Hello there. In this lesson, we're going to begin a conversation about how the metaverse will be built, and who will build it. Speaking of building, I want to kick things off with a metaphor that I think will be really helpful for you as we have this discussion. It was created by Nick Clegg, who serves as the President of Global Affairs at Meta. Nick describes the structure of the metaverse like a building, where each floor supports the one above it. On the foundation of the building, we have the hardware we'll use to enter the metaverse — you'll learn about those devices in another video — and the protocols and standards that will ensure that all the technologies used in the metaverse can interact with each other. That's the idea of interoperability that we talked about back in Module 1. You can think about the protocols and standards as the shared language that will be used as the metaverse is built, just like how we have standard file formats for webpages, images, and videos now. Organizations like the Metaverse Standards Forum and the Khronos Group are actively working on those protocols by holding consortiums and hosting conversations focused on interoperability and decentralization. Right above the foundation, we have the ground floor. This is where the products that make up metaverse spaces — the platforms and networks — will live. Think of products as the structure that developers use to build virtual worlds and experiences. Owners include names you're familiar with, like Google, Meta, and Microsoft. But the democratized nature of the metaverse means a host of other organizations, big and small, will also play a role. It's important that products live directly above the foundation, because they need to be built with interoperable standards and protocols in mind. Up on the next floor, we have all the spaces you'll access as a user of the metaverse, where the rich experiences and immersive worlds will live. These also need to be interoperable so that your digital identity — your avatar and your wallet — can move from space to space. If we don't build the metaverse with this in mind, what we'll end up with is a bunch of spaces that need to be accessed and navigated individually. Imagine being forced to create a new avatar for every world you visit, or losing access to your digital purchases when you change locations. Applications should give options for portability, should people choose to interact this way. We envision the metaverse as not just interoperable, but as an interconnected ecosystem. In nature, an ecosystem consists of all the organisms as well as the physical environment where they interact — think of the creatures you'd encounter if you walked into a forest or dove beneath the surface of the ocean. The ecosystem of the universe consists of the technologies we need to access it, as well as the spaces and worlds where we'll interact, all working together. So who's going to create the parts of this metaphorical building, especially the foundation and ground floor on which all the metaverse experiences will rest? The answer is: a lot of people. The standards, protocols, platforms, and networks that the metaverse will be built on will be created by a host of individuals and companies. The internet as we know it today isn't owned by any one company. Similarly, the metaverse won't be developed and managed by a few, but by many. The more voices involved in the metaverse, the more diverse, inclusive, and equitable this next phase of the internet will be. If you're thinking this idea sounds a lot like decentralization that we talked about in the previous module, you're right. In order for you to take the things you own in the metaverse and use them across different worlds — like buying a Star Wars t-shirt at a virtual fan convention and then having your avatar wear it when you hang out with friends in your personal spaceship a week later — we need to ensure that a democracy of companies, platforms, and computers share and validate information and data. An important way we do this is through a collective creation of the foundation and ground floor. Now, let's expand our view from our metaphorical metaverse building to consider the geographical landscape of the metaverse. When we talk about the geo-landscape, what we mean is: Who will have access to the metaverse? What barriers will prevent some people from accessing it? According to a 2021 report from the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, a group founded by the International Telecommunication Union and UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), half the world's population is not online — that's about 3.7 billion people — especially in Africa, Asia, South America, and the Pacific Islands. While the commission has set a target of expanding broadband to reach 75 percent of the world by 2025, they estimate that could cost as much as two trillion dollars. When we think about the lack of equitable access for the internet today — data shows that about 96 percent of people who are offline live in developing countries — we can imagine it will be even more of a challenge to get the majority of the world into the metaverse. We've talked a bit already about how the devices we use to access the metaverse range from computers to mobile phones, to wearables like headsets and glasses. These will be sold at a variety of price points. As new technologies become more widespread, the cost of higher-end devices will come down. Ensuring that metaverse experiences can be enjoyed from a range of devices with different price points and levels of immersion is a key component in expanding access to more people. For a good metaverse experience, you need a high-speed internet connection, also known as broadband. What happens when you don't have it? While digital connectivity points and public Wi-Fi access are available in numerous locations, such as gaming cafes, VR arcades, and public and university libraries, to ensure equitable access to the metaverse, expanding broadband access across the world will help expand access to the metaverse. As more and more people are given access to the technologies needed to participate in the metaverse, we will be given opportunities to connect with other cultures like never before. The immersive, co-present nature of the metaverse — where we hear each other's voices and interact with each other's avatars — means we will connect in a much deeper and more organic way than we do when we use the internet of today. We've touched a little bit on the devices you can use to engage with the metaverse. Coming up next, you'll get an in-depth look at what those are and how they affect your virtual experience. Have fun exploring.