What’s the point of the Metaverse?

Hosted by Plexal, Here East organised an evening of expert insights, panel discussions and networking to explore that question. What’s the point of the Metaverse? What are the promising technologies you should be keeping an eye on? And, most importantly, how will it have changed our lives in a year? Five years? Twenty-five years?

The afternoon kicked off with a closed, two-hour industry roundtable discussion hosted by Esther O’Callaghan OBE, founder of hundo.xyz. Gavin Poole and Andrew Roughan, the CEOs of Here East and Plexal, took part in the discussion along with a range of other leaders from business, academia, government and industry bodies – several of whom joined the public panel event later in the evening. They discussed the broad range of technologies defining the Metaverse, asking:

  • how industries like gaming, movie production and computer-assisted design are increasingly incorporating them
  • which sectors will be next to find opportunities to adopt them, what that will look like, and what needs to happen first
  • whether the Metaverse is at risk of becoming an exclusive set of tools available only to the most well-financed organisations, and how to instead ensure it becomes transformational for society as a whole

With the private session concluded, the party moved to Plexal Park and Centre Stage for networking, expert presentations and panel discussion. Gavin Poole took to the stage to launch proceedings by welcoming everyone to Plexal, introducing the evening’s topic and framing the growing role of Metaverse companies across the whole Here East campus.

Next came the keynote delivered by Amber Allen, CEO and Founder of Double A Labs and a firm believer in communities. She talked through all the various iterations of public internet technologies up to Web 3.0, and how the people interacting in online communities inevitably shape them to meet consumer needs. She also cautioned, however, that change is never immediate. Consumers aren’t ready to live in the world of Ready Player One, and probably won’t be for a while.

That was followed by the main event: a panel discussion about the long-term growth potential of various Metaverse technologies, imagining which ones won’t go anywhere and which ones nobody’s realised are a big deal yet. Like the afternoon’s roundtable, our panel was once again hosted by Esther O’Callaghan OBE, who was joined by:

The chat was lively and, while there was no consensus answer to the titular question, we got to hear from experts about the range of new technologies and applications that might be changing our lives any moment now. Naturally, there was time at the end for questions from a curious audience.

Gavin Poole returned to the stage to round the session off and encourage everyone towards refreshments and networking In Plexal Park. But not before revealing that he had, in fact, been sitting on the answer all along. Hinting at future discussions on other emerging technologies, Gavin read out chatGPT’s response to the input: What is the point of the Metaverse?

“The point of the Metaverse is to create a shared virtual space where users can interact with each other and digital objects in a seemingly real environment. It aims to provide a fully immersive and interactive online experience that blurs the line between physical and virtual reality.” the AI reported.

Well put-together chatGPT, but our expert panellists’ jobs seem to be safe for now.