The Pacific nation of Tuvalu plans to create a version of itself in the Metaverse region, as a response to the existential threat of rising sea levels. Tuvalu’s Minister of Justice, Communication and Foreign Affairs, Simon Coffey, announced via a spooky digital address to the leaders at COP27.
He said the plan, which represents the “worst-case scenario”, includes the creation of digital twin Tuvalu in the Metaverse region in order to replicate its beautiful islands and preserve its rich culture:
The tragedy of this outcome cannot be overstated […] Tuvalu may be the first country in the world to be solely in cyberspace — but if global warming continues unchecked, it won’t be the last.
The idea is that metavir could allow Tuvalu to “function fully as a sovereign state” as its people are forced to live elsewhere.
There are two stories here. One of them is a small island nation in the Pacific Ocean facing an existential threat and looking to maintain its national identity through technology.
The other is that by far the preferred future for Tuvalu is to avoid the worst effects of climate change and preserve itself as a land state. In this case, this might be her way of getting the world’s attention.
What is a metaverse nation?
The Metaverse It represents a thriving future in which augmented and virtual reality become a part of everyday life. There are many visions of what the metaverse might look like, with the most well-known coming from Meta (formerly Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
What is Metaverse, and what can we do there?
What most of these visions have in common is the idea that the metaverse is about interoperable and immersive 3D worlds. A persistent avatar moves from one virtual world to another, just as easily as it moves from one room to another in the physical world.
The goal is to obliterate the human ability to distinguish between the real and the virtual better or worse.
Covey points out that three aspects of the nation of Tuvalu can be recreated in Metaverse:
Territory – Recreation of the natural beauty of Tuvalu, which can be interacted with in various ways
Culture – The ability of the people of Tuvalu to interact with each other in ways that preserve their common language, customs and customs, wherever they are
Sovereignty – If there is a loss of terrestrial land over which the Tuvalu government is sovereign (tragedy beyond belief, but they are beginning to fantasize about it), can they have sovereignty over a hypothetical land instead?
Can this be done?
In the event that Tuvalu’s proposal is actually a literal one and not just a symbol of the dangers of climate change, what would it look like?
Technologically speaking, it is indeed easy to create a beautiful, immersive and rich recreation of the Tuvalu lands. Moreover, thousands of different online communities and 3D worlds (eg A second life) demonstrate the possibility of having fully virtual interactive spaces that can preserve their own culture.
The idea of combining these technological capabilities with governance features to “digital twinFrom TUV is possible.
There have been past experiences of governments taking location-based functions and creating virtual counterparts to them. For example, Estonia Electronic residence It is an online-only form of residency that non-Estonians can obtain to access services such as company registration. Another example is the countries that set up virtual embassies in Online platform Second Life.
However, there are significant technological and social challenges in bringing together and digitizing the elements that define the entire nation.
Tuvalu has only about 12,000 citizens, but having that many people interacting in real time in an immersive virtual world is a technical challenge. there Bandwidth issuescomputing power, and the fact that many users either have an aversion to headphones or suffer from nausea.
No one has yet demonstrated that nation-states can be successfully translated into the virtual world. Even if they could, others argue that the digital world is making The nation-states are redundant.
Tuvalu’s proposal to create its digital twin in the metaverse is a message in a bottle – a desperate response to a dire situation. However, there is a cryptic message here, too, for others who might consider retreating to virtual reality as a response to the loss caused by climate change.
Metaverse is not a refuge
The metaverse is built on the physical infrastructure of servers, data centers, network routers, hardware, and head-mounted displays. All of this technology has a hidden carbon footprint and requires physical and energy maintenance. Search The publication in the journal Nature predicts that the Internet will consume about 20% of the world’s electricity by 2025.
idea Metaverse Nation As a response to climate change is exactly the kind of thinking that got us here. The language being adopted around new technologies — such as “cloud computing,” “virtual reality,” and the “metaverse” — comes across as clean and green.
These terms are loaded with “technological solution” And the “Green washThey hide the fact that technological responses to climate change often exacerbation of the problem Because of the heavy use of energy and resources.
So where does that leave Tuvalu?
Coffey is well aware that Metaverse is not the answer to Tuvalu’s problems. He explicitly states that we need to focus on reducing the effects of climate change through initiatives such as a Fossil fuel ban treaty.
The video he posted about Tuvalu moving to the Metaverse region was a hit as a provocation. I got world press – just like him mobile call During COP26 while standing knee-deep in high water.
However, Kofe suggests:
Without a global conscience and a global commitment to our common welfare, we may find the rest of the world joining us online as their lands disappear.
It’s dangerous to think, even by implication, that moving into the metaverse is a viable response to climate change. The metaverse can definitely help keep heritage and culture alive as a virtual museum and digital society. But it seems unlikely to function as a clichéd nation-state.
Either way, it certainly wouldn’t work without the land, infrastructure, and energy that keeps the Internet working.
It would be best for us to direct international attention towards Tuvalu’s other initiatives described in same report:
The project’s first initiative promotes diplomacy based on the Tuvaluan values of Olaaga Vakafinua (community living systems), Kaitasi (shared responsibility) and Vali Pele (being a good neighbour), with the hope that these values will motivate other nations to understand their shared responsibility. To tackle climate change and sea level rise for global welfare.
The message in a bottle that Tuvalu is sending is not really about the potential of big nations at all. The message is clear: to support community living systems, to take shared responsibility, and to be a good neighbor.
The first of which cannot be translated into the virtual world. The second requires us consume lessAnd the third requires our attention.
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