The metaverse is a network of virtual reality worlds with a global market valued at nearly $50bn as of 2022. Yahoo Finance’s new show ‘The Crypto Mile’ takes us on a tour through these different digital dimensions – which are expected to have a market of over $600bn by 2030.
Watch the latest episode of The Crypto Mile and immerse yourself in these nascent worlds that not long ago were confined to the imaginations of science fiction writers.
Each world within the metaverse has its own unique aspects, from the cartoonish graphics of Facebook’s Meta (META) to the decentralised pixels of Decentraland and the cyber-punk inspired realms of Somnium Space.
Episode 2 of The Crypto Mile, published today, looks at the companies hoping to make a profit in the metaverse and investigates the issue of user data and digit memory ownership, especially if society starts spending more and more time within these virtual worlds.
Decentraland: Metaverse mortgages for virtual real estate
Decentraland offers users a wide range of activities such as games, concerts, casinos and galleries, where NFT artists can display and sell their work.
During the metaverse/NFT boom of 2021, real estate in Decentraland was extremely valuable. These plots of virtual land are packaged as NFTs and some have sold for thousands of dollars. The most expensive section of land sold so far in the world was an eye-watering $2.4m in MANA in 2021.
The cryptocurrency that powers transactions within Decentraland is called MANA. It is an Ethereum-based cryptocurrency, native to the Decentraland digital dimension.
The high prices that Decentraland plots sold for in 2021 encouraged a wave of digital investors and developers to purchase plots and flip them for a profit in NFT marketplaces such as OpenSea.
The first stop on this tour was Decentraland, to interview Brandon Johnson, who provided one of the world’s first metaverse mortgages.
Users navigate the metaverse using body movements, feedback controllers or voice commands. For Episode 2 of The Crypto Mile, we used an Oculus headset to access Somnium Space and a gaming laptop to navigate our way through Decentraland.
The next destination was Somnium Space to meet its founder Artur Sychov, to discuss ‘immortality’ inside the metaverse and speak with Melissa McBride, CEO of Sophia High School and Co-founder of Sophia Technologies, to learn about the possibilities and advantages of VR education for children.
Somnium Space: Life beyond death as an AI Avatar
One of the most surprising discoveries within Somnium Space was a function that promises to give users the option to ‘live forever’ in the digital dimension, where a simulation of a deceased person can live on in perpetuity, with the help of artificial intelligence.
In the recent sequel to Bladerunner, called Bladerunner 2049, the main character played by Ryan Gosling had an augmented reality girlfriend.
Now, this type of AI replication of a human being is much closer to becoming a reality after the developments made within the Somnium Space virtual world.
The promise of by founder Artur Sychov and his development team is that soon users could have access to a high-fidelity simulation of ‘speaking with the dead’.
The ‘Live Forever’ mode promises ‘immortality’ for its users and the possibility of conversing with an AI simulation of a loved one, long after they’re gone.
Artur Sychov, the founder of Somnium Space, spoke to The Crypto Mile and described the ‘Live Forever mode’ as being “able to change how we think about our lives and what comes after that, because we want to be remembered, by our relatives and friends”.
He added that the mode “can take a person’s movement and voice and everything they do, then we can apply AI to recreate that person inside a VR world”.
In this mode, a user’s appearance and personality traits will be recreated as a smart AI avatar, “which will look like you and speak like you and be able to respond to questions in a similar way that you did”.
Sychov added: “Imagine your grandkids could come and say hey how are you, who are you, and they could have a conversation where the avatar responds with your voice and looks like you.
“Of course, it will not be exactly you, but AI is already smart and your grandchildren will have a feeling that they have made a connection with you.
“Looking at pictures and listening to what your relatives say about you is one thing, but actually experiencing a simulation of you, that is a completely different story.”