Transcript – Part Two: Staking Your Claim in the Metaverse with Theo Priestley

Magen Mintchev 00:27

Veritone presents adventures in AI, the podcast that dives into the many ways artificial intelligence is shaping our future for the better. I'm your host, Magen Mintchev, and this is the second part of the metaverse series here on Adventures in AI. And I am speaking with one of the top 30 Most Influential People in the metaverse space and one of Europe's foremost futurist and Metaverse, consultants Theo Priestley. Theo is a leading tech futurist and globally recognized author and public speaker on the convergence of many emerging trends toward the metaverse and playing earn economics using Blockchain, cryptocurrencies and NFT markets. He's also the CEO and co founder of carbon based life forms a new indie video game studio in the UK, developing a new playing earn massively multiplayer online title based on an original IP and metronomic, a complete web three economic platform for game developers, Metaverse, builder and the creator economy. Theo has worked with some of the biggest names in tech and businesses, including SAP Bosch, and of course, Hewlett Packard, all these big names consulting and implementing innovation strategies, strategic foresight, and emerging technologies. But wait, there's more providing content marketing services, SEO, you have accomplished a lot and it is wonderful to be speaking with you. So welcome to Adventures in AI podcast.

Theo Priestley 01:58

Thank you for having me. I have to say I really apologize for that mouthful.

Magen Mintchev 02:05

Don't apologize. I think it's amazing. If only I could have all those credentials behind my name. So maybe one day so you're here to talk about the metaverse what is the metaverse mean to enterprise companies?

Theo Priestley 02:17

Metaverse actually is an interesting concept for, for enterprise in different ways. Many will see this as an opportunity to simulate their current conditions in in a kind of real world virtualized environment. We see that with Boeing, for example, looking to understand their manufacturing process. There's other sort of large retailers who want to model what their facilities look like before they even start implementing them. And then obviously design the interiors simulate the flow of people in movement, and obviously optimize that as much as possible. Using sort of AI that as we're talking about AI in this podcast and the series are obviously using AI to sort of optimize flow and movement within physical spaces, but in a virtualized environment and therefore saving a lot of time and cost. A lot of companies are seeing it as an extension of what their current business practices are to reach new customer base or certainly a new generation who are more so savvy around the metaverse, web three, web two, and who wants to sort of play engage with brands at a different way. buy goods and services and interact in that kind of sort of environment and even earn money. So there's opportunities across all spectrums of the enterprise here is not just about a place for social and recreational use,

Magen Mintchev 03:41

almost like piloting or beta testing, but not with people. It's with artificial intelligence and using metaverse. Is that did I grasp that correctly?

Theo Priestley 03:51

Yes, certainly. Because I mean, there are a number of large scale platform providers like Nvidia who are building, obviously offering Omniverse, which is almost like the plumbing. And in a sense for the data side of things. There's Unreal Engine and unity are providing the visual tools to build aspects of the metaverse. And all of these kind of come together to allow enterprise to basically play around and see, you know, what does, what does the virtualized space look like for me as a brand? Do I want to play in this space? How do I offer new things to customers in this space? And what can I do from a simulation capacity, you know, to basically understand how interactions would work in this space.

Magen Mintchev 04:33

All right. So what should the C suite or executives be doing to prepare for this, especially from a thought leadership perspective?

Theo Priestley 04:41

Yeah, I mean, I wrote an article, slightly tongue in cheek but also with a little bit of seriousness to it, which was, you know, every company will eventually become a Metaverse company. And it's a kind of spin on the the gardener esque conversations that usually take place. But one of those was every company who wants to do this philosophy appoint our chief Metaverse officer. And it's almost like someone from a video game background who understands how these virtual spaces are, can be built. Probably senior execs from companies in Unreal or Roblox or any other sort of senior developing, you know, Video Games Studio, who understands the process behind, you know, what's needed to build these spaces to simulate these spaces. And I think from a strategic point of view, I can see a lot of the enterprises who are kind of head scratching. What do I do here? Try poaching from these, these companies, because that's where the talent lies, it doesn't really necessarily lie with the, the old Accenture's, or the sort of research houses anymore, that you want to actually tap into the people who have been doing this for a long time. So from a strategic point of view, look for the doers, not the thinkers.

Magen Mintchev 05:53

Oh, I like that. That's a great line. So talking about business transactions, at what point will the metaverse take over?

Theo Priestley 06:02

So I know that the CEO of Nvidia made a comment saying at some point in the future, probably within the next 10 years, there will be more transactions going through the metaverse then there will be in the real world. JP Morgan, for example, has kind of sort of said that they see this as a $1 trillion prize to basically be part of, I mean, if you look at certainly the video game space, as an indicator, for example, there's been there was around $130 billion worth of transactions from in game spending projected to 2025. That's just people buying skins and little items and video games, whether it's a mobile game, or whether it's like a big franchise to enhance their experience. If you take that a step further and actually put it into a business and Metaverse context, you're opening the door not only just to people who enjoy games, but people who just want to generally socialize or understand what it's all about buy little things. You know, people are buying land plots of virtual land so they can build their own virtual experience. And so you can start to see understand the large amounts of money that are being that are flowing through there. And then when you combine NF T's, for example, people selling artworks or various different assets that they've created, and you can prove ownership of that, when you make that transaction, and that's yours, and you can bring it into your own space, then you can understand that there's a whole creator economy that's going to underpin that. So the economics of the metaverse in a sense is going to be one of the biggest things over the next sort of 1015 years to keep an eye on.

Magen Mintchev 07:39

Are you saying that maybe instead of investing money, my money into real estate, I should be investing my money into this Metaverse real estate.

Theo Priestley 07:50

This is not financial advice. And I would never advocate anything. In that sense, there are signs that there are lots of money being bought in there. I mean, a large corporations are already buying plots of land in some of the more popular open world areas like sandbox game, or decentraland. And we're still in our very sort of exploratory phase, you know, experimentation, although there's a lot of money going in, much like any other marketplace, there will be bubbles and there will be crashes and things like that. And certainly, I think over the next maybe two to three years, we might actually see some sort of equilibrium happening where the prices that are currently being inflated right now will suddenly start to settle down and people are understand what the real value is in having a space there rather than the speculative value. Yeah, if you want to make a quick killing, maybe go, you know, buy a little plot of land. I would. Yeah, bet the farm on it. Let's put it that way.

Magen Mintchev 08:45

Okay. All right, noted. And then a little bit ago, you did mention the phrase Metaverse strategy. So what does that look like?

Theo Priestley 08:53

I think you know, I'll be talking to a large set of banking client a couple of days ago who are trying to understand what they were wanting to do. And it's very much a case of experiment and experiment, small scale. And if you if you do want to approach this as a proper strategy have a long term view. So a lot of companies I'm seeing right now are saying, Oh, what's this NF T thing? How do we make lots of money in revenue on this NF T side of things? And it's like, well, you can do that. Or you can alienate your customer base, for example, because you just seem to be doing something to ride the wave, but not really clearly understanding where that wave is going. Whereas I think doing what JP Morgan did slightly, which was, you know, opening up a space in there to explore what it means to have a virgin, you know, a presence there first, and then build on that presence to understand well, how do people engage in that, that space, you know, what do they want to see from now on rather than building something and hoping that they will come? I think it's more a question of actually speaking to that audience and saying, what would you want us to build for you, you know what, you know, how do you see us as a brand or as an organization being represented in a virtual space? How do you want us to interact in that virtual space? One of the big things I see a mistake people make is building a virtual environment exactly the same way as you build a physical environment, people building retail experiences are creating almost like one to one shopping experiences. If I go into a shop, I know I'm going to walk around the same with with this, which is, you know, I'm basically building a virtual representation of my physical store. But that defeats the whole purpose of the metaverse because you're supposed to provide a brand new experience, not copy the same experience that you have already. So, you know, my question would be, why would you want to design an experience at someone that someone has in the real world exactly the same way? In a world where you can do anything,

Magen Mintchev 10:54

you got to make it different?

Theo Priestley 10:55

You got to make it different? It doesn't have to be jazzy and cool. It just has to make sense

Magen Mintchev 11:00

that Well, that makes sense right there. So you've said before in a Forbes article that AI and IoT or Internet of Things are inseparable? Do you feel the same about AI and metaverse? Yeah, something

Theo Priestley 11:12

something has to help make sense of all the data and manage that data as well. I mean, if you think about IoT is very kind of sort of flat structured data, in a sense, it's just streams of information. And it's the same in the metaverse, but now you have a 3d context around it. And you have people's interaction in that 3d environment. And that's a lot of data to, you know, six degrees of freedom of movement, for example, where people are going to be looking, how do you interpret that in terms of, of marketing and advertising opportunities? With, you know, where do you put your brand, you don't have to put a brand on a virtualized billboard, you could literally put it on the ground or up in the sky, you know, or sky and not because of context and and understand how people were the gaze lies and things like that. So there's a lot of data. There not just virtualized physical data, but also transactional information as well. How do you normalize economic conditions so that people aren't destroying the environment from an economic standpoint as well, you would need AI and algorithms to basically look at the goods and services that have been transacted, the pricing structures, everything else and try to solve balance those equations much like they do in the real world as well. So yes, I do see AI being inseparable, even in the metaverse another extension is actually AI with IoT in the metaverse because the metaverse is obviously from a simulation capability. If you take a smart city, you know, obviously, you could virtualize that smart city and simulate what it looks like and then translate that into. And we'll use real world data in a virtualized environment to make it even more accurate. There's more information and you need algorithms and AI and machine learning to basically make sense of

Magen Mintchev 12:54

that. Now let's talk about people who are skeptics about Metaverse, because we know that there are two camps that people fall in. So those who are for it, who believe that we're living it now and then those who are unsure. And you know, maybe they think that it's a fad that will eventually burn out.

Theo Priestley 13:12

I think both have their pros and cons. I think both are, you know, equally correct in their own camps. We have been here before, many times, you know, we've been living in virtual or with virtualized environments for a long time through video games. For example, there's many examples of open world sandbox, you know, Minecraft is a perfect one where it's an open, open environment virtualized, you can do anything you want, as real world physics, you could take in data, etc. So Minecraft we've been living with for a number of years Second Life, you know, has been going for 20 years. And we've seen the highs and the lows of Second Life. But it's still here, there's almost some patterns repeating already, which is everybody rushing into the metaphors, to try and get a presence there to try and make a bit of money there. And then what happens is everyone becomes disillusioned because there wasn't a strategy in the first place. It was like a rush, a gold rush. And then what do we do here, then think about that part. So everybody get becomes the solution then and withdraws again. And we'll probably see, we might see shades of what happened with Second Life between 2006 to 2008, stroke 10. In the same way, everybody wanted a virtual presence there, the bill office space there, the permanent employees in there. And then they understood that there wasn't really much to do beyond that there wasn't really a natural way to interact with business or with people. So I think we have to get over those hurdles and learn from those mistakes. So the skeptics are right, in that sense, but also the people who believe in the promise of it are right because they can see where it could go if we don't repeat the same mistakes.

Magen Mintchev 14:51

You mentioned a little bit ago about web three, and I keep hearing web 3.0 In addition to the Metaverse, how do you those go hand in hand are Is there a difference between the two?

Theo Priestley 15:06

I see them as interchangeable terms to be honest, especially the way they've been thrown around. I mean, web three is basically next is just the next evolution of web two, which is again, as its more creator controlled. You have the financialization aspect with NF T's in the ownership side. And then you people are obviously pushing towards that towards a more 3d or virtualized environment. So it's not just flat websites, you can interact in different ways. The Metaverse of course, is many things to many people, it's virtual worlds 3d worlds. You know, it's not just one playground, it could be many playgrounds. And you could you know, I believe at some point in the future, you could probably have your own metaphors much the same way as you have your own web server, and have a website, a WordPress website. So you know, and that could be your safe space that you feel happy interacting with an inviting friends and family and your audience. And so there's, I think it's interchangeable. And I think there's, for me, they're interchangeable. I think people would argue that they're not. I just think that we're at that stage where people want to claim ownership of specific terms. And standards. We seen it all the time. And you know, VR, AR It's mixed reality. No, it's extended reality, you know, it's all much much of a muchness really, people just want to own the term, you know, in the trademark,

Magen Mintchev 16:26

you did mention Minecraft, and of course that piques my interest, because I have a five year old, who plays it, he loves it. And I want to know how you would explain the metaverse to my five year old son or someone of his age

Theo Priestley 16:40

while he's playing Minecraft. There you go. I mean, that's it. I think it's, I think kids, especially your age, your son's age, is, are at such an exciting time because they're having they've got tools that we didn't have when we were kids. We obviously had video games, but it didn't allow us to express ourselves because it was a very controlled environment. Now they have this kind of sort of virtual playground where they can build anything, imagine anything much like Lego but then you've got Roblox which is another extension for slightly older where you can monetize what you build and other people can, you know, pay you make money on the things that you build. So your five year old could suddenly become a seven year old who is making video games in Roblox or any other platform that allows for that creation, that creator sort of imagination thing to extend into. So you know, I don't think I could simplify the metaverse to anything other than keep enjoying Minecraft because you're part of the you're part of this creator culture already. That's going to basically build it for the rest of us.

Magen Mintchev 17:45

Where can people learn more about you your work than your work with the metaverse?

Theo Priestley 17:51

Oh, blimey, I hang out on Twitter, LinkedIn mainly. You can find me on my personal website, which is Theo I also have a blog site called meta punk dot code at UK which I kind of sort of put some thoughts randomly on at the tail end of last year. And you can find out more about the companies that I'm running as well, you know, carbon based life forms and metronomic. You can find them online. We made some press announcements this week. So fair bit of noise going on.

Magen Mintchev 18:24

Awesome. I love it. Definitely have to check that out. Is there anything else that you want to add to share with our audience about the metaverse?

Theo Priestley 18:32

I would say read up? Definitely find out more information. Definitely read both sides of the camp, you know, find out the pros and cons how early we are we are still very early and experimenting with what's going on. Read what Epic Games, for example, and in video are doing, rather than what Facebook is doing. Because you want to find out a bit the platforms that are building the metaverse that allows everybody to be involved. I think, you know, Facebook's vision is a very enclosed world. And it's their their version that they you know, obviously there's then their interest to build something like that given the size of their audience. But understanding the tools that are out there already what other people are doing, but those tools what the kids are doing, in terms of you know, Roblox, Minecraft decentraland sandbox, where the the investments are going as well. So if you look at the investment habits of some of the big VCs, where are they putting their money, you know, is in specific products. Is it an infrastructure? Is it in games, you know, those kinds of things are all really good indicators of how the market is shifting how people are experimenting with it, and what the potential could be.

Magen Mintchev 19:49

Theo, thank you so much. This has been an amazing conversation about the metaverse and all the other topics or subtopics within there. So I appreciate having you on and hopefully We can maybe do a part two with you later on in the year just to see where we're at with the metaverse, because of course I feel like it's always changing. There's always something new coming out new terminology that people need to claim. We love that. Thank you. And thank you to everyone out there for listening to adventures in AI the podcast that dives into the many ways artificial intelligence is shaping the future for the better talk with you next time.


Theo Priestley

CEO & Co-Founder of Carbon Based Lifeforms, and Futurist and Metaverse Consultant


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