Li Ming: Research and Exploration of the Metauniverse

On September 20, the 8th Blockchain Global Summit hosted by Wanxiang Blockchain Laboratory was held in Shanghai. Li Ming, chairman of the Blockchain and Distributed Accounting Technical Standards Committee of IEEE Computer Association, delivered a keynote speech on "Research and Exploration of the Metauniverse". In the speech, Li Ming described the background of the development of the Metauniverse, and said that NFT, as a digital asset certificate, has gradually become popular, greatly promoting the development of the Metauniverse. In terms of its value, NFT is helpful for content capitalization, asset confirmation, intellectual property protection, etc. In addition, Li Ming also said that the preliminary concept of the connotation of the meta universe is the integrated logical expression of digital consensus ecology. The key elements of the meta universe include organization, identity, assets and activities, and blockchain can support the development of the meta universe from these four aspects. Ecology is divided into five layers: technology, content, economy, collaboration and governance system; And the influence of the meta universe on human society in science and technology, content, economy, cooperation and governance.

The following is the full text of the speech:

Hello, I'm Li Ming. It's my pleasure to attend the 8th Blockchain Global Summit and thank you for your invitation. Today, I would like to share with you our research and exploration in the field of the meta universe.

As we all know, the meta universe has come. Baidu, Nvidia, Unity, Sandbox and other large domestic and foreign Internet companies and related enterprises have entered the meta universe industry. The emergence of the meta universe is not accidental, it has been promoted by policies, technology, commerce, society and other relevant factors.

As far as policies are concerned, China, the United States, the European Union, Japan and South Korea have all issued policies in digital economy, artificial intelligence, virtual space and other related fields; On the technical level, the development of the new generation of information technology and the proposal of Web3 have greatly promoted the development of the meta universe; From the commercial point of view, the financial and data dividend of the Internet basically peaked, and the investment object decreased; In addition, films and novels in the social field have played a role in promoting the development of the meta universe.

Background of the development of the universe

The development of the Internet is divided into three stages, Web1, Web2 and Web3. Web1 is a read-only network, Web2 is an interactive network, and Web3 is a value network. Compared with the iteration of Web1 and Web2, Web3 mainly proposes the corresponding principles of clear assets, fair income, privacy protection and data sovereignty based on some existing problems of Web2.

But from another perspective, email is message oriented, OA is transaction oriented, ERP is business oriented, and the current Internet platform is data oriented. At present, we have been able to carry out messages, transactions, business, data and other related activities in the virtual world. If the virtual world can further contain value activities, it will form a better ecology.

It is generally believed that Web1 logs in to different websites to obtain information through user name and password, Web2 can interact on different platforms, and Web3 hopes to access all Internet services with one identity. In fact, one of the essence of Web3 is to establish a universal ID, which binds a series of related content and information such as users' articles, social relations, identity information, short videos, etc. with users' personal identity. When the platform needs user information, it can purchase personal information through commercial activities or authorization, so as to truly return personal data to users and realize data sovereignty.

In recent years, people are gradually exploring the technical, financial and social attributes of blockchain. The technical attributes of blockchain have been developed for many years, so I will not repeat them here. In terms of economic attributes, FT and NFT have promoted the development of Defi, Fi and SocialFi; In terms of social attributes, DAO (Distributed Self Organization) has also explored innovative collaboration models in recent years. In this process, different countries have different regulatory methods.

At the same time, the development of human-computer interaction has directly promoted the emergence of the meta universe. Human computer interaction is not AR/VR, but AR/VR is just one of the human-computer interaction technologies. Human computer interaction includes AR/VR, holographic image and brain computer interface. Just as we believe that earphones are not mobile phones, mobile phones are not the Internet, and AR/VR is not a meta universe.The meta universe includes a complete process of entering the digital world with the help of human-computer interaction technology, and further reacting to the physical world after completing a series of activities in the digital world. This process of first entering and then outputting is the real embodiment of the meta universe.

In addition, NFT, as a digital asset certificate, has gradually become popular, greatly promoting the development of the meta universe. In terms of its value, NFT is helpful for content capitalization, asset confirmation, intellectual property protection, etc. But it also has many problems, including financial compliance, speculation, investment and other related risks. NFT will have the following trends in the future:

1.  Content aggregation. The current creators sell digital collections or NFT on a platform, and many of their product pricing or profit sharing ratios are set by the platform, but this way violates the nature of the creator economy. In the future, there may be a content aggregation platform, and the Internet platform will be used as a sales platform for distribution, so as to complete the circulation process of digital collections or NFT.

2.  Identity aggregation. At present, users need to use different wallets to purchase and save NFT on different platforms, which is more complicated for users. It is believed that in the future, even at present, there are some cutting-edge projects exploring the application of identity aggregation, that is, no matter which platform users buy NFT or digital collections, they can put them into one APP, without downloading a bunch of APPs to store NFT on different platforms.

3.  Utility Interests. At present, many NFTs only sell pictures. Under different regulatory requirements in different countries, these NFTs are difficult to circulate freely, so their value cannot be reflected. In the future, NFT should become a passport, prop or voucher with special significance and function in the meta universe, so as to release the real value of NFT. At the same time, there will be some NFT browsers and search engines in the future, which will further enrich the NFT ecology.

The integration of a new generation of information technology provides a very important support for the emergence of the meta universe. The Internet of Things, cloud computing, big data and other new generation information technologies are data oriented technologies, such as the Internet of Things for data collection, big data for data processing, artificial intelligence for data utilization, cloud computing for carrying, resource scheduling, and data transmission. The blockchain provides a trusted consensus tamper proof mechanism and incentive mechanism, while human-computer interaction is mainly to help users enter the digital world. Each individual technology has a long history of development, but there has been no phenomenal application. Only the integration of new generation information technology can support the application of industrial meta universe, commercial meta universe and industrial meta universe.

What is the meta universe

There are many articles on the Internet about "what is the meta universe?" The academic community has many views on this, including Meta, Microsoft, Amazon and other large enterprises have also explained this to some extent, but we think these are narrative descriptions of the meaning and role of the meta universe.

Based on ontology, we explored the essence of the meta universe. Not only that, we also analyzed some subtle differences between the Chinese and English meanings of the meta universe. The main meaning of "meta" in English is "above", which means "beyond", while "universe" can be understood as "universe, space", which is a concept of space; The Chinese word "yuan" can be understood as "primary, first and essential", while the word "universe" in the Warring States Period is "the upper and lower four rings speak of the universe, and the ancient and modern times speak of the universe", so the universe can be understood as a corridor of space and a tunnel of time. It can be seen that the meta universe includes two dimensions: time and space.

To discuss the connotation or essence of the meta universe, we must first clarify the macro relationship between the meta universe and the new generation of information technology and digital economy. As shown in the figure below, blockchain is one of the information technologies. After the integration of information technologies, information technology services can be promoted to promote digital industrialization.

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The universe is a huge digital ecology, which can attract more users to consume information, thus promoting industrial digitalization, and further promoting the development of digital economy through industrial digitalization and digital industrialization. In this process, it is not difficult to find that blockchain and the new generation of information technology are infrastructure, while the meta universe is a digital consumption ecology, which jointly promotes the development of the digital economy through "one push, one pull".

Similarly, based on ontology, we also analyzed the connotation of the meta universe from four aspects: conceptualization, clarity, formalization and standardization. Conceptualization needs to find the key elements of the meta universe, clarity needs to find the key components of the meta universe, formalization needs to explore the process of engineering practice of the meta universe, and standardization needs to put forward a concept term and development direction that the whole society has a consensus on. After a series of analysis,We get a preliminary concept of the connotation of the meta universe: the meta universe is an integrated logical expression of the digital consensus ecology.

The key elements of the meta universe include organization, identity, assets and activities,The blockchain can support the development of the meta universe from these four aspects.

1.  organization

Traditional platforms are prone to produce monopolistic organizational forms and business models, while Web3's view is that "users and builders share the network". The "DAO" based on blockchain technology can provide Web3 with a mode to maximize the scope of consensus on the premise of compliance with the regulation.

2.  identity

Traditional authentication methods are prone to security risks and data abuse. In the meta universe, both virtual people and virtual entities must have identity, so as to find the corresponding responsible subject. Blockchain can provide a distributed identity authentication system for identities in the meta universe.

3.  assets

Assets are bound to be generated in the meta universe, and the scenario with assets as the core needs to form a sustainable development ecology, even an economic system. Blockchain is the best solution to support the whole life cycle process of assets in current technology.

4.  activity

All activities in the meta universe will converge to data, and blockchain can support privacy protection and data security.

We willThe ecology of the entire meta universe is divided into five layers: technology, content, economy, collaboration and governance system.

1.  Technology system is the integration of new generation information technology;

2.  The content system mainly provides an open, creative, rich and sustainable content scene for the meta universe, so that more users can enter the meta universe;

3.  The economic system can provide the incentive mechanism and rights protection mechanism required by the meta universe;

4.  The cooperation system is a meta universe response mechanism that can realize multi-party cooperation and self-organization, so that more people can have consensus in the process of cooperation;

5.  The governance system provides the corresponding social rules and governance rules for the meta universe, including copyright protection, digital authentication, content supervision, as well as physical rules such as conservation of physical energy and gravitation.

Today we mainly introduce the technical system. We divide the technical system into five layers, including network, system, service, scene and space.

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The network layer of the universe is similar to the traditional Internet architecture, including communication, storage, computing and network technologies. But taking computing as an example, real-time 3D scene rendering in the meta universe requires a lot of computing, which puts forward higher requirements than traditional Internet computing. The meta system is the integration of a new generation of information technology, while the meta service includes content operation, privacy computing, identity authentication, incentive mechanism and asset management, and is based on this to support the corresponding applications of industrial manufacturing, social entertainment, cultural tourism, etc. in the meta scenario. In addition, a series of activities in our meta universe need corresponding equipment in the outer space to cooperate, including location perception, human-computer interaction, sensory touch, etc.

At the same time, the future of the meta universe is not that there is only one meta universe in the world. There may be different meta universes in different fields, such as the financial meta universe and the educational meta universe. However, each meta universe must be interconnected. Therefore, in the entire technology system of the meta universe, it is necessary to consider the corresponding standards of cross platform identity authentication, content interaction, asset circulation, etc. At present, many major cities in China have issued relevant policies on the meta universe, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, as well as Wuxi, Chongqing, Xiamen, Hangzhou and other cities.

In terms of enterprises, such as Baidu's Xiren and NetEase's Yaotai are platforms built by large domestic enterprises in the field of the meta universe to support users to enter the meta universe. In addition, China Mobile, China Telecom, Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu and other enterprises are listed in the 2022 Hurun China Metauniverse Potential Enterprise List released by Hurun Research Institute, and they are also gradually entering the Metauniverse.

There are many different types of foreign meta universe enterprises, including the enterprises represented by RobLox, SandBox, and Decentral Land that are "economic system+content creation", the enterprises represented by Unity and Nvidia that develop engine tools, and the comprehensive enterprises such as Meta and Microsoft that do not only peripherals, but also production tools and specific applications.

By comparing the development of the meta universe industry at home and abroad, we can find that the development of the domestic meta universe is lacking in the production layer, and many AR/VR games and applications in the industry are made with Unity or Nvidia Ominiverse. Therefore, China's meta universe industry needs to accelerate the development of the meta universe production engine.

The Influence of the Metauniverse on Human Beings

In addition, we also analyzed the impact of the future of the meta universe on human science and technology, content, economy, cooperation and governance:

1.  technology

In terms of hardware, the current display, mobile phone, TV and other terminals may be replaced. Although the current form of users entering the meta universe is dominated by AR/VR eyes, they may enter the meta universe through virtual workrooms and other devices in the future, so the current terminal display devices may be subverted. At the same time, the mouse and keyboard in the hardware are basically useless in the meta universe and will be replaced by new terminal devices.

At the software level, current browsers, input methods, vehicle mounted systems or operating systems may all change with the advent of the meta universe, and input methods and browsers may no longer exist.

So the entire software and hardware industry will be basically subverted by the meta universe.

2.  content

In the future, we hope to truly realize the return of copyright to creators in the meta universe. In addition, the creation method in the meta universe will also be transformed from 2D to 3D.

3.  Economics

In terms of economy, the application of digital currency may be further expanded, and may even generate a digital asset tax.

4.  cooperation

Innovation in the way of collaboration may lead to new careers, including digital building administrator, digital collection designer, etc.

5.  government

In terms of governance, for example, a series of identities such as virtual digital person and semi robot, who should bear the main responsibility, and how to manage new fraud will become new governance issues. Even in terms of social governance, there may be corresponding social governance institutions such as digital public security bureau or industrial and commercial bureau. To sum up, the development of the future meta universe will have a huge impact on our production and life.

At present, standardization organizations at home and abroad attach great importance to the standardization of the meta universe. Internationally, IEEE has recently set up a research group on the meta universe, while the Khronos Group has teamed up with some internationally renowned enterprises, such as Meta, Microsoft, Epic Games, Nvidia and other related companies to establish a meta universe standard forum, and Sandbox and other companies have also established an open meta universe alliance for Web3, aiming to propose meta universe standards and promote collaboration between Web3 and other industries. In China, three meta cosmic standards have been released recently, and various organizations are vigorously promoting the development of meta cosmic group standards.

As far as the standardization direction of the meta universe is concerned, we hope to establish an industrial consensus to promote science and technology for the better. In the formulation of standards, we must take science and technology as the leading principle, promote technology development as the main direction, and obtain the best practices of the industry through practical application, so as to finally reach an industrial consensus.

We also have some thoughts on the future development of the meta universe. The core idea is to "encourage group intelligence to explore and promote innovation". The development of an industry or the emergence of new business scenarios requires a large number of applications to achieve innovation and breakthrough. Although the theoretical guidance is useful, it still needs a certain scale of application exploration to emerge this emergent innovation. In this process, we give the following four suggestions:

1.  Unified industrial consensus

Strengthen the research on the technological system, service system, economic system and governance system of the meta universe, clarify the technological development path of the meta universe, explore the basic theory of the meta universe, and form the industrial standard of the meta universe.

2.  Explore technology integration methods

At present, the single technology has made some progress, but if we want to achieve technology inheritance, there will still be many problems. In addition, a series of problems such as distributed identity authentication, cross platform/cross ecosystem connectivity, the flow of digital assets and the governance of digital content also need to be solved urgently.

3.  Innovative application scenarios and business models

Promote the innovation of intelligent manufacturing, information consumption, smart city and other related scenes in the digital environment, and establish innovative business ecology such as industrial meta universe, urban meta universe, and financial meta universe while upgrading traditional industries with new technologies.

4.  Strengthen the research on ethical governance of science and technology

This mainly includes studying and judging the risks related to privacy protection, technology discrimination, algorithm kidnapping, illegal fund-raising, etc., formulating a series of strategies for financial service management, content and asset compliance supervision, digital copyright protection, etc., and promoting the formation of a highly efficient governance mechanism that can be supervised, dynamic, and promoted.

The above is what I share with you today. Standards are the cornerstone to discover the basic laws of the world and accelerate social progress. We welcome more experts to join in the standardization work. Thank you.