- Will the metaverse be bad for society?
- How to securely store NFTs…
- “I don’t understand the rush to EVs”…
Welcome to our weekly mailbag edition of The Bleeding Edge. All week, you submitted your questions about the biggest trends in technology. Today, I’ll do my best to answer them.
If you have a question you’d like answered next week, be sure you submit it right here.
The consequences of the metaverse…
Let’s begin with a question on the metaverse and its consequences…
Dear Jeff, thank you for informing us of what’s new and ahead of any other source, enabling us to respond in time. But not every piece of news can be welcomed as good news. I was wondering about your euphoria regarding the exponential development towards the world of the metaverse.
In particular, I’m concerned about the consequences it will create. You mention players in Vietnam and the Philippines earning enough money in Axie Infinity to make it their primary source of income. Can there be ANY productivity expected from this, ANY positive contribution towards their country and its GDP? ANYTHING, either physical, mental, cultural, or intellectual?
Our highly developed intelligence enables us to achieve the most incredible deeds and results, but who is asking if this or that would be prudent to do – or better NOT to do? Is it not the motto of our current scientific world: “What CAN be done MUST be done”? Where are wise spirits like Goethe, for instance, who gave us his “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” to teach us to think about the consequences of our doing – BEFORE going ahead with it?
– Gerhard G.
Hi, Gerhard, and thank you for sending in your thoughtful comments.
You may be surprised that I deeply share your concerns. Much of what we see in social media today is terrible, purposeless, and entirely non-productive. And yes, it erodes both the character of individuals, as well as culture. It creates angst, hatred, division, fear, and erodes our ability to be rational, objective, balanced individuals. And what happens in metaverses will be no different. In fact, it will be amplified.
With all that said, there will still be productivity, meaningful, and cultural activity in these new worlds. And we, as a society, will have to do our best to make that happen. You correctly pointed out that the reason that I research and write about these topics is to prepare my readers for what’s to come. It is happening, whether we want it to or not, and it is always better for us to be prepared. And yes, this kind of knowledge can also be used to make smart investments to benefit from these massive trends.
Just as a refresher for new readers, the metaverse refers to a virtual world in which people can meet and interact with one another. In fact, there will be many of them that users will enjoy just as there are many social media platforms. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology will also help bring metaverses to life.
In each metaverse, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies will play a big part too. These digital assets will be used as objects and currency within a metaverse – such as avatar “skins,” items for gaming, collectibles, and more.
As we can see, there are a number of technologies working together to create the metaverse. And that’s going to enable some incredible experiences… We’ll be able to attend events like live concerts and fashion shows… socialize with friends… interact with games… and even make purchases within these virtual worlds.
And yes, there will be productive elements to the metaverse, especially as more users and businesses begin to recognize its broad potential. I can envision people attending classes… hosting work meetings… and doing their shopping in this space – in addition to just having fun.
An easy analogy to help understand this transition is what happens today with social media networks.
They started off simply as a way for groups of people to communicate with each other and share information and photos online. Today, it is a massive advertising business. One of the most common advertising/marketing jobs today centers around social media. It is the medium for corporations to reach their targeted audience. It has largely replaced print advertising and even television advertising.
It is far superior as well because of the ability to target advertising down to very specific demographics, even to the individual level.
There will be many new income-producing jobs in metaverses that will have analogs in the real world. And those jobs will pay taxes and contribute to their society much in the same way that anyone working in a digital world does today. What is considered to be productive activity will certainly look different, but it will happen in a metaverse.
Yet you’re correct that the metaverse also holds philosophical questions…
As regular readers know, I believe that technology holds the solution to all of humanity’s biggest problems. Technology will bring the world to an age of abundance and quality of life that will be hard to imagine.
That’s why I’m a technologist. I thrive on rational optimism. But I certainly understand the risks when technology is used for malice by bad actors. This will be one of our greatest challenges, to stay vigilant to make sure powerful technologies are used for the benefit of mankind rather than in dystopian, harmful ways.
We discussed one threat to the potential of the metaverse earlier this month – Facebook. It recently announced it will rebrand in order to better represent its metaverse interests… But we can be sure that it simply wants to gain ever more access to our lives so it can monetize us further. It wants to be the company that facilitates transactions and commerce in the metaverse – and it will take its pound of flesh while doing so.
Its focus is greed… power… and control. We should be very wary of any company operating with these kinds of motives.
Instead, I’m hoping to see the metaverse remain distributed, open, and accessible – and offer participants the chance to share in a remarkable wealth creation opportunity.
In fact, I think the Axie Infinity story you mentioned could be quite positive in that respect. As I shared, players in Southeast Asia are earning enough money through the game to make it their job. That has the potential to change lives, especially if other opportunities are limited.
So we will stay on top of these developments. It’s far better to be well informed. And one of the best ways to protect ourselves from any negative consequences is to have the financial resources to do so.
That’s why I continue to show my readers how to profit from the key trends on our radar. As these technologies gain mass adoption, we should be prepared to take advantage. So if any readers haven’t yet learned how to begin exploring NFTs… the metaverse… and blockchain technology, you can go right here for the details.
Keeping our NFTs safe and secure…
Next, a reader wants to know more about storing non-fungible tokens (NFTs)…
Jeff, how would I securely store NFTs? Could I store them in cold storage like cryptocurrencies? Thank you and your team for your time and diligent research.
– Allen T.
Hi, Allen, and thanks for writing in.
It’s great to see readers engaging with this trend, as NFTs are clearly gaining steam. These are “digital collectibles” that I mentioned briefly in my response above and have written a lot about in recent months. I predict that they’ll overtake the size of the physical collectibles market in a matter of just a few years.
Many NFTs are quite affordable. Others stretch into the millions of dollars. Yet no matter how much our NFTs cost, we will want to keep them secure. After all, as this space gets more popular, it will naturally attract more bad actors along with enthusiasts.
So how do we ensure that our NFTs stay safe?
Much like crypto, we want to make sure we’re using reliable platforms to purchase our NFTs and are enabling all available security features. Back in March this year, several users reported having their NFTs stolen from their Nifty Gateway accounts. After an investigation, Nifty Gateway stated that the platform itself hadn’t been breached. Instead, hackers had cracked the passwords of those individuals – none of whom had activated two-factor authentication (2FA).
2FA is a great security practice that verifies users with two different forms of authentication. For example, the first would be a username and password, and the second would be something like a one-time code that is sent via email or text message.
As a side note, I highly recommend using 2FA for all important accounts, not just ones involved in the cryptocurrency space. Popular authenticators that are used to enable 2FA are the Google Authenticator and Authy.
There are more steps NFT buyers can take to protect their purchases even better. Rather than leaving our NFTs in our accounts on the purchasing platform, where they are more vulnerable to platform hacks in addition to individual hacks, we can transfer them to our crypto wallets.
A digital “crypto” wallet can be hardware-based or web-based. Every wallet contains a set of private keys the owner needs to access their tokens or NFTs. Of course, human error and fraud are still risks in this scenario. If someone loses their key or it’s stolen, the user will never see the contents of their wallet again. So users should make sure they’re comfortable with this risk.
Many people recommend a “cold storage” method, which stores a hardware wallet in a way that has no connection to the internet. This is the absolute safest way to store digital assets while maintaining control over the asset’s private keys. Just don’t lose the hardware wallet!
For investors who want self-custody, I always recommend using a hardware wallet for anything more than just a few hundred dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency or NFTs. Trezor and Ledger are two reputable brands for readers looking into this option. We should buy these hardware wallets directly from the manufacturer rather than third-party vendors for the greatest security.
By doing self-custody, investors ensure that no one else has any control over their digital assets. The assets can’t be frozen or hacked. They are offline and cannot be accessed.
So for security-conscious NFT holders, this is a great option to consider for long-term storage.
How will the energy grid support EVs?…
Let’s conclude with a question about electric vehicles (EVs)…
Jeff, I don’t understand this rush to EVs. Does no one understand that electricity isn’t magically created, and we aren’t even close to 0 emissions to generate it? California is already suffering rolling brownouts because of our renewable energy policies. We keep being told to turn off all we can between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. because those are peak times and the system can’t handle it. Now they want everyone to put up with it.
The whole country is moving to a world that has an energy grid that is woefully unready. It will cause major issues if we shut down natural gas and oil and try to move from a very small renewable energy ability to trying to cover every electrical act necessary, especially EVs.
This just seems really absurd to focus on technology that isn’t ready – and isn’t what it claims to be. It won’t be for years, and we are all being forced to submit to it. I understand your passion, and the technology is fantastic, but the world just isn’t ready for this yet. There is too much that has to happen to keep the flow of energy consistent before we put far more demands on the current grid.
– Ken K.
Hi, Ken, and thank you for sending in your question. You’ve hit on a topic that I am quite passionate about.
You are exactly right, most people don’t understand where the electricity is coming from. Whenever I meet someone who is crazy about EVs or virtue signaling how environmentally sensitive they are, I ask them one simple question, “How was the electricity produced that you use to fuel your car?”
Not once in the last decade has anyone been able to answer that question. Usually, I just get a blank stare. And sadly, the answer is almost always carbon-based fuel or nuclear fission. It defeats the purpose.
The power grids in the U.S. – and many around the world – are not yet built to support a transportation infrastructure with EVs making up half or more of the cars on the road. The whole system needs to be upgraded to support that massive transition. California is a perfect example. What a disaster.
And right now, most of the energy production for EVs still comes from sources like natural gas, coal, nuclear fission (which produces radioactive waste), and hydroelectric dams that harm freshwater ecosystems. Likewise, lithium-ion batteries for EVs (mainly produced in China) are produced almost entirely with energy from coal-based power plants.
It’s estimated that our EVs need to be driven for at least 40,000–60,000 miles before we have offset all of the carbon used to produce the car and its batteries. And that doesn’t even account for the carbon-based electricity that is fueling the EVs.
In other words, EVs aren’t “green” like we’re led to believe. If we really want to make clean energy a reality, we still have a lot of work to do. So even if we shift to electric vehicles, it doesn’t mean fossil fuel energy production will disappear overnight. In fact, it won’t even be reduced.
It will take decades to solve this problem. New power generation plants will have to be built, preferably using nuclear fusion or latest-generation fission plants. This will allow us to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. And the entire power grid will have to be upgraded to support all of the additional power transmission requirements.
I don’t think we need to worry about EVs overwhelming our electric grid, though. There will be isolated incidents in badly managed states like California, as you noted. But overall, the shift will happen over the next couple of decades.
Even if car manufacturers were required to switch to only EVs, that doesn’t mean all consumers will immediately go out and replace their cars.
Instead, adoption will occur gradually as people buy new cars over the coming years. That will give us time to build out new, truly clean electric infrastructure to sufficient levels that will support the new electric cars hitting the road. And hopefully, the EVs and the batteries will also be produced with clean energy.
Advanced EV battery technology is here today, as are the cars that incorporate them. The technology to upgrade both our power grid, and our production of clean energy also exists, and nuclear fusion reactors are under development right now.
And I’m predicting that we’ll see a major breakthrough within the next three years in the form of a nuclear fusion reactor being able to produce more energy than it consumes to maintain the reaction.
I research and write about these trends because they are happening now and in the near future. And because this trend is so popular and fits a political narrative, it is receiving unbelievable levels of investment.
And when money is flowing into a market, there are always fantastic investment opportunities. And if we can invest early, before a technology becomes mainstream… then we have a real chance of making 5X, 10X, or more.
In fact, I released a briefing earlier this week on one of these opportunities surrounding EVs… and a tiny company that could absorb the lion’s share of a $10 trillion windfall.
If any readers haven’t checked out that story, I highly recommend going here to catch up.
I believe this opportunity could begin evolving as soon as November 19, so there’s little time to waste.
That’s all we have time for this week. If you have a question for a future mailbag, you can send it to me right here.
Have a good weekend.
Editor, The Bleeding Edge
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