By Sunu Engineer, Principal Architect and Technical Evangelist, Icertis
India to accelerate the Metaverse journey
Technology played a critical bridging role during the pandemic when physical connectivity was curtailed severely. In fact, advances in technology such as AI, automation, and the Metaverse have accelerated throughout the pandemic. Prime Minister Modi even deemed this decade to be “India’s Techade” because of the country’s homegrown tech companies pioneering innovations and new-age technologies, which in conjunction with the enabling policies of the government, are becoming central to life and business. It is natural to expect this intermixing of the digital and physical worlds to continue further.
The Metaverse is an asymptotic extension of the digital world. It is the virtualization of life fueled by technological advances to the more rarified realms of present and future technology. It is a mirror of the physical Universe in the digital form, but with many constraints in the physical world removed. Until a few years ago, the concept of the Metaverse, originating like many others in the historical records of science fiction, was thought to be a mere buzzword. The idea is still new, and there is considerable debate about defining it holistically. However, we know the Metaverse, in essence, reflects the changes happening in the world that will transform the way we interact, not only in the lives of individuals but also in the world of business and commerce. The Metaverse is creating new companies and reshaping traditional ones where goods and money will flow between the physical and virtual worlds. Many new classes of goods and transactions will emerge.
These transactions, from payment in the Metaverse to exchange of metaobjects will be driven by physical and meta contracts. The current bundle of technologies like blockchains and distributed ledgers and their transactions, such as smart and autonomous contracts that execute their obligations, will be foundational in facilitating these border crossings.
The nature of contracts in the Metaverse
The contracts that enable business transactions between multiple entities will metamorphose in the Metaverse. But the contracts will also need to become lighter and more agile to operate in the high-speed, lightweight virtual worlds.
One way to extend contracts in the physical Universe to smart contracts is to think of contracts as a sequence of instructions that are understood and executed at the correct point in time and space by human agencies. By extension, smart contracts are digital computer programs that run on machines when predetermined conditions are met. Like a contract written in legal language needs to be transparently understood by all the parties before being signed, smart contracts also need to be transparently clear and trustable. They are intended to automate the execution of an agreement so that all participants can be immediately certain of the outcome without an intermediary’s involvement or time lost. Smart contracts can also automate a workflow, triggering the next action when conditions are met. Given the risk involved, the current model of smart contracts naturally transfers to a blockchain-based system, a decentralized, immutable, transparent platform that embodies the idea of ‘trustworthiness’ in lightweight, highly mutable, virtual worlds of the Metaverse.
From the perspective of a Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) system, smart contract capabilities will be crucial to enabling contracts to traverse the boundaries between the Metaverse and the Universe. It will evolve the current experience of offer and acceptance, creation, negotiation, signing, and realization into many different forms. Real-world businesses will need to place trust in the machine-driven execution of contracts. They will need to choose a smart contract-enabled platform that can interoperate with diverse other ones for project-specific requirements. These smart contracts will empower businesses to operate their Metaverse applications and function as Metaverse avatars in a distributed and, in many ways, decentralized manner as envisioned in present-day technologies like Web3 for trading, exchanging, paying, and socializing, etc.
For example, while NFTs have been around for more than five years, it wasn’t until 2021 that this novel technology emerged into the mainstream. With the rise of NFTs and unauthorized trademark use within the Metaverse, brands are becoming more motivated to view smart contracts as essential utilities in their NFT journey – for both creators and collectors.
Benefits of smart contracts
Making contracts faster, more efficient, and more precise in the Universe and the Metaverse is essential. The greater the transparency and trustworthiness, the greater the adoption will be. Smart contracts in the Metaverse provide the required efficiency in speed and precision while operating in a secure, trustable, transparent manner. They also significantly simplify the transaction workflows, removing many layers to monitor, measure, and manage the contract execution.
As our virtual and physical worlds converge and the Metaverse continues to emerge, advance, and mature, we will see more feedback loops between the two worlds change technology, markets, and products. Today’s technology deployment decisions should be governed by the vision of this future – a coexistence of Metaverse and Universe that will be upon us faster than we can imagine.