Global population and energy consumption are highly correlated
In the last 24 hours, the world population has grown by 120,000 human beings...each new inhabitant consumes about 60 kWh per day, and in the last 24 hours both human population and energy consumption have grown by 0.0015%.
Human population and energy consumption have accelerated their highly correlated growth since the end of World War II
Currently, at the beginning of its disruption wave 1, the Metaverse draws our attention to usable technological devices: virtual reality headsets, immersive sound, wearables to engage other senses such as touch and smell, video games and experiential software that are increasingly immersive and realistic.
We call real life the result of circumstances and choices from our birth, our gender, our culture and religion, our relatives, schools, jobs, friends and loves.
Real life is a consequential state of explicit choices and others' decisions, of surmountable and insurmountable constraints: we have one real life.
But what if we wanted to have many more virtual lives, travel without boundaries, play different roles and have relationships all over the world in "real" time?
The Metaverse is a digital Aladdin's lamp that allows us to immersively experience all our desires by convincing our minds and senses that the virtual is real.
Since World War II, humanity has experienced accelerated energy consumption and population growth.
The two variables are highly correlated: more humans more energy consumption.
The Metaverse can be the black swan that no one sees coming that reverses the growth of both dimensions.
The M Chart describes a scenario in which Metaverse will take over before 2100 leaving us no choices but to live a digital existence.
Are there any better ways to reduce energy footprint?
The M(etaverse) Chart describes 4 Phases for the transition from real to virtual life
The Metaverse, currently regarded as a source of entertainment, can in a dystopian but not unlikely scenario reverse the trend of human population growth and energy consumption.
A flutter of digital butterflies can change the trajectory of all humanity, will we allow it?
As in any Tsunami, the first waves generate curiosity and a sense of attraction…
The current situation we are experiencing: increasing time devoted to social media, fake news coming from digital sources, digital influence on our real behaviors, and investment in digital assets with unclear and demonstrable value (Cryptos, NFTs, ICOs, etc.). These trends will increasingly pervade society.
Not only digital natives but also older generations will devote 20-30% of their awake time to this kind of activity: screen time and Virtual reality applications will grow steadily: we are at the prodromes of the “real” Metaverse.
Children will empathize naturally with their avatars when connected.
In Phase 1 the consequences of the subsequent mass adoption of the Metaverse will be unclear, we will increasingly ask if is AI good or bad. Can we be erased by an artificial entity that will become sentient?
Let’s hypothesize that Phase 1 will close around 2025 when the subject of the Metaverse will no longer be a mysterious and neglected object, but will begin to manifest itself in its true social and economical potential.
The Metaverse tipping point will occur around 2050
In Phase 2 there will be an actual acceleration of the adoption of the Metaverse in the time allocated and economic resources.
Humans will no longer see themselves through the physical body, but as avatars that will represent them in the virtual world, especially those born after 2025.
Avatars will purchase our own virtual homes where we will invite Avatar friends to party or see a movie, the house will be furnished with fine, branded digital furniture, there will be special VIP guests (for a fee), virtual cocktails will give extra powers and attraction boosters to our avatars.
Let us assume that this phase of digital consumption penetration will last for about 25 years, at the end of which (we are in 2050) half of life will take place in physical space and half in digital space.
Metaverse Farms will replace physical ones for good
In Phase 3 there will be a real disruption of the physical economy.
Real factories will no longer be needed as more and more Metaverse Factories (or Metaverse Farms) will exist, there will be no need for new buildings, furniture, cars as humans with their bodies will essentially live in their own digital rooms, minimizing traditional physical activities and the related needs.
Taking care of one's beauty and appearance will no longer be physical, no more buying clothes and products to rejuvenate, everything will happen in favor of one's avatar: the best clothes and digital techniques to beautify and make one's virtual beings unique and distinguishable.
The physical economy will be reduced to the bare minimum: traditional schools (even distance learning ones), entertainment venues, physical stores, and public transportation will disappear (wave started in Phase 2).
At the end of Phase 3, most of the time and economic resources will gravitate around and in the Metaverse.
Life is delegated to AI and so procreation…
In Phase 4, which we assume will take us to the 22nd century, the Matrix scenario will be realized, most of the human population will spend the 24 hours connected to the Metaverse, and only an Elite will have time and a way to live in physical space.
AI-driven automated systems will power the physical bodies (connected to the Metaverse Pods) and their "health," the AI will ensure on the push of the Elite Governments the necessary artificial procreation, the new born will be immediately transferred to the Metaverse Pods.
The economy will run almost completely in the digital world, real life will be perceived for the few minutes when the newborns will pass from the artificial wombs to the Metaverse Pods.
Will the Metaverse decrease or raise global energy consumption?
The growth of energy consumption has always been strongly correlated with human population: where there are active humans there are industries, transportation, commercial and residential buildings.
The Metaverse and the virtual reality place where more and more people are spending time both for job and recreation will increasingly impact how to deal with real others, pushing toward “ideal” virtual relationships.
The resulting loss of interest in having interchanges with other human beings in the real world will lead to a reduction in procreation in the physical world and a decrease in population: there will no longer be interest in having one real family when we can have as many virtual families as we wish!
At the same time, decreasing real needs will impact the output of a large number of real industries, beginning to decrease their energy uses.
We can imagine that after 2050 energy consumption will go largely for Data Centers (or Metaverse Farms) and to ensure the vital functions of humans (e.g. liquid or synthetic food industry, basic transportation, Elite travels).
The human population will steadily decline to a calculated plateau level guaranteed by AI that will also manage energy consumption optimizations and artificial procreation... if this is the line dictated by the human Elite not (entirely) connected with the Metaverse.
Returning to the future energy footprint…
The transition to renewable energy as the predominant source of electricity, thermal energy, and hydrogen is a strongly entrenched Megatrend that will manifest over the next 30-50 years.
Renewable sources must be accompanied by massive investment in power transmission networks and storage, which is also an inescapable Megatrend.
We are used to thinking linearly, yet some factors at this nascent moment could have exponential growths and radically change the world we will live in (e.g., Metaverse, Viruses outbreak, food and water prolonged shortages).
Can we direct the future toward harmonious and balanced solutions or are we destined to live in extremes such as a world so hot that we cannot go outside or even a world in which we will no longer live consciously and physically?
This "fantasy" article is meant to be a provocation to think early on about how to ensure a balanced and concrete approach toward reducing the energy footprint caused by humans, without necessarily going through a Matrix scenario!
1 The impact of the Metaverse nascent industry strikes at the moment like a gentle wave of the sea playing with festive swimmers eager to dive into the new experience only a few hours a week...before becoming the Ocean.