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Wars of the Three Spheres: The West, the East and the Metaverse – The Globalist

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Are we really capable of negotiating our collective future?

While it is not the customary view, the world may be seen as three spheres that vie with each other. One turns around the United States (this includes Europe and others). Another turns around China. And a third turns around all things digital.
Control and dominion of that latter sphere are subject to a major tussle. This applies both from within – e.g., large corporations versus political power, even in China – and from without, in the major rivalry between the great superpowers or civilizations.
In other words, there are two physical spheres or worlds, made up of atoms and geography (including outer space) plus a virtual one — although, to paraphrase Hegel, the virtual does not cancel out the real.
It is a viewpoint that is gaining support and advocated by, for example, the Center for the Study of Digital Life (CSDL), led by the tech guru Mark Stahlman.
According to Stahlman, we are not “citizens of the world” so much as inhabitants of spheres that are in potential conflict, all three with global scope.
This is something utterly new in the history of humanity, because the various civilizations will not only have to confront each other but also a sphere, the digital sphere, that has penetrated the others.
These spheres are not immune to reciprocal influence. They are and will remain interdependent, certainly in economic and financial terms. Witness the crises that have beset the Chinese real-estate giant Evergrande and natural gas supplies with worldwide fallout.
The competition between the two physical spheres pursues a logic that in part is mistakenly military. That became very evident with the AUKUS partnership aimed at furnishing Australia with nuclear-powered submarines and extending to cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and quantum communication. That bolsters cooperation between the three English-speaking allies (perhaps an English-speaking sub-sphere?).
Openly military cooperation need not predominate, however, as has become clear with the recent meeting of the Quad countries involving the United States, Japan, Australia and India, another manifestation of a sub-sphere.
The third sphere, the digital one (which may extend to other fields, for example biology with genetic engineering switching from large corporations to private garages) is probably best understood not so much as liquid as gaseous.
At its core we are witnessing the birth of a so-called Metaverse, in which almost all of us are going to be involved and may come to concern almost all things human. Metaverse (“meta-universe”) is an expression that has found currency in Silicon Valley.
It has been around for some time, having been coined in 1992 (before the explosion of the Internet and the mobiles connected to it) by Neal Stephenson in his sci-fi novel Snow Crash.
It refers to a confluence or convergence between physical reality, virtual reality and augmented reality, all sprinkled with artificial intelligence.
Virtual reality is the one that is created in the digital world only, like the Fortnite video game, with its global scope. Augmented reality consists of adding digital elements to physical reality, though viewed on a screen. Examples include the global game of Pokémon and the use of headsets.
In 2020, Matthew Ball, a venture capitalist, pinpointed certain characteristics of the Metaverse. It has to embrace the physical and virtual worlds, to contain a fully functioning economy and to offer “unprecedented interoperability.”
Users must be able to take their avatars and assets from one part of the Metaverse to another, without it mattering who controls which particular part.
Indeed, many large corporations — and not just big U.S. tech companies but also the Japanese firm Sony — for example, are investing heavily in building this Metaverse. They must be on to something.
A big tech heavyweight such as Mark Zuckerberg, the even more controversial Facebook founder who wanted to turn the world into a vast community under his social network, now sees the Metaverse as a universal alternative reality. To Zuckerberg, it is a “Holy Grail of social interactions,” which he believes will become a reality by 2025.
Possible futures for the Internet 2.0 are thus outlined, a convergence of physical, augmented and virtual reality in a shared online space. According to Zuckerberg, no single company will control the Metaverse.
Rather, it will be run by many in a decentralized way. Will those who run the other two spheres allow it?
The question is not only whether the Metaverse is controllable but whether it is governable.
Or whether we are heading towards a digital sphere that permeates everything, but where no political power is capable of dominating and where companies and multiple actors resist attempts to clip their wings.
China is trying to do just this with a series of measures aimed at using political power to control the incipient Metaverse, from which it will not be immune.
But not even the Chinese regime, with all its levers, can be sure it will not be overwhelmed by an anarchic Metaverse that is ungovernable by public powers, or, in a broader sense, by a lawless digital sphere.
Both geographical and cultural physical spheres, the East and the West, are heading towards a conflict that is not necessarily military.
It presents a new type of war quite distinct from classical war and the so-called Cold War between the West and the Soviet Union.
At any event, without a profound knowledge of the impact of the third sphere on the other two, that of digital technology on those of civilizations – Eastern and Western – and without reciprocal knowledge between these civilizations (which are joined by smaller spheres of lesser autonomy such as the EU, India and Russia, to name just three) we will be incapable of navigating the future, warns Stahlman.
In this respect the East knows the West much better than the other way round. And the Metaverse will know us all.
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Andrés Ortega is senior research fellow at the Elcano Royal Institute, a major Spanish foreign affairs think tank.
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Lamina1 Presents Inaugural “Open Metaverse Conference” Connecting the Worlds of Blockchain and the Metaverse for a Next-Gen Internet – Business Wire

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Featuring a keynote from co-founder and futurist Neal Stephenson, the first-of-its-kind event aims to empower creators and coders to build the Open Metaverse together
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Lamina1, a Layer 1 blockchain optimized for the Open Metaverse, today announced its role as founding sponsor of the Open Metaverse Conference, a first-of-its-kind industry event bringing together the worlds of the Metaverse and Web3 to build a more open and immersive Internet. The two-day conference will take place from February 8-9, 2023 in Los Angeles, California, and will gather experts and builders spanning Metaverse experiences, Web3, and entertainment.

Co-founded by Neal Stephenson, renowned futurist and science fiction author who originally coined the term “Metaverse,” and cryptocurrency pioneer Peter Vessenes, founder of the first VC-backed Bitcoin company, Lamina1 will provide the infrastructure to empower rapid expansion of the Open Metaverse. As the founding sponsor of the Open Metaverse Conference, Lamina1 will provide a forum for critical conversations around identity, privacy and interoperability, while exploring how audience engagement, creative storytelling, and the technicalities of blockchain can work hand-in-hand to make the vision of the Open Metaverse a reality.
The Open Metaverse Conference will feature keynotes from renowned technologists and storytellers who are pioneering visions for the next era of the Internet. Attendees will hear from Lamina1 co-founders Neal Stephenson and Peter Vessenes, as well as Philip Rosedale, founder of virtual world Second Life (Linden Lab) and co-founder of virtual platform High Fidelity, John Gaeta, Oscar-winning VFX pioneer (The Matrix) and CCO of character persona company Inworld AI, Cathy Hackl, Metaverse and Web3 strategist and founder of design consultancy Journey, and other industry crossover leaders to be announced. Keynote sessions will be complemented by diverse speakers and side events spanning games, art, entertainment, and commerce. To connect these key areas of culture with the technology that enables them, the Open Metaverse Conference will also facilitate technological deep dives for attendees from leaders in Web3, immersive computing, and technology standards groups. Presenting partners include the Metaverse Standards Forum, the Open Metaverse Interoperability Group, and the Open Metaverse Alliance for Web3 (OMA3), all organizations fostering interoperability.
“We are at a moment in time when developers, creatives, and producers can finally design the seamless and persistent experiences we’ve dreamed about,” said Jamil Moledina, Vice President of Games Partnerships and Media at Lamina1. “The Open Metaverse Conference will serve as the big tent for everyone who’s thinking about creating never-before-possible experiences that allow creators and consumers to enter unique virtual worlds on a level playing field.”
“OMA3 is pleased to collaborate with Lamina1 and the Open Metaverse Conference in promoting interoperability,” said Robby Yung, CEO of Animoca Brands. “OMA3 looks forward to developing talk tracks to encourage the creation of a more open and immersive internet.”
The conference will encourage interdisciplinary dialogue through debates, pitch sessions, roundtable discussions, and networking opportunities to help drive new ideas and connections.
“We felt a real sense of urgency to facilitate discussion with our colleagues and creators across the spectrum,” said Rebecca Barkin, President of Lamina1. “We know that the Open Metaverse will be built collaboratively and with a set of shared values, and we’re happy to provide this forum to address the needs of the community and to solve big problems together.”
For more information on the Open Metaverse Conference, visit www.openmetaverseconf.com.
About Open Metaverse Conference 
The Open Metaverse Conference (OMC) is an industry-first event presented by Lamina1 focused on bringing together the Metaverse and blockchain technology. The conference gathers key stakeholders spanning developers, creatives, producers, product owners, and executives to ask and address big questions around the development of a truly Open Metaverse that leverages open-source, collaborative principles and blockchain decentralization.
About Lamina1 
Lamina1 is a Layer1 blockchain optimized for the Open Metaverse. The brainchild of legendary futurist Neal Stephenson (who first conceptualized the term “Metaverse” in his 1992 best-selling novel Snow Crash) and Peter Vessenes, a foundational leader in the crypto space from the early days of Bitcoin – Lamina1 is on a mission to deliver the blockchain technology, interoperating tools, and decentralized services that will establish it as the preferred destination for creators building a more immersive Internet. It is the first provably carbon-negative blockchain in the world.
K.C. Maas
Wachsman
kc.maas@wachsman.com
K.C. Maas
Wachsman
kc.maas@wachsman.com

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