radical Insights.

Weekly Research and Commentary on the Future of Business and Technology.

The Future of the Metaverse.

Sep 5, 2022

Dear Friend,

Sometimes it is important to step away from it all. Priceline founder Jeff Hoffman told me once the story of the two lumberjacks. My own version of “sharpening the axe” is, as some of you know, climbing. This week I got to summit one of North America’s revered Top 50 climbs, Petit Grepon — I had a blast (here is the proof). At be radical, we firmly believe in stepping away from it all and disconnecting — not just to rejuvenate but also to gain perspective. And in my world, little gives you more perspective than standing on a 6x10 ft summit with 2,000 ft of sheer, vertical rock below you.

Read on for a juxtaposition in the metaverse, our weekly reading and link list, and some fun with visualizing Berlin’s sprawling public transportation system.

Practical Futurism // Decode. Disrupt. Transform.

Over the last couple of weeks on the radical Briefing, we have discussed the ways we have been wrong and what can be learned from this (here and here). This week I had a chance to dig further into the “metaverse” — an area that is certain to see most people (be it the ones building, participating, or commenting on it) be wrong.

Jeffrey and I keep talking about how we tend to be wrong about the specifics of the “end state” (the elusive goal state) and, in the process, can easily miss the important milestones and detours generating massive opportunities. In this context, let me draw your attention to a link I posted a few weeks ago about the economics of self-driving trucks. The critical insight is that you don’t need (and maybe even don’t want) fully autonomous trucks to make a massive dent in the industry. I believe the same to be true for the metaverse — you don’t need to (and likely don’t even want to) live, work and play in a fully immersive VR experience to experience a genuinely game-changing new environment.

Consider this juxtaposition: Josh Gondelman tried to live in Meta’s VR world Horizon World and found the experience rather terrible. Meanwhile, YouTuber The Tech Chap explores the Nreal AR glasses and has an overall rather delightful experience. Two opposing experiences — both true at the same time. The critical insight is to not see these experiences as the path to the end state of augmented/virtual experiences but rather a signal feeding into a much more complex and nuanced image of possibilities for the future of human-machine interactions. The question is not “is this the metaverse?” but ‘what of this is interesting and points toward a viable future vision?” (via Pascal)

What We Are Reading

😦 In Uncertain Times, the Best Strategy Is Adaptability Forecasting the future with any precision is impossible. Instead, advises Bain’s Michael Mankins, companies should focus on making themselves better able to cope with unexpected changes. A strategy that involves instilling an adaptive mindset among managers, building flexibility into operations, and creating dynamic plans. JaneRead

🐀 The Animal Translators Machine learning has excelled at analyzing human language; now, they’re being used to decode animal communication and allow humans to talk back at them! MafeRead

🗺️ Building Big Green States In A Tumultuous World What can the lessons of recent history tell us about the entwined futures of geopolitics, climate policy & economics? JeffreyRead

An Apple Watch for Your 5-Year-Old? More Parents Say Yes. Just as with second-degree implications, unexpected product use cases are always fascinating. This greatly outlines the Apple Watch’s suitability for kids. JulianRead

🍄 Is the Psychedelic Therapy Bubble About to Burst? Interesting insights and lessons learned not only into the specifics of the phycobilin frenzy but pretty much any “technology” being hyped these days. PascalRead


😱 Surprise, surprise! Civilian AI Is Already Being Misused by the Bad Guys

👨‍💼 Jeez! This Startup Is Selling Tech to Make Call Center Workers Sound Like White Americans

🖼️ Crypto is good for something: Why cryptographically signed photos matter.

🏊 AI is good for something: French government uses AI to spot undeclared swimming pools — and tax them.

😮 Softbank’s gamble is distinctly not paying off.

🚜 Open Source tractors to the rescue!

🎑 In the world of AIs generating synthetic images, Stable Diffusion is a really big deal.

Internet Finds

Beautiful and mesmerizing real-time visualization of Berlin’s public transportation system 🚉

In Case You Missed It

🏴‍☠️ The Heretic: To Become a Better Leader, Become a Better Human

🧨 Disrupt Disruption: This week, we released a fascinating conversation with Cyborg Anthropologist Marques Anderson. In our conversation, we explore the fascinating work of a cyborg anthropologist, ancestral wisdom, and how to integrate this into one’s work.

Radically yours, take good care, friend!

— Pascal, Mafe, Vivian and the three Js (Jane, Jeffrey, and Julian)