Dec 15th, 2021, 04:54 PM

The Future In the Metaverse

By L'Oreal Threat
Image Credit: Pixabay
How Brain-Computer-Technology will Facilitate Human Integration in the Metaverse

The Metaverse promises to be the next great digital phenomenon that will revolutionize the way we communicate. Rooted in the hopes of emerging technological advances, Metaverse's chairman Mark Zuckerberg has declared that it will enable users to seamlessly play, work, and travel in virtual environments through personal computing.  

Zuckerberg's current achievement, Facebook, stands as a successful aggregation of social networking and digital technology. Zuckerberg has proven his ability to use the web as a tool to propel human experiences forward.  The U.S Department of Defense funded the creation of the internet, which Zuckerberg used to revolutionize the way the world communicates. Today, the U.S Department of Defense is funding brain-computer-technology (BCT) projects that enhance brain capabilities through implanted computer chips. The next step for Zuckerberg is to pair with creators of BCT inventions to allow users to fully integrate into the Metaverse.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Currently, the largely empty Metaverse can be accessed through a virtual reality headset Oculus Quest 2, created by Facebook Technologies.  As the most cutting-edge and cost-efficient virtual reality headset at $299, Oculus Quest 2 works by instantly translating a user's physical movements into a digital world.  The headset provides room‑scale tracking without external sensors.  With the help of tools like Oculus Quest 2 that allows users to enter the Metaverse, Zuckerberg hopes to create a rich ecosystem of fascinating virtual experiences.

Metaverse, according to Zuckerberg, will be a virtual space of social experiences that will include rooms for work conferences, offices, music concerts, movie theaters, dating, and even mock-surgery simulations for curious students or practicing surgeons. In the Metaverse, experiences will be in three dimensions or projections into the physical world. The prototype, Metaverse-beta, is already in its testing phase and users are now attending virtual bars with each other, traveling to Hawaii, and flying through the sky for a bird's eye view of the Great Wall of China.

Nevertheless, Zuckerberg will have to work hard to attract users to turn Metaverse into the same massive hit as Facebook. He must give Metaverse users a profound experience of communication and connection. Users must crave social participation that is only available through the Metaverse platform. Zuckerberg can make this happen through BCT inventions that are funded by the U.S Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).  

Almost every advance or major technology in the brain-computer technology field can be traced back to funding provided by DARPA. DARPA created the prototype for the internet in the late 1960s to establish a computer communications system without a central core that could not be attacked or destroyed in one strike by adversarial nations. DARPA is also the birthplace of computer networks and graphics, parallel processing, computer flight simulation, and more.  

Today, DARPA provides millions of dollars to BCT research projects as a part of a federal funding program that encourages BCT inventions. The goal for DARPA is to aid in the creation of brain-computer technology that will augment the cognitive capabilities of U.S military personnel and mitigate armed conflict injuries. DARPA devotes a considerable amount of funds to developing neuro-technology that investors, corporate entities, and billionaires ultimately pick up to further commercialize. For example, DARPA is now funding the Bridging the Gap Plus project until 2025. Bridging the Gap Plus is classified as an invasive technology initiative that aims to use implantable devices in the brain to rebuild neural communication pathways that fix spinal cord injuries. As a result, many investors are clamoring to acquire the technology in hopes of commercializing it in the medical and entertainment industry.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Elon Musk's co-founded company Neuralink has also produced a DARPA-funded sewing machine robot that is capable of implanting over 1,000 thin electrodes in a single brain. Musk hopes that Neuralink will allow humans to perform above average and compete with artificial intelligence through a coin-sized chip that will be placed on the brain to connect to the implanted electrodes. The removable chip that will sit on the brain, called Link 0.9, will be capable of functioning for a whole day with full battery capacity but will need to be charged at night. Musk mentioned, at Neuralink's Progress Update for the Summer of 2020, that the Neuralink sewing robot would allow humans to install brain upgrades that include health warnings and monitoring of upcoming body events such as heart attacks and strokes. 

Neuralink has recently performed tests of electrode implants and accompanying chips on mice, monkeys, and even pigs. A live-stream during the summer of 2020 showed pigs with and without the brain chips, displaying how the device performs. Neuralink has also performed trials on monkeys in July 2020 and declared that the results were satisfactory.  

In a December 2021 live-streamed Wall Street Journal interview, Musk affirmed Neuralink's 2020 test results and future plans by saying, "Neuralink's working well in monkeys, and we're actually doing just a lot of testing and just confirming that it's very safe and reliable, and the Neuralink device can be removed safely.  We hope to have this in our first humans — which will be people that have severe spinal-cord injuries like tetraplegics, quadriplegics — next year, pending FDA approval."

Zuckerberg's opportunity to revolutionize social interaction through the Metaverse will likely become available in this decade. Streamlining Metaverse access, with the added benefits of healthcare monitoring and increased human intelligence, will enhance the way that humans experience life. Zuckerberg will be able to market BCT implanted brain chips for Metaverse use as a small, yet vital, feature of modern living.  Since the parietal lobe in the brain is the home of the somatosensory cortex, the area responsible for processing sensation and touch information, brains from Metaverse users that are implanted with electrodes or computer chips will believe that experiences are real and thus feel sensations.

The Metaverse would be a safe environment since the user's body would be physically located outside of the virtual realm.  As such, Zuckerberg will have to emphasize this fact in a way that will attract more attention than critics who will argue against the Metaverse for its potential emotional harm.  To win over users, Zuckerberg will have to successfully market the Metaverse as a space that can be used responsibly.  

Zuckerberg will have to show how the Metaverse will safely enable discussions between adversaries. He will also have to show it can facilitate virtual wars without risk of physical death on battlefields and strengthen global connectedness through virtual deep space exploration.  He will have to show the ease and safety of using the Metaverse to wander alone in distant places such as the Himalayas or attend large events while avoiding highly-transmissible viruses like COVID-19.  Notably, Zuckerberg will have to appeal to mental healthcare professionals experts by explaining how the Metaverse can be used to facilitate PTSD therapy sessions through the ability to properly process old memories.  In as much, many users will be enamored at the idea of being able to relive old memories with a favorite grandparent or childhood pet.  Zuckerberg will have to show that the possibilities from a partnership with the Metaverse and BCT inventions will be more positive than negative.

Image Credit: Pixabay

However, there are critical issues that Zuckerberg must address before the Metaverse can become the next great technological step in the evolution of human communication and experience. Zuckerberg must overcome public mistrust associated with Facebook's data-collection violations and algorithms that have contributed to great social harm. He would have to allow complete Metaverse transparency, give data ownership to users, monetize through straightforward methods such as subscriptions, decentralize algorithms, and adhere to strong privacy and ethical guidelines established by the U.S government. Metaverse must also pledge to practice those guidelines in every country while agreeing to third-party oversight to ensure compliance. Additionally, the Metaverse would have to include age restrictions for violent and sexual experiences. 

Public trust must also be gained as it relates to the BCT field, with specific regard to enhancing human experiences through electrode or brain chip implantation. Through the publication of human trials involving BCT electrodes and/or chips into a brain for Metaverse use, the world would be able to evaluate the safety of the new technology. As with previous technological advances, the success of a product rests on its ability to drown out criticism through stronger perceptions of safety, practicality, and entertainment value.  

If Zuckerberg is going to transform the way that humans communicate, then the next piece of the puzzle will be for him to directly purchase DARPA-funded BCT inventions or partner with a widely respected technological mastermind such as Elon Musk. Marketing will be critical and it will be important to emphasize the convenience of having Metaverse access through the brain. It will also be useful to associate other advantages, for otherwise healthy users, of having a brain chip that will enable health monitoring, injury restoration, and increased human intelligence. Moreover, to corner the virtual reality market, Zuckerberg must destroy the popular appeal of his Oculus Quest 2 product and all other virtual reality headsets that rival BCT implants.

Ultimately, the success of the Metaverse will largely depend on Zuckerberg's ability to create a global desire for rich, exhilarating, and stimulating communication experiences that can only be delivered through brain integration within the Metaverse. To go beyond ordinary virtual experiences and propel the human experience forward, Zuckerberg will very likely create a partnership with a BCT inventor. As a result, sensations that humans have always dreamed of, such as flying like a bird or swimming through the depths of the ocean, will soon become possible.  With new BCT developments unfolding each day, humanity stands on the cusp of the next great technological revolution.  Platform creators such as Zuckerberg will soon use new technology to usher human evolution forward. The first step will be through the Metaverse.