The Truth Behind the Metaverse: Is It the Matrix v1.0?

Scene from the 'Matrix' movie.

Recalling the first 'Matrix' movie, the concept of humans living in the world made by machines and are simply used as energy sources is quite disturbing. (Image: Screenshot via YouTube)

The movie Matrix 4 came out on the big screens during Christmas. Recalling the first Matrix movie, the concept of humans living in a metaverse world made by machines and are simply used as energy sources is quite disturbing. However, after walking out of the cinemas, it wasn’t hard to put the concept behind us. After all, it was just entertainment. Wasn’t it?

Twenty-two years later, in October 2021, another disturbing concept caught media headlines. Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook and its other apps, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, will all remain, but they will be under the “Metaverse” umbrella.  

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive selected content straight into your inbox.

The move punctuates how Zuckerberg, the chief executive, plans to refocus his Silicon Valley company on what he sees as the next digital frontier, which is the unification of disparate digital worlds into something called a metaverse.

Also, the move to rebrand is also a convenient way to distance Zuckerberg’s company from the social networking controversies it is facing, including how it is used to spread hate speech and misinformation.

What is the metaverse?

Metaverse is a combination of two words: meta and universe. “meta” is a Greek prefix meaning “beyond” or “after.” When combined with English words, it usually means “change” or “alteration.”  

Zuckerberg was not the first to use the term “metaverse.” Although the concept is futuristic, the term was actually first used almost 30 years ago in the science fiction novel Snow Crash, which talks about a virtual world where people go to escape the dystopian reality. 

The metaverse is a composite universe melding online, virtual, and augmented worlds that people can seamlessly traverse. This concept can be the next major social platform that several tech companies will build over the next 10-plus years.

For example, during the covid lockdowns, instead of having meetings through teleconferencing, you can now put on your virtual reality headset and feel like you are actually having meetings in person with your colleagues.

So if your manager is angry with something, you are able to do eye rolls with your colleagues behind his or her back. Or if your colleague comes up with a good initiative, you can give support as if you are there in person. Virtual reality is not a new concept. It has been around for a number of years. 

Man sitting at a computerized table.
The metaverse is a composite universe melding online, virtual, and augmented worlds that people can seamlessly traverse. (Image: Everythingpossible via Dreamstime)

Virtual reality  

Virtual reality is creating a three-dimensional world where you feel, hear, see and smell the same as the real world. It is basically the Matrix becoming a reality. So what does it feel like? When you put on the virtual reality headset, not only can you see your colleagues walking around you, but also reach out to take documents they hand to you. You can also smell whether they had garlic for lunch. It will be exactly like in real life. 

However, right now technology is not advanced enough to present all five senses in virtual reality. There have only been some headways made with vision and sound. This is because apart from limitations in digital innovations, there is also a limited understanding of our brains.

Despite this, the corporate world sees this as excellent business potential, hence following Facebook’s announcement, companies like Microsoft, gaming companies such as Epic Games and Roblox, and even Nike are also racing into the Metaverse action.

So why does it all feel so disturbing? Let’s take a look at the movie The Matrix. Keanu Reeves plays Neo, the protagonist who lives in virtual reality. On the surface, everything seems quite normal however the real bodies of these people are actually imprisoned in small capsules.

Everyone’s minds are wired by intelligent machines to the Matrix, a shared virtual reality so that people think the world is real through their five senses of touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. No one can detect the truth. The machines have captured the humans to harvest their bioelectric power.

In order to sustain this large virtual network, much energy is needed. Humans are the best biological energy source. So why have humans become energy sources? Is this even possible? Let us take a look at Bitcoin, the wildly popular virtual currency which is known to be very energy-consuming.

So virtual reality is not exactly virtual. It still needs real-world energy to sustain it. So why does it need so much energy? Let’s have a look at how virtual worlds are built. 

Man wearing virtual reality glasses.
Virtual reality is creating a three-dimensional world where you feel, hear, see, and smell the same as the real world. (Image: Khoamartin via Dreamstime)

The high energy consumption of bitcoin mining 

Bitcoin is a decentralized virtual currency made up of a string of codes otherwise known as encryptions. Unlike traditional currencies which are watermarked and guaranteed by central banks, cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins are sent from user to user using peer-to-peer software and encryptions.

Encryption is crucial to address the problem of counterfeiting and people tampering with the ledger. Further, according to the algorithm designed by the founder, the total number of bitcoins is limited to 21 million and by the end of 2021, over 18 million bitcoins have been mined already. This keeps bitcoin in scarce supply and controls inflation which may arise with an unlimited supply of cryptocurrencies.

In order to ensure the transactions are secure and trusted, blockchains are created to maintain decentralized records so that there is no need for a trusted third party. Information for each transaction is kept in a block, and once filled in, links itself to the previous block, creating a “blockchain” that has a timestamp, cannot be changed, and can be viewed by anyone.

Even if there is no bank to provide the service, all holders will know where each string of currency is located. Bitcoin encourages users to audit the transactions to ensure bitcoins are not spent twice. This is called “bitcoin mining” where the “miner” receives new bitcoins as rewards for being the first person to successfully solve a maths computational problem using powerful computer software. This then verifies a transaction by adding it to the blockchain.

The person who owns the computer that solves the problem then receives new bitcoins as their reward. Therefore, many people are incentivized to do cryptocurrency mining which is often compared to mining for gold. It is really a hit-and-miss process so in order to maximize their chances of being the first to come up with the solution, people work in communities and use powerful computers with good graphic cards that are left to run day and night to compute the solutions.

Crypto mining has become so popular in recent years that it temporarily caused shortages in graphic processing unit supply. Mining work is in fact highly tedious, expensive, and only sporadically awarded.

It was just like during the gold rushes of the 19th century, when people risked their lives and trekked through mountainous terrain in search of gold. Now bitcoin miners only need to sit in front of computers and don’t need to swing hammers as miners did back then. However, this requires the consumption of a different power — electricity.

In the real world, the power consumed by millions of computers on the Bitcoin network is close to what Denmark consumes annually. According to Fortune magazine, for Ethereum, another type of cryptocurrency, 1 transaction consumes as much electricity as an average household uses in a workweek — and is equivalent to over 100,000 Visa credit card transactions or 10,595 hours of watching YouTube.

Now the economic benefit of cryptocurrency mining is quite questionable because the energy consumption of generating US$1 dollar worth of value is much more than mining for gold or copper.  

Bitcoin logo.
Bitcoin is a decentralized virtual currency made up of a string of codes otherwise known as encryptions. (Image: via Pixabay)

At the difficulty levels of solving a problem today, it is almost impossible to achieve using just a few computers. You have to have a fast mining rig, basically by joining a group of coin miners who combine their computing power and split the mined bitcoin.

You will find lots of these computer networks located where electricity is cheap around the world, causing lots of pressure on the local electricity grids for example in Texas, Iran, and at one point even in Inner Mongolia. Let’s think about it. All this energy consumption is the result of mining cryptocurrencies only.

Of course, we will need virtual money to buy things in the metaverse. But imagine for the metaverse, there will also be millions of other virtual things. We will need more upgrades to our servers, larger storage for data, higher quality imagery, and more powerful computer processors. The result is the consumption of more electricity.

If the metaverse successfully goes live, according to the computer chip company, Intel, a 1,000-time increase in power is needed over our current collective computing capacity. How would this be achievable, especially if the aim of global leaders is to reduce carbon emissions?

Environmental advocates are proposing to eliminate the traditional electricity production processes and calling for the shutdown of coal-fired power plants. The advocate is for the use of clean energy, such as solar, wind, and natural gas. However, there is one area that has not been looked into — that is bioelectric power.

Now we have come back to what we mentioned at the start: the concept of using human batteries in the Matrix. This is not something the screenwriters pulled out of thin air. 

Human battery 

Heat radiated by an ordinary person is equivalent to the heat emitted by a 70-100 watt light bulb. If a person can live to 80 years old, the heat emitted can keep an 80 watt light bulb stay on forever.

A cyclist in the middle of a race emits an enormous amount of heat, which is almost equivalent to a 700-watt electric stove, and two hours of cycling generates enough heat for a meal of hot pot. So can you imagine the effect of combining the body heat of the world’s 7 billion people?

So the movie The Matrix is not pure fantasy. The human body can in fact work as a super battery that is completely environmentally friendly with no pollution and no need for special factories to deal with waste batteries. However, unlike man-made batteries, humans are autonomous and have their own consciousness, characteristics, and personality.

So whether it is the Matrix or metaverse or the creator of the virtual world, they must not let people know the truth that they are nothing more than batteries to maintain the survival of this virtual world. As soon as the “batteries” learn of the truth, no one would want to be subjected to such a fate.

Therefore the Matrix must provide a colorful and meaningful world in which the “batteries” can live without questioning the reason for their existence. A “stable” Matrix requires another key technology, that is to connect the human brain and the machine, which can produce all the sensory signals you will feel, see and taste. This way the truth can be covered up forever. 

As for virtual reality technology today, it can only provide digital vision, at most coupled with the sense of hearing. The sense of smell, taste, and touch cannot be possible by simply wearing a pair of VR glasses. Other ways are needed to connect the human brain, responsible for the stimulation of touch, taste, and smell. This way you can taste the sweetness of ice cream and feel the warmth of your pet dog in the metaverse or Matrix. 

World map overlayered with digital stream.
The Matrix must provide a colorful and meaningful world in which the “batteries” can live without questioning the reason for their existence. (Image: via Pixabay)

Machine-brain interface 

So is anyone developing this technology right now? Yes! It’s Elon Musk. The ultimate goal of Neuralink, a neurotechnology company that he founded with others, is to develop implantable brain-machine interfaces by turning human consciousness and perception into digital signals so that when you enter the right code into an external device, you will be able to generate the corresponding sensations.

In 2020, Musk showed the world Gertrude, a pig with a small chip inside its brain. Although the neurologists present could not see any difference between Gertrude and other pigs, Elon Musk confidently said that with further development of this technology, the chip can be implanted into humans and people can then directly manipulate external electronic devices through their minds.

Eventually, it will be possible to enable people with neurological disorders, such as paralysis to use their minds to control the computer and various devices. If commands can flow in one way, they can also go in the opposite direction. If the AI transmits a piece of code to your brain, whether it is sweet, sour, or salty, you will feel exactly that. In that case, is this not the capsule device in the movie The Matrix?

In the movie, after awakening from the virtual world. Neo desperately wants to save everyone from the Matrix and for people to face reality and fight against the ultimate creator who controls the virtual world. This is what the concluding chapter of The Matrix trilogy, Matrix Revolutions was referring to.

In the movie, the virtual world of the Matrix is a place where people want to escape and rebel against. Isn’t it ironic that once we head out of the movie theater, we are now willingly and excitedly heading into another virtual world — the metaverse? 

Prophecies and our choices 

In the Matrix, you are free from having to face reality. You can make your own reality such as becoming a movie star or a sports star, but then, you become a piece of code that can be changed or deleted by the machine at any time.

As for your physical body, it is forever confined in a capsule, existing for the purpose of being a battery. This then becomes a philosophical question: are you free or not free? It is confusing, isn’t it?

The Matrix movie is looking more and more like a science fiction prophecy. Will the metaverse eventually turn us into batteries for the “Matrix”?

Let us be reminded of the prophecies on stone tablets of the Native American tribe, Hopi. Mankind is moving along two paths, one is the path of technology, which is what we are now following. The other is the path of living in harmony with natural law. In the Hopi rock drawing, the technological path is leading to chaos and our ultimate destruction while humanity thrives if we follow the natural spiritual path.

Could it be that The Matrix movie was inspired by the ancient Hopi prophecy? 

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest

Recommended Stories

Global finances.

3 Ways Technology Is Changing the Financial World

The rapid advances in technology are changing everything about the world we live in, from ...

U.S. passport and flag.

U.S. Will Ban Visas for Chinese Human Rights Violators

The United States is looking to restrict the entry of Chinese officials who have been ...

Chinese students listening to a lecture in a classroom.

Why the U.S. Is Restricting Visas to Chinese Students

The U.S. administration has passed a new policy that restricts visas to Chinese students to ...

Fresh Look at Mysterious Nasca Lines in Peru

A scientific approach has been used to re-identify huge birds etched into the desert plains ...

Three-fingered mummy.

Three-Fingered Mummies Discovered in Peru Are Allegedly Not Human

The discovery of three-fingered mummies in Peru last year came as a sensational find. At ...

Taiwanese protesting 'one China, two systems.'

One Country, Two Systems: ‘No Thanks,’ From Taiwan

The mass protests in Hong Kong have become a major international news event over the ...

Ginger tea.

Medicinal Food: 4 Ingredients With Medicinal Value

Wu Guobin of the Chinese Medicine Clinic in Xinyitang describes the medicinal benefits of 4 ...

Fresh ginger.

How Ginger Can Help You Manage Colds and Flu

For thousands of years, ginger has been an important component in the medical practices of ...

The Senkaku Islands.

Why China Wants the Senkaku Islands so Badly

The Senkaku Islands, located in the East China Sea, are a group of islands administered ...

Send this to a friend