What are the differences between Metaverse and The Matrix?

The differences between Metaverse and The Matrix seem to be blurry. However, there are unique differences between Metaverse and The Matrix.

The Matrix was designed for captive users, who have no way to log out (except for bugs and back doors). And it was designed to make it impossible for those captive users to realize they’re experiencing a simulation. So, it simulates just plain old boring reality. What can you do in the Matrix? You can wake up, eat breakfast, and go to work for 8 hours at your 1999 office job. Or you can stay home and get fired and go on welfare.

The Metaverse will be designed to entice people to choose to log in, and to stay there for as long as possible, even though they could go out and play in the sun.

If it’s at all successful, it will include subworlds that are far more exciting than real life—games, of course, and zero-G dance clubs, and trippy immersive visuals; whatever you think you’d want to do that’s impossible in real life, someone will figure out that there’s money to be made letting you do that in the Metaverse, or build it just because they want the same thing.

Even in the outer world around all of these spaces, everyone will look like what they want to look like instead of what they were born with, you’ll trivially be able to do things like teleportation and instant long-range communication that would be magic in the real world, and so on. It has to be “better than life”, or nobody will bother signing in. Just like nobody would play Grand Theft Auto if it just exactly simulated the real consequences of carjacking a Mustang and driving it at 90mph into a police car.

On a more technical level, this also means the Metaverse can “cheat” with its simulation a lot more. The Matrix has to simulate everything exactly, so that astronomers or quantum physicists don’t figure out they’re in a simulation.

The Metaverse doesn’t need to do that, it can use the same kinds of shortcuts that games use. Mostly because it can rely on willing suspension of disbelief, but also because nobody will be spending their time there simulating working as a quantum physicist in the first place. (There will of course be hackers who do find it fun to look for the seams of the virtual universe, but that’s not at all the same thing; fooling them won’t be an issue—although preventing the less scrupulous from exploiting what they find will be.)

All of this follows from the fact that the Metaverse, and all of its content, will be built by companies trying to keep you excited about spending time there so they can make money off your presence, and open source hackers scratching their itch for what they want that nobody’s providing, and researchers with cool new ideas they want to test out, and so on.

Sure, there are some smaller differences, like the fact that your VR gear won’t be using you as a battery because that would just be stupid, but most of the big differences follow from this one fundamental difference. If it doesn’t make as much as it can out of that difference, it will fail.

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