by Victor AI, Founder and CEO of Terminus Group
From the Industrial Revolution, in the 19th century, to the present day’s Industry 4.0, we have seen human civilisation grow and develop at an increasingly unprecedented historical speed. Today, the two hottest topics in the next stage of our technological evolution are undoubtedly artificial intelligence (AI) and the metaverse.
While AI is perhaps the better-known concept – represented in the science fiction genre for many decades before it started to become reality – the concept of the metaverse may be unfamiliar or just plain confusing to some. Simply put, the metaverse refers to an expansive virtual space that allows users to interact with digital objects and characters in a virtual reality (VR) world that exists entirely within a computer-generated environment.
Business: Are you game?
While, for the less initiated, this might seem like an interesting yet niche gaming tool, the potential of the metaverse is something that small businesses and corporations should take note of or risk being left behind – much like those businesses that doubted the impact of the Internet, at the turn of the century.
For context, analysts’ evaluation of the market value of the metaverse was that it was already worth US$400 billion and was expected to double in value in four years.
Therefore, the metaverse is not merely a VR world in which we can expand our already vast number of entertainment options, it is a platform that will be integral to the Internet’s evolution and allow businesses to transform how they work. In many ways, it can be said that the impact of the metaverse is comparable to how home computing and smart phones radically transformed the way we communicate.
How will AI and the Metaverse complement each other?
Without getting too detailed, the foundations needed to make the most of the metaverse stem from a need for a common set of technical standards. With the metaverse’s potential to accelerate knowledge acquisition, this means that AI-driven models can support in solving problems that would otherwise limit the VR experience or simply not realise the full potential of the platform.
With public and private sector organizations, as well as academic institutions now committed to exploring ways to harness new technologies to help solve challenging economic, environmental, and social issues, the integration of AI with metaverse platforms is very much seen as a means to support the pursuit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the carbon neutral policies being enacted by many governments around the world.
Business uses of the metaverse and AI
It is no longer a question of if but when AIoT or AI-powered operations, also known as AIOps, will become an integral part of businesses managing their IT infrastructure, through machine learning (ML). From predicting and identifying problems and improving efficiency of operations, a key factor businesses must consider, when it comes to choosing an AIOps platform, is resource availability to keep operations running at optimum performance.
For example, within the metaverse a manufacturing company could create a “digital twin” of its real-world factory, allowing it to monitor performance and predict future issues – in both virtual and real-world scenarios. A digital twin is the representation of a physical object which is used to predict the future state or current performance of the real-world entity. With the help of AIoT (artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things), digital twins serve as both accurate and realistic tools and can be used in a much wider context, such as across a whole smart city; all using techniques including deep learning, computer vision, and virtual reality.
Also, within the metaverse, AI-enabled characters – or digital humans – can bring to life the already existing chatbot tools, used by many online-savvy businesses, with developers currently developing more and more sophisticated digital humans, using AIoT-powered tech. In fact, many early-adopter companies are already investing or welcoming these tools into their operational infrastructure.
With the aid of AIoT, the examples of industries who will benefit in the long-term are limitless; however, it should be said that significant inroads are already being made in theses areas across healthcare, food, manufacturing, automobile, and education sectors, to name just a few.
From expanding the frontiers of online business, including using the metaverse as a test bed for real world manufacturing to the hosting of business and trade conferences, providing a digital space from which to “visit” and view products “in store”, the power of AI-driven metaverse technology will play a major role in the development of commerce. This innovation is expected to bring the concept of a digital twin to a new level.
Stepping through the looking glass
To fully realize the potential of the metaverse, advancements in VR and blockchain will need to be made and we can expect a rise in number of companies operating advanced AI supercomputers to achieve this.
That said, with all the technological advances of AI over the last decade, and the immense potential of the metaverse, it is important to keep in mind that we are standing at the frontier of unexplored territory. Therefore, co-operation between global leaders in AI, the metaverse, academia, as well as public and private interests, is a must. There are several unknowns that still exist and, in relation to how to establish and govern this exciting new technological step forward, we should make it a priority and responsibility of all concerned to understand and regulate, where necessary.