The Hart of the Issue: “What Do You Know About the Metaverse?”

Last week a client of mine stopped by the office to finalize some court filings.  After crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s and having him sign everything, he sat back and looked at me from across the desk. 

He then asked “what do you know about the metaverse” I’ve never given this topic too much consideration for several reasons, the fear of the unknown, the hesitancy to change, or the skeptical approach of thinking “it’s beyond me and I won’t need to know it.”

 The extent of my knowledge of the metaverse was a tincture of understanding of crypto currency, and I don’t hold myself out as one who knows anything about crypto currency other than its very volatile and some friends of mine have invested in it but can’t fully explain to me what it is or how it works.

 What I didn’t know at the time, was that the metaverse encompasses much more than a form of digital currency.  Our world has been growing, advancing, and changing, for better or worse.  It seems like the concept of a digital world is coming to fruition after a perfect storm.  While the pandemic came unexpectedly and caused much destruction in its path, it also paved the way for a digital lifestyle.  

 Many aspects of our day to day lives have already changed because of the pandemic.  We are more amenable to technology for things we used to do in person like meetings, grocery orders, and general retail shopping.  All of this was out of necessity because of the pandemic.

 The concept of the metaverse is that we no longer would need to leave our homes to interact with the world.  Instead, there would be a digital world with real world attributes including persons and even structures that we already know.  Much of this concept wasn’t new to me.  I had seen it before in a fictional movie, Ready Player One.  I just never anticipated that it could happen, at least not in my lifetime.

 But being a skeptic, I told my client that I could definitely see this as a thing, but not for the majority of people.  There is still the issue of earnings, and at the end of the day, people would need to interact to some extent with the real world due to their job.

 But then my client made a comment that honestly made me ponder for the next few days after our meeting.  He said, “John, you would be working in the metaverse.  You would conduct meetings with your clients, and even appear in court on their behalf, within the metaverse.”

 My initial reaction to this statement was dismissive.  There was no way that a profession that still uses fax machines and paper filings could fully mesh well within the metaverse… could it?

 And then I sat back and thought about where we are now compared to just over 21 months ago.  When I sign on a new client, intake forms can be digital, all agreements and court filings can be E-signed upon request.  The local courts have adapted electronic mail more so than ever before.  Hearings are typically conducted via zoom or other video conference platforms.  How is any of this different than a metaverse? During lockdown and even to this day, I have signed on clients whom I’ve never met in person.  Arguably, the metaverse would provide a more hands-on experience.

 I then set out to learn more about the metaverse, beyond the confusing scope of crypto currency.  Upon a cursory Google search, I learned that celebrities are paying developers to create their entire metaverse “avatars” in preparation of this new digital world.  And when I say world, I mean a complete digital version of earth.  I thought to myself this would take forever, but then realized, we already have a digital version, thanks to Google Earth and other satellite imagery.  Because of this, Hart Law could have a digital office located at the same address in this new digital world as in realty. (201 Franklin Avenue, Scranton, PA 18503 – for those of you readers who are wondering).

 Ideally a client would avoid the associated costs of transportation, the traffic, the exposure to other drivers on the road, parking fees, and all other unknown issues a traveler faces, by merely scheduling a meeting at my office within the digital world.  Instead of zoom, or the telephone, a client would interact with a John M. Hart, III, Esq. avatar that would have the physical likeness of me, although if I had any input, my avatar might have a few less inches in the waist!

 As mentioned earlier, I’m a skeptic to this potential future world, but at least I now have given it a bit more thought and am able to make an informed decision should I decide to avoid it!

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