The Metaversal Bible is the first collaboratively-written, Living Book — a groundbreaking literary format tailor-made for the web3 ecosystem. Leveraging NFTs, it seamlessly brings together a myriad of writers from all corners. They can propose edits, cast votes on suggested revisions, and earn due recognition for their contributions.
With the right incentives, we believe this book can evolve and improve over time until it becomes the go-to source of information about web3 and the metaverse. If this piques your curiosity, we invite you to read our work, comment, contribute and help us shape the future of this exciting industry together.
The Ethos of the Metaversal Bible
The growing digital enablement of our species has been the defining trend of the last 30 years. The internet and more recently social media have radically reshaped business, interpersonal relationships and society as a whole.
The spread and growing importance of cyberspace has caused massive positive and negative changes for individuals and humanity. Today we can access the accumulated knowledge of humanity on command through our smartphones. The expanding informational web of the internet has given each of us access to exponentially more information than even world leaders would have had just 20 years ago.
It is much easier to learn about our world and acquire new skills than ever before.
Yet the expanding information network that we find ourselves embedded into has also made us more unhappy. Instead of comparing ourselves to our friends and immediate neighbors, most people today now benchmark themselves against the seemingly perfect lives of internet celebrities. This is especially true for kids and young adults. This shift has had dire consequences for our individual wellbeing. Biological evolution is a slow, grinding process. It operates on the timescale of tens of thousands or millions of years. In contrast, societal and technological evolution can happen in a matter of years or even months. As a result, our psychological and behavioral adaptations to the rapid changes brought about by technological advancements often lag behind. This can lead to challenges in adapting to new social and technological environments and can have a significant impact on our well-being and societal structures.
Our psychologies have not yet had time to fully adjust to the invention of agriculture and cities, let alone the invention of the internet and social media.
Regardless, the growing importance of cyberspace is undeniable and shows no signs of slowing down. Rapid advancements in technology, coupled with the economic incentive to create more immersive digital experiences, mean that we will eventually develop an embodied version of the internet that will gain widespread adoption.
It is a question of when not if.
While this prospect is exciting, it also raises important questions related to our personal and societal identities, as well as our relationship with technology and the physical world. As we continue down this path, it will be important to consider the potential risks and benefits of these emerging technologies and to shape their development in ways that promote positive outcomes for individuals and society as a whole.
Whether the creation of an embodied internet — a metaverse if you will — is a tremendous boon for humanity or a horrible curse will largely depend on the shape it takes. The metaverse and its related future iterations of the internet promises to open up a wide spectrum of potential futures. In its most positive versions, blockchain technology and the metaverse will empower individuals, boost meaningful human connection, and expand valuable economic activity. The metaverse can be shaped to function as a powerful equalizer, providing boundless opportunities for those from disadvantaged social, economic, and geographic backgrounds.
However, in its most negative incarnations, blockchains and the metaverse can become powerful tools for digital surveillance and societal control, governed by a single, unaccountable entity like Facebook or the Chinese Communist Party.
The range of possible futures is vast and between these extremes lie innumerable other paths that will either help to unite humanity and give it purpose or serve as the most seductive form of digital opium ever invented — helping to distract us from the problems of the real world.
Ultimately, the future of the metaverse is in the hands of the committed few — users, builders, and investors actively exploring this technology. Our actions, whether it be the platforms we choose to use, the projects and technologies we invest our time in developing, or the businesses we support financially, will shape the future direction of this technology. We have the power to vote with our time, attention, and money, and the choices we make will determine the future trajectory of the metaverse. However, many of the votes we make occur unconsciously. When we choose to buy an NFT or play a video game, we are not thinking about how that action constitutes a vote for a certain type of digital future. How then can we coordinate and exert the magnitude of intentional effort we will need to manifest a beneficial metaverse? Herein lies the value of stories.
Ideas and narratives have always been powerful tools for shaping our individual and collective future. From early science fiction depictions of cyberspace and the metaverse to today’s rapidly evolving blockchain and NFT spaces, the stories we tell about technology shape our interaction with that technology as well as our understanding of what is possible and what we can achieve. It’s crucial to critically examine the narratives that dominate these spaces and ensure that they align with the principles of decentralization, distributed ownership and community control that underpin them. By being conscious of the stories we tell and actively shaping them to align with our values, we can create a more intentional and positive future for the metaverse.
The recent issues in the cryptocurrency and NFT industries have highlighted the risks of placing blind trust in individuals or centralized entities. It’s clear that relying on yet another centralized narrative to promote the value of web3, NFTs and the metaverse is not the ideal way to change the narrative. This approach would only perpetuate the very power dynamics that decentralized technologies seek to upend. Instead, we must adopt a community-driven approach that empowers individuals to collectively shape the narrative and drive the conversation forward. Only by embracing decentralization at every level can we build a more equitable and sustainable future for these emerging technologies.
To that end, this book represents a novel approach to community-driven content creation. Rather than relying on a single centralized author or a handful of contributors to define the future of web3 and the metaverse, we have created a decentralized and community-owned book. By transferring the ownership rights of the intellectual property into a DAO controlled by a collection of NFTs, the author has enabled holders of these tokens to propose updates and improvements to the underlying content. Through a democratic voting process, the community can collectively determine the direction of this living book and shape the future of web3 and the metaverse.
The decentralized nature of this book is motivated by practicality just as much as ideology. We believe that a decentralized book will have a significant competitive advantage over books written by single authors. First, a community-written book will reflect a much broader range of perspectives, experiences, and expertise than any single author could possibly achieve. This will result in a much richer and more nuanced exploration of the potential of web3 and the metaverse. Second, by involving a large and diverse community in the creation and evolution of the book, it will be much more likely to stay current with rapidly changing technology and trends.
But perhaps the most significant advantage of a decentralized, community-written book is that it allows the ideas to become self-evolving, creating a living book that can adapt and change over time. As new insights are gained, new technology is developed, and new challenges emerge, the book can be updated and improved by the community in a collaborative and democratic way. This means that the book will never become outdated or irrelevant, but will remain a valuable resource for the community for years to come. By creating a living book, we can ensure that the narrative around web3, NFTs, and the metaverse remains fresh, relevant, and aligned with the principles of decentralization and community control that underpin these technologies.
Engineering Intelligence Through Emergence
Our world gives us countless examples of how complex, adaptive systems can emerge from the interaction of relatively simple components. These phenomena fall under the broad umbrella of emergence which describes how systems can display collective phenomena or behaviors that are not present in their individual components (David Pines).
Emergence allows systems made of simple elements to display high-order intelligence.
Markets are one example of an emergent phenomenon. As we pointed out previously, societal and technological progress outstripped biological evolution long ago. We are still the same tribal animals as our ancestors 40,000 years ago. Consequently, we have the same biological limit on how many people we can know well enough to cooperate effectively with — around 150 individuals. Yet all of the great works of human history and the high degree of specialization in our modern economy require substantially more than 150 people.
Markets make this possible and have been a primary driver of human progress over the last 10,000 years. Markets allow people from all over the globe to coordinate their actions without ever meeting one another. A tin supplier in China who manages to significantly increase his output of tin, makes tin marginally more attractive for consumers relative to other alternatives. His actions also make further tin production less attractive to other producers.
“The whole acts as one market, not because any of its members survey the whole field but because their limited individual fields of vision sufficiently overlap so that through many intermediaries the relevant information is communicated to all.” - Frederick Hayek.
Emergence can also be seen in the aggregation of individual transactions into blocks which are then linked sequentially to form a blockchain. Each transaction is relatively simple, involving the transfer of digital assets from one account to another. Each block is simply a record of all of the transactions that took place within a given time period. Yet when all of these transactions are aggregated into a blockchain they create a secure and immutable ledger of all past transactions, enabling new applications and innovations. A block is relatively simple, the blockchain is living economic history. A record of every transaction that has ever taken place on the network (The Network State).
Your ability to read these words is also a product of emergence. Our brains are the most fascinating and powerful biological computers in existence. Yet unlike computers, no one designed them. Somehow 100 billion networked neurons combine to create memory, intelligence and the experience of consciousness.
Each neuron operates by relatively simple behavioral rules, firing an electrical signal in response to a certain threshold of input. They are not in and of themselves conscious. Yet the pattern of connections, the way in which your neurons fire and wire together, combine to create consciousness. Our intelligence is a property of the way in which our neurons are networked and interact with each other. It is an emergent pattern rather than a sum of its components.
Ant colonies are another excellent example of emergent behavior. Ants are some of the most successful animals on the planet. They owe their success to their ability to coordinate the actions of thousands of individuals to create adaptive and intelligent group behavior.
Ant colonies are able to determine the shortest path to a food source, build dedicated trash piles and cemeteries for the colony, allocate their workers among various jobs and adjust distribution of workers among these jobs in response to changes in the environment.
Ants are able to do this despite having brains the size of a pinhead. None of them have the intelligence to coordinate or direct the colony nor even understand their place in it. Instead ants coordinate their behavior according to simple rules and signals mediated by pheromones. For example, when an ant discovers a food source, it leaves a trail of pheromones behind it that other ants can follow to the food source. Similarly, when a threat is detected, ants will release an alarm pheromone that signals other ants to attack or flee (Emergence).
By following simple rules like these, individual ants are able to coordinate their behavior and respond to changing environmental conditions, leading to the emergence of complex intelligent behavior. Each individual ant is able to communicate their knowledge of their immediate local conditions to the nearby ants which can then pass along the message. As such, the local knowledge of individual ants interacts, rippling outwards to create the hive mind of the colony. This is a prime example of how decentralized, distributed systems can lead to adaptive and effective decision-making and coordination.
We believe that we can harness the power of emergence to create a living book that is greater than the sum of its individual contributors. Members of the community will be able to communicate and collaborate with each other in an attempt to introduce the valuable improvements to the book. Each member will bring a new perspective, leveraging their own individual ideas and expertise to create suggested changes that are uniquely theirs. The community as a whole will be given the opportunity to determine which ideas are the most valuable and how they should be incorporated into the book. Individual contributors will gain verifiable recognition for their ideas, increased standing in the community and greater control over the future evolution of the book.
Through this decentralized approach, the book can adapt, evolve and even split over time in response to changing environmental conditions, just like how an ant colony or our own brains adjust their behaviors in response to a changing environment. New ideas can be added, outdated information can be removed, and the community can work together to determine the best path forward for the book.
This swarm logic approach to iteration and improvement allows for the local information and ideas of individual members to ripple outwards and change the book as a whole, just as an ant’s behavior can impact the entire colony.
In this way we believe we can create a decentralized community-owned and edited book that becomes an adaptive and intelligent whole, greater than the sum of its parts. A living book that is not owned or controlled by any of its members. If these ideas sound interesting, if you believe you have something to contribute and want to gain recognition for the quality of your ideas, we welcome you to join us and help us write this book together.
The Metaversal Bible is currently in alpha. If you're interested in contributing, please comment or reach out to me on twitter (https://twitter.com/m3taversal) to be considered.