Metaverse is a word that has been thrown around for decades, but who actually invented the concept of the metaverse?
The term “Metaverse” was coined by Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash
The Metaverse is another step towards fulfilling the ancient human desire to live in full immersion in an alternate world. It is also something that many people are excited about because it will allow them to communicate with others more easily than they do now on social media networks like Facebook or Twitter.
In this article, we will explore the origin of the metaverse, talk about who created the word, what it meant, what they envisaged it would look like.
It’s a conglomeration of the words meta (meaning beyond) and the universe.
Hence, Metaverse is a term used to describe something that is beyond our current knowledge or understanding.
In Snow Crash, it describes an alternate reality with which humans can interact using virtual reality.
The term “Metaverse” was first introduced by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash.
While writing this book, he was influenced by the idea of creating an environment to share user-generated 3D content without any central organization controlling it.
He envisioned this as the Metaverse, a collective virtual shared place formed by the fusion of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, which includes the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the internet.
To create this new type of environment, he introduced the concept of “avatars,” an old Hindu term that referred to a spiritual double or a manifestation of self.
This is what Stephenson decided to call a person’s representation of themselves in his Metaverse.
Avatars would be able to communicate with each other using user-generated content.
Thus, they began the idea of virtual socializing, which was later popularized by Facebook and its concept of “friends.”
In Snow Crash, Stephenson describes the Metaverse as a 3D virtual environment where anything is possible.
It can be described as a virtual reality internet that consists of many elements, including social worlds like Second Life.
Stephenson’s vision of the Metaverse was something similar to what 3D game makers are trying to achieve today in modern video games.
However, Neal Stephenson wasn’t the only one to have this idea for a 3D virtual space.
The term “Metaverse” was later mentioned in 1993 by Bruce Bethke as the cyberspace where the events of his novel would take place.
It was also used in William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer, published in 1984. In this book, it is described as a consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators and casual users of the global information network known as Cyberspace.
As we can see, many science fiction writers have been predicting the Metaverse for years, but is it something that can actually be built in the near future?
Currently, there are many projects designed to create a functional Metaverse, with the most popular being High Fidelity, Philip Rosedale’s new virtual world, and his previous startup Second Life.
So when will we see the full realization of Stephenson’s vision for the Metaverse? Nobody really knows, but I think it will take years for this to become a mainstream technology.
The Metaverse Being Re-Invented With Virtual Reality
When the Oculus Rift first came out in 2012, many people were excited about it because they wanted to experience virtual reality for themselves.
Now years later, VR has yet to go into full swing with no clear indication of how it could change our daily lives.
VR might be the key to creating a functional Metaverse, but we have yet to see it work for more than just video games.
When VR finally does become popular enough for people to build interconnected virtual worlds on top of it, I think it will take some time before we start seeing people meeting up in them to socialize, as Stephenson envisioned in his works.
But there is another possibility: the Metaverse might not be a virtual world that we can visit using VR headsets and controllers, but it could be a technology that we grow into over time.
We already spend large amounts of time on Facebook meeting with our “friends,” even though these interactions are stored in a database and presented to us as flat pages that we visit one at a time.
However, as VR and Artificial Intelligence advance in their development, it is possible that our online interactions will become more real and complex over time to the point where they feel like the Metaverse from Snow Crash.
In fact, I think Philip Rosedale already accidentally created something similar with High Fidelity after seeing some videos of people using it to have sex in VR.
However, I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to new types of virtual socializing that could come about thanks to intelligent avatars and Virtual Reality headsets.
So, Did Neal Stephenson Invent The Metaverse?
Neal Stephenson coined the term “metaverse”, which is a combination of the words meta (meaning beyond) and the universe, in his novel Snow Crash.
However, he did not build anything that resembles the Metaverse.
Second Life, a virtual world launched in 2003, is probably the first instance of anything close to a real “metaverse”.
The Metaverse might not be something that can be built by one person or even one company, but maybe it will be an emergent property of the technology around us.
And if that’s the case, then perhaps Neal Stephenson didn’t really give us a solid explanation of what the Metaverse is in his works.
Maybe he just wanted to show what could possibly happen if we made interconnected virtual worlds where people could meet up with their friends.
And whether it happens via Virtual Reality headsets, online social platforms, or something else, I think it’s an idea worth exploring.