A 6,090-square-foot (566-square-meter) parcel in Decentraland’s evocatively named “Fashion Street” district sold for $2.43 million in late November 2021. The location of this parking lot could easily be mistaken for downtown San Francisco, New York, or London. Decentraland, on the other hand, has no known location. It’s a virtual world, part of the much-hyped “metaverse,” which is a virtual world. This is what happens when the metaverse, digital currencies, and the irrationality of the masses come together.
Consider the metaverse as a starting point. Nothing much has changed in the metaverse in 30 years, and even with cheaper hardware and the emergence of a trillion-dollar company, the metaverse is still the same as it was 30 years ago.
Speculation in Metaverse
The metaverse has never had a problem with rendering things. All efforts to solve the problem have been stymied by the issue of rendering other people. In the metaverse, unless you’re content with communicating with cartoons, it’s still difficult to attract even a second party. Solutions that can be implemented at a large scale are still years away, thanks to videogrammetry (the use of multiple cameras to map positions in three dimensions). There are few people who have the patience to spend their days in an unreal world surrounded by imaginary friends.
Digital currency is the next topic we’ll cover. In the thirteen years since the Genesis Block of Bitcoin was mined, the underlying concepts that support digital assets like these have spread to other fields of technology. There are now a wide range of applications for the blockchain beyond peer-to-peer payments, including the non-fungible token (NFT), which has become a hot topic in this area. Collins Dictionary foreshadowed a future in which all data can be packaged, valued, and sold at auction by selecting “NFT” as its Word of the Year for 2021.
This is when the madness of the masses takes over. In the early 17th century, tulip bulbs in Holland soared in price before crashing; the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s was fueled by irrational exuberance in the stock market; and the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 was fueled by speculative investments in real estate. Many examples can be found to show that when greed overpowers reason, things go wrong.
Speculators believe that if they invest early enough in the metaverse’s nothingness, the value will rise by trillions of dollars.
Speculators believe that if they invest early enough in the metaverse’s nothingness, the value will rise by trillions of dollars. A piece of virtual land—with no distinguishing characteristics other than someone’s opinion—can be sold for millions of dollars in digital currency. In the end, these investors believe, everyone in the metaverse will want the best of everything, including virtual clothing and virtual homes.
Metaverses can never exist outside of our imaginations;
They’re simply the product of our imaginations. The only thing we can find or create in the metaverse is our own thoughts. The emptiness of one’s soul can be seen in the way people treat their virtual titles as if they were real.
Any vision for the future that ignores our dreams should be seriously questioned. Perhaps tulip bulbs should be planted in the metaverse to remind visitors that not everything there is gold.