Today, digital technologies drastically infiltrate various areas of our lives, bridging the physical, digital and biological worlds and creating vague visions of the digital future. Modern humanity can no longer imagine its life without the computer, the phone, and the Internet, and inventions such as autonomous vehicles (AV), intelligent robots, VR/AR technologies or gene engineering symbolize the rapid course of Industry 4.0.
Where is digital life headed? Does the future belong to NFT sellers in the metaverse?
It highly depends on the angle we’re looking from. According to Statista, global digital transformation will hit $1.8 trillion by 2022 and pass $2.8 trillion by 2025. No wonder, digital technologies are disrupting the world and particularly, our lives, daily solving millions of problems, at the same time, increasing our productivity and reducing the cost of time, energy, and resources in all key areas.
However, in addition to the enormous benefits that new technologies bring, digitalization also has a dark side. Some think that they are developing so rapidly that we do not have time to respond or even realize their essence and the threat they contain. Technology is becoming a tool for total control, interference with privacy, spreading false information, and committing offenses.
At the same time, techno-geeks are sure that digitalization will improve our lives, “leading us to the stars”. However, their opponents believe shortly, humanity may face the problem of dehumanization, stratification, and social inequality, as millions of jobs will disappear due to digitalization. In fact, humanity itself is on the way to losing its physical and possibly mental qualifications with the rapid distribution of technologies. The process can’t be stopped. At least, it can be positively regulated to make this transformation in modern social relations and global digital space smooth.
What is digitalization?
Digitalization is the widespread introduction of digital technologies in various areas of life: industry, economy, education, culture, service, etc.
The digital future – the same as digitalization is not the evolution of devices (although they continue to evolve): digitalization is the integration of smart data into all aspects of our lives. Digitalization is fundamentally changing traditional and established paradigms, from appliance usage patterns and infrastructure management to genetic engineering and DNA profiling. Absolutely everything is becoming the object of digitalization, from work processes to the flow of personal information. The world, driven by information flows, constantly is in touch: the digital ecosystem affects absolutely all spheres of human life – even during sleep.
What should we do with Digitalization?
The future should not be feared, it should be created. New technologies open up unique, unlimited opportunities for humanity, including almost all areas of our lives – business, education, government, health, etc.
According to PWC, 60% of executives believe that digital transformation will play a critical role in breakthroughs in the future.
Many enterprises are already actively investing in digital transformation – cloud technologies, artificial intelligence, 5G, and IoT.
Still, the question arises: why do we need digitalization at all and what are its origins? The answer, like almost everything today, has an economic background – digitalization is needed to increase labor productivity. Starting from the production of something, ending with control, since this is also an increase in the efficiency of the enterprise’s work management and security. Thus, we are dealing with a new wave of the scientific and technological revolution, which, is already happening and we are no longer even in transition, but in the process of settling into a new “wave” of the development of society – post-industrial, if we take the well-known classification of Alvin Toffler, but in essence postmodern.
Digital future and humanity. Where we are going?
For the next 10 years, several trends are relevant for the development of business and society as a whole. Although this number is rather arbitrary. Until recently, experts calculated the pace of digitalization, focusing on 2033, but after 2020, these processes have significantly accelerated. Today, forecasts have already shifted by at least 5 years.
Kaspersky Lab, the World Economic Forum, and many other leading expert teams have conducted studies that have shown that the world is undergoing a powerful digitalization of many processes. This leads to the fact that in 7–10 years, 47% of the professions that exist today will disappear or be robotized. Moreover, in the coming years, 43% of companies intend to reduce the number of jobs due to the introduction of new technologies. The places of real people will be taken by high-tech digital employees.
Moreover, we can see confirmation of such studies today. The biggest adoption of digital employees is in the call center industry. If a few years ago advertising calls and telephone surveys were conducted by real people, now in most cases this is done by an “autoresponder” – a software robot that can recognize a person’s speech, record answers, and even keep the conversation going, based on certain algorithms. AI-based technologies are another actively developing area today. Even now, writing this article, I’m concerned about the future for such creative specialists, as designers or writers, and even programmers. AI journalism and copywriting tools are actively developing, and there is a possibility of being thrown away from the profession by some AI-generated robot. Anyway, a true creative soul will never be put aside, right? This feature puts us – humans aside in any case.
Digitalization trends you should know in 2022
Automation and robotization are digital transformation frontiers. What about other trends you should pay attention to?
Back in 2012, during one of the largest startups event in San Francisco Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg introduced the idea of creating Facebook’s mobile version. It was a look into the future. A few years later, mobile gadgets have become as comfortable as possible for Internet communication. In 2017, people began to actively access social networks through mobile phones, and today, few people use a computer for online communication.
Recently, in 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced Meta – an idea of a huge digital place, where people can live, work, and entertain with their digital avatars. It was actually about the imitation of the real world in the digital space. The developers noted that they plan to create opportunities for complete user immersion and unlimited creativity using virtual and augmented reality technologies. Moreover, while Facebook is in the process of creating the Metaverse, Twitter already rolled out to NFTs, allowing people to use NFT avatars as their verified profile pictures. In fact, many believe that NFTs will be used to create a meta identity no one can fake.
In addition, Microsoft also shared its plans on creating a global digital space. The company emphasized that such a metaverse would be for business and managing remote teams. People will be able to create virtual avatars – holograms that will work in virtual holographic offices, communicate, implement joint projects, and solve work tasks.
Watching how much time people spend on social networks today, it’s obvious that with the development of the metaverses, the world will literally “migrate” into digital reality.
According to Grayscale’s report, the potential market for the metaverse could be around $1 trillion.
These are not fantasies and dreams, but it’s already happening. For example, today there are already “virtual” attractions that allow a person to feel completely immersed in the game with VR glasses and sensory suits. Moreover, neuro interface technologies have already shown their effectiveness. A pioneer in this area was Elon Musk, who created the world’s first startup aimed at exploring the possibility of introducing a chip into the human brain for direct transmission of data, and signals to a computer. This was done to help people with disabilities, but in the future, such technologies will be more accessible and in demand in various fields.
Thanks to digitalization, metaverses will become a space for human lifeworlds with their locations, currencies (cryptocurrencies), and opportunities. These will be the most comfortable platforms not only for work, and cooperation but also for learning. Leading experts and well-known professionals from various fields will be able to share their experience in real-time, with full immersion, and presence with a mass audience.
3 most probable ways for Metaverse development
There is still no consensus on what the metaverses will look like in the long term: they can become the same breakthrough as telecommunications and the Internet once was, or they can turn out to be a hype that will be forgotten in a few years. Let’s consider the three most probable ways of development.
Metaverse according to the ideologists of the space
If the plans of Meta, Epic Games, Microsoft, and other major corporations are successfully implemented, then in a couple of decades we will live in a hybrid space that combines the digital and real worlds. There will be many metaverses: people will be able to move things from one world to another. With the hologram or an avatar, it will be possible to attend meetings and other events anywhere in the world without leaving home. Quality education will become more accessible.
Attending classes in person will not be a problem anymore, especially in the case of many important specializations, for example, medical students.
Metaverse under state control
Metaverses are possible multi-billion dollar markets with an unlimited number of users. It is logical that if successful, the governments will influence the metaverses at the legislative level. At the same time, the scope of restrictions will directly depend on the attitude of the government to new technologies. Some countries already see opportunities for the development of metaverses, while others are rather careful of the idea. In May 2021, the Metaverse Alliance was created in South Korea with the active participation of the Government. It now includes more than 500 companies, including such giants as Samsung and Hyundai Motors, and the government plans to allocate about $26 million in 2022 as a support measure.
Local metaverses at the level of individual corporations
The possibility that Zuckerberg and other ideologists are wrong about the potential of the metaverse also remains. In this case, in a few years, the hype will subside, and the metaverses will remain at the level of individual corporations and virtual online gaming platforms. The development of this path is supported by the fact that the idea of augmented reality has existed for a long time, but the real demand from consumers remains minimal due to the lack of comfortable helmets and VR / AR glasses, as well as technical limitations related to Internet speed and communication stability that prevent the creation of large-scale virtual realities. The metaverse requires a new programming model – an open platform where the avatar moves from one world to another, and all the code interacts.
No one knows where will the digital transformation lead us in 10-15 years. Each corporation has its vision and plan of action. At the same time, everyone perfectly knows that the digital is created for people, and without them its existence is useless. That is why, the outcome, no matter how it turns out, should improve the quality of people’s lives, making them more comfortable and safer.