#686: Panel: VR & Blockchain + Architecting the Decentralized Metaverse

I facilitated a panel discussion at the Decentralized Web Summit that brought together some of the leading virtual reality creators who have been integrating blockchain technologies and creating the foundations of the decentralized metaverse.

We cover how VR provides a compelling application for identity and avatar representation, how the self-sovereign identity W3C specifications could help with that, how virtual currencies are being integrated into VR worlds, the process of digital asset tracking and ownership, verifiable claims and how those could help create reputation networks, and some of the biggest challenges and open questions facing these architects of the decentralized metaverse.

This VR & Blockchain panel discussion at the Decentralized Web Summit features Alberto Elias (Founder, Simbol), Samantha Mathews Chase (Founder, Venn Agency), Philip Rosedale (CEO, High Fidelity), Andrés Cuervo (Software Engineer, WebXR Artist), and James Baicoianu (Principal Engineer, JanusVR).


This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR Podcast. So I recently attended the Decentralized Web Summit in order to help facilitate a panel discussion with a number of leaders within the virtual reality space who are integrating different aspects of the decentralized web and blockchain technologies. So I went there and did about 30 different interviews over the course of a couple of days just to get a sense of the landscape. The blockchain and decentralized systems are something that feels like it's a whole realm within its own. And I really wanted to immerse myself and kind of see what the latest and greatest technologies were. And if some of these technologies are showing that they're going to be changing some of the underlying dynamics of human behavior and the market dynamics. And my takeaway is that that seems to be what is happening is that These technologies are able to facilitate new market dynamics and new ways of connecting to each other. And virtual reality may actually be some really compelling use cases, especially when it comes to things like identity and self-sovereign identity. Because, you know, you go to these different authenticated websites on the web and you have a username, but that's a lot different than having an embodiment and having an avatar and having some sort of virtual representation of yourself. It's kind of like you put on different clothes to show different aspects of your identity, just the same you put on different bodies and different avatars within virtual reality that are communicating different aspects of yourself. And that is going to be a huge part of virtual reality. And how to do that seamlessly from site to site is something that is a big open question. It's something that self sovereign identity can really help to address. But there's also these ideas of virtual currencies, as well as assets, and who own those assets, as well as reputation. And there's so many different dimensions where virtual reality is creating these immersive experiences that are needing us to look at some of these decentralized systems to see how they can make a better immersive experience. So the five panelists who are on this discussion were Alberto Elias, the founder of Symbol, Samantha Matthews-Chase, the founder of an agency, Philip Rosedale, the CEO of High Fidelity, Andres Cuevo, he's a software engineer and WebXR artist, and James Bacquiano, who's a principal engineer at Janus VR. So we'll be covering all the different convergences of virtual reality and decentralized systems on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this panel discussion happened on Wednesday, August 1st, 2018 at the Decentralized Web Summit in San Francisco, California. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in. All right, so welcome, everybody. We're here at the Decentralized Web Summit. And my name is Kent Bye, and I do the Voices of VR podcast. I'm actually going to be doing a live recording of the podcast as we have this panel discussion about the decentralized web as it is connected to virtual reality. So the first thing that I want to do is just allow each of our panelists to introduce themselves, and then we'll kind of dive in and then have some questions here at the end. So yeah, why don't you each kind of introduce yourself?

[00:03:09.584] Alberto Elias: So my name is Alberto. I'm working on a project called Symbol. So Symbol is a web library that takes a 3D website and adds social capabilities to it. It makes it a multi-user experience. It comes with a decentralized identity system, so users own their identity and can take their identity from one VR website to another, making it a seamless experience. And we're also working on how we can extend language, how can we add communication tooling once we have this infinite 3D canvas where we can draw anything on it and we can animate and we can just change it however and manipulate it however we want and how that will change how we communicate.

[00:03:45.035] Samantha Mathews Chase: I'm Samantha and I run Venn Agency and we focus mainly on building tools for the virtual web Specifically, we've built with Janus and JanusWeb for years. This is our second Decentralized Web Summit. And my focus is currently, personally, on the decentralized ID standards and making those standards so that we can have a better metaverse.

[00:04:12.430] Philip Rosedale: Hi, I'm Phillip Rosedale. I'm originally the founder of the virtual world called Second Life. And what I'm working on now is a virtual world platform called High Fidelity. And High Fidelity is an open source system that's a client server architecture designed to allow many people to put up their own virtual spaces. And then we've done a bunch of blockchain, mostly blockchain related work sort of above that layer to let people do money and certificates on digital assets and then their identity and Our hope is that we can richly use these emerging standards to get to a billion people in virtual worlds.

[00:04:47.557] Andrés Cuervo: I'm Andres Cuervo. I'm a virtual reality, augmented reality, WebXR artist. I've done talks, educational workshops, and most recently installations for WebXR.

[00:05:00.781] James Baicoianu: My name is James Bekuyanu. I'm a developer for GenusVR. We build web-based virtual worlds platform so you can build virtual world using HTML and JavaScript and host it wherever you want, including IPFS or any kind of decentralized systems.

[00:05:17.744] Kent Bye: So it seems like that right now most of if you want to have a VR experience there has to be some sort of Centralized point for you to have access to that and so we have this dream of a decentralized metaverse eventually But we have to sort of bootstrap that in some way way, either it's through identity, whether it's through cryptocurrencies and the high-fidelity coin, being able to say, these are the objects that we own in the world. Maybe you could each sort of talk about what you see as maybe the first big area where virtual reality is really going to add something that's either new or different to the decentralized question, and what kind of things that each of you are kind of working on towards that.

[00:06:01.405] Andrés Cuervo: One thing that I've been experimenting with recently has been tackling this question from the perspective of, well, from the perspective of perspectives. So taking a virtual view into a world, so someone's in VR, you take what they're looking at, and then you export that as a cone of vision. and all of a sudden you can have someone interact with that on a 2D screen by putting that same view on their phone. Or if they have an augmented reality capable device like ARKit or ARCore, then you can sort of place that cone virtually and have them interact with it in a 2.5D perspective. And so that's sort of what can be done with technology as it stands, but as platforms evolve and as the interaction standards around Interacting with various perspectives evolve. I could see that bringing in digital identities or different ways of like federating payments could all sort of be Tied to the way that you're currently viewing an experience with other people The identity second life really demonstrated people's willingness and interest in both building rich identities and also using commerce to do things like buy the clothes for themselves

[00:07:09.003] Philip Rosedale: Because VR implicitly requires identity, if you're in a place, the whole point of it is that you are you, as compared to the web, that doesn't have identity implicitly. The web is, initially at least, was a read-only thing. I think that basically our desire to have identities that look like us or whatever, across multiple places that we might go to in VR will be one of the catalysts that drives that because obviously as we've all been discussing here it seems fairly obvious that a distributed identity system of some kind which is you know self-sovereign as we say or you know deployed on a blockchain is what everybody wants virtual worlds will probably be one of the first really good examples of like why you would want that I mean you got a California driver's license we're not gonna take away that any too soon but you're gonna want to walk into like a virtual store and be like hi it's me or prove to your friend that it's you and that probably will take advantage of these types of systems so I think that'll be like where VR will one of the ways that VR will like immediately make the stuff that everybody is here is talking about relevant and useful.

[00:08:07.590] Kent Bye: Yeah, and we have the Virtual Reality Blockchain Alliance for High Fidelity and Janus VR, and also with Alberto with Symbol. And so it seems like that these players at this level of virtual reality is starting to have this interoperability because you do have each of your stacks that you have so that you can actually go between. So maybe give us a little bit of an update as to what's happening with self-sovereign identity between things like High Fidelity, Janus VR, and Symbol.

[00:08:34.563] James Baicoianu: Sure. I mean, like you said, there's all these different systems that we've all kind of independently developed. But honestly, we're all solving similar, if not the same problems. And I think that what we want to look at as part of the VRBA is how can we avoid duplicating effort. So we want to be looking at what standards we can either use that already exist or are being created for the web, like the W3C decentralized identity spec and things like that, which we use that to bootstrap this kind of next level, which allows us to develop using these same systems. And that's the first step towards making it possible to kind of move easily between these systems.

[00:09:17.861] Alberto Elias: So it's not also about us not duplicating effort but making a better experience for the people that are using our products. It's not cool to have to move through this virtual universe and have to have multiple identities and take care of multiple avatars and have to actually create those avatars and having digital assets that work on some virtual worlds and don't work on other virtual worlds. So I think going back also to the bootstrapping decentralized virtual worlds question, identity is a very, very important part because we need to be able to move around these virtual worlds. But also something that's really good about the web is that it's easy to spin up a new virtual world. So we want to reach the point where we have young people, teenagers, just for fun, creating these virtual worlds and navigating very easily from one to the other, taking their identity and just meeting up in their hubs, just saying to their friends, hey, come over here and let's just mock around a bit. And that's something that we can do with decentralized technologies.

[00:10:14.240] Samantha Mathews Chase: I think what initially brought me to this whole project and to the web and VR, I come from an audio engineering background, was seeing the browser spatialized. It is just that simple when you take something as magical as the web and you take it out of the 2D format, now all of a sudden, things make sense to somebody. I said this two years ago, and it was a little bit too soon. I didn't realize, because when I got into VR, I literally met these guys. I was like, oh, this is my first time trying to make a 360 video, and I met the people building the decentralized virtual web. It took me down a big, long rabbit hole, but the point was when I was listening to Brewster two years ago saying, how do we make people care enough to get out of these walled gardens? How do you make them want to peer over the side? It's like, I don't know, maybe make it a jungle and not the walled garden. Like maybe make it so that you can actually go into the internet archive and when you look at videos, you can put them on a reel and put them up. Like when you do a search and it's virtual and you can see that actually how everything's connected and all those nodes are connected, like it just changes you. It absolutely changes you and something like what Mozilla has made with Lightbeam that visualizes your trackers and your cookies and it's like that changes you. It changed my psychology so much about when I'm online that I literally had nightmares. And that's what we're doing is we're just taking the web and spatializing and I think the biggest opportunity lies in just markup language. Everybody has a website that's still like, I mean it might still be that people aren't doing that, that they've kind of moved to Facebook to have a page or something like that, but I think There's still enough websites that just with basic markup language, if everybody knows like, oh, if you have a site with a lot of pictures, that becomes a gallery. If you have a site that only plays videos, that's in a theater. If there is already a markup language that can spatialize everything, then somebody can just grab that and be like, oh, I'm going to look at my site spatialized to take that source code and make it my own. It gives people a better connection to the information because we actually remember things spatially. That's how we remember. So if you want people to understand something, it's not about necessarily making it all this whole big virtual world, but like the web's freaking amazing. information on it is amazing. You want people to understand how a script works. You want people to understand a cookie. Like, make the Google trackers Mr. Smith. Like, make Mr. Smith follow you through walls. And you'll be freaked the F out. And then you'll be like, OK, I'm going to clear my cache. You know? Like, I'm clearing my cache. Or like, somebody comes over, and they're like bringing all these trackers. And you're like, dude, can you wipe your shoes before you come in my cool playroom, please? Like, holy smokes, you are just heavy with those things. So I think that what's magic and where this like smashes together in my mind is the fact that you can now visualize all of these scripts. You can visualize the process and you can make it really cool.

[00:13:06.864] James Baicoianu: I think, I mean, Philip brought up the point of identity being important and the web kind of being anonymous by default. And I think that that's something that as we bring more of these virtual experiences to the web, I think we need to kind of balance that. Because we all agree, I think, that we want to be able to manage our identity and kind of choose who gets to see what about us. But then once you have this kind of centralized system of you can prove who everyone is at any time, You know, there's certain things that you don't necessarily want to be, maybe you do want to do some things anonymously. There's safety issues sometimes, especially, you know, you brought up children, you know, maybe you don't want your children's full identity being accessible to everyone. So I think that's what, you know, as we're looking at these issues, especially as we're bringing more of this onto the web, we need to figure out ways that we can kind of balance those two, the need for identity and the need for privacy.

[00:14:00.042] Alberto Elias: Yeah, just with regards to that, a good thing about these decentralized identity systems is that it's not just anonymous or your full identity, like your full Facebook profile. It's selective disclosure. You choose what information you want to share. And a website could say, I just want to see your avatar, and then you'll just mingle around that virtual experience. But another one might say, this is for adults. I need to see your age. But you won't show them your full driver's license. You would only prove that you're over 21, over 18, whatever the law is. so yeah it's just it's not one or the other there is like a whole range and you choose what information you share with what content.

[00:14:38.115] Kent Bye: So I know that there's the decentralized identity specifications from the W3C with the Decentralized Identity Foundation and a lot of the identity workshops that have been happening over the past 15 years that have come to the point where we actually have a spec or actually like technically like three various different types of specs specific to the decentralized identity and self-sovereign identity. And so How would that work with, say, an avatar? Let's say I want to upload an avatar. Usually what you do right now is you would upload it to either High Fidelity or Janus VR. You may host that in some sort of central server. But what is the decentralized equivalent? What are some of the technical infrastructure of where we might be going so that we could have this seamless IMM avatar and able to go into all these different metaverse worlds and always carry a persistent identity across all of that?

[00:15:27.477] Alberto Elias: So I can talk about this because this is basically what we're doing at Symbol. So tied to the decentralized identifier spec, there's a very, very important core component, which is called verified credentials. So basically, it's something that an identity says about another identity. So that could be me saying that Kent is a human. So if multiple people said that Kent is a human, then if someone else comes around, they'll probably believe that he's a real human being and not a bot. But it can also be a government issuing a driver's license. That could be a verified claim. So basically around decentralized identities, the model around them is around these verified claims and everything works with them. So what we're doing in Symbol is when you configure your identities, we issue a verified claim saying this identity's avatar is located in this URL, which could be an IPFS.URL or it could be an HTTP URL. And from that, when you move from one website to another, they'll just fetch that avatar from that URL.

[00:16:28.117] Philip Rosedale: Yeah, I mean, what we're doing with High Fidelity, what we intend to do is exactly what Archa said, which is, for example, take the case of Second Life, right? So the way identity should work is that Second Life, the company, when you register your account, so I'm Philip Linden in Second Life, famously, and the way this is going to work is that Second Life is going to write a proof, an attestation that says, we gave out the Second Life username, philip.linden, to whoever has the key to this public address. And they're going to write it on the blockchain, and once they've written it on the blockchain, It's mine, because I have the private key for the address. So when I walk up to Kent in world, and this could be in any world, I'm going to send sort of in whatever the communication channel of that avatar world is, however I can send text to him, I'm going to send him a proof that says, hey, I own that public address. He's going to look at the public address. It's going to say, hi, secondlife colon philip.linden. And he's going to know that it's me. The operating system, the server that we're in, doesn't even need to be a part of that transaction. It can be completely opaque. So not only can selective disclosure occur, but we can do that at the one-to-one level. Or maybe I have a company meeting. which we do in High Fidelity. And I want everybody that comes to the meeting to officially be the people who work for us and nobody else. Well, sure. Again, there's a single credential that they can walk into the meeting and sort of flash that card, and then the meeting room's going to let them in. But these things can happen in a completely decentralized fashion, and our goal with High Fidelity is that we're never going to store any of your user information. We shouldn't have to do that. We shouldn't have to store it anywhere, and so it can't get hacked. There's no reason for us to have it. We'll use the same system of attestation to issue you a bonus because you're from Second Life or something. We'd do it the same way.

[00:18:06.279] Samantha Mathews Chase: I think there's an interesting and kind of, it sounds a little out there, but this notion of edge wallets that could actually be cold wallets as well. So you could even have pieces of you that you keep just with you that just talk to your device or whatever. So when you're near, you know, when I have my little node and it's near my phone or when I connect it to that phone, then that's sort of like a VPN. So essentially, I think there's something interesting when we think about the world scaling to another 7 billion people in our lifetime and our attachment to space and things and how that's going to have to change, like just has to. We have to become more transient and and what our attachments to things can maybe change into virtual things and how that's gonna be carried through like Right now my age everybody wants to buy a house and like that just seems like the right thing to do like own property like that's the value but you know not everyone in the world especially when we're gonna have that many more people are gonna be able to own that and we really need to actually let go of that notion and become more sort of self-reliant and I think It seems far away, but it's going to happen fast. Like, if we're able to sort of own our things virtually and physically, but in a way that's salient, that can move between worlds, like, I won't have an attachment to my home where I grew up the same way because it'll be with me or it'll be in my inventory system. And I think how we carry inventories and how we tag things both for, like, historical purposes, but personal purposes, just self-archival in general, I don't want to have to have it on a hard drive. away somewhere and hope that the formats don't change, right? I want to be able to keep it sort of like in recall. And I think that that's where all of this gets interesting is when we can start to also attach like physical elements to that as well.

[00:19:56.175] Andrés Cuervo: Yeah, we've been talking a lot about identity facilitating things like payment or ownership or, yeah, those are the big ones. And I think one of the most exciting things for me is not just changing our relationship to things, but also having decentralized identity be able to change our relationship to experiences. So VR already does this pretty majorly for anyone who's ever experienced it, right? If it was designed well, you can achieve embodiment and you can really feel like you're in this place that, you know, the laws of physics could be different. The thing about having an identity in this sort of world is that this takes us out of this anonymous by default framework, which has been interesting and has affected my art a lot. Like, I've done a lot of work collating perspectives by using eye tracking. and sort of mapping out that data anonymously is interesting, but being able to sort of walk into an experience like that with my friend and be able to watch how both of our eyes move, that's something that we might, you know, in a very expensive room we might be able to achieve in the physical world, but being able to do that with, like, two or three of my closest friends arbitrarily and really experience something that we couldn't experience physically but still know that we share it personally, even if we don't, you know, live in the same country, is a really exciting idea.

[00:21:10.279] James Baicoianu: And on that topic, you know, you see your friends and they see your eye movements, and you want to be able to do that without a third party watching you both. And that's why we're really interested in this topic of the decentralized virtual worlds. Just right now, most of those worlds, everything goes through kind of one server or, you know, servers that are owned and operated by a corporation. And we think that you should be able to have these private experiences.

[00:21:37.863] Philip Rosedale: There's a technical aspect of this that we've talked about a lot that some of you guys may not have thought about. There actually isn't an option for anonymity in VR at a deeply immersive level, and that makes this conversation all the more important. The reason for that, which you may not have thought of, but we work on HMDs and hand controllers and stuff, The motion of the head and hands for each of you is a confident biometric. In other words, it's your cookie. If you walk into a room in VR and there was a machine that was in there before looking at you, it will know with absolute certainty that it's you within a few seconds. You can kind of imagine how you can You can recognize your loved ones at a great distance on the beach from how they walk. Same difference. It's a very easy thing to do. So it means it's very interesting. It means with respect to, say, public policy, we may, as a collective nation or population, decide that we need to regulate, kind of, we need to decide what we're going to do with this data, because it's obviously quite serious. You won't be able to be anonymous in VR by, like, using a tour router, is what I'm saying. That won't work. Because as soon as you walk into the room and your body's in motion, you're made by everybody.

[00:22:39.003] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I think one of the other big areas with this vision and dream of the metaverse is that you're going to be able to use a web browser and go into these worlds, but to seamlessly go into many different worlds. I know, Philip, you've told me before that this Metcalfe's Law is that the big value of these networks is the number of nodes that are interconnected to each other. And that increases at the square of those interconnections. And so as you go into one world, you have portals into other worlds. Right now, what you have is essentially like a Unity or Unreal Engine binary that you download, and then it's a self-contained walled garden. You're not actually interconnecting and interlinking with each other. And that as you're able to go into this vision of the metaverse, you're able to seamlessly go from one world to the next. But with things like VRChat and even JanusVR, you have this, if you want to go from one world to the next, you still have to load that world. And I think there's something with the IPFS and the distributed file systems and the scale and the size of these virtual worlds. I think there's a compelling use case for the distributed web because you start to get this BitTorrent type of idea where you're downloading the content from many other different people. So I'm just curious to hear from each of you the interface of something like IPFS distributed file storage, and its importance when it comes to things like the metaverse and each of your virtual worlds.

[00:24:02.820] Alberto Elias: So what you were saying at the beginning, being able to move between all those virtual worlds, really the web when it started was a 2D metaverse. You could go from one website to another, and it was all seamless. But then as years went by, you had to start having a separate identity for every single website. And then when you start moving from one website to another now, you just get a walled garden for every single website. Now you can't move from one website to another. So we understand the need to have an identity and we understand the need for different kinds of content to need some kind of information about you to offer what they want to offer. But that's why we were looking for an interoperable identity system. So you can again seamlessly start moving from one virtual world to another. It's a bad user experience in the 2D web. It's an even worse experience in the 3D web. having to log in, take off your headset, or inside of the headset, having to log into each portal that you go through. And if we start thinking about augmented reality, where we bump into 3D content down the street even, having to log into each of those 3D pieces of content that can be in the real world, that's also really, really bad user experience. That's why we need an interoperable identity system to actually fulfill this dream of a massive virtual universe.

[00:25:22.144] Philip Rosedale: One of the, another point that you might not be thinking about is that the compute requirements for the web, for the old web, are very low. We don't actually need a lot of servers. Although the internet, the internet at its highest rate of growth was putting on about 100,000 new host names a day, which was in about 2012, or say the web at its highest rate of growth. The requirements for virtual worlds in terms of compute and file storage are just enormously more. They're orders of magnitude more. So we estimate that if you have a billion daily users making use of some sort of VR, collection of VR spaces, going to school, coming to events, whatever, we've done the math on this, you're talking about 50 or 100 million servers. So it's a number of servers that could never be put on by any one company, and we wouldn't want that for lots of other reasons like that we're talking about. But it's an enormous opportunity for distributed computing, which is one of the things that when I started the company, High Fidelity, we started from the very beginning realizing that, oh my God, You know, to have this number of people in a room right here is going to be like a gigabit per second of bandwidth that needs to go out. And so that is some serious hardware that needs to be used to make this experience work as compared to the web, which is a lot lighter. So there's this opportunity to not just use techniques like IPFS to store all the data. There is going to be a lot of file data. And I agree with you, Ken. I mean, some sort of proposal like IPFS that just enables the easy access to files wherever they may be is great. But then in addition to that, there needs to be some sort of a available pool of compute power because the requirements for computing with VR environments are just going to be like way, way higher.

[00:26:52.366] Alberto Elias: So as to the compute thing, there is another blockchain-based project called the Render Project from Oitoi. They're actually looking at sharing compute. So currently blockchains, they're just wasting a whole bunch of computer resources just to do their calculations to certify the transaction. With Render, they will be actually using those computing resources for something useful like rendering 3D content. And along the lines of what Philip was saying, it's not just that we need to have this content everywhere because of the sheer power that we need. We also need to think about all the people who don't have as good of an internet connection as we do. People who are in rural areas or in countries that aren't as well-off as we are. And places where the internet just isn't stable enough. So being able to share the resources by proximity is also very important. That's something enabled by the decentralized web. And also decentralized web is offline first. And for something that we need so many computing resources, something that's also going to be very, very important.

[00:27:56.027] Samantha Mathews Chase: What excites me the most about IPFS and thinking about the distributed web is when I think about areas, like you say, that don't have good internet access and the fact that you can just have your worlds in a cache. And once they're cached, they're there. You have them. So when you think about maybe somebody smuggles in information somewhere or you have it all just in a Raspberry Pi, You can all connect to that Raspberry Pi or that Raspberry Pi has that world in there. You can still use your browsers. You can have private servers. You don't need to be connected to the internet to have these experiences. And I think that's kind of like what... is fabulous to me, is the fact that browsers don't need to be connected to the internet. They just need to get connected to some other information. They're just an operating system. So we can actually take all these amazing worlds, put them on a little SD card, put that in a Raspberry Pi, and then you have everybody in there. You can share information in new ways. And when I first found out about IPFS, we were working on a music video, and my partner said, he's like, Yeah, it can't really be taken down. It's just been cut up and put up all over the web. And I was like, I just don't. I'm like, where is it hosted, though? So it got me thinking about, well, permanency and archiving and just ways that we can hold on to things more. Because instead of having things archived in a Wayback Machine or something like that, your cache can just be your perpetual archive that you can, if we're using the web in that way. and we can distribute our cash and keep, maybe our cash just sort of is something that we just keep adding to and IPFS allows you to always access that.

[00:29:32.642] Kent Bye: And so one of the other areas of, I guess, cryptocurrency and virtual worlds is actually having a currency. I know, Philip, you've launched the High Fidelity coin, which is, I think, the first cryptocurrency within a virtual world. And so I'm curious to hear some thoughts about where things are at now and where they need to go in the future. If there's other alternatives of web payments, there's other ways of exchanging value. But I'm just curious to hear some feedback as to, what's it look like to have a cryptocurrency within a virtual world and what type of, why is it compelling to look at from a perspective of a decentralized web and the audience here, but also what's gonna be enabled here in the future?

[00:30:11.925] Philip Rosedale: Well the first thing for those of you who don't remember or haven't seen something like Second Life, Second Life today, in a way it was kind of like an early kind of a cryptocurrency or a digital currency because we needed to have people around the world selling like clothing to each other for their avatars. And they were typically not in the same countries. And so very practically, in 2003, I was like, well, we got to come up with some sort of a digital unit of currency here to allow people to do this stuff. And so fast forward to today, and there's about $600 million a day in dollar-to-size transactions that go back and forth between about a million people inside Second Life. So it is exactly successful as a transaction currency for digital assets. Now, arguably, Bitcoin and Ethereum, for example, are not yet that. They are commodities because they're widely variant in their price and they are not used, demonstrably and theoretically, they're not used or usable for actually buying and selling things from each other because they're too unstable. One of the things we did with Second Life to enable that and that we need to do with the HFC, iFidelity coin, is to make the currency fairly stable against the dollar, or very stable against the dollar. And the way we did that in Second Life is really interesting because some of the crypto companies, maybe some of the ones here, are proposing kind of similar algorithms that are going to hopefully do this with upcoming cryptocurrencies, not just ours, but others. The basic idea is that as the demand for use of the digital currency increases, you have to make more of the currency. So you have to do exactly what Bitcoin and Ethereum don't do. which is, as there's increased demand, you have to essentially print more of the money. Now, you can get it into circulation in any of a number of widely debated different ways. At Second Life, we had one person who just watched the exchange rate on the open exchange, where there's an open exchange for the Linen Dollar to Dollars, and he just would make new money and sell it on the open market, but transparently. We would always say how much we were selling, And our goal was to hold the exchange rate constant. And in fact, over the last decade, we did exactly that. The Linen Dollar has traded at 250 to 260 to 1 for the last decade using that strategy. Now, the cool thing about that is you can make that strategy algorithmic in a cryptocurrency. You can basically, as you guys know probably, have the cryptocurrency watch an oracle, watch essentially the exchange rate, and then make new money and distribute it in some fashion as the exchange rate goes up or as it tries to go up. And that is basically one of the things that I think is really important about a currency. But going back to that statement about Second Life, again, the reason that VR is going to be a killer, killer space for cryptocurrency is that it is precisely there that you need to have a way for people who, like Sam was talking about, you know, I want my clothes to be digital because that would be even cooler and it's not going to waste any energy and take up space in the real world. Yeah, people are going to want to have rich digital identities and they're going to want to buy and sell cool designer things from each other across borders for low dollar amounts very quickly. And that is exactly what we kind of initially fantasized cryptocurrencies would be useful for. So I think with the stability mechanisms in place, whether it's in high fidelity or more broadly, we're going to finally get some kind of a useful currency and virtual worlds are going to be the first place you're going to want to spend that money because, you know, it's just going to be a great fit.

[00:33:13.485] Andrés Cuervo: Any other thoughts? Yeah, I think jumping off what Philip was saying is that the most useful part about having a cryptocurrency tied to a virtual world is having it be easy to use, right? Because you want to maintain the idea that you're in this virtual world. And that's exciting to me, not for sort of like person to person or even marketplace interactions, but it's more exciting for me for things like what Brave is doing, which is like issuing micro payments for whenever you visit a certain site or whenever you interact with a thing and I can see that model extending to sort of like Building the coolest place to hang out in a virtual world in sort of a distributed virtual world might allow you to sort of Live off of the funding that you get by people simply visiting your your space And so it's not sort of this one-to-one interaction, but you still there's still a net benefit for everyone involved

[00:34:03.232] James Baicoianu: Yeah, I mean, I think definitely the idea of microtransactions, that's something that I think we've been seeking for as long as I've been on the web, that people have been talking about the idea of being able to make a payment for, you know, a few cents. And that's just not really viable with current traditional payment methods. You know, when we saw Bitcoin and Ethereum coming up, we were like, this is it. We finally got these microtransactions. The system is here. But as Philip said, you know, it turned out not to be that way. There were some kind of inherent limitations with those technology, you know, how long it takes to verify a Bitcoin transaction, the fact that nobody wants to spend this money because it's so, you know, the price fluctuates so much. So the dream, we've always had this dream of being able to make these micropayments and for individual creators to be able to make a living off of what they've done without having to resort to You know, the current method is you got to get your stuff on an app store and you got to get people paying, you know, the app store price or, you know, in-game purchase type things. And that works for some types of content, but not for all content, especially like art type stuff. You know, that's very difficult to do that type of monetization. So, you know, the promise of cryptocurrency that can give us quick transactions of a stable price and can go anything from a cent or less up to, you know, however much you want to spend, you know, I think that's the dream that we're finally kind of approaching. We haven't quite got there yet, but, you know, we're close.

[00:35:33.593] Samantha Mathews Chase: I think, like, I mean, I'm thinking beyond more cryptocurrency because I think of cryptocurrency as just a store of value in the same way that we have But more about attribution to who's participating and what. Like if I have identity and I have just like I'm going online and I like something, like maybe, you know, with cryptocurrency I could tip, but maybe just in the same way that I support somebody on Patreon or something like that. If I'm going to all these sites all the time, just by where I've moved through and what I've done, my attention is the currency. my interaction is a currency. If I add or like commit something to somebody's open source code, that can be a currency. And we just need to kind of maybe get out of the mindset of currency and more into the mindset of its shared value and how we can sort of start to think about right now it's like you buy something and like this idea of ownership and it's like now it's mine. It's like I want to remix it. I want to chop it up and do whatever. I'm from the audio world, and it sucks so much having your stuff taken down because you used a tiny little sample or something like that. And it's like, if we can change things to hold value, and files, sounds, places to hold value, and then we can remix those and and other people might see different value in them, but keep the line of attribution, that's where I think we'll really unlock this. We need to get out of the mind of cryptocurrency and just more into like cryptographic attributed value to each thing that we interact with.

[00:37:01.068] Kent Bye: Great, so just a couple more questions, and we'll open it up to the audience here. But I'm curious for each of you, some of the biggest either problems you're trying to currently solve or open questions that you're trying to answer with this interface between virtual reality and these different virtual worlds and these decentralized architectures and systems.

[00:37:22.242] James Baicoianu: I can talk a little bit about with Janus, people often, you know, they build worlds and they can host them on IPFS, which is great for people who don't have access to a server that they can run. But the downside to that is the same as with the web in general. Once you put something up, there's no guarantee, you know, like you need to keep it in IPFS as long as you have people kind of actively visiting your content, it stays fresh. But after a while, if it's kind of not popular for a little while, it might disappear from the kind of gateways. And if you're not actively seeding that, it kind of disappears. So I think that's one of the fundamental problems that we face with these kind of decentralized technologies is there's nobody who's really kind of making sure that this is running, continues to run. But on the other side, you know, there's so many cases where you have your content, you know, hosted on, say, Flickr, and then Flickr, you know, Flickr's still around, they've managed to, you know, withstand the storm, but so many photo hosting sites, you know, people put all their content, their lives into these systems, and then the company goes out of business, or they're sold to some other company who's like, yeah, we don't care about that legacy thing anymore. So, you know, this isn't the problem that's unique to decentralized systems, but I think that's a problem that we need to look at as we're developing these decentralized systems, is how do we build them in a way that ensures longevity of what you've created, regardless of interest. That's the problem right now, is it's all interest keeps things alive. But there's so many cases throughout history where some piece of art went into someone's attic and disappeared for 20, 30, 100 years. And it's only by sheer coincidence that someone found this and, oh, this is something that was created in the early days by some artist who is now famous. And this is hugely valuable. But at the time, nobody cared about it.

[00:39:19.207] Samantha Mathews Chase: Being able to preserve those type thing you build that type of resilience into the decentralized systems We're building will be a challenge, but something we need to take on That kind of touches on something that I'm working on as a personal project Which is I feel like I've changed so much in the last three years and I grew up on social media And I've lost so much stuff. I've been kicked off platforms. I've had things deleted. And now as I've been wanting to move out of this sort of previous identity as a performer and into more of like this totally different world that just really doesn't have anything to do with the previous one. I've really struggled in how I'm going to archive myself or how I take that with me and what I want to sort of put away and what I want to have on display. And I think there's this beholdenness to the past and everything that we build and the way we build our systems, even the way we collect data and correlate. It's always about the past. And I've been working right now on just archiving myself. I made a comic world and a motion comic. a bot actually that holds the likeness of my DJ character Blontron that's on a Vesta site. And it's just connected to my YouTube, my SoundCloud, all my, it's just all the APIs connected to it. And it's like, that's my likeness, that's Blontron. And she's held there now in this space. And so for the project, I'm like trying to take more than just, okay, here's all my my music that you can point to and interact with, but like, maybe I want to see this trip and kind of go into a memory palace or go down a memory lane, or maybe I want to keep myself together in a loving way because, you know, you break up with somebody and you're like, oh, I guess I'll just delete or hide that album, or like, I guess I'll just put that away, and it's like we're not really understanding that we are who we are because we got there somehow. I don't feel like we can take ourselves and put ourselves on a shelf and then be like, that's who I was in my 20s. And it was really interesting. I scraped my whole Twitter feed, everything I ever wrote in my 20s, essentially. And she's a shitty chat bot now. She sucks. She's the worst. I'm like, I guess I drunk tweeted a lot, because you'll go up to her and she'll be like, whatever, thanks, Obama. And you're like, OK, whatever. But I think just because we're with this project with the archive and we're talking about permanency on the web, I think where that all comes together is if we have agency for ourselves, we'll be a lot better at archiving ourselves. Instead of being upset that these maybe systems are looking at ways the Wayback Machine can keep capturing everything, I think we're We're all panicking that we're losing stuff. And it's like, well, if you just made it, it's like, well, you be responsible for your stuff that you want to archive and show. And then once people have that ability, A, you move on and grow in ways you can't imagine, because you're not carrying that crap around with you anymore. And B, you're going to have a much richer history, because it's each person's personal story. And so I think, yeah, I'm excited about avatars. I'm excited about what I can take with me around the web. really excited about this feeling of safely putting myself somewhere and archiving myself to look at later so I can reference. Like, it's a weird feeling to go up to my bot and I took all my profile photos from my 20s and they all meld together. And I mean, it's, it's shitty. It's so shitty, but it's reminiscent in this cool way. It's not this exact replica of me. It's this feeling of me. And it allows me to kind of look at myself in a nicer way and be kind of like, oh, LOL, you were in your 20s, you know. And I want that for everyone because I think the more that we're not like, oh, this is my timeline, it just keeps going. I guess I should just hide that ex because I've got a new boyfriend. It's just that's that constant running thing. It's not healthy. And it's also not a great way to archive the web. And it's not fair to put it on all of us to archive the web, you know.

[00:43:27.045] Alberto Elias: So what I would say is my main focus is creating this seamless virtual universe, 3D space with augmented reality that we can move around. And it's basically going to change how we go with our day-to-day lives, how we learn. And more deeply, it's going to change how we communicate. I want to make sure that this is a very seamless experience and above all, that it's open for everyone. Everyone feels safe. Everyone can access it. and I just want to make sure that nobody's left behind when we make this massive change to this spatial computing world.

[00:44:04.772] Andrés Cuervo: Yeah, I guess the biggest open question for me is how do you sort of combine the answers that Samantha and Alberto gave, right? Like, if today you wanted to recreate projects like what we've been talking about, or sort of interact with projects like we've been talking about, you do need to know the basics of the decentralized web, you do need to probably interact with an API and some scripts, and sort of thinking about that question of where the interaction pain points and how do we make those easy. Not only easy, how do we sort of prove to people that having a personal archive of like everything you've ever posted or having a decentralized identity, sort of imagining experiences for how that could be useful for people living their everyday lives, not sort of like imagining the bigger questions about how do we archive the entire web, how do we archive just one person and make that as sort of seamless and easy as an experience as possible.

[00:44:55.018] Philip Rosedale: We just need fast blockchain stuff. You're asking about problems. We're just trying to get stuff onto a main network. So that's a lot of our work is just basically the practical problems of making these things run fairly fast.

[00:45:06.883] Kent Bye: So the final question I want to ask and then open it up is what you guys think is kind of the ultimate potential of adding both virtual reality and a lot of these decentralized technologies, blockchain, self-sovereign identity, and what all of this combination together might be able to enable?

[00:45:25.955] Alberto Elias: Well, I'm going to stick with my previous point. I think it's the tool that allows us to create this seamless experience in a way that is open for everyone. And people will be able to control their identity, which I think is a very, very crucial part of this. It makes it so that there are no walled gardens. So that's also a very important part of this seamless experience. So, yeah, I think it is the tool to be able to make this seamless, massive virtual universe.

[00:45:55.744] Samantha Mathews Chase: I know a lot of people talk about things like universal basic income, which I think just has millions of problems. But the main one being that I think people are happiest when they feel purposeful and when they feel acknowledged for whatever their purpose is. And I think when I see the technology we're trying to build, it feels so much like we're trying to replace human interaction like Google's whole thing is like let me invite people over for tacos for you and I'll write the email and like you're like okay but can you just tell me when I'm supposed to talk to someone or like maybe make a bike lane map I don't know. The way I see it working best is when we're able to have people work or do something like just their art like if you're just making a world and like you can maybe switch between jobs like right now say you work at a call center you could from home work at six jobs at once instead of like you know you could have the same training and and be in the same thing and just have your avatar change like you could you can do so much at once in these virtual worlds when you can meet somebody you don't have to like drive across town to go show them something. I think what's going to happen is when you make people more able to share value, share space on the web, you'll be able to open up a whole new marketplace of jobs and ways for people to self-sustain that just aren't available. And I think We need to think about making that. We need to think about how we can put people to work, how we can give people purpose in there and stop trying to make people feel like this is a place to play and this is a place to like, oh like we'll take care of all your social interactions and your calendar and here go play with blocks in a room. It's like It's hard not to feel like so childish in that environment. And what I'm hoping that the decentralized web and adding in currency and payment and agency will do is actually make it so that we have a new economy, an entirely new economy where you can have 30 jobs or whatever. And it's not driving from Starbucks to CVS. It's like, I'm really great at talking to people. So I'm a talk agent. I'm a real person talk agent. I just work for 20 companies.

[00:48:14.286] Philip Rosedale: An explicit example of this is teaching. One of our goals with High Fidelity is imagine a million little classrooms all around the world run by a million different people and you go there and they're live and it feels just like this. There's somebody like today I'm going to teach you about 20th century economics and you pay that person with a cryptocurrency upfront or as a tip or whatever And you've suddenly created this opportunity for people to feel and be in a room just like this. That's, you know, trust me, that's the feeling of this stuff with all the gear. And we can basically begin teaching each other around the world. That's a job. It's a great new job, which is you can take something you know and you can convey it to other people and you can get paid in real time for it. And those other people suddenly have access to education opportunities that they never had. That's what Ready Player One is. If you read that book, The core cool idea of Ready Player One was not go play after school in a big dumb video game. The idea was that they went to school there. And I think that's one of the ideas of this. If VR and many, many spaces and appropriate kinds of identity and currency can be set up, I bet you that one of the things we're going to be doing in a couple of years is going to school online.

[00:49:17.294] James Baicoianu: Well, I think that, you know, where this panel is obviously about virtual worlds and identity within that context, but I think that the ultimate potential of virtual reality is just, we keep drawing these lines between, oh, well, the virtual world isn't real, but the real world is real. If you go back 10 years, the Internet, that's not real, but the real world is real. As we evolve these systems, the line between them really starts to blur. I think that what we really need to be looking at is just this technology allows us to do different things in the real world. We're still like when Philip and I are having a meeting and we're talking to each other, we're in virtual reality. But on the other side of the line, he's standing in a real room. I'm standing in a real room. We're having a real conversation about real things. So even though we're using a virtual world as the medium for that, There's a lot of discussion in the industry about virtual reality, mixed reality, extended reality, augmented reality, and it's all just reality. It all exists within reality. It's all different ways of presenting information. And I think that we need to move past the idea that we're just doing this virtual reality thing and it's a bunch of games and ha ha, those silly people doing their whatever virtual reality stuff. You know, it's much more than that. And I think that people, you know, as the technology evolves, people will stop thinking it as a separate thing, you know, and it'll just become a part of our lives.

[00:50:49.528] Andrés Cuervo: Yeah, on the note of it's not just virtual reality or mixed reality, but it's reality, I'm fascinated and interested by, you know, going to school, having jobs in sort of extended reality or whatever. But I think the most sort of the most impactful experiences for me are probably going to be having emotional sort of social and artistic experiences, especially things like being able to sort of pay people for experiences that really move you. That's incredibly hard to do right now. And it's also incredibly like sort of, it creates an incredibly awkward situation in the real world, right? Which is why we have, we sort of present these fronts around cultural institutions that sort of professionalize them or make them Just make them not as emotional as I think they could be if you had a decentralized, safe, anonymous if you want it, identity that could be tied to an experience that is exactly very real.

[00:51:43.766] Kent Bye: Great. So we have some time for some questions. So open it up to see if anybody has any questions that they want to ask.

[00:51:50.705] Questioner 1 : I'm curious about reputation networks and reputation systems. You know, you talked some about like verifiable claims, which are fantastic. But if I'm a bot, and I have a bunch of verifiable claims that say I'm a human, those can all be signed by other bots. And so we have to bootstrap the reputation systems through people that I trust directly. And so are you thinking about that individually and interoperability between your systems with reputation systems?

[00:52:22.875] Philip Rosedale: We're working specifically on that idea with relative reputation, which is essentially the network span, a limited network span assessment of attestations made by people about you. That's precisely the defense against this sort of civil attack. It's kind of the black mirror thing. The black mirror nosedive episode is kind of dumb because who would really care about a global score? I mean, maybe my credit score, but certainly not my friendship score. Who cares what the global number is? The question is what some group of people think of me, and I think that for that reason, Well, I mean, it's computationally tractable to do relative reputation, where to so many degrees of separation, you analyze what all my friends think of Sam. And I use that as the basis of deciding whether to trust her. So yeah, I think that's right. Yeah, something like that.

[00:53:06.573] Alberto Elias: I more or less agree with that, but I am extremely concerned and have no solution nor ideas about the idea of putting a number on someone, even if it's a relative number. That is something that scares me quite a bit about the effects that that can have. So I understand reputation is necessary, so it's like Airbnb, Uber and all that. But I do think it's a very hard problem. I think starting with this relative reputation is the way to start. But yeah, I'm quite scared about putting a number on someone.

[00:53:38.521] Samantha Mathews Chase: I think you can have reputation without a number. I think this is an obsession that we have with. Yeah, it's a real, real problem. I mean, you even, it carries on constantly. We're constantly kind of being like, what should be the ratio of women? What should be the ratio of this? And it's like, those are more numbers you're trying to shove people into. And it's just dangerous. I think we need to focus more on the reputation of institutions, the reputation of like, you know, reputation for something like in an education scenario. I hope we can kind of move out of numbers and maybe just like tipping points. Like if you're just X amount of people say no, then you just can't come in or things like that. But I would, yeah, I agree with you. I'd be very, very frightened of trying to quantify reputation.

[00:54:24.906] Kent Bye: Okay. Any other questions? Yeah.

[00:54:29.684] Questioner 2: Hello. So I'm curious about maintaining multiple identities, particularly, you know, sort of anonymizing piece. Samantha was talking a little bit about this, about like kind of making a break from your past in some sense. There was another thing that Philip was talking about where, you know, if the virtual system is tracking you in a particular way, then that is providing identity information. And one of the things that's interesting to me that struck me about that is, doesn't that tell me some interesting things about my identity to me, that maybe I want to change, or maybe there's another level of interface where I want to say, okay, that annoying behavior that I have that is so identifiable of me, please take that out of the system and put this other one in that my friend has or whatever. And so being able to sort of mix and match and create an identity along those, and is that something that's In my view, that's extremely desirable. And like, you got to be able to do that. But at the same time, there's this like trying to connect identity to real people and that sort of thing. So could you talk a bit about the play between those two?

[00:55:31.353] Philip Rosedale: Again, Second Life serves as an interesting reference. An interesting question can be asked, which is, how many avatars does every human have? At the beginning with Second Life, we thought this would be more than, or at least I thought it would be more than it was. That is to say, we'd each have an evil version of ourselves that we brought out when we wanted to be mean, and we'd have a beautiful social butterfly, and we'd have all these different ones. It turns out that that didn't work that way. The number of identities that people maintain in Second Life is probably like a number between 1 and 1.5. on average. And the reason for that, I believe, after looking at it these years, is the cognitive load associated with maintaining sort of different personas, unless you are indeed have a multiple, you know, a very variegated personality, the cognitive load associated with that is high. We're just not smart enough to do it very well. And so what happens is people tend to one to one. And as you said, Kent, yes, Metcalfe's Law. So if you have two identities that are separate, that you keep separate, you're kind of taking the square root of your overall value. because each one of those has less friends. And so there is a mathematical law that will tend to push you into maintaining one rich identity. And so like in Second Life, and I believe this will be the case, most of us will have but one identity that we of course can doodle around with more easily than in the real world. We can change our appearance more easily, but we'll tend to stay with one.

[00:56:50.172] Kent Bye: But I'd say one thing is context switches. So depending on the context, you'd want to maybe maintain those different ones.

[00:56:56.955] James Baicoianu: Yeah, I mean, definitely if you look in the real world, we do have different personalities that we put out in different scenarios. If I'm at work, I'm probably behaving differently than if I'm just playing games with my friends or if I'm at a family dinner. I'm still the same person, but I pick and choose what parts of myself I express. And I think that, yes, in current systems, it is very difficult to maintain these multiple personalities. And we tend to think of multiple personalities as something to be avoided in the real world, but we all have that type of thing. You're expected to behave differently at work than when you're with friends. So I think that yes, in existing systems, because of limitations really, it's difficult to manage these, but I think that we should be working towards a system that kind of embraces the fact that that is how we interact in the real world.

[00:57:53.723] Kent Bye: Yeah, with Second Life being one specific context, as VR and augmented reality pervades amongst all of our different various contexts of our lives, I do imagine that there's gonna be these different ways that you modulate your identity and your expression as you go into, whether you're at home, whether you're at work, whether you're in relationship or with your friends. I think we all already do that, but maybe within the context of Second Life, that was maybe one of their contexts, but they likely had many other contexts as well, I would imagine.

[00:58:22.937] Alberto Elias: Actually, when I started getting into identity, one of the things I liked most about this was that you could have multiple identities, and I thought that was actually going to be really, really big. But as I started talking with more and more people and started learning more about it, I actually reached the same conclusion as what Philip said, just people don't want to maintain, it's hard to maintain an identity. And identity is a really core aspect of yourself. But these decentralized identities do allow, like what we were talking about earlier, selective disclosure. They can allow you to express what you want in the different contexts. They can also be built in such a way as to what you share from one site can't be correlated with what you share with another site. So yeah being able to express different sides of what you want to express in each situation is something That we can do with these decentralized identities without having to have completely isolated identities Another part of your question that was interesting was this idea that VR systems can like it's for example the movement could reveal things about our identity that we would like to change and

[00:59:24.090] Andrés Cuervo: And I think that's interesting because it points to how the answers that we've been formulating already point to either having a single identity that we want, that we want to be able to prove, or being able to show people different sides of ourselves, and being able to change that identity midway, sort of like as your relationship with different people change over time, I think will force us to acknowledge the thing that we've been implicitly doing, right? Showing different sides of ourselves at work, showing different sides of ourselves at school. Yeah, being able to change those and sort of be aware of them is probably the biggest advantage of being able to track this information safely and personally through something like the decentralized web.

[01:00:08.298] Kent Bye: Cool. Any other questions?

[01:00:09.259] Questioner 3: Yeah. Has anyone thought or built any prototypes for possibly running programs in VR, as in you can have an object that represents basically an executable and you run it on something? We've always been talking about basically the whole context as basically as the web app. You know, like your whole environment is the app. But what if you run multiple apps in parallel in that environment?

[01:00:39.858] James Baicoianu: I think you've touched on kind of one of my specialties. That's kind of how I got into the WebVR topic was I volunteered at the Internet Archive to Jason Scott, one of the employees of the Archive, wanted to bring old software onto the web. You know, you have so much, you know, decades worth of software, interesting, you know, both, you know, work and play type of educational software that's out there, but was just completely inaccessible. You know, unless you were technically savvy and could install an emulator, you just didn't have access to go back and look at all this old software. So Jason Scott kind of started this project to basically compile emulators to the web using Emscripten, so using WASM WebAssembly. So basically, once you've done that, you can take all these old systems, these native applications, and run them in the context of a website. Or because we're doing VR on the web, you can pull these emulators in and map them onto an arcade machine and you can actually interact with that arcade machine or we have a demo where we pull in Windows 3.1 and kind of put that on a nice old IBM PC and you can boot it up and dial up ISP and you can actually run you know, Netscape Navigator 1.0 and see, you get that kind of feeling of what it was like to use the internet back then. And, you know, you can put these artifacts into these contexts that convey a little bit more about what the world was like when people were using those old dial-up machines. You know, what did the average desk look like? And I think that going beyond that, the idea of being able to take these native applications, embed them on the web, and mix and match between them. It kind of opens up a whole new distribution channel for these native applications and opens up the ability to kind of, you could be, if maybe you grew up, you know, you're a little bit older and you really loved WordPerfect 5, you know, the blue screen where you type your text into and you were like proficient with that. You were forced, you know, a decade ago to move on, but maybe you still have that muscle memory. And you could do that and write your document, you know, in that old system and then pull it into a modern system, you know, within that same context. So, I think there's a lot of experimentation and a lot of kind of development that we could do towards, you know, that opens up the idea of the web as an operating system.

[01:03:10.537] Andrés Cuervo: Yeah, there were sort of two parts to your question, or I think two reasonings behind your question. One was running software on objects. And the answer that we just heard was sort of around how do we run software in new software environments. But I think the more interesting question that's around specifically virtual reality is how do we program using the virtual objects themselves? And one of the most interesting proofs of concepts that I've ever seen of this came out of LLVR. which is a now defunct sort of art research group that was based in San Francisco. And they created this language where, as a simple example, you had a turtle and you would literally put in arrows, little 3D models of arrows. This is all in VR. So let's say you put down one forward arrow and one right arrow. When you close the turtle and you put it down on the ground, the turtle itself would move up and to the right, right? And so you begin, yeah, it was effectively a VR implementation of Logo. And that's really exciting because in the same way that we can sort of emulate old software in new software, we can sort of build and spatialize software by embodying programming inside of objects in ways that we just haven't even thought of yet. And yeah, I'm really excited by that future as well.

[01:04:26.407] Samantha Mathews Chase: Far less exciting side. It's nice just to have the space. Like, I don't know about you, but I'm like a tab. crazy person and there's only so many tools you can have in Flatland and like there isn't going to be an app, another app for productivity. It's like there's a lot of apps for productivity. I literally just want space. It's like all the things I talk about, I almost never put a headset on. I just use my screen because I actually want to see the space. I just want to see my things laid out. I just want to have my Slack on a computer and I want to have You know, my Trello on another computer, I don't want to have it all in tabs. I'm really sick of this. Like, I am. I can't handle it. I go nuts. And when I use WebVR, the thing I use it for the most is just to see things spatially. It's just to go around and not... And then if I need to check something, it's just this, right? Just on my face. So I think it's exciting, like, to be able to just have all of those things working in one place and not have them all have to be flat.

[01:05:31.305] Kent Bye: Any other questions?

[01:05:34.129] Questioner 4: With decentralized identity, how do you manage blocking other users or banning other users without completely banning them from the network, like censoring them? Yeah, how do you do all that?

[01:05:46.631] Alberto Elias: You can't really censor them because they're using a decentralized identity and decentralized files, so you can't really censor anyone that way. I guess someone who creates a website can actually blacklist identities. But the way I would say, so there are different ways to block. You could block and just stop seeing them, though that has other issues, as the other people can still see this person. One way around this is you can actually choose who you share your social environment with. So if you're hiring issues because there isn't enough governance in this virtual world and people are just being stupid and bullies, then you can just say, okay, I don't want to share this space with these people. I only want to share it with people I actually know. So that's one way around it. But yeah, muting and blocking, like stop seeing them. That's, it's a thing you can do, but it's not great.

[01:06:38.372] James Baicoianu: Yeah. I think that that's kind of one of the problems that a lot of, uh, I mean, A lot of social networks, they try to put everyone in one place because of the fact that, especially with VR, there's a pretty limited number of people who have these headsets, who are using these kind of social VR apps. So kind of by necessity, we put them all in one place. But in the real world, if you try to put, you know, just every random person together, it doesn't always work. You know, you got some people are gamers and they got that kind of gamer personality. You got some people who just want to talk about, you know, knitting patterns with their friends. And if you put them in the same place and you don't give the gamers something to keep them busy, their game is going to be harassing the knitting people, you know? And, you know, so you need to provide people with things to do in these virtual worlds. And then once you've got more of these things for people to do, I think people kind of self-segregate into these groups of like-mindedness. And I think at that point, the issues of harassment they never entirely go away. I mean, we haven't solved harassment in the real world. So, you know, thinking that it's going to suddenly be solved in the virtual world, we have more tools available to us, but in the end, it comes down to human nature. And, you know, technology can't change humans, not overnight at least, you know. So, I think that that's the way to solve that is just to give people more to do and stop trying to force everyone into the same place, into the same kind of cookie cutter shape.

[01:08:10.970] Kent Bye: Cool. Any other questions? All right. Well, I just want to wrap it up and thank our panelists today for talking about the visions and the future of this intersection between the virtual reality, these virtual worlds, and the decentralized systems that we're all building. And yeah, just thank you all also for joining us today on the podcast and for this panel discussion. So thank you. So that was Alberta Elias of Symbol, Samantha Matthews-Chase of VinAgency, Philip Rosedale of High Fidelity, Andres Cuevo, a WebXR artist, and James Bacquiano of JanusVR. So, I have a number of different takeaways about this panel discussion, is that first of all, So scaling the blockchain, I think, is an open question. And it seemed to be a huge topic that was happening all throughout the weekend of the Decentralized Web Summit. And it sounds like that, you know, Philip Rosedale of High Fidelity is really thinking about, like, that being a big issue and topic to be addressed at some point. But the Virtual Reality Blockchain Alliance, which is this connection between JanusVR and High Fidelity, are thinking about things like the self-sovereign identity. And now that Alberta Alias has joined, he's actually bringing a lot of code and implementations. He did an A-frame implementation of self-sovereign identity. I'm excited to see how these different individual entities are starting to think about how to create this interoperability through these different individual systems to create this kind of decentralized metaverse. These are the different protocols that are being settled and worked out and trying to figure out how to collaborate with each other, with these different systems. And when it comes to identity, that virtual reality is going to be one of the areas where there's just a need for people who want to have an expression of themselves. And rather than going into every single new website and uploading your avatar, it'd be a lot easier if that was something that you could just point to on the blockchain and that could be automatically downloaded so that other people who are in that virtual world could also see an expression of yourself. So we cover different aspects of both identity and assets, being able to draw that you have different ownerships. And the fact that you are able to trawl the different history and the lineage of digital assets, I think that is going to be a huge thing. Because when you download an image or use a piece of music within the context of you know, 2D webpage, you may put the attribution there, but this is something where you could start to actually embed that attribution within the hash of the actual file so that you could start to then have some sort of tracking of the attribution of these different digital assets. You know one of the things that Philip has said he pointed to second life a number of different times But that in order to have like a viable currency, it has to have be consistent It can't be kind of widely fluctuating. Otherwise, it's not going to be viable It seems to be like in the larger ecosystem of the blockchain like the concept of a stable coin I think is still a bit of a speculative idea to see if it's able to kind of work in these open markets and It sounded like in the context of something like Second Life, where it was somewhat closed, there wasn't a lot of market dynamics that were happening from people that are outside of the Second Life and are actually using the currency. And so I think that once you start to open things up, to me, an open question as to, is it going to be possible to be able to kind of maintain this consistency of a stable coin with something like High Fidelity Coin. And so I think this is something that is going to be experimented with and figured out. But that's an issue is that if you actually want to get people to use these cryptocurrencies as currencies rather than these different assets that are going to have people holding onto or holdling where they're seeing it as an investment where it'd be silly to spend it. People joke about how they bought millions of dollars worth of pizzas in the early days of the cryptocurrency because the value of the Bitcoin went up so much. So I think the idea is that they don't want to have that types of behavior within something like high fidelity. And I was super impressed by a lot of the questions that were being asked by the audience there, just because they were coming from very much entrenched within the cryptocurrency ecosystems and asking things about, well, how do you deal with bots? And how do you deal with Sybil attacks and verified claims and these reputation systems? Because you don't want to have your system be susceptible to having a big swarm of bots come in and basically overtake everything with one person gets a vote, then Are you able to kind of take over these different decentralized networks with some sort of like centralized entity? So figuring out ways to figure out how to do verified claims and these reputation systems sounds like another one of the big open questions. But overall, my sense is that there is a lot of things that are happening in a larger technology spheres that are moving us towards these decentralized futures. And that with the cryptocurrencies and the blockchain, it's a bit of the backbone, the economic backbone that is providing this cryptographic, mathematically sound formalism that is going to enable new types of behaviors of people interacting with each other. And that, you know, we ultimately want to hang out with each other in these social virtual reality experiences and people are going to want to exchange value with each other and you're going to need some sort of like global currency to be able to do that in a seamless fashion and if you're able to create at this protocol layer, this backbone of the fundamental ways that each of these individual platforms, whether it's WebVR or JanusVR or Symbol or High Fidelity, that they're able to collectively agree on the ways in which they're going to be able to talk to each other and be able to share the data they need, but also to be able to interface with each other using a lot of these decentralized systems. So I'm excited to see where all this goes. There's so many different open questions and a lot of these different VR experiences are in some ways these self-contained experiments. Decentraland is another experiment that is doing lots of stuff within the context of the blockchain. what they're doing with trying to constrain the resources. One of the things that Philip said is that he suspects that you're going to get a lot of these kind of like typical monopolistic behaviors when you have constrained resources, especially when you're talking about virtual reality, where you essentially have unconstrained amount of real estate. And so does that change these kind of rent-seeking typical behaviors? And are there new models that are able to be enabled? and then what type of old models are gonna be replicated by the old system, but there may be things that are actually getting enough capital flow, like Decentraland raised $26 million from their ICO, but at the same time, you know, like High Fidelity's raised about like $70 million altogether to be able to do their kind of decentralized vision. So there's so many of these different experiments from High Fidelity to Decentraland and JanusVR. And I'm sure there's going to be a lot more once you get a lot more adoption when it comes to people using WebVR types of experiences in A-Frame and WebAR as well, especially when you have mobile AR phones and headsets and, you know, with Oculus Go that's out there and eventually like the Oculus Santa Cruz to be able to do full six degree of freedom immersive virtual reality. So, that's all that I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast, and if you enjoy the podcast, then please do tell your friends, spread the word, and consider becoming a member to the Patreon. This is a listener-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon your donations in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So, you can donate today at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. Thanks for listening.

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