Our VR future foreshadowed by

A crypto-social dystopian annex filled with wonder.

A close friend who runs Catalyst24 recently called me and began with, “remember when people first started telling you about Bitcoin?” I told him, “Absolutely, I’m the world’s biggest idiot…” My close community of high level software engineers held a meeting around year 2011 to talk about Bitcoin and why it was so exciting. I listened. I rudely interrupted out of place. I didn’t get it. I was busy, and Bitcoin’s functional utility eluded me (and to some extent, still does). My friends were mining as much as humanly possible, building rigs, and really diving into crypto. They were set to get very rich. They were using their optimism bias and their unique skillset to create a massive competitive advantage and enter a market VERY early on. They are legends. I am not.

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My friend who called me, he went on. “So… I think these guys are on to something. They’ve mapped the entire world into tiles. Something like a trillion tiles. You can buy/sell those tiles, and in the future there will be Virtual Reality (VR) world gameplay overlaid on top of tiles and territories in a virtual world.” He sent me a link to Earth 2.

I told my friend, “Oh sh**, I had a very similar idea some years back, but this is much better and is actually executed and real. This is genius. These fools are going to be rich. Damn… Jerks. Legends.” I got it. Immediately, I got it.

I bought $450 in tiles that day. Had I not had a ‘talk’ with myself, I would have bought many more. I’m now the proud owner of crypto-digital vaporware ‘land’ claims on make-believe tiles in the ‘cloud.’ I own fake Florence, fake Giza, fake Pt. Dume, fake Dover Cliffs, fake Cabo San Lucas, fake Mt. Fuji…and more! When I say it like this, it’s clear that I’m still an idiot, and I’ve purchased nothing at all. However, lucky for me, several things can be true at once…

What I’ve actually purchased is the foreshadowed promise of our VR future. Today it still sounds like a bit of nonsense. Our VR future has been alluded to in movies and books. The ‘tile model’ has already been proven 1000x over in games like SimCity and Farmville. The future is already here, right under our nose. In recent statements from Elon Musk about NeuraLink, he said they have a monkey controlling simple video games with its mind, and the monkey looks quite content and happy. Musk questioned aloud, “I wonder if two monkeys could play mind pong together...” Now that is some tripped out stuff. Earth 2 is just a next step down the path to a virtual future many people can now clearly visualize; another online proof of concept that will bring us awe and expansion, but will also make us question the standing of reality and truth.

Good and Evil

As a society, we are moving more virtual. Agreements about reality and truth seem to be shearing, tearing at the seams. This is having catastrophic effects on our social fabric and our children. As children and adults spend more time through a virtual portal device, i.e. cell phone, tablet, and soon to be VR headset—their health, mental stability, and quality of life are going down. It seems like social ease and intra-family communication are at the lowest levels ever. Meme phenomena are giving way to actionable mind viruses in every direction we look; with increasing speed.

This is truly dark stuff. But…the future is also filled with infinite possibility and wonder. “Why do my children love video games so much?” Parents ask this question every day. Many parents have completely closed off their brain and heart. These parents have lost their relationship with wonder and possibility. Children love video games so much because video games are f***ing awesome and fun. There are no rules in the virtual world. There is only infinite possibility. There are only new frontiers. There are also re-interpretations of old frontiers; which are then just new frontiers all the same. There is limitless mind territory to be explored; a literal galaxy of ripped and warped space-time. The virtual world space is a wonderland that functions like an organism or galaxy, growing exponentially and unpredictably—with explosions, big bangs, slow growth, and miracles—all constructed inside of a megaton black hole of attention vacuuming digital wonder.

Why is Earth 2 so interesting?

Earth 2 seems to be interwoven with essential ingredients combined from our most basic human desires and the vast wonderment of VR entertainment.

In Earth 2's tile system we have:

  • Land prospecting and ownership
  • Sentimental association
  • A marketplace for speculation and demand understanding
  • And some day… partitioned virtual reality gameplay and exploration

Imagine owning a virtual territory in London on a high street and opening a virtual workout gym that plays only the finest 80s tunes, all in holographic excellence. Imagine starting a VR electric jetpack tourism experience in Giza to explore the pyramids. Imagine a deep sea exploration experience that you started over what is now modern day Atlantis. Imagine hosting the Earth 2 ComicCon convention in virtual Narutostan (aka modern day Harajuku). Imagine staying in the new Burj Khalifa companion hotel, which looks right onto the summit of Mt. Everest. You could sip virtual coffee in the morning and watch a few weekend warriors freeze their last two virtual fingers off. Hmm…

Is this what Earth 2 will be? I have absolutely no idea, but that’s where my mind goes.

VR is so fun. It’s only getting started. It is so fun that I’m afraid to get involved. My friends are having way more fun than I am. I need to pay rent. I need to stay productive. I don’t have time to get addicted to what I know is the coolest thing going.

VR is going to bend reality. VR is going to ruin lives. VR is going to save lives. VR is going to be a virus; in the best ways and the worst ways.

We are playing with something that questions every single assumption we have about meaning, reality, truth, and society at large. The impermanence and nonsensical facade of digital assets and digital worlds will be no hinderance to the VR virus. We have all been infected already. We already have a window seat into the portal. The portal has not yet eaten us, but it will. Again, in both the best ways and the worst ways.

Earth 2 is just another step toward the complex abyss; seemingly neatly packaged into a simple speculative tiled asset class experience. Let’s see what happens. I’m all in…

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William Belk

William Belk


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