two meta-universes with different styles and fields form a larger meta-universe. The identity and assets of users are originally synchronized across the meta-universe, and people’s lifestyles, production models, and organizational governance methods will all be reconstructed.

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