Imagine a future in which the boundaries between the real and the virtual blur so dramatically that we find ourselves enthralled by the wonders of the metaverse, oblivious to the crises that once consumed our attention. Picture a world where the threats of pandemics and climate change fade into the background as we immerse ourselves in serene and flawlessly constructed digital realms.
But what if this digital obsession extends far beyond mere escapism? What if our desire for physical possessions diminishes drastically as we increasingly inhabit virtual spaces, rendering real-world objects obsolete?
And what if, in this metaverse-driven future, we witness the birth of hybrid species – creations born from the fusion of genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies and metaverse avatars?
The future of the metaverse holds promises that extend far beyond our current comprehension. We will journey through the cosmos, even at the subatomic level. Extraterrestrial trips on virtual planetary voyages will become a reality, transcending the limitations of time and space. We may even embark on virtual journeys within the human body, the minds of animals or even machines.
Now, let us venture forward and catch a glimpse of the metaverse as envisioned by experts for the years 2030 and 2040.
Enter the realm of the metaverse. Is it a gaming paradise, a futuristic marketplace, or a virtual training ground? Some see it as the internet’s next evolutionary phase, Web3, while others regard it as a gateway to uncharted digital territories. As we ponder the impact of the metaverse on our future, it remains shrouded in mystery.
Yet, one thing is certain: the metaverse is on the rise. According to Citi’s projections, this amalgamation of physical and digital realms could burgeon into a staggering $8 trillion to $13 trillion economy by 2030, captivating a staggering 5 billion users worldwide. Imagine, five-eighths of the global population venturing into this fantastical domain. However, some take a more measured stance, envisioning a still significant 500 million users by 2040.
The metaverse by 2030
In the near future, gaming is poised to be the driving force behind the metaverse, thanks to its immersive and multiplayer capabilities that transcend device limitations.
However, the metaverse’s potential extends far beyond gaming. It is set to become a 24/7 platform encompassing commerce, media, healthcare, education, manufacturing and more. Enterprises will collaborate, network, hold events and conferences, conduct training sessions, and even design and engineer products within this realm.
The integration of AI will revolutionize user experiences within the metaverse. Generative AI and AutoGPT have already demonstrated their ability to self-generate virtual worlds with minimal input data.
As the metaverse evolves, decentralized technologies like Blockchain will ensure heightened security and transparency. However, the emergence of cryptocurrencies, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), and stablecoins may invite scrutiny from global regulators, raising concerns related to anti-money laundering and property rights. Additionally, the metaverse will prompt debates surrounding health and privacy issues as we approach 2030.
A significant surge in digital goods sales is expected, with a strong emphasis on personalized customer experiences within the immersive XR environment. The concept of virtual real estate and virtual identities (Avatars) will gain substantial value and be regarded as genuine assets.
The lines between the virtual and real worlds will blur. In fact, by 2030, some estimates suggest that at least 50 percent of our leisure time will be dedicated to these transformative Internet platforms.
The content streaming environment of the metaverse will require significantly higher computational efficiency by 2030, at least 1,000 times greater than today’s standards, according to a statement by Intel’s Senior Vice-President Raja Koduri in late 2022. This will require investments in computing power, data storage and consumer hardware.
The metaverse in 2040
Can the metaverse become one of the most significant platforms for wealth and value creation that we have ever designed by 2040? The Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center sought the perspectives of numerous technology experts regarding the trajectory and impact of the metaverse by 2040.
A considerable number of experts believe that by 2040, extended reality (XR) – encompassing augmented reality and mixed reality tools – will play a more prominent role in people’s daily lives compared to fully immersive virtual reality worlds.
Some experts, however, express concerns that the future metaverse may limit human potential by confining individuals to pre-programmed capacities within these platforms. They worry about the rise of addiction to fantasy experiences, leading to increased isolation for many individuals.
Laurence Lannom, vice-president at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives, suggests that virtual entities could be used for practicing complex physical tasks such as surgery.
Eric Burger, a computer science faculty member at Georgetown University, holds a more pessimistic view, saying: “The use cases for fully immersive experiences have a small niche that, for economic reasons, is unlikely to grow into a global phenomenon for decades to come.”
Numerous experts predict that by 2035 the augmented metaverse will supplant mobile phones as the primary gateway to digital content. Many people are expected to don AR wearables throughout the day, similar to current mobile phone usage.
According to some, the metaverse can achieve success if it ensures decentralized data ownership, preventing manipulation and weaponization of personal data that could consume us as individuals.
Metaverse for business
The metaverse has the potential to revolutionize various aspects of business, including employee engagement, customer experiences, omnichannel sales and marketing, and product innovation.
According to McKinsey, there is significant interest from large technology companies, venture capital firms, private equity investors, start-ups and established brands in seizing the opportunities presented by the metaverse. In fact, these entities allocated more than $120 billion toward metaverse investments in the just first five months of 2022, surpassing the $57 billion invested throughout 2021. Notably, Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision for $69 billion has played a major role in driving this investment surge.
A recent survey conducted by McKinsey revealed that 60 percent of consumers who have experienced the early versions of the metaverse express excitement about transitioning their everyday activities to this immersive digital realm. Among the top factors contributing to this enthusiasm are networking opportunities and the potential to explore diverse digital worlds.
McKinsey, a global management consultancy firm, predicts that the metaverse could have a profound impact on various industries by 2030. For instance, it is estimated to generate a market impact of approximately $2 trillion to $2.6 trillion on e-commerce. Additionally, the academic virtual learning market could experience an impact ranging from $180 billion to $270 billion, while the advertising market could see a shift of $144 billion to $206 billion. Furthermore, the gaming market may witness an impact of $108 billion to $125 billion.
However, there are challenges that need to be addressed to fully realize the potential of the metaverse. The workforce will require reskilling and upskilling to stay competitive in a global talent market and attract investment. Moreover, the metaverse must prioritize ethical considerations and strive to provide safe and inclusive experiences. Guidelines pertaining to data privacy, security, and regulatory compliance will also be crucial for the metaverse’s success.
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