The idea of the metaverse, a 3-D virtual habitat inside which we, or more precisely our digital avatars will operate, is a not new one. It has been spoken of first as science fiction, then experienced partially through the device of gaming, most particularly in games like Second Life, but now with its espousal by one of the company’s that dominates our digital landscape, it feels like the default template of our future.
Regardless of whether the vision as articulated by Mark Zuckerberg comes true or not, what is difficult to argue is that the world is moving in that general direction. It seems to be part of the gradual but inexorable arc of history. The intent of technological exploration has moved in a trajectory that has discernible shape and the metaverse is a destination that has in some senses been foretold.
The idea of technology arose possibly as a result of the asymmetry between the might of the physical world and relative inadequacy of the human body. For much of history the focus of technology is to somehow try and redress the imbalance between the vastness and power of our physical circumstances and the puniness of our inept bodies, the only machinery at our disposal to try and find ways of surviving in a volatile and uncertain world. Technology has been the mind’s way of helping the body- it is an overflow from our apparently limitless minds to our limited bodies. The body is a problem that the mind has spent centuries trying to solve through a variety of escalating interventions.