The Metaverse – Environmental Impacts & Future

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The Metaverse. A vision of the future. The next great leap in the evolution of the internet. The physical world is blending with the digital one.

Strict lockdowns during the Pandemic have sparked momentum in immersive virtual and augmented reality.

The users on this digital world may share their experiences and communicate with one another in real-time inside simulated circumstances. Microsoft refers to it as “a new version of the internet.” The amount, diversity, and speed with which users will create data will necessitate the adoption of AI applications for analysis. Virtual reality (VR) technologies, which currently leverage AI technologies like deep neural networks for precise hand tracking and deep learning for eye tracking, will most likely be used in the metaverse.

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Positive Impact 

The main advantage for the environment is that it will considerably eliminate the need for human travel, resulting in less traffic, less accidents, less pollution, and consequently less global warming.

For political and big business honchos it would be easier to hold conferences in the virtual world, thus saving them on time besides the enormous expenses on their security and travel.

According to a study published by the CleanTechnica news website in the United States, metaverse will aid in the reduction of other polluting job-related activities. For example, military training activities, such as pilots flying warplanes in the virtual world, might be conducted in the Metaverse, lowering emissions.

It could save event organizers the huge money they have to spend in holding events like concerts. The hugely popular video game Fortnite had 12.3 million people logging in to watch rapper Travis Scott perform virtually last year.

Negative Impact

Some analysts are concerned that widespread adoption of the metaverse may lead to a major increase in emissions. Metaverse’s reliance on virtual reality (VR) technology and data centres will have a detrimental impact on the environment, even as it decreases carbon emissions by reducing travel. Data centres utilise artificial intelligence to detect eye and hand movements, but virtual reality relies on cloud services. Operating such facilities necessitates a tremendous amount of energy, which comes at a significant environmental cost.

According to a report by UK-based digital transformation consultancy ECS, training a single AI model may generate roughly 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, which is over five times the lifetime output of an average automobile, according to research performed by the University of Massachusetts.

Cloud services are essential for VR and, as a result, for the metaverse. According to a 2020 analysis by Lancaster University academics, a scenario in which 30% of gamers have shifted to cloud gaming platforms by 2030 will result in a 30% rise in carbon emissions above current gaming. Besides, the metaverse will very certainly need very high-resolution pictures, which will boost energy usage even further.

Last year, data centres have implemented a number of improvements to become more environmentally friendly. Meta, or Facebook as we know, has committed to achieve net-zero emissions across the whole value chain by 2030.

Microsoft has pledged to run its Azure cloud platform entirely on renewable energy by 2025. By 2030, the corporation also intends to refill more water than it consumes and achieve zero-waste certification.

Future Of Metaverse

Today, a nascent Metaverse exists, with blockchain technology and digital products like Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). Blockchain is simply the digital ledger that contains a growing list of records, or blocks, interconnected using cryptography techniques.

NFT is a non-fungible token that provides a solution to anything having a unique identity, whether it’s for art, gaming items, commemorative collectibles etc. NFTs are held on one’s own personal blockchain address.

The destiny of the metaverse will be defined by how simple it is for individuals. Users will soon be able to buy digital avatars and virtual lands with crypto tokens created by the companies that support these virtual connections, as well as host virtual parties and meet up with virtual pals. According to Dominic Ryder, CEO of vEmpire, the possibilities are endless. For creative minds and players who wish to construct experiences, there are options such as the Sandbox. There’s also Decentraland, a virtual world based on Ethereum, user owned, where one can engage in games, activities and can purchase virtual land parcels.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s comments upon the future of Metaverse stating that, ‘Privacy, safety, open standards, and interoperability will be central to the metaverse.’

On the environment front, there is a dire need for governments and businesses to invest heavily and provide green, clean and renewable energy. Reliance Industries have taken a lead here in India. They aim to develop the largest integrated renewable energy manufacturing facility in the world. It’s Chairman Mukesh Ambani has committed to invest Rs 75,000 crore in the field over the next three years.

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Mukesh Kwatra
Mukesh Kwatra
Dr. Mukesh Kwatra is an environmentalist, and Founder of Smiling tree

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