Facebook screwed up. No matter how you feel about the name change or the whole… metaverse thing† However you slice it, Meta’s rebranding has been a public disaster. And it’s because hardly anyone can explain what the hell the metaverse is.
Almost everyone on the planet knows what Facebook did, but hardly anyone has a clue what “Meta” is about. You can blame Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s marketing team, for the nihilistic nature of social media (which, ironically, you can also blame Mark Zuckerberg et al.).
But the simple fact is that trying to explain the metaverse is more challenging than even the most visionary of technologists could face. for eyes†
Continue Reading: The Metaverse Isn’t A Place – It’s A Mandatory Reality Upgrade
If you ask futurist Jason Silva, the metaverse is the question we exist to answer. It’s the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland asking “who are you?” His speech at TNW Conference 2022 was a tour de force that showed exactly what the “future of us” holds.
His big idea includes what he describes as humanity’s entry into the ‘Cyberdelic Age’. This era of social and technological change is defined by the concepts of virtual and digital technology merging with psychedelic technology.
It sounds a little crazy from the outside to look in. But these are not metaphors. Silva’s meaning is literal: There is an abundance of research showing that psychedelics can have a hugely positive impact on people going through a mental health crisis.
So where does the metaverse fit in? It depends on how you look at it. If you see the future as a place where human drones spend their lives in existential dread of reality, you could envision a world where we lose our humanity.
It’s easy to imagine a paradigm where we waste our lives in wacky face helmets made by the same company that propelled Candy Crush and Farmville into the lives of billions of people.
That future is so close you can taste it. It’s just a few steps from where we are now. But, as Silva told the TNW audience, we tend to view the future through the framework of our past:
Humans, our brains evolved in a world that was linear and local and now we live in a world that is global and exponential.
He explained how 25 years ago the idea of having a computer in your pocket that was slimmer than a deck of cards and more powerful than a $60 million mainframe from the 1970s would have seemed unbelievable.
And in another 25 years we will probably reach incredible new technological areas in virtual reality, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.
When you combine those things – future technology and psychedelics – you get the Cyberdelic era.
That sounds catchy, but what is the reality? According to Silva, it’s “seeing yourself inside out”.
And that’s the answer to the question “where does the metaverse come in?” Silva treated the audience to a series of videos that did a great job describing the concepts in the game – you should check out his YouTube channel to see what I’m talking about.
But the gist is this: the metaverse is a new layer of reality that will allow us to interact with each other in a much clearer and more intimate way.
Silva asked the audience to “imagine the world before language was invented”, in hopes it would shed some light on how vastly different the future could be — perhaps even the near future, thanks to the exponential nature of technological advancements. .
Today, modern communication includes video chats, text messages, and phone calls. In the metaverse, all those things will still exist, but the extra layer will be our ability to invite others into our minds.
How do you explain to your therapist why a nightmare that seems harmless to everyone else is so scary for you? How do you describe PTSD to someone without reliving the stories that caused it?
And, just as importantly, how do you describe to someone else how beautiful they are to you? How do you explain the feeling of sunshine? How do you share your most precious thoughts, the memories that define where you came from and how you became the person you are, to those who can’t see them as they are in your head?
Today, people believe that AI is on the verge of consciousness. We’ve seen the human genome cracked and, as Silva pointed out to the crowd, modern vaccines literally act like “a code that tells the human body how to fight disease.”
The metaverse is a place where AI can show other people exactly what we see and feel in our brains. It’s a place where we can finally invite others to see things from our point of view.
It’s a place where, as Silva puts it, “we can go from making art to being art.”
And if we can imagine a Black Mirror future where people exchange the spark of “us” that makes us special for a dystopian nightmare where physical contact is replaced by mindless consumerism, then we can imagine a better one.
Jason Silva outlines the credible and feasible idea that all this technology, coupled with a global social paradigm shift toward the most effective treatments for the catastrophic mental health pandemic, could result in a transhuman society where each of us has the opportunity to thrive.
It’s not every day that a futurist explains how Moore’s Law, Darwin’s theory of evolution, virtual reality and psychedelics will one day combine to form the pinnacle of humanity’s pursuit of… happiness.
But again, the TNW Conference does not take place every day. Click here to prepare for TNW 2023.