Sanity in the Metaverse

Sanity in the Metaverse

With help from Derek Robertson

Just as this newsletter went into production, The news broke that Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, has seen nearly $2 billion in withdrawals in the past 24 hours and has temporarily suspended withdrawals from the USDC stablecoin. The news comes as the industry as a whole faces increasing scrutiny over its ability to satisfy customer withdrawals, as many users of the FTX exchange are still without funds following its collapse.

As Meta burns cash metaverse building and faltering crypto values, the promise of a vast online virtual world may feel like vaporware.

That is, unless you want to book a therapy session in cyberspace.

During the pandemic, tele-mental health took off like a rocket. Polls show that more than half of people prefer to attend therapy online rather than in person. This willingness to go online for mental health advice has got people at the forefront of healthcare thinking about how the metaverse can be used to treat a variety of ailments. Of particular interest? The social aspects of technology.

“You can have the same sharing connection that you have in physical communities, but with the added value coming from the digital world and the sense of control of the capacity for self-expression”, Giuseppe Riva, founder of the Applied Technology Laboratory for neuro-psychology at the Istituto Auxologico in Italy, Digital Future Daily reported.

When patients of North-Star Care, a digital treatment platform for alcohol-related disorders, sign up for the program, they receive a virtual reality headset in the mail. While participants meet with their doctors via regular video conferencing, they meet peer mentors in the metaverse. Virtual reality allows a few things here. On the one hand, patients and their mentors can meet while maintaining anonymity.

And there is evidence that virtual reality can be a more powerful tool for fostering connections than talking on the phone or video conferencing. For example, researchers have found that the use of virtual reality can help build empathy between people of different races through the “virtual.”body swap.”

Although it is still early, there is a lot of research showing that virtual reality can be helpful for patients with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and phobias. The technology allows patients to confront or resolve triggers in a simulated environment.

The researchers write that what makes virtual reality and the metaverse such a powerful tool in psychology has to do with the technology’s ability to make people feel connected to a space. In a study from earlier this yearresearchers found that people who socialized in virtual worlds, as opposed to 2D online platforms, felt transported to a physical space, which increased their sense of belonging to others as well as their own personal expansion.

“The next current trend in the Metaverse is to use the simulation potential of the Metaverse to facilitate hallucination-like states,” Riva said.

He noted that many cultures use hallucination to free the mind, but the use of psychoactives like ayahuasca has adverse effects. “With the metaverse, you can do the same thing – almost the same thing – but in a controlled way,” he said.

It is essentially an alternative to the burgeoning psychedelic drugs. Pharmaceutical companies are invest massively in psychoactive substances like psilocybin, also known as mushrooms, and MDMA, an amphetamine derivative, to treat common mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder . Instead of using psychedelic drugs, researchers are trying to figure out if they can use artificial intelligence and virtual reality to achieve the same cerebral effects as hallucinations.

A recent study found that participants who experienced a sham hallucination became more cognitively flexible or adaptable afterward. But the field of study is still quite nascent.

Part of what hinders the use of virtual reality in mental health is that the technology facilitating these life-changing experiences is still too early in its development.

“We still need the killer device,” Riva said. To get the most out of the social benefits, these devices will need more sophisticated capabilities with better graphics that will make the experience truly immersive.

If you keep score in ongoing Token Wars: The German Marshall Fund yesterday unveiled its “Semiconductor Investment Tracking,” a publicly available Excel spreadsheet that does, well, exactly what it says: tracking investment in chipmaking in the US and EU.

The database lists 29 investments to date, including their location, amount, type of chip or facility, and number of direct and indirect jobs created by each. It’s a useful resource for those following the West’s pivot to semiconductor independence, whether you’re tracking its impact on the private sector itself or on a particular region.

A trend that is immediately apparent upon reading the data is how the vast majority of investments so far have been made in Arizona and Texas, reflecting the aggressive efforts in Every state woo the industry. Texas, of course, has a built-in historical advantage in the race to capitalize on the semiconductor push – earning its former nickname “Silicon Prairie” from the headquarters of companies like Texas Instruments, which has attracted investment in installations from companies like AMD while they were still manufacturing their own drivers, and Samsung with its first installation in the United States in 1996. — Derek Robertson

But what is really in a chip?

In the latest issue of the political magazine City Journal, author Bruno Macaes traces the history of the semiconductor in order to assert its future: namely that the infinitely increasing complexity and power they contain will ultimately be used to create a truly immersive metaverse, almost indistinguishable from the world in which we actually exist.

Macaes’ argument is somewhat dreamy, if not necessarily unconvincing: “The secret purpose of the microchip is the metaverse. What else could be the end point of the search for the natural limits of complexity? The ultimate instance of complexity in the world is the world itself.

Those most involved in the Metaverse, it should be noted, tend to agree with him. In Matthew Ball’s book earlier this year which featured his influential vision for the metaverse he devotes an entire chapter to the the importance of “calculation”, the raw mathematical power behind computing technology that is almost always in short supply – and metaverse builders like Meta are scrambling for it, making large investments in supercomputers to fuel the development of the virtual world. — Derek Robertson