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The art of a good unicorn | Why startups can’t get enough of the Metaverse

The simulacra and simulation phenomenon were brought up by the French post-structuralist philosopher Jean Baudrillard, who said that society has “replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that human experience is of a simulation of reality.”

The real world has begun to emulate this idea. According to Baudrillard, “It is a question of swapping the signs of the real for the real.” He describes this as hyperreal. Not only is postmodern culture artificial, according to Baudrillard, but his main argument is that we are no longer able to distinguish between nature and artifice.

There are three “orders of simulacra” according to him:

1. It reflects a fundamental truth (Think TV).

2. It conceals and distorts a fundamental truth (Think reality TV).

3. It has no connection to reality at all; it is a wholly artificial imitation (Think hyperreality).

There are other names for hyperreality, including augmented reality, virtual reality, and connected reality. The inability to tell the difference between reality and a simulation is the basic concept of this.

The simulacrum is never that which hides the truth – it is truth that hides the fact that there is none. The simulacrum is true.

How appropriate for a world where the Metaverse is still developing. Web 3.0 is already making progress, but Web 5.0 is still some time off. We’re obviously experimenting with the idea given that Disney is funding six businesses that are engaged in immersive technologies and experiences, JP Morgan announced they would open a lounge in the Metaverse, Samsung opened a version of its New York store, and a Tamil Nadu couple got married in the Metaverse. However, the focus of the Metaverse as it currently exists is either gaming or escape. It doesn’t really capture the scope or promise of what the Metaverse is about to do. The present iteration emphasises turning off from the world we live in. The aspirational version is all about creating a whole new world altogether.

The internet is responsible for many things and has greatly advanced technology. What else does the current version have to offer, though, besides paving the way for the coming revolution and software upgrades?

Like a lemon that’s been squeezed of all its juice, Web 2.0 appears to have been strained to the absolute limit by Big Tech. It almost seems as though Web 2.0 has reached its pinnacle and outlived its usefulness. Mark Zuckerberg, a self-described “meta head” thinks that the Metaverse will replace the internet and reshape all online interactions, with uses as diverse as socialising with friends to gaming, entertainment, fitness, and education.

There is also the belief that in the future, whether it is with regard to cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), or even yet-to-be-created assets, individuals may care more about their possessions in the virtual world than in the physical or actual world. The future, at this time, is as speculative as it can be. Yet, given the Metaverse’s expansion, anything could happen at any time.

Giants like Google and Meta want to control how the revolution develops. They aim to be its forerunners in order to foresee what will occur and to unleash the social phenomenon in such a way that they own its infrastructure and the underlying monetary system.

It’s not enough that they monopolise what we have; they want what we may have and formulate it in such a way that we will have it. They seek what we might have and formulate it so that we will have it in addition to monopolising what we already have. They seek power over our digital twin, the virtual version of us, since controlling the puppet strings of the real version of us is insufficient. And since we can’t quite tell what the people in charge of the internet are planning, it makes us wonder about the internet’s future.

Web 3.0 is still inevitable, though. It’s a step up from the environment we are accustomed to, and they are aware of our weakness for flashy objects.

The metaverse will not pause, reset or end. It will make for a fully functioning digital universe providing seamless experiences for everyone in the space. It can help create decentralised digital economies of scale and have the digital infrastructure for the new economy and real-life interactions.

The new global economy is awakening. The metaverse can be the caffeine to boost it.

Although it is still in the construction stage and has not yet had a chance to fully blossom, the new setup is being constructed in a manner that is very much analogous to the real world. You begin to believe that this is where your entire existence is at this point because it is trying to replicate real-world characteristics in its virtual environment. The challenge of creating a new economy is far greater than it seems.

The main difficulties are maintaining legal compliance with all tax laws and governmental regulations while keeping an eye on the state of your economy. A currency that would serve as the foundation of your economy must be developed. The contribution of individuals to an economy, however, is by far the most challenging. There is a limit to how far your economy can go. After that, the group of individuals acts as the spark. They ought to embrace it and improve it. People find it difficult to transition from a familiar environment to one that requires them to adjust. The Metaverse may be in its nascent stages, but there have even been reports of sexual assault in the Metaverse, therefore precautions and barriers to preserve people’s comfort and privacy would be necessary.

According to Jerry Heinz, the co-founder of Ball Metaverse Research Partners as told Forbes, “Today’s massive data centers and increasingly fast broadband networks aren’t going to cope with the demands of the metaverse. I think the biggest challenges that are ahead of us are really at the foundational level. You need highly concurrent, highly persistent experiences that are on a scale and magnitude that we haven’t really yet seen before. At a network level, it’s funny, but it’s the same problems that we’ve faced throughout all of networking history. It really boils down to our old friends’ latency, bandwidth and reliability.”

In the Metaverse, payments themselves are a sight to behold. It can become complicated because one would only profit if the clients were using their own currency. Remember when cryptocurrency first appeared and there was legitimate scepticism that it was a scam? They warmed up to it over time, which is what has to happen. However, despite the financial returns, some people today recoil at the idea of using cryptocurrency and resist using it. Fair enough, it has seen setbacks and there have been some crashes. However, because cryptocurrency is fungible, it can be traded and used in place of traditional payments.

A new system is in place where several currencies can flourish and prosper, notwithstanding convention. Though we all know that there is still plenty of currency in circulation, the Metaverse wants to make the concept of “cashless” seem to be far more significant than it actually is. Because cryptocurrencies are decentralised, they demonstrate the strength of the underlying Blockchain technology.

People will undoubtedly bring their belongings over if they are switching between virtual realms. Blockchain will confirm the ownership proof of a person’s digital goods as long as the virtual worlds remain compatible. The Metaverse creates investment chances in crypto and NFTs, as well as opportunities in the disciplines of AR and VR, and by the time it matures, which is expected to take approximately 10 years (if you believe Mark Zuckerberg), the opportunities will only grow and multiply. Search engines are still essential for giving us the information we need on Web 3.0. It would be much more emotive with Web 4.0 and 5.0. When traditional search engines are merged into virtual reality applications in future iterations, the world of technology aficionados will go crazy.

Since nobody owns the Metaverse, everyone is sort of the owner. If we continue along this line of reasoning, Metaverse actually contributes more than we realise to a just society. Since it is a common medium, the people you want to reach should be given equal opportunities. Customers are eager to become involved with the items so that their opinions are heard and something changes as a result. They want to contribute to and co-create the brand while keeping in mind its core values. Inequitable civilisations may not definitely fail in the Metaverse, but they would be out of date by then. Equitable societies have the capacity to flourish. In the Metaverse, there are numerous opportunities for equity and equality, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age or race.

And what about fledgling ventures? How do they fit in?

The Metaverse can offer them new ways to collaborate and communicate with users anytime and anywhere. In fact, if one wishes to conduct business meetings with potential clients or have employee training sessions, the Metaverse can make that happen. Just put on that VR headset and fasten your seatbelts. Once your session is done, take it off and go back to your boring, regular, normal world.

That being said, don’t throw out all your old books about doing business the traditional way. Don’t jump on the bandwagon and associate buzzwords with your startup, because it sounds hip and fashionable. Your business is still about your customers and meeting their expectations. Don’t force-fit it, do what makes sense. Allow your customers to engage with the brand in a manner they see fit. Right now, it’s a trial and error process. As a startup, you’re in a test-and-learn phase and luckily for you, the changing digital landscape of the virtual world needs your curiosity to see what can be offered that works for your brand. You’ll also get an idea of what future trends may come into place. Don’t sit on the sidelines, see what’s out there.

You can either dislike it or adore it. You can either vilify it or exalt it. The future is in the Metaverse. That sounds like such a cliché. And even though “that’s the future” is another cliché many detest, it still holds true in this instance.

Therefore, given that the Metaverse is something that is gradually sweeping the decade, opposing it might not be the wisest course of action. Nonetheless, the Metaverse needs to be put in check by human beings to moderate it. Today’s Indian entrepreneurs should concentrate on staying relevant in the age of the new internet. This entirely new universe should be incorporated into one’s business approach. Interality, Zippy, Loka, and other Indian firms are powering the Metaverse rather than just participating in it. Let’s hope that more do the same.

Unicorns won’t be termed unicorns in this new internet, since there will be so many of them that they won’t be considered rare. The term “horse” might then be more fitting. Naturally, every unicorn will go through this transition, and it won’t be easy. However, only the fittest will survive due to natural selection and how well they adapt will determine their fate. However, after it is finished, there are countless opportunities. In order to jump on the bandwagon, people would probably be pushing each other to get in.

What a transformative and progressive vision we are in for. Aladdin seemed prescient when he spoke of a whole new world, a new fantastic point of view, a place where no one could tell us “No” or where to go or say we’re only dreaming.

Shrija Agrawal is a business journalist who has covered startups and private capital markets before it was considered cool in India

The views expressed are personal

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