by Daniel Sisson

“It’s so great to see everyone here. I appreciate you coming,” says David.

I turn to him and smile. David is a long-time friend of mine; I’m happy to be at his wedding.  

“It was awesome, man,” I say., “Tthe ceremony was beautiful, and it was great to meet Sheri’s family. How’d you guys manage to nab this venue? I thought booking Slicks was impossible.”

“It is,” he says. “Wanna know a secret?”  

I nod.

“We’re in a bootleg instance of Slicks.”

My eyes widen with surprise. “Oh, oh, you sly dog! How?”

“A few months back my team worked on the AI models of the bartenders, and I was given access to the source code. Do you know my buddy, Max? He has a script that can make copies without a trace. I copied the whole thing over to a private server. The last few months, I worked on getting everything to run correctly even when disconnected from Slick's servers—mostly just added in some of my own AIs to replace anything that wasn’t in the direct source code.”

“That must have been a ton of work,” I murmur.

“Nahh, I have a bunch of AIs that helped out. I barely did any of it myself. Maybe a few hours here and there.”

Just then, Max walks up.

“Hey man, there’s an afterparty happening in the Seoul cybercopy,” he says. “Wanna go?”

I glance at my watch:, 10:37 am local time for me on Saturday. I’ve been up for a long time.

“Sure man, I’m game,” I say.

I pull up access to my body and order two caffeine shots. In the physical world, a bio patch administers 200mg of caffeine into my bloodstream. While I’m connected to my actual space at home, I raise the lights in my room by 20%, as the light on my skin will help keep me awake even if it’s night in the Seoul cybercopy.

Max pulls out a destination chip, spawns a copy, and hands it to me. “See you there in a few, bud,”

Eight hours later, I disconnect from cyberspace.

My room begins to slowly materialize in front of my eyes as the lights in my contacts dim.

It’s close to 7 pm on Saturday. Ughhhhh…I feel like trash. At least I have Sunday off before work starts up again on Monday.

I suddenly realize I’m starving.  

I eat a small sandwich, drink three glasses of water and barely remember to re-enable the house daemons before I pass out.

Sunday at 9 am,  the daemons running my house daemons open the blinds and windows and turn on the coffee pot while my alarm slowly begins to rise in volume.

My head hurts. Though I never had a single drink of actual alcohol or any drugs besides a few hundred milligrams of caffeine, I feel like I’ve been at an actual rave.

Prolonged time in cyberspace can have that effect, especially with the latest implants.

I reach back and rub my head. It’s always sore around the ports after a cyberspace bender like David’s wedding and the Seoul afterparty. Max has been experimenting with making virtual drugs, and though it’s made with 1s and 0s and not chemicals, it still messes with our brains to produce effects. Seems like, whether the drugs are real or not, the hangover is unavoidable if you do enough.

I config my AR contacts to emergency notifications only and leave my small apartment in the Canary Islands to go for a hike in the physical world. I’m staying disconnected today.  

As new VR headsets drop on the market, rumors of Apple AR glasses swirl, and the Metaverse as a buzzword enters the mainstream consciousness, the big question many are asking is: WHY? Why would people spend a bunch of time in the Metaverse?

The answer is: they won’t. Not with the headsets and software that exist today.

In 2022 we saw articles with headlines like: “I Spent 24 Hours in the Metaverse. I Made Friends, Did Work and Panicked About the Future.

Many of these articles were heavily critical of “the Metaverse”, but no one is actually strapping a Quest 2 to their head for eight hours. No one serious about spatial computing or building immersive reality experiences thinks that Meta’s Horizon is the Metaverse.

The Metaverse that most people envision comes from 80’s and 90’s sci-fi novels or Ready Player One.

That’s the thing that we want to build – but why?

In the novels, characters are often escaping a dystopian reality.

So, is that it? We’ll just want to escape a terrible future?

No. I believe we’ll eventually build a shared cyberspace, a 3D simulation world where our digital selves interact just because we can.

There are very real business use cases with high ROI, like virtual reality training and increasing collaboration through VR/AR meetings. Remote work is here to stay, and business travel can be pretty costly and time-consuming. Jumping into a virtual space to get face time or draw out some ideas on a whiteboard could be a huge productivity boost.

Just the business uses alone are probably enough to see VR and AR become a lot more common in the coming years, but it’s not the ultimate driver.

The ultimate driver is our imaginations, our dreams, our desires to experience our fantasies in ways that movies, books, or video games just can’t deliver.

It’s this drive, our imagination, and our insatiable thirst for novel stimuli that will bring about the cyberspace of sci-fi novels.

Will we actually plug into it all day?

Sure we will. We already spend all day connected to the internet through a series of 2D screens: phones, car consoles, laptops, and TVs. Everything is digital; everything is controlled by the internet. We already spend our lives jacked into the Matrix. We're just unaware of it.

That’s the problem: we’re consumed by the internet all day. We doomscroll Twitter and keep swiping TikTok over and over—automatons at the behest of big tech algorithms. With VR and AR, we could take control of the technology to build worlds around us that make us more productive at work and foster meaningful connections with others.

We’ll deliberately immerse ourselves in the technology. Cyberspace will become the bridge that connects humanity to the growing power of computers and artificial intelligence. Within the simulations we create, humans melding with AIs will build new products, design new business models, and potentially create new economic or political systems that couldn’t exist in a purely analog world.  

The internet is so far our greatest technical achievement. The Metaverse is just the next iteration.

After a full day disconnected, including a dip in the sea, my head is clear and my mind is sharp. I’m ready to dive back into cyberspace.

I slip into my suit and step into my VR room. My contacts sync with my machines, and I feel the implant in my head warm up as it connects. You don’t have to have the implant, but with it VR is indistinguishable from reality.

My eyes fill with light, and I connect to cyberspace. I punch in the coordinates and connect to my company’s servers.

I’m in a space station hovering over Saturn. It’s not the real Saturn; it’s a simulation. Everything is a simulation, but does it matter? It’s gorgeous.

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