China’s Metaverse Is Dystopia

An $8 trillion market. The sky’s the limit for freedom and slavery.Commentary The metaverse, that virtual world that teens everywhere are entering with a headset and hand controllers, could eventually pull in $8 trillion. That so enthralls Mark Zuckerberg that he changed the name of Facebook (the parent company) to Meta and is developing haptic gloves that interact and give tactile sensations. Haptic suits that give full-body sensation are under development. China’s Tencent announced on June 20 that it’s also jumping into the metaverse. A new unit of approximately 300 Tencenters is accelerating software and hardware development for the metaverse. Microsoft, Disney, ByteDance (the owner of TikTok), and Apple are also meta-developing. Eight trillion dollars will get Beijing’s attention. Much of it will come from China’s 1.4 billion consumers. The regime will try to use that market power to influence the content in not only China’s metaverse, but the global market. But while Chinese companies will be neck-and-neck with the West in hardware and software, they will be at a major disadvantage in developing meta-content. Beijing’s censorship rules and banning of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), like “Bored Ape” pics (one whimsically priced at over $99 trillion), will make a thriving and decentralized community of metaverse content producers impossible. Even tattoos are banned for soccer players in China, so don’t expect to buy a Uyghur “Bored Ape” with a mohawk. An attendee demonstrates the Owo vest, which allows users to feel physical sensations during metaverse experiences such as virtual reality games, including wind, gunfire, or punching, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), in Las Vegas, Nev., on Jan. 5, 2022. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images) Given the popular demand for novelty, and the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) aversion to diversity, the metaverse is likely to splinter along national lines, at the very least between China and the rest. And China’s metaverse could get dystopic. If you try to say, for example, “Taiwan is an independent country” or “Falun Gong is a protected religion,” a voice-recognition technology matched with artificial intelligence (AI) could make your avatar say the opposite. Nobody, not even you, the user, would necessarily know that what your avatar said in the metaverse has nothing to do with your true beliefs. Conformity could be terrifyingly total. Haptic suits and goggles that deliver pleasure or pain could be developed to reward or punish behavior based on CCP goals. The state could require citizens to wear them. Hearing and seeing could be entirely mediated by metaverse headphones and goggles. Augmented reality (AR) combined with AI could enable the CCP to make you hear what it wants you to hear, even when speaking to your spouse in your bedroom. Today, that’s science fiction. But China is so “advanced” in the technologies of social control that we should plan on mitigating the risk of a meta-dystopia rather than hoping for the best. Meta-China will almost certainly include a lot of “Xi Jinping Thought” and Marxism with Chinese characteristics. As a punishment for not memorizing the propaganda, you could be forced into hours of virtual sweeping and mopping, all while listening to communist slogans on repeat. Miss a spot, and your haptic suit gives you a zap. Compare that to the metaphorical “sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll,” along with a liberal helping of violence, already populating the West’s metaverse. For example, see the abovementioned video by TheProGamerJay, who has 2.7 million YouTube followers. It’s near the top of Google hits when searching “haptic suit.” In the West’s metaverse, the sky’s the limit, and everything else is boring, putting mom, dad, and Xi at a disadvantage. Take violence, for example. The most popular video and meta-games are full of shooting and knife fights, with “ketchup” spurting liberally around the screen. Not so in China. There, the blood must, by law, be colored green so as not to violate censorship rules against too much gore. Beijing’s attitude toward the metaverse is indicative of its antagonism toward individuals and their idiosyncratic desires. TheProGamerJay, for example, wants to feel pain in his haptic vest. He does so by gluing sandpaper and studs to its inside. Most of us do not want pain in the metaverse. But we do defend TheProGamerJay’s right to express himself. In that, at least, the regime in Beijing is still at a disadvantage. They don’t understand that popularity requires the acceptance of humanity in all of its diversity. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Follow Anders Corr has a bachelor's/master's in political science from Yale University (2001) and a doctorate in government from Harvard University (2008). He is a principal at Corr Analyti

China’s Metaverse Is Dystopia

An $8 trillion market. The sky’s the limit for freedom and slavery.

Commentary

The metaverse, that virtual world that teens everywhere are entering with a headset and hand controllers, could eventually pull in $8 trillion.

That so enthralls Mark Zuckerberg that he changed the name of Facebook (the parent company) to Meta and is developing haptic gloves that interact and give tactile sensations. Haptic suits that give full-body sensation are under development.

China’s Tencent announced on June 20 that it’s also jumping into the metaverse. A new unit of approximately 300 Tencenters is accelerating software and hardware development for the metaverse.

Microsoft, Disney, ByteDance (the owner of TikTok), and Apple are also meta-developing.

Eight trillion dollars will get Beijing’s attention. Much of it will come from China’s 1.4 billion consumers. The regime will try to use that market power to influence the content in not only China’s metaverse, but the global market.

But while Chinese companies will be neck-and-neck with the West in hardware and software, they will be at a major disadvantage in developing meta-content.

Beijing’s censorship rules and banning of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), like “Bored Ape” pics (one whimsically priced at over $99 trillion), will make a thriving and decentralized community of metaverse content producers impossible. Even tattoos are banned for soccer players in China, so don’t expect to buy a Uyghur “Bored Ape” with a mohawk.

Epoch Times Photo
An attendee demonstrates the Owo vest, which allows users to feel physical sensations during metaverse experiences such as virtual reality games, including wind, gunfire, or punching, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), in Las Vegas, Nev., on Jan. 5, 2022. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

Given the popular demand for novelty, and the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) aversion to diversity, the metaverse is likely to splinter along national lines, at the very least between China and the rest.

And China’s metaverse could get dystopic.

If you try to say, for example, “Taiwan is an independent country” or “Falun Gong is a protected religion,” a voice-recognition technology matched with artificial intelligence (AI) could make your avatar say the opposite. Nobody, not even you, the user, would necessarily know that what your avatar said in the metaverse has nothing to do with your true beliefs.

Conformity could be terrifyingly total.

Haptic suits and goggles that deliver pleasure or pain could be developed to reward or punish behavior based on CCP goals. The state could require citizens to wear them.

Hearing and seeing could be entirely mediated by metaverse headphones and goggles. Augmented reality (AR) combined with AI could enable the CCP to make you hear what it wants you to hear, even when speaking to your spouse in your bedroom.

Today, that’s science fiction. But China is so “advanced” in the technologies of social control that we should plan on mitigating the risk of a meta-dystopia rather than hoping for the best.

Meta-China will almost certainly include a lot of “Xi Jinping Thought” and Marxism with Chinese characteristics.

As a punishment for not memorizing the propaganda, you could be forced into hours of virtual sweeping and mopping, all while listening to communist slogans on repeat. Miss a spot, and your haptic suit gives you a zap.

Compare that to the metaphorical “sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll,” along with a liberal helping of violence, already populating the West’s metaverse.

For example, see the abovementioned video by TheProGamerJay, who has 2.7 million YouTube followers. It’s near the top of Google hits when searching “haptic suit.”

In the West’s metaverse, the sky’s the limit, and everything else is boring, putting mom, dad, and Xi at a disadvantage.

Take violence, for example. The most popular video and meta-games are full of shooting and knife fights, with “ketchup” spurting liberally around the screen.

Not so in China. There, the blood must, by law, be colored green so as not to violate censorship rules against too much gore.

Beijing’s attitude toward the metaverse is indicative of its antagonism toward individuals and their idiosyncratic desires. TheProGamerJay, for example, wants to feel pain in his haptic vest. He does so by gluing sandpaper and studs to its inside.

Most of us do not want pain in the metaverse. But we do defend TheProGamerJay’s right to express himself.

In that, at least, the regime in Beijing is still at a disadvantage. They don’t understand that popularity requires the acceptance of humanity in all of its diversity.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Anders Corr has a bachelor's/master's in political science from Yale University (2001) and a doctorate in government from Harvard University (2008). He is a principal at Corr Analytics Inc., publisher of the Journal of Political Risk, and has conducted extensive research in North America, Europe, and Asia. His latest books are “The Concentration of Power: Institutionalization, Hierarchy, and Hegemony” (2021) and “Great Powers, Grand Strategies: the New Game in the South China Sea" (2018).