If you’re new to the concept of the metaverse, you will probably find Decentraland (MANA-USD) bizarre, at least initially. A virtual world underpinned by a digital economy of real-world consequence — as in, you can both gain and lose money trading MANA tokens — Decentraland won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
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Mainly, that’s because as this blockchain-based ecosystem gains in popularity, you’re going to need to be quite wealthy to robustly participate in its riches. For instance, The New York Times late last year reported that some investors were forking over millions of dollars as they snapped up metaverse real estate in a virtual land boom.
To anyone not born or reared during the digitalization age, Decentraland probably sounds like communism, a weapon of the defunct Soviet Union accidentally activated by a reverse kill switch. Even if you were born in the digitalization age, it takes a special kind of person to fork over serious money for MANA.
Still, those who believe in Decentraland do so passionately. Much of the reason stems from this metaverse concept that everyone keeps talking about. New York Times writer Brian X. Chen provided an excellent explanation. But if you want my take, it’s the next evolution of digital connectivity.
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Very quickly, Web 1.0 connected computers to each other. Web 2.0 provided an ecosystem on top of this connectivity infrastructure. Now, we have Web 3.0, where our personalities are essentially integrated into online platforms. Perhaps Web 4.0 will allows us to have complete immersion of our mental state in a virtual environment — but the tech isn’t yet up to snuff for that.
But make no mistake about it: proponents want the metaverse to be a legitimate enterprise, a platform for play and work. But therein lies the problem.
The Ultimate Irony of Decentraland
If you ask anybody involved in the roll-out of metaverse-based architecture, they will swear that it’s like email, only with far greater implications. Blue-chip companies like Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:FB) have gone so far as to change their brand as an all-in wager on the metaverse.
As well, many futurists envision a workplace that’s entirely digital. Ever wanted to have an office overlooking the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris? Now you can with the metaverse, which adds more intrigue to platforms like Decentraland. With digitalized environments, your experiences are only limited by your imagination.
So, it’s safe to say that an increasing number of people take the metaverse seriously. But seemingly few think about the consequences of decentralizing and distributing the human experience across a limitless universe.
You know that there’s a lot of weird people out there. So, it wouldn’t take much for someone to make inappropriate comments in the metaverse. But what about inappropriate behaviors? If we are to take the digital world seriously, then aren’t we obligated to take infractions — let alone crimes — seriously as well?
That’s a topic that a recent Wired.com article explored, which noted that passionate participants of digital communities can suffer real harm from assaults transmitted digitally. Now, in a metaverse-based office, you’ll probably get fired for lewd behaviors directed at your co-workers. But what about a decentralized platform like Decentraland?
Increasingly, many countries are focusing on the area of internet laws and crimes. For instance, if you deliberately cause harm to someone via the internet (as opposed to in person), you may face legal consequences.
But in a decentralized ecosystem, the matter is a blurry one. It appears that the more people take the metaverse seriously, the more calls will erupt to centralize the concept.
Don’t Ignore the Boomerang Effect
To me, one of the biggest risks surrounding Decentraland is that it can expose the greatest conundrum of decentralization. On the positive side, you can do whatever you want. But on the negative side, you can do whatever you want.
When two folks disagree about an incident — a perpetrator may view the incident in question as no big deal while the victim could see it as a violation — what recourse is available for justice? In a decentralized world, none. In a centralized world, you can appeal to a governing authority.
When I first acquired MANA tokens, I did so out of pure speculation, not really understanding all the implications behind the underlying investment. Now that I have a better idea, I’m not entirely sure how long I’ll hold them.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto held a LONG position in MANA. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.
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