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🌅The Metaverse Golden Age
Throughout history, periods of great innovation and creativity have a pattern of occurring within certain geographic areas. These areas experience a “Golden Age,” where creativity is nurtured and encouraged by the ruling government. Golden Age periods usually end due to a change in the government’s mindset: instead of viewing creatives as an additive resource to support, they view them as an extractive resource to exploit.
During Golden Age periods, there is a Cambrian explosion of creativity, collaboration, and learning between people in a geographic zone. Motivated people from all over the world are attracted to these regions to join the creative frenzy. These frenzies can spawn amazing technologies, beautiful art, and all sorts of inventions, but the defining characteristic of these periods is collaboration.
Despite the notion that single individuals invent amazing technologies, most inventions are not the work of sole, genius individuals. They are generally years in the making and are formed through a culmination of many people’s work. These Golden Age periods often lay the groundwork for inventing new technologies because teams of people, with different skill sets and backgrounds, collaborate on ideas and work together.
A Golden Age has been occurring in Silicon Valley since roughly the late 1990s. There was a time where anyone, from anywhere in the world, could come to Silicon Valley and start the next billion-dollar company. A study done in 2018 by the National Foundation of American Policy found that 55% of all US-based billion-dollar companies had at least one immigrant founder. This Silicon Valley Golden Age has produced so much wealth that if Silicon Valley were a country, then it would be the 2nd richest country in the world. It’s shocking that one small region can provide so many ideas and such high economic output, but unfortunately the Silicon Valley Golden Age seems to be in the process of ending. The culture of experimentation and exploration is being squashed by a regulatory regime and government that has decided to suppress innovation in exchange for greater control.
This change has everyone looking for the next “Silicon Valley,” or region, to experience a Golden Age. Some say it could be Austin due to Texas’s pro-business culture, or China’s Pearl River Delta due to their tech hardware infrastructure. Or perhaps it will be Bangalore, India due to their IT focus.
I don’t believe the next Silicon Valley will exist in a physical location, but I agree with investor and entrepreneur Naval Ravikant when he states, “The next Silicon Valley will be built in the cloud.” To tweak his words slightly, I believe the next Golden Age is happening right now within the metaverse.
TL;DR: History of Golden Ages
Let’s take a quick look at some of the Golden Age periods throughout history.
Ancient Greece (500 to 300 BCE): Athens and Sparta reigned over the construction of magnificent monuments, art, philosophy, architecture, and literature. This Golden Age laid much of the foundation for modern societies today.
India (300 to 600 CE): The Gupta Empire brought us achievements in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, literature, logic, mathematics, astronomy, religion, and philosophy. They even brought us the decimal system and the number zero.
Ancient China (600-1600 CE): The Song and Tang dynasties introduced paper money, tea-drinking, gunpowder, printing, and the compass.
Islamic Golden Age (700-1400 CE): The Abbasid Caliphate advanced fields like algebra, calculus, geometry, chemistry, biology, medicine, and astronomy. A very interesting note is that the Abbasid Caliphate created something in Baghdad called the House of Wisdom. This structure housed Islamic scholars, scientists, and researchers from all over the world, who were mandated to gather and translate all of the world's classical knowledge into Arabic and Persian. Just imagine how amazing it would be to go back in time and spend a single day in the House of Wisdom!
I could continue with examples of Golden Ages, but the pattern is clear. Golden Age periods happen within certain geographic areas when governments support creatives, and those creatives collaborate and learn from each other.
Current State Of Affairs
It's not just Silicon Valley that is under threat, innovation across America has been stifled by giant monopolistic corporations that pay politicians (via lobbying) to halt real innovation. These incumbent corporations do not want their monopolies to be threatened, so they pay off politicians and buy up every competitor before they become a threat. Unfortunately, this form of crony capitalism has infected large swathes of the planet, and today it is difficult to find a country whose government is not swayed by corporate interests.
In addition to systems now being designed to halt innovation, countries around the world are currently experiencing bouts of intense nationalism. Nationalism and xenophobia are never conducive to people from different parts of the world working together on interesting projects and problems.
Physical domains have proven to not be as innovative anymore. California, the state that harbors the most recent Golden Age and the former leader of world innovation, has become highly regulated and highly taxed, encouraging people to move elsewhere. It looks like the Golden Age of Silicon Valley is ending, and there is no other location to take its place.
So, What Do We Do?
We exit. We exit the absurdly burdensome regulatory regimes and systems that are designed by corporations to suffocate the creatives of the world. Normally an “exit” would entail physically leaving a geographic location for another geographic location. In the past, it would mean people leaving the Soviet Union, where private businesses were outlawed, to start a business in the United States. Seeing as every country in the world is currently sick with nationalism and crony capitalism, we have to exit “into” virtual environments.
I am not suggesting putting on a VR headset and spending all waking hours literally inside virtual reality, but I’m referring to working on technologies and businesses native to the internet. This means working with people from all over the world, no matter which country they are from. This is what a Metaverse Golden Age truly means: building and collaborating over the internet and working on internet-native businesses.
The Metaverse Golden Age
It's arguable that the Metaverse Golden Age began when internet-native businesses started launching in the 1990s. Although companies like Google, Netflix, and Amazon all started during this period, they represent the Silicon Valley Golden Age (even though Amazon was founded in Seattle). The true start of the Metaverse Golden Age was in 2009 when Satoshi Nakamoto launched bitcoin. He created a form of value that was, and is, entirely native to the internet. Such a feat had never been done before. This not only was the ultimate act of “exit,” but also served as the foundational layer for the explosion in metaverse-native technologies.
After the creation of bitcoin, people from all over the world started developing their own blockchains and technologies not reliant on any piece of “physical” infrastructure. There is no need to get approval or licenses for a completely internet-native technology. The second most important creation during this Metaverse Golden Age has been Ethereum. While bitcoin acted as a relatively unchanging internet-native store of value asset, Ethereum enabled people to create entirely new decentralized systems and applications. After Ethereum came hundreds of other blockchains and teams working on building interesting technology. Now, the entire crypto scene is thriving and growing like crazy.
What is everyone in the crypto ecosystem doing now? Creating like mad. Every single day I learn about a new project or technology that has either been created or is being created and will add value to the ecosystem. The pace of innovation is astonishing. The most incredible part is that, for the first time in history, creatives are not confined to a specific geography. People in Japan are now on teams with people in France, who are working with people in Argentina.
This Golden Age has brought us things like:
New forms of money
True digital asset ownership
Decentralized financial systems (DeFi)
Truly unique digital assets (NFTs)
and so much more.
The Metaverse Golden Age is enhancing not only technologies but also the traditional culture scene. Music, art, and games are entering into this ecosystem, where users have control and can expand the mediums. These types of creatives are redefining what it means to be an artist or musician, and even a gamer. The lack of rules combined with the embracement of experimentation is fueling this Golden Age to generate new creations every day.
This Metaverse Golden Age is only possible when creatives are unencumbered. No rules (or very minimal rules) leads to experimentation, and experimentation leads to both magnificent creations and utter failures. Of course, during a Golden Age there will be creations that fail and teams that cheat, but the overall outcome will be world-changing.
The Best Golden Age?
There is no doubt in my mind that this metaverse Golden Age, the one that is happening right now, will have the greatest impact on humanity. Why? Because there are no geographic, regulatory, or personal constraints. It’s just pure, unencumbered creation.
Anyone with an internet connection can take part. Builders don't have to worry about getting paid by people across the world because they are using uncensorable money. They also don't have to worry about setting up a company because they can create a decentralized organization. Creatives don't have to worry about graduating from the right school or knowing the right people: if they can build it, then that is all the resume they need.
Perhaps the most important factor for why the Metaverse Golden Age will be the best is the ethos behind the creatives. We, the community of builders, learners, and collaborators, have the same ethos and values that the crypto ecosystem has been built from. Transparency, responsibility, creativity, self-sovereignty, ingenuity, and openness. If we can maintain these values going forward and stick with this incredible pace of creation, then more society-altering technologies will be created.