Identity in the Metaverse

What will identity in the metaverse look like?


Hey DEFI TIMES community,

The metaverse is a strange place. Its final form is very uncertain at this point. What will it look like ten years from now?

We can only guess - but we see first hints.

In essence, the metaverse is a collection of items, digital identities, balances, and objects stored on a decentralized ledger… like Ethereum!

Today, we explore one of the most exciting topics of the future metaverse: identity!


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The "Hello World" of the Metaverse

The term metaverse has existed for quite some time now, and we are yet to find a standardized definition of what it means to society.

In a recent Twitter thread, Vitalik gave his definition of the metaverse, and he came to two possible answers.

He says the metaverse is defined as either:

  1. Some kind of virtual reality on the internet where people can jump into, or

  2. A shared state of objects, items, and identities, which we can transfer on the internet across different platforms and realities.

If you ask me, I prefer the latter as a standardized description.

At this point, it has become clear that we will have multiple virtual realities in the future. We will see Facebook, Fortnite, and other companies bringing virtual reality products to the market. They will all look different, and there will be thousands of them.

What they will all have in common is the shared state of objects. For example, you will be able to transfer your favorite weapon from Fortnite VR to another one. This particular item isn't unique to the Fornite game itself. But it's an object that exists across multiple realities simultaneously. But how does that work?

This is only possible if the object is stored as an NFT on a trustless blockchain like Ethereum. Ethereum will be the layer that every single metaverse builds on.

With the emergence of blockchains, we now have scarce assets on the internet. NFTs are unique digital items with explicit owners. If I own a CryptoPunk, I can prove it by simply generating a signature with my wallet. I can then take the CryptoPunks with me across different platforms and realities.

Think of the metaverse as a collection of virtual realities that share the same state of existing objects. The front end will run on centralized servers… but the important stuff (what you own) will be stored on decentralized ledgers.

But if there are multiple realties… who are you? What is your identity across the metaverse?

The answer is now quite simple. So, to find out, let's first describe what identity looks like in the real world.

What Does Identity In the Real World Look Like?

In the real world, identity sticks with you. You are born with it. And your identity never changes throughout your life. Your passport is your method of identification, and without it… you are lost!

Most people in developed countries are fine with that. Their identity gives them high status around the world. If you have an American passport, you can travel freely anywhere in the world (with some exceptions).

The problem becomes clear when you are born in a non-trustworthy country, like third-world countries. Can you trust your government to store your identity correctly?

Of course, you can always go and get yourself another ID in another country; but your underlying identity will always remain the same. You cannot change it. You are not in control of your identity!

The problem because clearer when you try to define identity. What is identity even? Is it something that you're born with, or is it something that you choose?

You are born with your unique body, and you will never get rid of it. But your mind changes all the time - you can actively influence your way of thinking. The moment you define identity as your human spirit, mind, and unique collection of thoughts, you start to realize that your identity changes all the time.

Throughout your life, you choose who you are and who you want to become. But your body, your physical self, will always stay the same.

In the real world, you can actively influence your spiritual identity - not your physical one. Governments give you an ID. In plain words, your identity is bestowed upon you by nation-states.

In the metaverse, your mind, body, and identity are three separate entities. You can actively choose all of them. You can choose who you want to be and how you want to look.

In the metaverse, you choose your identity… and the mind-body dissociation becomes crystal clear!

The metaverse Doesn't Impose Identity on You

The metaverse doesn't bestow your identity upon you. Only nation-states do! The metaverse is utterly neutral because you can choose your own identity.

You choose who you are and who you want to become!

In the metaverse, you can buy individual NFTs representing yourself. You can choose between millions of web3 avatars to embody yourself on the internet… in the metaverse.

This avatar is exchangeable and transferable across all metaverses.

If you have access and control over your web3 wallet, you control your identity. You can buy and choose any web3 avatar on the open market. You can even design and mint your own avatar on an NFT minting platform like Rarible.

It's just a matter of time until NFTs become official methods of identification in the Ethereum nation-state.

On Ethereum, NFTs are your identity. Your avatars and ENS domains represent your ID and passport.

And you can actively choose them, buy them, and trade them.

Your identity suddenly is a transferable and exchangeable entity.

It's something you can choose; you make your own decision!

The Pseudonymous Economy in the Metaverse

Making your identity exchangeable has other positive second-order effects. As the economy in the metaverse emerges, the pseudonymous economy will come to life.

In the metaverse, we won't share our real-life identities. Instead, we work under a pseudonym (our web3 avatar and ENS domain).

The working environment in the metaverse is inherently fair. The only metric you are judged by is the output you produce.

In the real world, people are still judged by their skin color, sexuality, etc. Discrimination in the real world is based on certain prejudices.

This is not the case in the metaverse because you can choose your own identity there. The working environment in the metaverse is fairer than in the real world. In the metaverse, we are only judged based on what we produce. Our actual output matters!

That's how the metaverse could contribute to solving the growing problem of prejudice and biases. Instead of making naive claims to look past gender or race, we take that information away entirely.

By not revealing our real-world identity and using avatars, we establish a working environment free from racism, prejudice, and bias.

Conclusion

Identity in the metaverse is very different from what we are used to. While nobody knows what the final version of the metaverse will look like, we know today that it could solve some of humanity's biggest problems.

The metaverse doesn't impose an identity on you. You choose who you are and who you want to become.

Avatars represent yourself in the metaverse. You can buy these avatars on the open NFT market.

Identity in the metaverse will be exchangeable and tradable.

I'm looking forward to seeing the economy in the metaverse emerge. While we're still far away from a future where everyone lives inside the metaverse, it's safe to say that we have just recently discovered a world-changing technology here.


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DISCLAIMER: All information presented above is meant for informational purposes only and should not be treated as financial, legal, or tax advice. This article's content solely reflects the opinion of the writer, who is not a financial advisor.

Do your own research before you purchase cryptocurrencies. Any cryptocurrency can go down in value. Holding cryptocurrencies is risky.