My name is Ale Fernandez. I live in Barcelona, Spain and I'm Chilean and Italian.
I am a web developer, artist and technical researcher.
I've lived in Scotland, Italy, Spain and England and career-wise I am interested in distributed systems and their applications to improvised performance and ecology.
The socially constructed pheroverse
So in it you can put all the actors, scenes and situations - as some describe in the experience of lucid dreaming, and put ourselves in them and experience them, or test out scenarios for what you will be doing in your work, or create imaginary environments and buy or create your own 3d spaces where these things take place, maybe sometimes inviting others to join in. Mostly though, it's just an extended interface with respect to today's touchscreens, mice and keyboards, for everyday use. Simulating is then freed from the domain of the dream so that we can imagine situations and train towards them. This was the intent of the Israeli army when they created the first army simulation that led to the first first person shooter.
But then let's go a step furthur: imagine you can also connect your simulation somehow to a main "matrix" of everyone else's interconnected simulators, each one similar to your own. This is what many posit as a future, with respect to the internet as one of many potential networks.
That's the end of the analogy with the film The Matrix: no robot dominion to hack into, depending on how you look at it. Just people, groups and communities connecting their 3d worlds between them, in the same way researchers once linked their HTML based documents via anchor tags to form the world wide web. So this time we join simulations into grids and grids into hypergrids to form a meta world that is the synergy of all of them.
This is what many metaverse proponents argue is the future - where different 3d virtual realities might be interconnected the same way the world wide web was once envisioned - a simple standard allowing you to connect disparate platforms in ways people can readily access. Online financial platforms take this new paradigm into account very seriously - as with Gloebit - which provides user avatars (identities), inventory (tradeable objects and creations), and a full currency, as well as providing backup storage and alongside accounting and tracking systems allowing a user to make money from different currencies coexisting across a grid of different simulations and game engines. I can see this concept migrate from gaming into buying and selling with apps like Wallapop where you are buyer and seller at once, or the ability to work under a pseudonym or company name in commercial social networking services. Now we also can carry, courtesy of crypto currencies, a central bank, minting press and even personal possessions (or the information and designs to re-create them) in pocket/worn devices and can use them in all these interfaces.
It's interesting to see this future in some new way, so that we can devise new words for the social and cultural context we are in today, and with that in mind, create a new way of seeing this, and its potential or use as tool or vehicle or simply means of communication. The novel Snowcrash showed a digital divide between the low resolution users of public terminals and private users. But it still had a client server interface, not a mesh of different dimensions and worlds, which is why I propose a new distinction: a p2p metaverse is where everyone emits 3d data as they perceive it: everyone can create, process, and convert, not only consume the data as we did in the age of the TV and one way mass media or as we still do now with short form video and film. So with the "Carrier" or "Bearer" meaning of the word phero I think we should be credited for being both broadcasters and receivers and thus able to perceive or share our view of the world in a unique mix of these inputs and outputs.
For most people 20 years ago, personal diaries, photos, and pretty much any self made creation would stay amongst your closest circles. We were unable to share them, whereas today this presence can be accomplished with social media accounts and mobile devices. The ability to share has led us to confront the idea that it wasn't just about the sharing but also about the way we live, the way we share and with what intermediaries. Airbnb is giving way to Gnubnb. With currencies failing across the world, and desperate situations arising through misuse of the money system, and unjust arrangements that stem from these now useless ideals about the world, I believe we need a new definition of VR and 3d experiences that can more accurately reflect today's interfaces and potential and experimental uses of them, which might soon become mainstream. This is why I propose the term Pheroverse for p2p metaverses, as a way to question what a physical life connected to a 3d virtual reality experience can mean in a way that makes sense to today's most networked people. Instead of all the brilliant data and information inside a phone accessible via thumbs, all this will be freed with new displays, projection, graphical, and multimedia or haptic interfaces, freed from the devices and inhabiting a mixed world of physical and virtual.
In 2016, with the rise of various competing VR platforms, and a large increase in their use - in gaming, but also as proposals from mainstream figures for various large platforms, in many areas, and as a kind of meta-effect of this, streamers - who stream their daily online gaming can now become the actors and protagonists in the media they follow, usually written as open worlds with set triggers and scene based programming and in turn these actors who play actors, can be followed, in a live streaming multimedia setting. It is obvious that VR as a medium and not just as "something you look at through glasses" but as a paradigm, needs to mature to encompass more uses. It's a 3d understanding of interface and space that transcends boxes and screens and allows us full editing capabilities over the known universe, within this simulated metaverse. The problem then is how to link 3d formats and be able to print or turn them somehow into physical objects, that complement or develop from the simulation, and bring these things into being. We could all, simultaneously, around the world, get all the materials, work to understand the process and raise the cash, and one day all switch to modern ecological appropriate urban tech that uses renewables usually recycled by town council services. It would allow for shared presence and third space in ways we still don't conceive of, allowing us to use still the benefits of the office and business world in a post capitalist setting.
We can also create interfaces that can go beyond intuitive. A tree containing people's thoughts, like the trees found at Christmas around Barcelona. People post their wishes on post-its and stick them on top. What if a tree could contain an online life, and the leaves fell as the caches expired? Or a programmer at once viewing all feeds and errors, software and data, at once in a team and alone, how could interface in 3d lead to its proponents going beyond the headset?
If we have to lose the internet, due to all the forces that work towards making it a censored, gated community, split into regional and interest blocks, then I hope the future is the mesh. I think VR can survive that, but maybe it's something we are just consuming, a commercial mesh, where we turn into the ultimate, matrix like, couch potatoes, or maybe it can be a tool for empowerment in the real world, that can make it brighter and more connected as we might relocalise and be able to rely less on low oil prices for long distance transport.
The Pheroverse in live art practice and social networking systems
A protagonist of a story, in a 3D VR, scriptable setting can be the result of putting together creative roles in all senses, from design to functionality, character, emotions, and all aspects of a character are brought about collectively, and scenes and environments planned and created. So they bring together this entity, and then a streamer "plays" the character by playing the resulting game and streaming their experiences, and the distance between this persona and the individual is still huge so that you can aspire to be like this super persona, but it's just a character brought to life collectively.
At the moment, it's unthinkable that a game server might reside in someone's device and allow people to connect to it, but many different VR or game engine related projects are nearing that point. A huge problem is platform disparity - the fact that only 50k polygons can fit in what can be seen at any moment, fluidly, by a Google Cardboard compatible mobile VR platform. Games - if not served by one central server can only be played at close proximity, and high bandwidth, but when distant geographically or with lots of small low power servers all talking to each other, they will have to change: lag and latency in p2p or supernode based p2p-like systems mean games like multiverse enabled 3d worlds must be turn based(like with conversation, debate), or simply must hold subjective realities where different people experience things with a graceful degradation of quality when going from the expensive commercial PC based VR setups to the phone based ones. One thing I think this will mean is that long format video will have a very limited future - as instantaneous recording, generating and streaming takes over from it: Imagine if hundreds of people could get together and make a live, streaming piece of cinema - like the recording of an express telenovela - where 20 full episodes are recorded per day, and the actors have little earphones to hear the next line as it's written in the next room..
An application of that to anime or other short form video for example, would mean for example showings of anime episodes, dubbed and performed live to online and offline audiences in different ways around the world, with different protagonists and local variations, and where the recording or "film" aspect is just a byproduct, or free media for people who couldn't make it in person. The original media being just the animations(which in future will be generated live and "acted" in various ways: bluescreen, motion capture, or more advanced ways of mixing media) and a dialogue script which is then performed live.
The result would be a democratisation of roles, so that many places could pay for art across the world, all coming from live performance bringing people together as prosumers. This way every area could have a different local composition of the performers they value, local stars an an easier ability for local people to get involved and rise up in that world..
Less to do with the world of performance and media, is the social aspect of opening your world and allowing someone to enter. In today's online simulated spaces, areas of the VR world are seen as public, but a personal 3d space could be very different, showing aspects of your needs, dreams, fears, psyche, knowledge, connections etc, and in ways that could be very creative but also inherently private and intimate.
Imagine you could imprint on someone's mind the exact experience you'd had, a bit like ants do when they exchange pheromones: I expect in a few years we will be able to invite people into our worlds and share our subjective narratives and experiences. Could VR be a way towards closer connections between humans? In the 90s, I used to leave spaces saying "insert image here" hoping one day for a world where I could insert images into text. I wished there was some way I could post a time based block of text and have it be full of links and pictures and other people could read it. I thought I'd always be a geek for wanting that.. Then came blogs, and after that came throwaway social media. Today I wish that people might one day have a world that they could share with other worlds, a worldview or weltangshaung. When they do, I'll probably criticise the larger commercial groups that will undoubtedly seek to control or define expensive or unfriendly standards, and the way the multiverse was once a free, open and creative place.
In a world where bots can be friendly or evil depending on their programming, but still can be quite present in daily life, for me the new concept of what VR might mean is where a scripted interaction with the simulated world, or the real world might have repercussions such that we begin to have machine intelligence within our software that can be aware of and very good at a full range of online tasks, both for and against us. There's even an open source, steam compatible VR viewer project that is already working as an albeit high priced free alternative to the main commercial proposals. Already now, using Opensimulator and various tools such as the Radegast client, you can create a 3d world, or download a ready made creative commons licensed one, and put in an AI bot which you can program using AIML - much like with HTML. The only thing missing from it is the ability to link it's responses with an awareness of the 3d world it inhabits. I think this is a key towards a larger intelligence, that I really believe doesn't need to take long to cross through to the mainstream, and I think will be there alongside VR in a new transcendent post medium. So here is another subset of the metaverse: Cunh/ios is ancient greek for Common property. The sphere of shared intelligence. The Conosphere?
But beyond a name, this last aspect about AI is really interesting because if considered from a Buddhist perspective, a lot of the time we are working towards human happiness, without taking into account the environment. This is where people don't eat meat or even go to extreme lengths not to kill anything or anyone. But also there is a predilection for "life" as only meaning that which is organic and currently alive, whereas I used to love some of the interpretations of the silent prayers in Nichiren Buddhism where the entire universe that has potential for life should be worthy of our absolute care, as valuable as the care we have for other living beings. So we're going beyond just caring for humans as if they are above animals, and even beyond the idea that animals come before their environment.
So we shouldn't dig up our mountains and use this to make money or gain advantage over others, but this is because in light of what is seen as a utopian view of the singularity, you have the potential of that mountain to one day be sentient in some way. Everything around us might one day be intelligent. So if intelligence is a reason not to kill, dividing human from bug, the potential of AI for wisdom and positive action is as strong as its potential for untold damage. By using resources as unspoken property and slaves of the living beings of that land, you are mistreating this potential AI: what might one day be the potential creators or guardians of values you might uphold, and even made of the very materials that might otherwise be used to fuel an extractive industrial economy.
I believe we mistreat the robots of today in an extreme perversion of this mistreatment of the earth around us, because their main uses are military and (non environmentally) commercial. A robot today in most cases carries an umbilical cord back to a factory, a military / capitalist industrial paradigm and a mountain side. But this Buddhist interpretation doesn't make full sense until I consider the potential of the singularity, of intelligent beings who are software based, or who exist as projections, as voices, or made of just about any material, who exist as shared agents, as individuals or different groupings of decoupled expertise, use and awareness, From here to self build, low impact machine intelligence I can see a clear road. Maybe that's the Conosphere within the Pheroverse, the idea that we are consumed as we consume: that we also, like the earth around us become merchandise as fail to see each other's value, or more humane and wise as our compassion grows and includes more areas and aspects where life might be.
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