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Metaverse: Conspiracy or Heaven? (With Divya Thakur)

Uploaded 5/14/2022, approx. 42 minute read

Hi there. In 2021, Facebook rebranded to Meta. And for me, coming from an IT industry, this was an exciting release.

At the same time, I was very curious about what it meant for us. Will Facebook come with a Metaverse suit? Will it change the world as we know? Is reality going to be replaced by algorithms? And most importantly, how does it impact our society?

During this time, I met a very interesting person who provided me with a lot of insights and answered a lot of my questions about Metaverse.

In this episode, I would like to share that conversation with you. Hope you like it. Thank you, Sam, for doing this. I have been absorbing your information and listening to your talks on various topics through your YouTube channel. So it's really a pleasure to finally meet you in person.

My pleasure.

Thank you for having me. You seem to have survived my talk. That's rare.

I have not just survived. I think I've grown wiser.

So for the sake of my audience, just a quick introduction. I would like to make a note here, Sam, you seem to be a person of various faculties. You are a professor of psychology and finance from C-Aps Center for International Advanced Professional Studies. You're also a professor in psychology from the Southern Federal University in Rostov on dot Russia. You're also a former senior business correspondent for UPI and former tech analyst for various online media. And last but not the least, you're also a writer and a publisher.

Did I get it all right?

All this by the tender age of 61.

Imagine.

No pressure on me.

So, Sam, I come from a technical IT technology and services background. And so hence my natural curiosity on this topic for today, metaverse, especially when last year Facebook rebranded to meta and suddenly it became a buzzword in our circle. And I started to explore, you know, as we say, I had a formal fear of missing out what is meta.

I honestly did not have a very good understanding. And as I was exploring, as usual, I bumped into some of your podcasts or I think some dialogues on this topic, which was very interesting from your perspective. And hence I thought it would be great to have this conversation, hearing your perspective on metaverse through different filters from technical aspect to a psychological aspect to, you know, in general a human and mental health perspective.

So when we when you hear metaverse, what is metaverse according to you?

Well, we can start with a simple technical definition, and then we can maybe try to embed it in history. There's nothing nothing that people do is divorced from context. The context is usually historical.

We need to look back to understand the future. Technically, the metaverse is a series of interconnected digital spaces. These digital spaces provide you with a simulation of real life experience via devices, such as goggles, haptic suits, and so on and so forth.

So you would need to buy special devices, you can't just like the internet, you can't just have a smartphone and do it, but you need to experience it. This is what we call extended reality or mixed reality.

The metaverse would try to confuse us in the sense that you would try to blend or blur the boundaries and the lines between what we hitherto called reality and the future technologies.

So virtual reality, augmented reality, extended reality, mixed reality, they're going to lead to lead to a stage and I think no longer no longer than 10 years, where you would have serious difficulty telling apart what is really happening in the world out there, and what is being simulated for you as an experience in this sense, the metaverse is about who owns reality.

It's a power grab for reality. It's an attempt to define for you all the possible ways and potentials for you to experience reality.

Until now, you experience reality in an idiosyncratic way. Each one of us experiences reality differently because we are different people, luckily.

But what the metaverse would do, it would narrow down the possibilities of experiencing reality because you would be dependent on a code, you'd be dependent on a program, you'd be dependent on a platform. And never mind how brilliant the platform is, brilliantly it's designed, never mind how many creative people are involved in the coding of the platform, ultimately it's limited.

So this would narrow down experience and narrow down reality and in this sense would blend what hitherto we call reality with a digital equivalent, this is known as twinning. So we would have digital twins and some people will opt to spend the bulk of their lives in the virtual version, in the digital version. And this is of course very reminiscent of the matrix.

And some people would adhere to mixed reality, they would spend some time outside the simulation, some time inside the simulation. I mentioned that it is a series of digital spaces, so there would need to be some seamless connection between these digital spaces if we want to give the user the illusion that he is not leaving reality or that he doesn't have to log in, log out and all these kind of things.

So it sounds like it would be a digital world where we work, we play, we hang out. And I'm glad you mentioned matrix, the reference of matrix because for the non-technical people and even to a large extent for me who does not understand the deep coding and programming and technical aspect of it, the first thing that came to mind when we started to hear the buzzword is reference to matrix.

So this was my connection to the concept metaverse when I first heard of it, matrix, something sounds like. And it is scary to a certain extent.

When was the first time or if you could help us understand how did you come to perceive metaverse, is it before that?

First of all, you're very right. The metaverse aims to provide a seamless experience in the sense that the company you work for will have a virtual office in the metaverse. So you will go to work in the metaverse, not in reality. You will socialize with people, they will have their own avatars, you will have your avatar and all of you will go to a bar and the bar, the bar's location will be in the metaverse. You will have sex in the metaverse, you will date in the metaverse, you will do shopping in the metaverse, you will try on clothes in the metaverse. Gradually reality will become redundant and obsolete. As the technology advances and progresses, and this is something which will take I think a few more decades, integrating with artificial intelligence and other developments.

But in I could conceive a future in 30 or 50 years where reality would be utterly unneeded, unnecessary and would be discarded by the majority of people. The convenience of the metaverse is its totality. It's a total immersive environment, which gives you very few incentives to live it and many incentives to stay.

Now I came across the metaverse because I'm a sci-fi writer, by the way, and a aficionado.

I must add that to your biography.

Yeah, well, don't start. It's too long.

So I came across, of course, Neil Stephenson's famous book.

The Snow Crash.

Snow Crash, yes. And he coined the word metaverse, and he's pretty right on. I mean, he got it right, 1992. He got it right in 1992. He started to write a book in 1988 in the throes of a major depression. He had clinical major depression. So the book is the rumination of ruminations and thoughts of someone who is in the throes of a major debilitating depression.

And so he thought the metaverse is a very depressing thing.

So I haven't read the book, but are you saying in that book he actually used, he coined the word metaverse? Yes. That's the first that we know of.

Yes.

There's a Chinese guy there, and he's a pizza delivery man, of all things.

But in the metaverse is something else, much more elevated and so on. That's another thing, by the way. In the metaverse, you could be anything you want. And the metaverse will have a virtual economy. It will have its own economy. You'll be able to buy things and sell things and translate the sales into actual currency. So you'll have an incentive to operate economically within the metaverse. And in the metaverse, you can become multi-billionaire. You're a street sweeper in real life, but in the metaverse, you're multi-billionaire.

Now, we've had this experience before. We know exactly what's going to happen, because there still is a game, an immersive game called Second Life. And it was named Second Life because it gave people a second life, apart from their real lives. And people became addicted.

Well over a million people became so addicted to Second Life that they actually gave up on reality, and they played the game for 16 hours a day.

Consequently, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Committee, Edition 5, decided to include a new diagnosis in the DSM called Internet Addiction. This was a result of Second Life in 2003, when addiction started to be rampant. Second Life was a metaverse.

You could buy things, you could sell things, you could have fights, you could bully people, you could befriend people, you could socialize, you could come in and go out. I mean, it was Total Life, Second Life indeed.

And for many of those people, this was an escape from the reality that they couldn't have, or in the reality they couldn't be.

That's a huge risk.

That's the greatest risk of a metaverse. The metaverse can be easily designed to be fantastic, to be a fantasy, where essentially all the hardships and challenges of reality are removed for you, and only good things happen. This is at least the ideal.

What actually is going to happen, and is already happening, for example, in virtual chat rooms, like VRChat, what is already happening in immersive metaverse-like environments, and there are quite a few by the way, we see that all the ills and the problems of real life are imported unblock into the metaverse.

We have political extremism, we have terrorism, everything that we have in real life is imported into the metaverse.

It's a paradox while we're here, and I see that a sense of urgency to look at it as a potential threat.

But when I, like I said, coming from the technology industry, there is a lot of optimism and there's a lot of indulgence in terms of investment and branding, and the biggest players like Microsoft and Facebook and many more are investing heavily. So it doesn't paint the same picture if you look in the space where we operate in a professional side.

What do you have to say about that?

You see, corporations and commercial entities have taken over an open platform known as www, and they had leveraged this platform and had abused this platform egregiously for profit.

This is precisely what's going to happen with the metaverse. The metaverse should be the equivalent of the initial days of the internet. The internet was designed by Berners-Lee and others to be an open platform. There is even a committee called W3C, which regulates the internet as an open platform. No one owns the internet. There's no such thing. No one owns it. That's why you can't use the internet to punish, for example, people or to punish even governments, straying government.

There are no litigations.

There's no way to. The internet is utterly, I mean, even the technological specs are totally open. IP and DNS essentially are distributed. You can't control the stream. They are random. They reassemble at the end. They are distributed at the beginning. So it's out of control. The lack of centralized control was built, baked into the internet.

And then companies, commercial entities came, and I'm not talking about hardware manufacturers. They were just producing hardware. I'm talking about software and later social media entities. And they had abused and are abusing the internet for profit. This would have horrified the visionaries that had created the internet.

Exactly the same thing is happening now with the metaverse.

Sorry, to take you back, like you mentioned visionary or the vision behind creating the worldwide web, internet. What was that?

Just to, you know, for all of us, do a reality check, go back into that. What was internet aimed for and where we have come?

It's important to understand that there is a war right now. There's a war between two competing visions of essentially the metaverse.

One competing vision is called web three, and one is called the metaverse.

Now web three is going back to the roots of the internet. Web three is about decentralization, handing the power back to users and to content creators.

Now this is supposed to be done by introducing crypto assets, blockchain technology to be more precise, into the structure of the new iteration of the internet.

So if you introduce blockchain technologies, no one can monopolize your identity. No one can fake your identity. And no one can collect your data. It's an attempt to take big power from the likes of meta platforms, erstwhile Facebook.

So that's a web three. Web three is a grassroots populist and popular movement to take back the internet from the commercial giants. The commercial giants are not taking this down, lying down.

The metaverse is the commercial giants attempt to suppress web three and to steal the technology, steal there's another word, to steal the technologies embedded in web three and incorporate them in the commercial metaverse so as to defang the web three.

So there's a giant war, enormous war taking place right now between users and content creators, crowd sources and between commercial entities. Who will win is an open question. I would bet on commercial entities because they had won in the past. I think they're going to monopolize the metaverse. They're going to incorporate blockchain technologies into the metaverse, but in a proprietary manner. And again, they're going to tell us how we should experience the world and limit us if we try to exit this platform.

So I'm terrified that they will control this commercial entity to control the metaverse because the metaverse is not about what you experience, it's about how you experience. That's a very substantial difference.

And we'll come to the, you know, we'll probably get a chance to talk in detail more about the social impact.

You mentioned while we're on the commercial aspect of it, it seems like there's a lot of money at stake and there's a lot of mobilization of money that's going. So investments, like I mentioned in, by Facebook, Google and Microsoft, do you see them as being one major corporate collaborating together or do you see there would be a clash of markets?

All previous media, starting with telegraph and radio and continuing into the internet. Some previous media start with competition and then the big players settle on a set of standards and then they adhere to these standards.

But the metaverse is different. If Google will have its own metaverse and Microsoft will have its own metaverse and Facebook will have its own metaverse, the metaverse will fail and die because you need to move seamlessly between Apple, Google.

So they will be forced to collaborate. That is even more terrifying than the current state of things because it means that there will be a consortium of commercial giants who will collaborate in as cartels do or trusts do.

Almost illegally, I would say, to provide a critical service because the metaverse is going to eliminate the internet.

Let it be clear, the internet is dying. Once the metaverse comes online, the internet will vanish and we will remember it as a kind of nostalgically, as something, you know, a stage.

The end result is a situation where we move, we flow between this brick and mortar, wood and simulated wood and then back to real wood and then back to simulated wood. And controlling this traffic lane will be a group of behemoths, a group of giant companies and they will tell you how to experience the world.

It's almost back to the plot of Matrix or an episode of Black Mirror. I don't know how familiar are you with the famous Netflix series.

So you talked about crypto, blockchain. Let's would like to understand a bit on how the digital currency will evolve in metaverse.

They're called crypto assets. The two big ones are Bitcoin and Ether, Ethereum.

Thank you. So how are these crypto assets?

There is a misperception that crypto assets are investment vehicles. They're not about investment. They're not about money.

Crypto assets include cryptocurrencies, but many other crypto things. Crypto assets are concerned with one thing only, identity verification.

Now, the minute you verify identity, it has a monetary value. So, for example, if I create a digital piece of art and I'm able to verify it, that it is my piece of art that I had created, in other words, I'm able to verify my identity, that minute it gives this piece of art value because it renders it an original.

This is NFT, non-fungible tokens. So it's about the same with Bitcoin, same with all the blockchain technologies.

There's a plethora by now of blockchain, for example, in commercial, in container industry. They're using blockchain to verify containers and so on. And it meshes with the internet of things, internet of things where each and every object in our daily life will have an internet signature or a signature. And the best way to ascertain that this is indeed your smartphone is using blockchain technology. So it's identity verification mechanism.

But of course, identity has value. Authenticity has value. People pay a million times more for a verified Van Gogh than for a replica. And this is it.

Now, money, if you step back a minute, what is money? Money is a store of value as embodied or reified by work. Money is a work unit.

But the work, my work, is not equal to your work, is not equal to his work. So what Bitcoin does, it verifies my work in a process called mining or staking or minting or various ways of creating Bitcoin. So it verifies the work invested in the case of Bitcoin, the computational power invested to solve a riddle, to solve an enigma puzzle. Bitcoin is about work. It's about verifying the identity of a work done.

So if this is the case, then it would behoove the metaverse, even the commercial metaverse, to use these currencies inside the metaverse because they are prohibited from creating real money.

Central banks have a monopoly on this. But they do need a means of exchange. And most crucially, they need a way to verify who is the user. So identity verification, blockchain technology is perfect for this, which frightens me a lot because I think what's going to happen, the Microsofts of the world and the Facebooks of the world, they're going to steal blockchain technology and make it proprietary and protect it with patents and destroy the whole infrastructure of blockchain.

And this is so confusing for me because I remember two years or even three years when crypto became popular and people started to invest in crypto and, you know, blockchain, sorry, the concept of blockchain and Bitcoin as one of the currencies became popular.

There was a theme across the general public. And this is not regulated. This is not secured.

Oh, it's not. It's just a buzz. It'll fizzle out.


Fast forward two years now. I read news where American Express and the top banks like I think HSBC or JP Morgan, they're all investing or moving into metaverse. They better.

It's you know, I'm confused. So how do you see it? I mean, I'm confused to interpret that like now that you explain me, to some extent, I get it.

There is no sector better suited for blockchain than banking.

The banking, of course, you have to verify user identity. You have to verify the transfers. You have to blockchain. Blockchain can revolutionize and will revolutionize banking completely.

Remember, again, blockchain technologies is not about money. It's not about assets. It's not about any of these things. It's about identity. It verifies your identity.

Of course, your identity is linked to your product or to your production process. So inevitably spills over into the value of your product.

But the crucial element is that there is a ledger. There is a ledger spread over millions of computers, copies. There are copies over millions of computers.

So the minute you form a transaction of any kind, all these millions of identical copies, clone copies of the ledger are updated. No one can falsify this.

Well, except with quantum computing in the very far future. But right now, no way to falsify this.

Now there is no system that comes remotely close to this authenticity.

Even Swift is easily falsifiable. Swift is the interbank wire transfer system. It's easily falsifiable. Easily. I mean, so easily that people know they would take the money out of the banks immediately.

It's a really badly designed, totally disastrous system. ATMs are even worse.

So blockchain is a solution for international commerce, for banking. This is why the big commercial companies will usurp it, hijack it, and make it proprietary and destroy these grassroots endeavors to provide alternatives.

And do you think the inflation and the dying concept of money in general led to this sudden rush for the financial organization?

First of all, let's be clear. The concept of cryptocurrency is far from new. Second Life, remember, I mentioned Second Life. They had their own currency. It was called the Linden dollar. So inside Second Life, you could pay with Linden dollars. And you could even convert Linden dollars into US dollars.

So people were using Linden dollars to buy real estate, to buy clothes, to buy inside Second Life, virtual assets. The virtual economy is a thriving, enormous business.

Now, why would people pay tens of thousands of dollars for a virtual good that essentially is reproducible, easily replicable, difficult to ascertain as to authenticity, except if you use blockchain.

Why would anyone pay for something you can't take home and put in the living room?

Because they realize, people realize that the future is virtual, that reality, as we had known it hitherto, is dying together with the internet.

Shortly, you will be spending much longer periods of your life online inside a metaverse in a virtual office than here with me here. I mean, this will be utterly old fashioned and retro, you know.

I also found that there is a concept like a digital real estate. I mean, Barbados just applied to have an embassy. I don't know if it's in the digital real estate.

And personally, I just started investing in real estate two years ago when COVID hit, you know. And now I'm thinking, maybe I made a wrong decision. Maybe real estate investment in a digital landscape is going to be the new thing.

But virtual assets, digital assets, what we call digital twins, which are worlds constructed of digital assets exclusively, they're going to be a lot more valuable in 20, 30 years than any physical entity, anything brick and mortar and wood.

So of course people are investing in them. Of course, there's, you know.

So for the passive investors like me, who are not actively into the stock market, are you suggesting, according to you, it's a good opportunity to invest in crypto, in meta words?

I don't think so.

And I'll try to explain why.

People are investing in these virtual assets because they are reading the cards correctly.

Yes, virtual worlds are going to be much more valuable than real ones.

But I don't think individuals can play this game.

This is the biggies.

By individuals, you mean like us?

Manual.

Maybe pension funds can play this game, but we cannot play this game because the biggies will not let us.

The biggies are intent, and that includes governments, by the way, they're intent to destroy this popular movement. Intent, absolutely.

Because they cannot control and regulate.

China criminalized cryptocurrencies. China. Russia had created its own cryptocurrency, and it's the only legal cryptocurrency in Russia. So did Sweden. It's spreading.

Governments and commercial entities are trying to hijack these technologies.

And so individual who invest in these technologies, and in virtual assets, will find to their detriment in 10 years or 20 years that governments and commercial entities have rendered their investments null and void, unless you give a huge portion to these commercial entities and governments.

You want to trade what you had bought 20 years ago? You have to go through me as a platform, and you have to pay me 70%.

We have such a case already. It's called Amazon. If you publish a book, you have to give to Amazon 55% of the value of the book, of the cost, of the price. 55%. The author, the publisher, they get 45%. Amazon, by virtue of being a platform, nothing else, is getting 55%.

So today, you, Divya, you buy real estate, virtual real estate.

No problem. And it appreciates, and you think you're a great genius. And then you try to sell your real estate, and there will be only one place to sell it, the combined metaverse of all these giants.

And they will tell you, you want to sell it? Okay. Our commission is 80%. That's it.

Very interesting. That's it.

And I'm telling you that this has happened already with books and with DVDs and so on, on Amazon. Amazon did exactly this. It created a marketplace, which is essentially a metaverse. It created a marketplace.

Then many, many publishers and booksellers and so on came there. And then they said, okay, you want to use a platform? It's a minor commission of 55%.

Thank you for sharing this.

Take it to live it.

Take it to live it like. You don't want to?

I'm not forcing you to sell through Amazon. When you complain, they say, I'm not, we're not forcing you. You can sell anywhere else. Is there anywhere else? No, there isn't.

If you're a publisher or a bookseller, there's only one marketplace left. Amazon, sales of books worldwide are 81% through Amazon. It's a monopoly. It's a cartel. It's a trust.

Does anyone dare to take on Amazon, any politician? They would be eradicated. No one dares to take on these giants.

There's a lot of talk in Congress and so on, but everyone is terrified because if you're a politician and you dare to take on Facebook, suddenly you will find that your speeches and so on are never recommended. They don't make it to the newsfeed. They have the ability to render opponents, adversaries and critics invisible. A process known as shadow banning in on YouTube and on Facebook.

So they are very aggressive in eliminating dissent and opposition. Absolutely. They're authoritarian.

These authoritarian structures.

Do you see any positive aspect or constructive or a progressive aspect to metaverse in any field of, you know, the humanity or to answer that we need to look back.

For example, when the internet just started, there was a lot of optimism. People said it's a wonderful thing. It's distributed. No one controls it. Freedom of speech, activism, political and other activism and so on.

Same when social media started. There's always a burst of optimism based on the assumption that no one is in control, that it's a decentralized process.

But when it is centralized and commercialized, these technological developments are egregiously abused. And that's not me. That's numerous investigations of Facebook by Congress, for example, and Twitter. There is a tendency, power corrupts, power corrupts. And these platforms reward inherently and structurally reward hate speech, provocative speech, trolling, flaming, aggression, hatred, envy, envy baked into the Facebook algorithm.

What is it like? Why? And we see the consequences.

There are studies by, for example, Twenge and Campbell, many others that had demonstrated, demonstrated utterly conclusively beyond any beginning of doubt that social media usage increases dramatically the rates of depression and anxiety disorders among youngsters and among people above the age of 65.

Suicide rates have skyrocketed among younger users of social media. That's why Facebook had to suspend Instagram Kids because its own research had demonstrated that it would drive many teenagers to suicide. Instagram Kids was meant to be used by people aged 13 and younger.

But there were studies by Facebook leaked, luckily, by whistleblowers that had shown that it would have a detrimental effect on the mental health of the users to the point of suicide.

Now we don't know exactly why, but we know that screen usage has something to do with it.

I think the detachment from reality is something to do with it. I think we underestimate face-to-face interaction. We know, for example, if I revert to biology for a minute, we know that when two people meet each other, they emit a molecule. Each one emits a molecule. And this molecule, that's a fact, by the way, this molecule contains a little over 100 pieces of information about the genetics of the person, the immunological system of the person, and other parameters.

Let's face-to-face any meeting. We know, for example, that when men come across a flesh and blood woman of any age, 90 years old, their testosterone shoots up 40%.

We know these are facts.

Just by being in the present or passing?

Passing.

Okay.

Just by passing.

Interesting.

And there's a woman there, and she's 90 years old with a walker. And the testosterone shoots up 40%. We underestimate face-to-face interactions.

And so teenagers commit suicide. The rates of depression went up 300% among social media users. And the rates of anxiety disorders went up 500%, and that's before the pandemic.

No. One last thing.

The metaverse is now a certainty because of the pandemic. It had not been a certainty before the pandemic, but now it's a certainty.

Why?

People were zoomed. They got used to zoom. The zoom is a foretaste of the metaverse.

So now everyone is conditioned to use the metaverse, to consume the metaverse. I never used zoom in my life until the pandemic. I'm 61 years old. I was a tech, high tech analyst and so on. And I never used zoom because I much prefer face-to-face meetings. I never ever once used zoom or Webex or any of these services.

But then the pandemic has struck. And I've used zoom since then hundreds of times. I had no choice. I taught classes using zoom. I interacted with people using zoom and so on and so forth.

By now, I feel utterly comfortable using zoom. And that is the window into the metaverse.

I guess what I'm trying to understand is metaverse is here. And like you mentioned, corporates are going to expand this.

But people like you and me, you know, who want to live in the real life, who do not want to transition into metaverse, who want to have a parallel life.

In the future, we would be considered freaks, distasteful freaks, talking, having sex. It would be distasteful, distasteful activities conducted by fringe groups and freaks. I know it sounds crazy, but that's precisely the way it's going to be.

As today, people frown on someone who doesn't use social media. If you don't use social media, there's enormous peer pressure on you to use it because it had become the preferable, the preferred way of communicating.

In the future, when the metaverse is all pervasive and it will be all pervasive, there will be a lot of pressure on you to conform. And if you insist on face to face meetings, you'll be considered a throwback or a freak or something's wrong with you.

How will the family life evolve or the social life? Not talking in context to a male and a female interaction, but generally, you know, community, neighborhood, you know, eating, having dinner together.

What is according to some solutions to it, you know, if we can?

It's a process known as atomization, where people are rendered self-sufficient by technology. And then they lose all incentive to accommodate other people, to compromise, to negotiate, because being with other people is onerous. Other people are ornery, they are opinionated, they are pain in certain nether regions of the body and so on. It's a lot of effort to be with other people.

And then if you're self-sufficient in the truest sense of the word, in the fullest sense of the word, why would you? Why would you?

It's a disincentive.

So atomization had taken over. 2016 was the first year when majority of women and men did not have any contact with the opposite sex in the United States.

And people spend the bulk of their lives now in self-contained residential units, not having any contact with other human beings. That is a fact, by the way. 31% of people are lifelong singles. Another 15% are in between pseudo relationships. About half the adult population gave up on relationships altogether. And had decided to live a single life. Cat ladies, all kinds of.

So atomization has been obituated. It's a habit now. People don't feel the need to.

And you see, for example, the huge protests against return to work, RTO, return to work after the pandemic when companies announce, okay, you've got to come back to the office. They're huge protests.

Because in no way, we want hybrid work. Why is that? Because they don't want to be with other people. It's a waste of time. It's annoying. They have to...

Do you think it's a phase and we'll get over it? No.

And at the core of human existence, we crave for interaction and emotional connection? No.

I don't think so at all. I think self-sufficiency is alluring. It is grandiose.

And it is dopamineergic. In other words, it provides you with a dopamine rush. It reduces anxiety.

If you're self-sufficient, your anxiety level is lower, of course. It might be depressive, but there are antidotes to this, like Netflix.

I think all in all, given the choice, most people would prefer to be alone most of the time. And if possible, all the time, given the choice.

Indeed, we see a drop of 30% in sex. Sex is a major barometer. We see a drop of 30% in the sexual activities of people under age 35. They have fewer sexual partners than my generation, the age of the dinosaurs. And they have a lot less sex than my generation.

Contrary to the hype of hookups and so on, actually, sex is becoming obsolete. In at least two countries where we have massive documentation and studies, people under age 35 are actually not having sex at all, like Japan and the United Kingdom. Sex is supposedly that thing that you cannot resist in the presence of another person. And yet people give up on it. They give up on it. Even that is not worth it.

When the metaverse comes, and you have a haptic suit, and haptic gloves, and the right goggles, you will date and you will have sex with the most gorgeous intimate partners.

Why would you seek anything else? We have a harbinger. We are already witnessing a harbinger of this. It's called pornography.

People who consume pornography are dramatically less likely to seek sex partners. Pro pornography utterly satisfies the needs, although admittedly, this is more among men than among women. But you know, women need men to have sex, heterosexual, at least. So I'm mentioning sex as a barometer, as an indicator.

But many other things, for example, family reunions or meetings. In 1980, people were asked, if you are in a calamity or in a disaster, how many close personal friends do you have that you can approach and ask for help? The number then was 10. That's 1980. 40 years later, the same question, the number was one. In 1980, people had 10 close friends. Today they have one.

Family, the nuclear family had been hollowed out completely. All the functions of the nuclear family, the erstwhile functions in the 19th century, education, healthcare, they're provided by the state. There's no need for the family. It's utterly redundant and obsolete.

Indeed, when children grow up, they are rarely in touch with their parents. The frequency of contact with parents dropped 73% between 1990 and today. The rate of marriage dropped 51%. The rate of childbearing had collapsed utterly even in an immigrant country, a country like the United States. No industrial country meets the replacement rate.

In other words, in all industrial countries, the population is diminishing because people are not making enough children to replace the dying.

It seems that we have almost unconsciously, unknowingly been prepared, set for living in metaverse, which is interesting to observe.

But like I said, the optimist in me, one last question about how we could self-regulate or how the government actually could, you know, you mentioned China, Sweden, and Russia taking some among many measures to control and not let the corporates capitalize and monetize and dominate the world.

Do you think the societies, typically Eastern societies, and I might be wrong, but India, China, or Russia probably, or, you know, traditional societies have also a need to control from a social, social cultural perspective. And is that a good thing? And if that's so, do you think we should continue, we should force ourselves to get out there, meet people, go and meet your family more, do not hesitate to interact with friends?


First of all, just to correct something, countries like China, Sweden, Venezuela, and Russia, many others, what they're trying to do, they're trying to hijack blockchain technologies and especially cryptocurrencies. They're not doing it altruistically, they want to control it.

So there's a sort of a competition between authoritarian government, most governments.

There's no goodwill motive or a humanitarian motive behind this.

They want to restore the central bank fiat money monopoly. So they're kind of making a cryptocurrency, a national currency, in effect.

Indeed, China is about to move into totally digital currency. There will not be notes or coins or anything. Everything will be digital. It's called the digital Yuan project. Soon, two or three years.

So no, there's no benevolence there. It's simply governments competing with commercial entities who will own the, who will own the, no more, as to your question, when it comes to the metaverse, the only hope is to establish open standards. The minute they open standards, this enables competition.

If the metaverse is accessible to me as a two person company because the standards are there and they're already made, and I can just copy paste them, then I can create my own metaverse and you can create your own metaverse.

And then if many people, millions of small companies, small corporations create metaverses, the fragmentation of the market will be such that the giants will find it difficult to monopolize or dominate if they're forced to integrate seamlessly with anyone who creates a metaverse.

So they don't shadow ban me, my metaverse. I create a metaverse. Google can tell me not in our backyard, that's your metaverse and we are not integrating with you. So without Google and Apple and Microsoft, my metaverse is useless.

But if there are open standards and in every metaverse must be integrated with every metaverse, it's by law, then that could create competition, which will neutralize this problem.


More to the other point you've raised. It takes legislative will to reverse. It's possible to reverse. Yes, absolutely it's possible to reverse, but it takes legislative will, which I think lawmakers are terrified of the power of these companies, simply terrified of them.

These companies own also old media. For example, Amazon, Amazon's Bezos owns the Washington post. It's not only these are, you know, so they're afraid, simply lawmakers afraid that they could be rendered invisible and lose the next election and so on.

But if by some work and mystery of history, they will unite and so on, of course there are ways to reverse. I can, right now I can spew out 200 measures. For example, I would limit the time you couldn't be on social media or in the metaverse. There will be a clock on your computer. And when three hours have elapsed, you will be forcibly logged off, end of story, no appeal process, nothing. And you will not be able to falsify your identity as another user because you have blockchain identity. So that's one thing.

Second thing, you could not be friends on Facebook with someone you have never met in real life. You want to be friends. You have to produce proof that you had met in real life, a photograph in a bar.

I like that one.

I think we should start applying that.

Yeah. And these are two of hundreds, literally hundreds of measures, two of hundreds of measures.

I would also ban the use of what we call relative positioning devices. Relative positioning is a term in psychology, which it's a fancy way of saying, um, competition for images superiority. So like I have more likes than you, you have more, more followers than me.

This competitive, I would ban this. For example, I would not allow likes on Facebook or anywhere, no likes, real life interactions, of course, comments. And, but I would not allow the, these quantitative measures which pit you, me against you, pit me against you, which ran the comparison pernicious and drive teenagers to suicide and creates like, yes, a tremendous amount of anxiety if you constantly, and, and I think it's very easy to get addicted to be like, to be addictive and conditioning.

Absolutely. Yes. It was intentionally built this way.

So Twitter, Twitter, for example, had claimed that the reason they limited themselves to 140 characters was because the SMS limit in smart phones was limited to 140 characters.

Okay. But then this limit on SMS was removed not long after Twitter had been established. Why didn't they remove the restriction?

Well, there's a secret motive here. If I limit your speech, you are far more likely to be aggressive. It's a fact. If I limit yourself, you can say only three words. These three words are likely to be a hell of a lot more aggressive than if I let you express yourself freely.

These are bad actors and they need to be regulated stringently and so on, but no one has to know this.

So to summarize how we can control or at least not saying reverse the metaverse, but bring to a level of acceptance and balance where the real life does not get threatened.

Or I would ban all transition vectors from the metaverse to the real world.

You make money on the metaverse. You cannot convert it to US dollars. You buy anything in the metaverse. You cannot sell it. I would ban, I would block access of the metaverse to reality. I would delineate the two realms.

They would be a strict divide.

Yes. And you cannot transition from the metaverse to reality and back.

That's the first thing I would do. I would definitely limit the time you can spend in the metaverse.

And there, it's not a problem to verify your identity. You can open 19 accounts as long as a blockchain thing is in operation. I'll trace you down. I will limit you to three hours a day and that's a lot, maybe one. And that's it. That's the maximum you can do. I would also have three strikes exactly like you two. You bully someone once, twice, three, buy. You're banned for life. You're never able to access the metaverse.

Sexual abuse, harassment, racism, and so on and so forth, which is now starting with the likes of YouTube and Facebook 15 years after they had been established. Why? Because racism is good for business. Hate speech is excellent for business. So they let it happen. Terrorism videos, ISIS videos, were common on YouTube until two years ago.

Any emotional tools as a human, you know, we talked about how the government could take controls or how we could have a technical solution by limiting putting a clock.

But what are some of the psychological tools like empathy or talking? So what is that we could do to keep us, like you say, in reality check?

One comment before I try to answer your question. Only two constituencies can affect change in the metaverse via grassroots activism. Parents who are concerned for the future and the welfare of their children and women.

Because the greatest users, the biggest users of metaverse like technologies, are hitherto men. Men are likely to be the drivers of this technology. Women should oppose them. Tooth, nail, and claw. That is a legitimate gender war. Absolutely. Women are the guardians and custodians of the welfare of the next generations. Men, and it is men, high tech is men. There are almost no women there. So women should fight back there as parents, as mothers. So it's the only way to affect change.

And I think as parents, you made a good point. As parents, we can control the future by imbibing the right values and the right information through our...

No, I mean, I'm a lot more belligerent. I think women should organize activism, social activism, should organize and create a grassroots movement to push legislators to break down these companies as they had tried to do with Microsoft, to break down these companies to competing pieces.

And then to absolutely limit what can be done with the technology, as will limit today, for example, gene therapy, as will limit today, bioengineering. We do limit many technological advances. Absolutely some things are illegal to do today. You can't change the sex of your child. You can. There's a technology, but it's illegal to do it. That there is a technology doesn't mean you have to use it. It could be criminalized, and big parts of the metaverse should be criminalized. Absolutely.

So only women can push for that, like me too, like a me too kind of movement. So I'm not talking about imbibing the right values and so on and so forth, which believe me is a flimsy defense. It's a flimsy defense.

I'm talking about going to the streets and fighting the men who are creating the metaverse.

The two risks with the metaverse is one, the blurring of reality with simulation. So the inability to tell reality apart from simulation, which could lead to bad decisions and bad choices and so on.

Second is addiction. That's a serious risk.

And the third is depression and anxiety. We have massive studies supporting all these three outcomes. Impaired reality testing, losing touch with reality, depression, anxiety and addiction. This again can be easily tackled. Addiction can be prevented by limiting the time. Anxiety and depression can be tackled by limiting relative positioning, likes, so on. And blurring of realities, you know, simulated reality or extended reality and real reality, it can be easily solved by not allowing extended reality to extend to reality.

So there's five easy steps that would prevent all these mental illnesses, but it takes political will. That's why I mentioned that parents and women should push for that.

That's a great message and definitely I'm sure I have taken a note of it and my audience would, but yes, like I said, there's one little question. I was just curious, you mentioned and I know the global, the climate impact. Is there any impact? Should we be worried from that?

I don't know if you know that the computer industry creates more greenhouse gases than the air travel industry. I don't know if you know that a single laptop, which is a standby for 24 hours, requires anywhere between 100 to 500 trees to remove the carbon footprint of that single laptop. I don't know if you know that mining for cryptocurrencies had generated more greenhouse gases than the emissions from cars in the 20 biggest cities in the world. Just mining for cryptocurrencies. Should the metaverse, because here's something about the metaverse. For the metaverse to come to become a reality, we still have 10 years of technological progress. Without it, there will be no metaverse.

What are we talking about? We're talking about 1,000 times more computing than today. 1,000 times more greenhouse gases. 1,000 times bigger effect on climate change. Computing is already the number three or four, biggest emitter. Therefore, computing shapes climate change adversely. The metaverse will blow this out of the water. The metaverse alone will create more greenhouse gases than all the cars combined.

People don't take this into account. A computer on standby consumes a laptop on standby, consumes about US$160 in terms of energy a year. Multiply. See what we're talking about.

Most of this energy comes from coal in China, for example, in Australia, for example. This is coal powered. Computing is a coal powered technology. Metaverse will multiply this by 1,000. That's not me. That's the vice president of Intel. That's also not me. That's his calculation. This is the impact of climate change.

But there are other impacts on labor, on many. I mean, metaverse will...

Labor as you mean the work policies? Yes.

If you work in a totally virtual environment, it raises interesting issues, very interesting issues. For example, wage equality, bullying in the workplace, mental health issues of workers will increase dramatically, who will take care of them? The workplace will be reshaped. Climate change will be then rendered irreversible.

Metaverse alone will render climate change irreversible. Alone. Just that.

Social issues. Sexual abuse, for example, and rape. Virtual. How do we deal with it? And so on. It's transformative. It's a revolutionary technology.

So parents, women, climate change, catalyst, and all of us, we all must watch out, get ourselves more informed, educated about metaverse because it's coming.

And I think through this knowledge, we would have more clarity and through clarity we'll have power. So we could go drive those movements or steps to mitigate the risk of metaverse.

But thank you so much, Sam. This was very insightful. And like I said at the beginning of my conversation, after listening to you, every time I feel I have become a little more wiser, a little more aware.

Thank you.

Thank you for watching.

If you enjoyed our conversation and this video brought you value, please hit the like button and subscribe if you haven't.

Until next time.

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