TRON Bull sat patiently on the peaceful park bench just off Point Lobos Ave. He was pontificating about his upcoming stroll and conversation. Sutro Heights Park was one of his favorites. His new friend, Neal, had agreed to meet here, by the Totem Pole, so they could walk and talk a bit. Back in the day, in 1992, Neal wrote a word in a novel that inspired a generation of technologists. TRON Bull had recently read the book and wanted to know more about that word.
30 years later, Neal is now involved in a startup focused on creating a blockchain-based, crypto-commerce Metaverse experience, and TRON Bull had some questions. His curiosity never ends.
“Hey TRON Bull,” Neal uttered softly as he approached. The serenity of the sunset called for such a hallow. Sky colors were as vibrantly blended as a Monet canvas, and gentle waves were cascading down below.
“Hey Neal! It’s so great to finally meet you face to face,” TRON Bull exclaimed, a little less softly than Neal’s greeting. They had only met in the Metaverse before today. “I have been looking forward to the chance to chat with you in person. Thanks for suggesting this park and this time of day!”
“Yeah, it’s beautiful,” Neal paused to take a breath and take in the view. “Well, we both have on our Converse-ation shoes, so let’s get to walking.”
TRON Bull liked jokes that were punny. He chortled then jumped right in, “So I think I get what the Metaverse is. But just in case I’m missing something, how do you describe it?”
“Well, in the same way that there’s one Internet and lots of ways people can access it, the idea is that there is one Metaverse and many metaversal experiences,” Neal began. “It isn’t just virtual reality. It’s a blending of digital creation and physical reality into a new way we can experience life together. It’s a whole new realm of existence, but one that subtly integrates our known world. We will socialize there, shop there, school there, play there, even rest there. As crazy as all of that sounds, though, we will still be able to engage in our physical world. It’s just that the digital world will also be tangible.”
“Whoa. Will it just be with those closed headsets that make you lose your balance?” TRON Bull remembered the time he fell over the coffee table after wiping out on a downhill ski slope in a VR game.
“No. Where it’s going may still involve the closed headsets, but it will be a blend of eyewear that brings the Metaverse into our reality. Imagine sitting with me at Equator Coffee, light-weight smart glasses on, except you’re there physically and I’m there digitally. Spatial computing and augmented reality type stuff.”
“What company is going to get rich off of that?!?” TRON Bull was picturing the product line.
“Well, many futurists believe the Metaverse should be open and decentralized. Not central to one company or controlled by one group. I agree. It should be a realm where we live life beautifully together, sharing experiences and economy. It’s like a Layer 1 blockchain that allows for exponential development on top of it, and every experience should be unique yet interoperable.”
TRON Bull the skeptic came out for a moment. “That sounds nice and everything, Neal, but don’t you think it’s a little dreamy and naive? I mean, what are some of the potential negatives for Metaverse living?”
“There are many potential pros AND cons. The cons include the possibility of an increase in cybercrime and trafficking, which will be hard to police with no known jurisdiction and unclear regulatory oversight. Like discovering a new land, knowing how to keep this new realm safe will take time to sort out. On top of that, imagine the mashup of all of our diversity into one Metaverse culture and way of life. What if we lose our beautiful diversity? That would be tragic. Then there’s the obvious addiction issue that could occur due to visual immersion and its effect on the brain, including possible declines in mental health. People could also lose physical-world connection with little to no usage moderation. There has already been a rise in what’s called ‘virtual bullying.’ And last but not least, there are network limitations and increased energy needs, so the question of where that energy will come from needs to be answered.”
TRON Bull stopped walking. “Have you seen those pharmaceutical commercials before? The ones where they are marketing an incredible new medicine, but they’re required to mention the possible side effects that were documented in the research and development of the drug? It’s like, ‘This drug will change your life, but it could also make you lose your sight, get fungus under your pinky toes, and cripple your esophagus such that you can’t swallow anymore.’ That’s what it sounds like you’re saying! ‘This is going to be great, except when it’s not!’”
Neal chuckled. “Fair. Listing all of those cons definitely gave the worst-case scenarios. But what about the pros?”
“Let’s hear them,” TRON Bull requested as they began walking again.
“Well, the pros are many, but whether they’re valued will depend upon someone’s technological viewpoint. In my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons. Imagine connecting the world in a new digital realm, negating physical distance so we can have immersive experiences together! Realize we will still have face-to-face engagement, some physical, some digital. Even though many of them will be virtual, the social interactions are still very personal. Think of how many new business opportunities a Metaverse internet would provide. It would change how we shop and advertise and even how retail space is used, when moved into digital marketplace districts. There will not only be improvements to online learning but also greater accessibility to education. The integration of cryptocurrencies for commerce will allow bankless societies to participate in a global economy. For gamers, there will be greater interoperability as well as value-add to all digital assets, if they can be used across a vast Metaverse. There will be new investment opportunities, including Metaverse real estate. And what if you didn’t have to use online meeting tools as you know them now, but instead you could gather in a room for a shared experience, face to face with each other’s unique avatars. It will change the dynamic and tone of how business interaction occurs. Presentations won’t just be made, they’ll be experienced!”
“I can see it,” TRON Bull was imagining what Neal was describing. “You’re right, though, that those who value this type of thing will be bullish on it, while those who don’t will be bearish. I personally prefer to be bullish.”
“That’s a good one,” Neal smiled. “Every blockchain that gets into the game now and works to integrate their tools and services into this new Metaverse existence will have an advantage over those who wait. TRON could certainly play a role in how commerce and exchange are done there. Imagine, how physical experiences in Dominica, for example, could be marketed and then even enhanced by leveraging the Metaverse to engage with those who live and visit there? And I know you like music a lot! Imagine, also, how you could do more than listen to music. You could immerse yourself into it with TRON-based music NFTs, along with other fans, and more deeply engage with the artists. Those are just two use cases, and there are many more. It could be something special!”
“You’ve given me a lot to think about! And a lot to go back to the TRON DAO team and discuss.” TRON Bull’s wheels were already turning in his head regarding whom he would want to meet with to share what he had learned.
“There’s still a long way to go and a lot to be developed. But what is exciting is that blockchain technology needs decentralized finance, and DeFi needs blockchain tech,” Neal affirmed. “And hey! Have you ever tried the Ocean Beach Cafe? It’s a couple of blocks over and within walking distance. If we hurry, we can make it for a meal before they close.”
“YES! All this walking and talking and thinking and imagining has made me hungry! Let’s do it!”
TRON Bull was thankful for his new friend. And he was eager to explore the Metaverse even more now, whether his adventures there went BOOM or BUST.