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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Metaverse’s Surprising Role in Combating Global Warming

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For many technology enthusiasts, the metaverse holds the promise of revolutionizing nearly every aspect of daily living, from professional pursuits to learning experiences to leisure activities. Now, a recent study from Cornell University indicates that the environment could also benefit from the metaverse.

The study reveals that the metaverse has the potential to reduce the global surface temperature by as much as 0.02 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

The team’s paper was recently published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.

They used AI-based modeling to analyze data from key sectors – technology, energy, environment, and business – to anticipate the growth of metaverse usage and the impact of its most promising applications: remote work, virtual traveling, distance learning, gaming, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The researchers projected metaverse expansion through 2050 along three different trajectories – slow, nominal, and fast – and they looked to previous technologies, such as television, the internet, and the iPhone, for insight into how quickly that adoption might occur. They also factored in the amount of energy that increasing usage would consume. The modeling suggested that within 30 years, the technology would be adopted by more than 90% of the population.

“One thing that did surprise us is that this metaverse is going to grow much quicker than what we expected,” said Fengqi You, professor in energy systems engineering and the paper’s senior author. “Look at earlier technologies – TV, for instance. It took decades to be eventually adopted by everyone. Now we are really in an age of technological explosion. Think of our smartphones. They grew very fast.”

Currently, two of the biggest industry drivers of metaverse development are Meta and Microsoft, both of which contributed to the study. Meta has been focusing on individual experiences, such as gaming, while Microsoft specializes in business solutions, including remote conferencing and distance learning.

Limiting business travel would generate the largest environmental benefit, according to You.

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