I wanted to share with you this link to my 2008 World Policy Journal article entitled “Life: Coming to a Screen Near You.”
As we all know, the pandemic has very significantly shifted our lives from the physical to virtual worlds. The recent announcement by the company formerly known as Facebook that they will be building a new metaverse is just one additional, if significant, step in this process.
In my 2008 article, I write that:
- “Fantasy filled virtual worlds will, like the imaginary world of boar case Scholars, become, for all intents and purposes, real.”
- “When technological developments already in the works transform the virtual worlds of today into more sophisticated and inviting spaces far more capable of capturing the range of complexity and expression in human communication, virtual worlds will, by 2033, have overtaken the two-dimensional internet as the predominant system of non-face-to-face human interaction.”
- “Virtual Worlds will become less a playground of fantasy and more the primary environment in which humans interact under their own identities when not doing so in person.”
- “As these virtual communities become more intimate, the trust requirements for participation in them will in time become even higher.”
- “Within these virtual walls will be found all of the advantages that a community of trust affords – goods will flow freely, people will interact in meaningful ways, and relationships will flourish. Outside, barriers will multiply, navigation will be difficult, and relationships will be momentary and fleeting. To get in, users will need to sacrifice enough anonymity to ensure meaningful accountability and submit to a set of rules that will govern interaction among those inside the walls. They will have to agree about how rules are to be set, who decides if they should be changed, how disputes are resolved, and how common goods should be distributed. In short, they will need to either develop and perform the functions of government, or submit to the rules created by corporations or other entities that can address these needs.”
- “Like developers of gated communities who use walls and guards to establish safe havens in a world fraught with risk, companies that create virtual communities will establish standards for disclosure, transparency, dispute resolution, ethical behavior, and commerce that those who choose to join will be required to accept.”
- “Although It is possible that states could develop and international law of virtual worlds, it is far more likely the government structures will primarily develop from the ground up in response to the real and growing needs of participants in a wide array of virtual worlds, especially if this desire for protection and security is greater or different than a community of discordant real-world states is able to provide.”
- “Geography and governance have been partners for most of human history. Yet as our non-face-to-face lives become increasingly virtual over the next quarter-century, the new societal landscape for virtual space will be shaped and defined less by physical geography, and more by spontaneous, community-driven rules and institutions, realized in virtual worlds.”
As founder of OneShared.World, I’m thinking a lot these days (as I have for decades) about how all of humanity can come together to address our greatest common challenges including pandemics, proliferating nuclear weapons, climate change, and much else. Our challenge is that our legacy systems which have evolved over centuries are increasingly not up to the task. We face a fundamental mismatch between the collective, global nature of our greatest challenges and our inability to sufficiently address this entire category of problems.
As we take our very first steps toward living increasingly more our lives in virtual worlds, it would make a great deal of sense to begin a meaningful conversation about governance. If we want to build a virtual world where we can better balancing our individual and collective interests and ensure that our rights are better protected, now is the perfect time to start.
Who wants to join me for a Constitutional Congress of the metaverse?