The critical question about the metaverse that no one is asking

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As metavars become an integral part of our future, there is little discussion about the ethical implications for marketers entering this new frontier. As we move toward 2022, conversations around this new digital landscape will only get faster and deeper, with cheerleaders and skeptics having a fair share. On the one hand, I read daily articles by fellow marketing executives who, in metavars – mostly young people – make people salivate at the thought of advertising. On the other hand, figures like Elon Musk, Charlemagne Tha God and Scott Galloway are suspicious or completely hostile to the hype behind things like Web3, DeFi, NFTs and, yes, metavers.

No matter which side you fall on, I think we can all agree that there needs to be a serious discussion about marketing in Metawors. The thing that bothers me is the discreet, sharp articles on the humanitarian line and the question of how far we are prepared to invade any kind of space. As a digital marketer with decades of experience running an award-winning agency, I have seen how marketing has been radically transformed by technology – for good and for bad.

Since 2001, I have built my business on Lead Intelligence. In that process, I’ve used technology that allows me to place tracking codes on people’s devices so they can monitor their connection level and literally score them on certain behaviors. When they are not behaving in a way that benefits my customers, it is my job to use motivational content to make them more potential buyers.

So I can understand the powerful sword I am wielding to impress and shape the mind. In the most ideal sense, I did it with the intention of getting the right message to the right people at the right time so that educated purchasing decisions can be made. But as we have seen, the same tools and tactics that can be used for good are the same tools and strategies that have persuaded people to act and believe in things that did not exist before. If we are to happily set foot in a new world like Metawors and the power is in the wrong hands, an important question must be raised: Is this right? Can we go too far? And can the same tools that are noble explainably be used to manipulate both influential people and, more critically, young people?

The answer, to put it simply, is yes. We are just catching up with the effects of the huge social media platform to drive discourse and impact the mental health of the next generation. Repeated intrusions into user privacy, massive misinformation and precisely accurate political advertisements have left regulators wondering to what extent social media, like telecoms, may need to be monitored. The question for the rest of us is: Should Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft and other Silicon Valley executives have a choice? Really Be our shepherd in this brave new world?

A complete storm: automation, UBI and AI

While we linger on that question, let’s take it a step further to see why metavars can become a part of everyday life. Unless you live under a cliff, you will have seen how automation has changed with great resignation and remote work, how businesses will use human capital in the future. According to Tristan Harris, director of Netflix Hit Social dilemmaIt is almost inevitable that 30% of Americans could be “radically unemployed” in the next decade.

You’re starting to see this wherever you look. Occupying kiosks, self-checkout and self-ordering retail and restaurants on the iPad. The advent of self-driving cars has left commercial truckers and Uber drivers without work. There are also rumors that AI and robotics will one day replace radiologists and other medical personnel.

Only the most specialized, creative and innovative jobs will maintain a certain level of human touch and those employees can afford during this marine transformation. But the bulk of the blue-collar and service-sector businesses, which together make up about 85% of American jobs, will suffer. As a ballooning number of permanently unemployed Americans, there will be a need for a consistently broad social security net, including the once-ridiculous possibility of universal basic income (which Andrew Yang popularized during his 2020 campaign) with expanded welfare, Medicare and related. Applications

So how does this whole storm of automation, AI and UBI play out the idea of ​​Metawars? Let’s remember where the word originates metaverse Made: A 1992 science fiction novel Snow crash Where people were sheltered from the dystopian reality that they were living in the form of a digital avatar that they could use to explore the online world.

Studies show that Americans derive much of their meaning or purpose from work. The term “workism” is used to describe the phenomenon among Americans that work is not just a means to an end, but a pillar of the identity from which we derive most of our meaning. So what does a world look like where it is increasingly absent? And besides, where do we find meaning? Metavers can be an exciting place when it’s ultimately seamless: the moment where you can’t tell what’s real and what’s virtual. An alternate universe that is obscure from your life.

The augmented reality is a prelude to this as I will discuss below, and it stands out as a kind of boiling frog for our current situation where it is already too late to fail to act on the problematic situation.

When all of this unfolds and tech giants painfully make people addicted to metavars, marketers will do what they do best: use our data, time, attention and privacy for profit.

Just because we can, right? Lessons from Jurassic Park

“You were so preoccupied with what you could do that you didn’t stop to think about what you should do.” – Dr. Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park

So here it is, the crucial question about metavers that no one asks: Just because we can, right? On a personal level, I wish Metavers would not exist; In terms of mental health and the ever-expanding divide in human contact, bad is more than good. But I’m not so naive as to think it’s inevitable. Probably not in its present form, but certainly in the future, Metawors will be here to stay. What I do know is that whether this thing succeeds or fails will be due to people like me – marketers and advertisers are eager for exposure for our clients.

Let’s be clear: all social media platforms monetize their users by selling data to advertisers. If Metavers was just a place where you could go ad-free, it wouldn’t be able to sustain itself – there’s no revenue. So, people like me who are against it are a big group of people who will keep it alive if everyday people choose to use it. Even if we market for noble purposes, it will only keep the metavars alive for a long time so that bad artists can come and exploit the system.

Knowing my role in this, I don’t think I’m in a position where individuals don’t use metavers. What I’m saying, though, is that Work with caution, Know that you are more sensitive than before. And if you are a marketer, know that the next shift of humanity through this platform can be radically changed if we do not use it responsibly. Google’s motto was at one time Don’t be evil, With social media, we all happily dove without thinking about the outcome. This is our chance to prevent history from repeating itself.

It is already too late to reverse the damage on the current social media platform. Let’s not make the same mistake twice. The power of history is when people learn from their mistakes, especially since we do not yet understand its power. Combined with AI and machine learning, Metawors can quickly get out of our control by adapting our next step in a way that is extremely scary. The pause between our response and action is the only thing that currently separates us from going to the path of destruction as quickly as possible. But the adjustment will ultimately be seamless, without an ethical code to check or monitor and ask: is this Right Thing?

The pace of adoption

I hope the hardware problem in VR is slowing this down as much as it is enough for us to get our work together. As evidenced by the sales numbers of Oculus VR headsets compared to more traditional, handheld competitors like the Nintendo Switch, mass adoption has not yet taken place.

We see the failure of the introduction of 3D TV glasses for home use and in theaters. It was very cumbersome and hurt our eyes. Even in its current form there is VR discomfort and some may have abdominal pain. As long as hardware is a barrier to true mass adoption, things like VR and 3D TV will be fun to see as an innovation and a little more.

But while everyone is really looking forward to the immersion and full sensory VR experience, I believe the gateway to getting into Metawors would be augmented reality or AR. People will buy into this as they did with the wild-popular Pokemon Go or at recent museum exhibits, and the AR will pave the way until VR is seamless. AR breaks barriers to allow us to live in a hybrid world. Once adopted – and if the world around us is no longer fascinating – it will accelerate our desire to go deeper and more virtual. AR currently feels safer because living in a world where 90% real and 10% fake is still possible. But as we have warned in the similitude of the boiling frog above, there will be a 10% increase in real estate or a natural progression like Elon Musk’s Neuralink unless there is a jump on VR. At the time the hardware and experience would be so real, it would be obscure from the real world.

Silver Lining: Possibility of Metawors as a Force for Good

“We ended up with mass exploitation instead of collective power” –- Crystal Ball

If this has proven anything in the past year, there is an appetite for a more decentralized, user-driven platform. If metavers can remain decentralized, it can be a true force for good that flips the person’s current social media paradigm as a product for data collection and targeting, instead of simply putting the data in the user’s hands and monetizing it as they wish. . If we allow big tech to be on-ramp, they will be big winners at our expense.

My suggestion is that we take this as seriously as the Manhattan Project. If history is an indicator of how slow the government is – remember how long it took to get a seatbelt in a car? – We don’t have time to spend years looking for viability, this will come upon us in 3-5 years. To quote the Winklevos twins from the movie Social network About how fast Facebook took off: “If I were a drug dealer, I wouldn’t be able to give free drugs to 650 people a day.” The medicine of the next decade, if we choose to take it, is a serious problem for humanity and a serious problem for marketing ethics.

Metavers are here whether we like it or not, but we should use it responsibly. Congress is just trying to figure out how to control social media; They are far behind in this new landscape.

In the absence of regulation, we as marketers have to stand in the gap and say: knowing that Metavers will probably be the Wild West, it is our choice whether we want this new frontier to just repeat history, or a brave new future. I hope we choose the latter.

Chris Carr is the president and founder of Ferrotech

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