When Neal Stephenson coined “the metaverse” three decades ago, his book Snow Crash was found on the shelves of “science fiction”.
While the book remains in that category, many of its concepts are now found in reality…
Fast forward to 2022, where numerous companies are now building toward their version of the metaverse, including Neal himself, working on his latest venture Lamina1, drawing on his experience as a builder at MagicLeap, Blue Origin, and more.
While the present metaverses don’t perfectly mimic that from Stephenson’s early imagination, we get the unique opportunity to discuss the various design decisions that he’s making, but also the intersection between the metaverse and gaming, the involvement that AR/VR might play, the evolving role of IP, how artificial intelligence fits in, what he’s building and why, and where he gets all of his ideas from.
The Metaverse is not a place; it is a set of protocols
He makes the dramatic point that the future of the metaverse starts with the insight that it is not a place; it is a set of protocols. Protocols are basic sets of rules that allow data to be shared between systems.
On the internet, they allow emails to exchanged and webpages to be viewed. For cryptocurrencies, they establish the structure of the blockchain — the distributed database that allows digital money to be securely exchanged on the internet.
For the metaverse, they will allow the creation of an interoperable digital environments…that both mirror and extend the world as we know it. The real question, however, is not what is the metaverse, but rather, how will it change the way we live.