June 6, 2023

The father of “metaverse”: There is no “one” metaverse, and AI cannot replace artists

Neal Stephenson’s science fiction novel that predicted and inspired innovations ranging from cryptocurrencies to Alexa, the AI ​​voice assistant. In his breakthrough novel Snow Crash, published in 1992, he described a utopian future of a corporate city-state. There, a hacker underclass hides out in a virtual world known as the “Metaverse” to escape reality.

Some of the concepts in the book, including online avatars, virtual reality glasses, massively multiplayer online games, and destructive computer viruses, are now part of our everyday experience.

From 1999 to 2006, Stephenson was an early employee of Blue Origin, the commercial space company owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. He then joined Magic Leap, an MR startup that raised nearly $4 billion.

During that time, he has consistently denied being the anonymous creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto.

Last year, Stephenson co-founded Lamina1 with cryptocurrency pioneer Peter Vessenes.The company uses blockchain technology to build an “open, expansive”metaversespace.

Recently, Stephenson was interviewed by FT. The father of the “metaverse” explained his true definition of the metaverse-“people do imaginary things in imaginary worlds”. At the same time, Neil Stephenson is not interested in AIGC and ChatGPT, which are currently hot. He believes that although they can make beautiful things, there is no spiritual communication between “the audience and the creator”.

The following is the interview record, edited by Geek Park.

Q: Many people are creating “Metaverse“This concept makes a claim. What is your current preferred definition of “Metaverse”?

There are many people in the Metaverse. No matter where they are, you can interact with them in real time. In the Metaverse, people in the real world have their avatars, the audio-visual complexes they use to communicate with each other. They share experiences, albeit fictional in nature. They do imaginary things in imaginary spaces.

Metaverse Not quite a centralized, walled garden.Actually, it has different parts, created and maintained by different people. In the Metaverse, the central metaphor for switching from one experience to another is movement in virtual space. So the Metaverse has a map, and various experiences have fixed positions on this map. You may be teleported, you may move fast, but there is always the sense that you are in a specific, agreed-upon place in a larger universe.

Q: If so, I don’t think there is one yetMetaverse

When we talk about the original concept of the Metaverse, we’re going back to the late 1980s. That was before pre-Doom, a groundbreaking 3D shooter, which came out in 1992, the year after Avalanche came out. Doom accomplishes what I don’t think will be possible in the real world in another 10 years. This ignited the entire gaming industry. So the reality 30 years later is that the game industry, as the engine of economic and technological development, will be the foundation of any future Metaverse development.

Q: When people are playing a video game, they know they are stepping into a “Metaverse」(metaverse)?

I guess most people are just playing games. I think people who spend a lot of time playing games, especially multiplayer online games, are used to the idea of ​​moving around in a shared three-dimensional space. This is obviously the most fundamental concept of the Metaverse.



Neil Stephenson co-launched the Lmina1 blockchain project|Lamina1


Q: You recently co-founded a startup called Lamina1 that uses blockchain technology toMetaverse’ establishes a kind of base layer. What made you want to go beyond creating and defining the concept of a “Metaverse” and actually build one?

I don’t have a grand plan for my life. I tend to go with the flow. In 2020, I left Magic Leap. I learned a lot about game engines.

I also did additional research in the field of virtual creation: how to use game engine technology to bring stories to linear entertainment. These are potential opportunities for me to start a business.

Finally, at the end of 2021, the concept of Metaverse exploded, and I had the opportunity to create some underlying mechanisms to help Metaverse builders complete their work in a way that I think meets the vision in my book.

Q: Epic Games built Fortnite and is now expanding itsmetaversePlatform Unreal Engine. Why build a platform in the first place?

Whatever I build, even if it’s very successful, it’s only a small part of the larger Metaverse and probably won’t be. Therefore, within a reasonable time,Going all-in on creating an experience would be the wrong approach, a smarter approach is to create the underlying infrastructure,In my opinion, it’s necessary, and then it allows a lot of people to try and build something on top of it.

Once the platform is operational, there will be value. Using the example you gave of Epic, Fortnite’s value to Epic is not just the revenue that the game brings in. It’s also a way they can test their own technology (dog food) (tech startups call testing their own products “eating your own dog food”) and show people how powerful the technology is. After all, it is impossible to do everything through a third-party, fair relationship.

Q: Are you using this infrastructure to decide “Metaverse“Running rules? Or, the principle of decentralization is that you leave it to others to worry about?

I think this base layer is more about providing stuff than deciding how things should be. People can come back to this later. I think that at the engineering level, Metaverse must have some basic capabilities that need to match the capabilities of the blockchain.

Thus, a typical Metaverse experience would be in a virtual space that would house “avatars”. These “avatars” will have hair, clothing and accessories. They will be in a space with lights, textures, shadows, trees, furniture, architecture.

It’s possible to do all of these things in a completely focused way, with just one designer designing every detail of the experience, which is what we have in games.

But I think that to build a metaverse, we’re going to have a situation where people are going to move freely from one environment to another, so it’s all going to get mixed up. My gear, my magic sword, and everything else just follow me from one environment to another.

So all of a sudden, my code, my IP, is going with me into various environments that end up being created by many different designers and content creators who don’t even know each other.To me, all of this is a decentralized network of interactions and financial transactions, which makes me think of blockchains and other “DeFi” (decentralized finance) type structures.



The film “Ready Player One” (Ready Player One) was considered very “metaverse“|Douban


Q: How long do you expect it to take, this “Metaverse’ will become something we visit every day?

It won’t be a metaverse used by millions of people unless it can include experiences that millions of people find worth having, and creating those experiences is very difficult.

The game I played the most last year was Valheim. Its users started out as a very small group, however, they have now synthesized a world: various intangible elements coming together in an effective way.

Q: What do you like about the Hall of Valor?

Mainly for artistic reasons. This is a beautiful game. It has great music, great sound effects, and a lot of humor. The theme of Valhalla’s expression appealed to me, which is that you are completely alone in this world. Every time you start a new game, it spins out a huge new, randomly generated world, algorithmically. Unless you invite others in, you never need to interact with other humans and are free to explore the world.

Q: We need a headset to experience “Metaverse“?

The reality is that millions of people experience the 3D world through flat screens all the time, so of course headsets will be a big part of it, and they should be. Having said that, I have no complaints about the headset, both the 2D screen and the headset can go into the 3D world.

Q: Currently, in Silicon Valley,metaverseless popular than artificial intelligence

It’s good to let AI have its “highlight moment” because it takes time. Hype cycles go fast, but engineering doesn’t, engineering takes time. If you’re trying to engineer at the same pace as the hype cycle, it’s not going to work.

If you talk about artificial intelligence in terms of supply and demand, we already have a rich supply of pictures: every website is plastered with pictures; therefore, everyone has the ability to make hundreds of new pictures and put them on They’re on social media, but that doesn’t appeal to me.

Scarcity drives quality, and AI art lacks scarcity, so it often lacks quality.

Q: So you don’t consider using ChatGPT as a helper for your next novel?

My theory is that when we experience art, whether it’s a video game or a Leonardo da Vinci painting or a movie, we’re exposed to a host of micro-decisions that the artist made for specific reasons.

In this way, we are communicating with these artists, which is very important. Something generated by AI may look comparable to something created by a human, which is why people will get excited.

However, you don’t get that idea of ​​communicating with the creator. Without this, the work of art becomes empty and uninteresting.

Ewen Eagle

I am the founder of Urbantechstory, a Technology based blog. where you find all kinds of trending technology, gaming news, and much more.

View all posts by Ewen Eagle →

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