An eye-opening, myth-busting exploration of the metaverse, its ancient origins, and how the exchange of value and ideas within virtual words will expand the possibilities of human life—from the visionary co-founder of one of today’s most innovative technology companies
The Metaverse and the New Frontiers of Human Experience
by Herman Narula
Currency/Crown, October 2022
The concept of “the metaverse” has recently exploded in the public consciousness. But its contours remain elusive. Is it merely an immersive virtual reality playground, one which Facebook and other platforms will angle to control? Is it simply the next generation of massive multiplayer online games? Or is it something more revolutionary?
As Herman Narula shows, the metaverse is actually the latest manifestation of an ancient human tendency: the act of world building. From the Egyptians, whose conception of death inspired them to build the pyramids, to modern-day sports fans, whose passion for a game inspires extreme behavior, humans have long sought to supplement their day-to-day lives with a rich diversity of alternative experiences.
Rooting his vision in history and psychology, Narula argues that humans’ intrinsic need for autonomy, accomplishment, and connection can now best be met in virtual “worlds of ideas,” in which users will have the chance to create and exchange meaning and value. The metaverse is both the growing set of fulfilling digital experiences—ranging from advanced gaming, to entertainment experiences like concerts, and even virtual employment—as well as the empowering framework that allows these spaces to become “networks of useful meaning.”
Bloomberg Intelligence recently predicted the metaverse will become an $800 billon industry by 2024. But its potential, argues Narula, is far more awe-inspiring than as a spigot of cash. The arrival of the metaverse marks the beginning of a new age of exploration—not outward, but inward—with the potential to reshape society and open the door to a new understanding of the human species and its capabilities.
Rigorously researched and passionately argued, VIRTUAL SOCIETY will be a provocative and essential guide for anyone who wants to go beyond superficial headlines to understand the true shape and potential of our virtual future.
Herman Narula is the co-founder and CEO of Improbable, a London-based technology company. He holds a computer science degree from Cambridge. He’s interested in the unprecedented impact that powerful, virtual worlds have on how we think, play, and make decisions.