My mother is 86 and visibly handicapped by pandemic malnutrition, genetics, and age. Which means: Diabetes 2 limits most of all her vision. As a child of the Second World War, she gave up an academic education, instead diligently doing her German low-wage main job all her life, plus worked in a part-time job. All this to finance the sofa and to go on vacation with us children once a year. It was foreseeable and could not be averted: her pension nowadays is not enough to pay the private contribution to her eye surgery.
It’s a good thing there’s Mark Zuckerberg. The father of social networks has renamed his child Meta, and now the world is as feverish as it was in wealthy Holland for tulip bulbs. The Metaverse is coming and it’s going to bring us anarchist redemption, right?!
Mark Zuckerberg and millions of others have a vague idea of what our society really needs and wants digitally in the future. My mother sees it differently. She does not want to put on augmented reality glasses to see professionally produced 3D environments, influencer content, a fictitious bank counter. She wants to see!
The Metaverse must be available on prescription! And tomorrow’s health insurance companies are advertisers. My mother would like me to invite her to Johannesburg in 2025 and have details about the route from the airport to my villa projected directly into her retina. On the way to her goal, she wants to see German-language outdoor advertising. South African English, which she would not understand even without an accent, is to be superimposed on her retina as a text translation in real time. Her personal AI assistant is supposed to remind her to take her pills, after all she’s 89, and he’s checking her vital signs so that I have a good feeling. As her son, I would like to know that she is always within reach thanks to the built-in GPS tracker, because who knows whether the driverless cars will actually work that reliably. After all, she will be able to enjoy an extraordinary car interior window projection on her journey, which I will have put together for her. Tourist highlights and her language course, which is 100% funded by the “Geman Agency for Work for the elderly”, will be incorporated and successfully completed on her way back… And all this without additional payment, because Mark’s Metaverse will be 100% advertising-financed! Never, we will then say, has it been possible to get so close to humans.
I wish that this vision will come true. At a time when free travel and free speech are not always so free, it is good to have at least the prospect of digital freedom. I will invest in the Metaverse! But at what point?
What I read about the Metaverse today from “pundits” and media representatives is largely a representation of lack of imagination, short-sightedness, and profit-seeking. The Metaverse aka Web 3.0 can really change something, it can mean an autonomous new beginning for our society and embrace those who already lack social contacts. But please not with AR glasses, that’s so cheesy! And certainly not primarily through the acquisition of virtual properties, which can only achieve value in a reinterpretation of macroeconomic fundamentals. Because: Where there is no scarcity (=in the multidimensional virtual space), there can be no value if there is no sustained concentration of demand in salable locations.
Because of this problem of understanding, many people went bankrupt during the Dutch tulip crisis in 1637; of course, those who had little capital first, so they put their last shirt on rising prices. The 790 million people who lived on our planet in the early 17th century may have passed on the joy of speculation but did not warn against ignoring risks. Today we share the same planet with 7.79 billion inhabitants: The fantasies that Mark triggers with his meta are flatter than ever and already foretell that in the future there could be something like the repeat of the tulip crisis and the Internet bubble 2000, the bursts with a loud bang. Not because the concept of a metaverse is bad, but because the vision is too blurred and most of the big (and not bankrupt) initiators focus on money and not humanity.
The digital world is an ingenious value creation engine. Essentially, it consists of hardware (largely interchangeable these days – sorry, Apple-ians!) and software: Productivity, Science, Analysis – Creativity – Production – Surveillance – Communications – Security – Gaming – Sports – Arts – Artificial intelligence… The Web 2.X that exists today is “social”, but it is mostly only two-dimensional multimedia and by no means authentic, organic, or interactive enough. We speak, gesture, and touch our computers. But nobody feels like that!
Mark, make Meta a place of love, of discretion, of the second identity that you don’t put on, but implant yourself. My mom’s in, I’m in!