The convergence of the internet, gaming, digital social networking, and virtual technologies is creating a new dynamic in how we interact. Yet, the majority find it difficult to imagine how this new reality will materialize. As we explain and set the foundation for a virtually-enhanced life, we look to the visionary Terence McKenna, whose foresight has proven prophetic in seeing a future we want to live in.
Becoming Embodied on the Internet
The internet started in the United States more than 50 years ago as a government weapon in the Cold War. For decades later, only scientists and researchers used it to communicate and share data. Today, we use the internet for almost everything, and for a huge percentage of the global population, it would be impossible to imagine a world without it.
Smartphones have allowed for instant access and consumption of the World Wide Web from everywhere and ARE everywhere. The smartphone is unprecedented in how fast it’s been adopted. In the last five years, there has been a 40% increase in smartphone users globally.
The smartphone is no longer just a device that we use. It’s become the place where we live.
- Daniel Miller, Professor of Anthropology, UCL
And yet, the age of smartphones could be over sooner than we think. All the big players in tech are positioning for the shift towards a new, more immersive type of computing.
Augmented reality (AR) is the next step in that progression, and the gates for visceral digital experiences are already being designed. A successor to the mobile internet, think of it as an embodied internet that we’re inside of rather than just looking at.
The technological platform for this creative expansion of the mind is called the metaverse. And it already exists, inheriting what today’s 2D Internet is. In a few years, we will be visiting virtual places instead of web pages, merging the physical world with AR, VR, and XR (extended or mixed reality). A convenient shorthand to understand the metaverse is to watch the 2018 Spielberg movie “Ready Player One,” based on Ernest Cline’s book, a story where people spend most of their time interacting in a vibrant, pop culture-inspired VR setting.
Just as we can read, learn, listen to, and watch videos of almost anything we can think of today, we’ll be able to experience stunning lifelike simulations in XR tomorrow. And for the most part, these simulations will be indistinguishable from our physical world. However, instead of the flat web that people surf every day, the Metaverse has texture, dimension, and color galore. The way we humans can learn and interact with the world is so much more sophisticated than swiping and tapping flat, rectangular surfaces.
Sensory and perceptual systems in our bodies are stimulated by light, sound, motion, and orientation in space… Then, the brain processes these stimuli at lightning speed, chemical and neural responses triggering physical, cognitive, and emotional transitions blossoming inside of us like fireworks.
We are creatures of physics and chemistry but also of memory and hope.
From now on, these hopes and memories of ours will be forged in the metaverse. As we enter extended reality, there is no doubt our sense of self will alter again. The rapid shifts in how many of us carry smartphones are nothing compared to the potential of moving toward daily life in a virtual realm. We will create a new identity influenced by the intensity of our new, visceral digital experiences.
And why would we want to inhabit a virtual world?
Terrence McKenna said it best: it is a cultural space defined by our dreams and our machines, where we can build all the castles of the imagination.
Terence McKenna was a writer, philosopher, and ethnobotanist. He is noted for his many speculations on the use of psychedelic, plant-based hallucinogens, and he studied everything from the development of human consciousness to language, shamanism, environmentalism, and technology. A gifted orator, he spoke and taught widely on these topics and many others. Hundreds of hours of McKenna’s public lectures were recorded and now exist online on a range of cultural phenomena and the human psyche. This soft-spoken man also possessed, I believe, incredible prophetic foresight.
During the final years of his life and career, McKenna became active in understanding and defining the cultural value of technology. An early advocate of the technological singularity, he outlined ties between psychedelics, computational technology, and humans in his final recorded public talk, Psychedelics in the age of Intelligent Machines.
We have ourselves argued before that language was the very first #augmentedreality technology.
He also became enamored with the Internet, calling it “the birth of the global mind.” And truly, information technologies have wrought fundamental change throughout society, driving it forward from the industrial age to the networked era. In our world, global information networks are vital infrastructure. The internet is not a global mind — it’s the global nervous system as well.
An Immaterial Contribution
Just ten years ago, social media did not exist; in the next ten years, something else radically new will emerge. Right now, there are many out here, in various corners of the world, developing tools that will turn the Internet upside down all over again, something that will alter our day-to-day lives once more. Providing new benefits to individuals, bringing more individual and collective well-being, and changing how we create and experience social space.
No one fully knows what the metaverse will truly look like when it’s more fully formed. It will push the boundaries of art at phenomenal rates when the tools are within everyone’s reach, and everybody can create, play, and learn together. This is already starting to happen now, but as the protocols and software become more widely adopted and the underlying hardware gets more established, an explosion of shared creative experiences is imminent.
The future is not inevitable, it is OWNED by us. What the internet already proved is that what we create doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it relies on a relationship between all its participants and, more broadly, society.
In the cyberdelic future, artists will rule because the world will be made of art.
- Terence McKenna
Our mission is to foster a shared understanding of space, enabling every device and person to find their rightful place in the world. In envisioning the future, we prioritize technology that enhances the human experience, steering clear of dystopian outcomes like alienation, disconnectedness, and corporate surveillance.
We’re choosing to ways to connect and express ourselves through shared augmented reality experiences supported by the posemesh.
Our commitment lies in building a future where technology amplifies human connections, sparks wonder, and fosters a profound sense of belonging.
See you in the real metaverse!
— Damir First, Head of Comms, Auki Labs