The Metaverse allows the co-mingling of physical reality with virtual reality, and human intelligence with artificial intelligence. This is not theory. It has arrived, proving once again Arthur C. Clarke’s prophetic 1962 Third Law, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

The trifecta of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Social Media has literally created an alternate, virtual reality for children, and its magical appeal may endanger the freedom, educational growth, mental peace, truth, and safety they deserve.

Fake news, malicious misinformation, and disinformation, and the distortion of truth has already metastasized in the 2D-3D world. Imagine for a moment what could happen to the truth when a child is inside an immersive 4D Virtual Reality world.

Take away, or giveaway, children’s access to truth and you take away, give away, their freedom and hence their future.

Jaron Lanier is the Father of VR. In his 2017 book, Dawn of the New Everything, he asks a very pertinent question of a VR experience, “Who is it who is suspended in nothing, experiencing these events?” His answer is unsettling, “It is you, but not exactly.” He is implying that children’s contact with the Metaverse through Virtual Reality is a kind of two-way osmosis. And probably just barely two-way. The child barely modifies the Metaverse. The Metaverse modifies children especially profoundly, permanently, and profitably.

And we should ask what happens to the idea of a fixed identity when a child ‘decorates’ her brave, new, and hyperreal world with Metaverse-supplied emojis, animations, avatars etc., to suit her ideas. Does she begin to suffuse her physical entity with an alternate one? Is that the same child, or not exactly? Is she still a single entity? Is she still independent? Is this all real or surreal? Or an overreaction?

The coalescence of the Internet and AI/ML/SM has digitally and asexually reproduced an offspring: a technology platform from which the Metaverse has begun to emerge. It is an invented, programable, virtual, and augmented Hyperreality that continuously blurs the lines between what today we understand to be our physical universe and this new, virtual/digital/programmable, universe. It is the ultimate immersive, sugary, alternate reality, and it already competes with the physical world for children’s time, resources, and attention. Is it winning? And what happens if it does?

These are uncomfortable issues, but we should always tell the truth. We are preparing children for a very different future. And not doing it well.

Intentional or not, the obvious strategy of the Metaverse’s owners is to make your children ambivalent or fluid about where their Being stops. At their skin, or not? Realism, along with data – today’s gold – is their end goal; fantasy is their means. All pleasure, no pain. Disney’s world. 

Another way of thinking of this is that the real goal of the Metaverse’s leaders is to have the internet inside us – and I don’t just mean subcutaneously – so that we will be able to fool our senses and be somewhere without being there, or even travelling there. Or even being someone else. This is the mind and emotion of a child being transported intact elsewhere. This can be good or bad. 

But perhaps most disturbing is this: when a child looks into the eyes of another human, another person looks back at them; when they ‘look’ into a VR headset, who or rather what looks back into their eyes? If it’s a camera then we become Edge Servers in the schematic.This is new to our species. How do we prepare children for this?By teaching your children to use their innate Hybrid Skills.

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Thanks for reading. 

Alex

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