The Metaverse | Dutch IT Channel

We know the term Metaverse from the 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash. A three-dimensional space that is a metaphor for the real world. So a ‘meta’ version of our ‘universe’: the metaverse where the avatars are our alter egos from the physical world. In a previous blog I already talked about our ‘digital alter ego’, literally your second self. A second personality where a person stands out from his real identity. In Greek it literally means ‘false name’ and in Latin ‘alias’ or pseudonym. The Metaverse is the collective virtual shared space where we can live, coexist and work as digital twins of ourselves.

digital shadow

With digitization and especially the Internet, we as analog creatures (see my blog ‘the world is analog’) are starting to generate and send more and more digital data and messages. Digital messages from which we no longer even know where they ended up. In recent decades, we have thus created a ‘digital shadow’ that has left huge historical traces such as Big Data. Every visit to a website, every email, every order, and every article we read leaves an invisible digital footprint. I think if someone saw their own shadow world, they would be surprised at all the data you’ve spread.

Everything you do leaves traces. This is understandable in the real world and as a society we have therefore set limits on how anonymous we ‘can’ be and remain in private spaces. At home, privacy behind the front door, because no one cares what we do behind that front door. To get behind the front door as a government, you need a search warrant from the judge. In a blog ‘a man’s phone is his castle’ I describe that current privacy law is hopelessly outdated for public spaces. Anyone on the street can be searched by the competent authority, they can examine the goods you carry with you and therefore also your mobile phone. While that phone has started to contain more and more privacy, the one that actually belongs behind the front door.

digital break-in

In the past, your calendar, address book, photo album, contact list, correspondence and documents were safe behind the front door. Insurance for anyone who was not legally allowed to enter your home. Now you carry that secure data with you on your digital device, share that data in the cloud, and that data is barely protected by law. Edward Snowden recently summed it up very well in the phrase: ‘We used to say that a man’s home is his castle. Today, a man’s phone is his castle. With the comment that this digital castle hardly offers any protection. Fortunately, interesting studies are underway that are developing a kind of home law 2.0: what data really belongs in your virtual home? And your virtual house should not have the same protection as your physical house: behind the front door there is 100% privacy, for everyone.

With the advent of virtual worlds, in other words the Metaverse, this legal protection becomes important. Is your avatar legally protected? Can virtual goods be insured? Does the data you create remain your property? In the blockchain world, we see that so-called NFTs can be created. Non-Fungible Tokens, a unique and non-replaceable token that is secured on a blockchain and can be linked to items or contracts. A digital property document in the virtual world that gives you inalienable property rights. In fact, hype has sprung up around these NFTs for all sorts of digital collectibles purchased by virtual shoppers.

New world, new security

We have entered a digital transformation that makes us increasingly digital. The coronavirus lockdown has shown us that ‘being digital’ works. That we can do almost everything digitally, both socially and professionally, that we could do in normal life. Like a Yin and Yang, the physical and virtual worlds are becoming more and more intertwined. We must also create the security that we have in the ‘normal’ world in that digital and virtual world. If we can’t do that legally (after all, national borders aren’t a limitation for virtual worlds), then technology should help us. And blockchain is of course a wonderful tool for that.

I say ‘tool’ on purpose, because blockchain alone as distributed ledger is not enough. It’s a great way to connect distributed chains of immutable tokens, but you also need to have a federated infrastructure that is secure and provides business continuity. And you must also be able to unambiguously identify yourself as your digital alter ego. And you also need to be able to store your data securely and unalterably. And they must be able to communicate securely with each other. And, and, and: all the building blocks needed in an architecture for that new secure virtual world. An innovative world drawn in pencil, but right now the outlines of the solutions we need as a whole are becoming more visible.

The digital metaverse

Undeniably, we are moving toward an integration of the metaverse with our physical world. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is betting on this new development for a reason. Also, as he said, the metaverse will provide tremendous opportunities for individual creators and artists. People who want to have a second home in the digital world, who also want to live partly there, meet people and where there is education and recreation. With teleportation and virtual glasses. Not much more than what Second Life brought then, but now for the general public.

But the metaverse is also becoming important to industry and government. For professional users of the Enterprise segment. A virtual world of digital services and products where security, reliability, availability and continuity are the most important values. Plus, easy-to-use, decentralized apps that eliminate security risks. Secure data management that respects privacy and forms the basis of all kinds of applications and services. We settle for cryptocurrencies, the secure ownership of objects and documents with NFTs, and the exchange of information and business communication is based on peers.

The ‘business of the future’ is taking on clearer contours. The necessary virtual components, distributed technology, quantum-based security, and crypto payment models are available. Pilot projects are successful, and as with More’s law at the time, there is continual performance improvement and cost savings in the field of photonics, quantum computing, network computing, and sustainability. The challenge now is to jump into the water and swim with all these new techniques and methods available. The old adage: creative thinking, contemplative action, continues to hold true. Learning to embrace that new world and enter with confidence.

By: Hans Timmerman (photo), DigiCorp Labs Chief Data Officer

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