The Builder of the Metaverse

The Builder of the Metaverse

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RAOUL PAL: When change comes, opportunity  abounds. We're about to enter a period of   the fastest pace of technological change in  all human history, something we refer to as   The Exponential Age. And Real Vision is going  to be your guide to this incredible future.  One of the privileges for me working at Real  Vision is the fact that our members are some   of the most incredible people. And sometimes,  somebody reached out to me and saying, hey,   how can I help? And today, I'm going to speak  to Vatsal, because Vatsal reached out and said,   listen, I can see you looking at the metaverse.  I know a bit about this, and I know a bit about   gaming. And so, we had a chat, and I was  blown away. Vatsal, it's so nice to see you. 

VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Likewise,  Raoul. Thanks for having me.  RAOUL PAL: So, tell people  a bit about your background,   and how you got to where you are today. And then we can dig into your brains and get some   of your knowledge of the whole space. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah, absolutely. So,   just going from the beginning, I grew up in India.  And I think I was telling you, I grew up all over   the country. And so, I picked up many different  languages and foods and culture since growing up.  

I came to the US, much like many people, for grad  school. So, I went to Duke and then to MIT to get   graduate education. And then for the last 20  years or so, I've spent time working either   building platforms and services for game  developers or building games myself. 

So, as a game developer, I ran a studio called  Storm8. We built 25 plus game titles cumulatively   played by a billion plus people and north of half  a billion in revenues. And then for last six,   seven years, I've been on the side of  building technology for game developers. So,  

first at Facebook, I was part of the team  which launched Oculus headsets, and a large   part of the software and services were led by  me. And then most recently, until last week,   I was at AWS. So, I was Head of Games Technologies  at AWS. And some of the work which we did,   some of the work which is public and notable  which we did was launching an Open 3D game engine.  So, game engines are an essential tools to  create games, Unreal and Unity are popular   commercial game engines. And we thought there  is an opportunity to create something with this   much more open, accessible, free to democratized  3D content production. So, we open-sourced it.   And then a handful of services which  are in production for scaling games,   so making games bigger, and as more and more  players play the game, thus helping the game   scale globally, Gamelift and Gamesparks. And there are a lot of services I can't  

talk about which are under production. And they  are all broadly in the areas of how you do 10x   everything from developing games, to  scaling games, to helping games 10x their   monetization. So, that's all those areas.  So, yeah, that's in brief, my background.  RAOUL PAL: One of the things I want to get back a  little bit first and dig into some of this stuff,   gaming. So, it's quite funny because gamers  used to be these people on the side, and the   people who develop games on the side, and then  everybody realized, gamers were the single best   people that understand human psychology and  behavior, and it became applied everywhere.  

Talk me through a little bit about your journey about designing games, how you even thought about   the game journeys, and all of that,  because it's fascinating to me.  VATSAL BHARDWAJ: So, actually, I'll go back, and  then I'll come forward to what you're saying.   One thing that has happened in games is that games  have really become mainstream in, if you go back   20 years ago, there were probably 100 million or  less people who identified themselves as gamers.   And today, there are 3 billion and growing  people who play games largely driven by   adoption of smartphones, but the number of people  who have played games has completely exploded. 

And what's also changed is the demographic of  people who play games. So, back in the day,   there was a stereotype of who a gamer is, that's  no longer true. There are more females playing   games than ever before. And if you look at the  spread of ages in games, it's all ages. You have   young kids playing games, you  have people in their jobs and   much more my age playing games, and then you  have seniors, so it's all across the board.   And so, the elements which I think which make a  game successful in some way are also being adopted   by other consumer apps which are successful. RAOUL PAL: Gamification is the  

key word nowadays, right? VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Gamification. But when I   thought of the game, when we look at game  design, there are aspects which we are   trying to include and balance. One is keeping it  interactive and giving players good feedback. So,   we know games are interactive by nature, but  giving your players the right feedback so that   they're learning by doing, they're learning  the game by doing. The second aspect is  

understanding and setting the right motivation  for players in the game, and helping them--  There is a concept which we use a lot called flow,  where when there is a game with an objective,   whatever it might be, how do you make sure that  the players playing the game, it's not too hard,   but it's also not too easy. So, you are in this  flow zone, it's then more of continuing to play   and enjoy the game. And there are some cues  which typically during game design, you use,   where giving your players a sense of  completion so when they reach a milestone,   giving them an achievement, or a badge, so that  they have a sense of accomplishment along the way.  Also, surprising and delighting them, and  sometimes showing them things in the game, which   are just serendipitous. It could be a mystery  item, it could be a quest, which they didn't   anticipate. So, those are some of the elements of  game design. Now, the other thing I'll say which   are equally important is giving players a way to  self-express. And they do it in a variety of ways,  

clothing and dressing up their avatar, the way  they present themselves. So, giving them just   a rich means to self-express, whether it's their  avatar, or if it's like a simulation style games,   the way they have crafted their farm,  or their city or build their house.   I think that's important. The last point I'll touch upon is   that with the explosion of games, you now have  to make your games into almost a social platform,   where it's a place to play, but more importantly,  it's a place to hang out with others.  RAOUL PAL: And you've created community within  games. Games are the community, and you happen  

to do things with that community together. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah. That's exactly right. And   I think that's probably one of the bigger changes  we've seen in last five years with Minecraft and   Fortnite where games are replacing times  which Reed Hastings of Netflix famously said,   look, I'm competing with Fortnite.  I'm less concerned about linear TV.  RAOUL PAL: On TV or whatever, yeah. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: I'm competing with   Fortnite because you see this generation which is  Millennials, Gen X, which are growing up, not just   digital, they're growing up on games, and they  view, again, Fortnite and Minecraft and among us   as a place where they hang out. And increasingly,  they want that, and you have Fortnite, which  

Epic Games I think is one of the most  exciting companies. If you get a chance,   we can talk about how game technology is going  to be on games, but you have Fortnite running   concerts. The Travis Scott concert was attended  by 15 million players are all during the event.  They do movie nights. So, it's a place much  more beyond just playing, it's a hangout.  

And then you see the whole creative economy emerge  around games. And you see it in two ways right   now. The first way is players demanding  tools or wanting tools so that they can   contribute towards content creation in games.  So, they can make their own virtual objects and   transact or exchange. Now, transaction  and exchange is still problematic.   I think crypto has a role to play there. But then the other aspect is that   there are games streamers who actually stream  their gameplay for others to view and watch them.  

And that's become a massive industry on  its own. I think if you look at YouTube,   watching game videos is probably the largest  vertical. If you take all the time combined on   people watching games on YouTube, and people  watching games being played live on Twitch,   it probably exceeds Netflix and HBO combined.  And so, the amount of-- coming back to how games   are becoming mainstream, it started just playing  and hanging out, now it's actually viewing games.  And there are competitions, like the League of  Legends, which is a popular game by Riot Games.  

It's a multiplayer competitive game, their annual  championship fills out the stadium, a football   stadium of 20,000, 30,000 people. And a few years  ago, it was watched by almost as many people   as a Superbowl. And so, when you step back  and think about what was a counterculture,   it's actually just completely mainstream.  All the elements which you can imagine.  RAOUL PAL: So, what you're really describing  is this movement from being a pure game   into a community and then into a  metaverse world of which people are   now-- we make TV shows about real life and  now, they're making TV shows about gaming life.  

And basically, it's becoming the fully immersive  experience. Is that how you're seeing it,   where it's just sucking more and more people in,  is it becomes just a broader cultural phenomenon?  VATSAL BHARDWAJ: It does it and actually,  it's both the things which you're saying.   One is it's more and more people are  participating in games, virtual communities   but it's also more and more people. They are spending even more time. I think if you   look back at the history like kids used to  hang out at malls or parks, now all of that   for a variety of reasons has just been replaced  with game centers, to some extent, social media.   And I think what you're seeing now is  okay, now you have people spending time   hanging out, spending time but how does this  virtual world create an economy of its own?  RAOUL PAL: Because that's  the next big step, isn't it?  VATSAL BHARDWAJ: That's the  next big thing. And I think   while games have done that in a closed way where  if you play a popular MMO called Second Life,   people refer to it as Metaverse 1.0, they made  all these elements of yes, you can create objects,  

there is land you can buy and sell, they had  their own currency called Linden Dollars.   There were designers who can come and  design your home in this virtual world.  I think what's changing now is this element  of the same property rights which you have in   the physical world, like how do you bring those  elements of property rights, ownership, a free   economy and a marketplace in these virtual worlds.  And I think that's what you're starting to see   now especially with-- and frankly, I think   Epic Games, Minecraft, they took some steps in  that direction, but some of the crypto games   are just pushing it just to the extreme. RAOUL PAL: Yeah, Axie Infinity and stuff  

like that is becoming fascinating. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah. Axie Infinity,   I think the term which gets used a lot for crypto  games is play to earn, where you participate in   the game and Axie Infinity, it's like a rock,  paper, scissors style games. I think you and your   audience might know. At its core, it's a rock,  paper, scissors game where you're collecting these   cute characters called Axies, you're forming a  team, and then you're competing with each other.   What's neat is, I think what gets talked about is  the idea of play to earn where you can spend time   and energy collecting the right Axies, forming  the right team, breeding them, training them,   and then transacting, like  selling them to someone.  RAOUL PAL: You sell resources. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah, the way  

you sell resources. But I think from  purely from a standpoint of game industry,   there is something much more profound. And I think  one is the concept of ownership. Players did not   have-- you can buy items, but if you don't give-- RAOUL PAL: They're non-fungible,   you couldn't do anything with them. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah, exactly. So,   it's non-fungible. So, concept of ownership.  It's also changing the relationship of what the   business model arrangement look like if you're  a game developer, and a player and a publisher   or an app store. The astonishing thing about Axie  Infinity is they are north of fighting 2 million  

daily active players. And none of that has gone  through the traditional modes of distribution.  They're certainly not stacking discs in  Best Buy, but they're also not going through   app stores on iOS, or Android. And so, it's  all driven by community, strong word of mouth.   And so, it's changing. I think, what's changed here is ownership, the distribution   and frankly, the relationship in how  the value created by games, how it's   shared between all the stakeholders. RAOUL PAL: I've been thinking about this.  

And obviously, this is moving towards each of  these economies having their own currency, which   is if it's on, let's say, Ethereum, it could  be traded. But therefore, you're creating   digital sovereign states. Is that not where it's  going, where you live within it, there's a set of   rules within the community, you've got a system  of money, you can live, earn, but you can take   your money and go elsewhere if required? VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah. So, I think that's  

one issue where you do have multiple sovereign  economies. But I think as long as there are   mechanisms for you to transact, much like forex  exchange, because I think that's where things   will quickly head towards where, in a world that's  so much driven by open standards and communities,   I think if you're trying to ward off and say,  well, my currency just stays within these realms,   that's a recipe for losing. RAOUL PAL: So, you need that   interoperability between all these worlds. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: You need interoperability when it   comes to value, you also need interoperability-  - now, this is easier said than done-- between   being able to take the digital assets you have in  one game into another. And the reason I say it's  

harder is my avatar in, let's say, when someone  creates a World Of Warcraft on blockchains,   my avatar on World of Warcraft in blockchains,  it had certain specifications for one game.  And so, the items which I brought with it, as much  as I want to take it to the next Battle Royale,   there are some technical challenges to be solved  there. But again, moving in the direction of how   you have common formats around how all kinds of  3D data is specified will be important, because   that's where you get true interoperability, just  the way I can pick up my items in this house and   move to a different place. So,  that portability will be important. 

And lastly, I also think that we have an  opportunity to build and try. So, we have an   opportunity to build it on open standards.  Everything from, I think we talked about   just the sovereign currencies and making sure  those are exchangeable. The 3D data formats,  

those are interchangeable, and then the  distribution mechanisms and the value exchange   contracts are set correctly in the first place. RAOUL PAL: So, there's   tons of questions I want to ask you. First one  is, okay, there was a clear battle lining up   between Facebook and Epic Games. One  is the idea of the closed metaverse,   which is the Zuckerberg vision essentially. And  the other is Tim Sweeney's vision. I imagine it's  

going to be a mix of many. The metaverse is not  one place. It's our digital lives that spreads   across. How are you thinking through that battle  between the open-source distributed ideas versus   the big closed platforms creating their worlds? VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Well, the way I think of it,   I think you're absolutely right. I think  there is a bit of a battle of ideas there. And   the core of this, I think, is around identity  and ownership of assets. What we will want and  

most people I think will agree what we want  is like a completely distributed decentralized  economy, where I as a player, I as a  citizen user can participate in whatever   metaverse application. I think of Facebook  as a metaverse application, wherever that   transpires and Epic Games also as a metaverse  application, where I can go to any of these   realms with my identity. I can share what's needed,   I can take whatever assets I need. Now,  I think it's solving that problem on   how do you make it easier and understandable for  an end user the way I understand this phone is   mine, or this wallet is mine, like how  do you make it easier for a user online?   The concept of this is your digital identity. This  is what you own. And this is how you transact with  

different ecosystems, whether it's  Facebook or Epic Games, Minecraft or   Axie online. We have to crack that nut. RAOUL PAL: It feels to me that that is   somewhere-- you and I both seen it in India with  Aadhaar, right? Where you have a digital identity,   it's provable. Okay, the next step is to maybe  wrap zero-knowledge proofs around it in some way   that I can have different  avatars in different worlds,   but you know that you're dealing with a particular  person, and you don't need to see my details.   Something like that needs to scale, I think. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah, it needs to scale.   And I think some of the hard part there isn't  technical, necessarily. The technical aspect is  

probably solvable and doable with blockchains,  and zero-knowledge proofs and public/private   key encryption. The hard part is actually just  education, and awareness and making it easy.   So, I think that's one thing which you do  want to crack. Going back to what you said,   I do think that there is a battle of ideas,  there is also a battle of definition.  I think everyone wants to define metaverse not  in their own way, but stake ownership. And to me,   sometimes it almost feels like 20 years ago, you  were talking about, well, I am the internet. Like  

if AOL said, look, I'm the internet, it could  be a bit short-sighted. So, I think again, like   the metaverse, the way it can emerge  is-- and some of it is already here,   that it will span both digital and physical.  And there'll be a variety of applications.  There'll be games, there'll be social media,  there'll be a whole host of enterprise technology,   which will be built around it. Some of the  distinguishing characteristics would be  

it's going to be primarily 3D. Now, not to  say you can't experience it on the phone, but   we as human beings, we live in a 3D world. So,  it's primarily 3D, persistent with the simulation   behind these digital objects is going to go on  and hopefully it has a much more decentralized,   creative economy behind it. RAOUL PAL: So, I want to start talking   a little bit about some of the technological  issues that you've been trying to solve for   the last few years. First one is when I look  at the crypto style games, blockchain games,   or metaverses, whether it's Sandbox or  Decentraland, or whatever, they are pixelated,   awful experiences. And anything built on the  Unreal Engine is 4k gorgeous. Why can't we get  

a consistent 4k standard? Is it because  gamers are using different computers,   so they have more power, so the general  experience? What is that that's stopping   this world going to what 4k should be? VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah. From a technology   standpoint, there is lots of  challenges. I think we'll start with   where you're going. Like, how do you get a 4k  experience, Unreal, AAA, high-end experience  everywhere? Some of it is on your local  device. So, whether it's your phone or your PC,  

there are some constraints on just based on what  graphics card you have. Like, if you have a 3090   GeForce, you can pretty much  render anything in real time.  So, I think that's one constraint. And  there are solutions around it. I think one   talked about solution is you can render and run  any of these games in massive data centers. Well,   pick your choice, build your own, pick a public  cloud, and then just the way you stream movies   down, you can actually stream it down. So, then  you're taking away your iPhone, or even much lower   than iPhone, if your device can play a movie,  it can play a high-end game in full fidelity. 

And the idea is that all the rendering and  simulation, it's actually running in a data center   somewhere with the latest GPU. So, I think I think  that's one challenge. The second challenge is that   creating these high- resolution assets at a  massive scale is cumbersome, it's costly. If   you look at typical game companies, they typically  have anywhere from 10 to 50 artists per engineer.   And so, there is a just tremendous amount  of work which goes in creating these   high-resolution assets, realistic looking assets. And then, you can change that. And you're already   starting to see content being procedurally  generated, like Minecraft is almost all   procedurally generated. No Man's Sky in  large parts is procedurally generated.  

You have tools who can make digital humans or  meta humans, which are getting pretty damn close,   and very photorealistic. So, that's  the other challenge on how do you   create all of this content and  then deliver all of this content   across the world? The last part, I would say is, there is   a computational challenge with when you have this  metaverse on a 4k application, which is very rich,   which is very rich in fidelity, and has lots  of players or users all together at once,   it's an infrastructure compute challenge.  And let me give you an example,   not to pick on Epic Games or Travis Scott's  concert, which I thought was fantastic,   but when you are there in that stadium,  you can see at most 10 people around you.  And you and I both know that when you go into  a concert, a part of the concert experience   is that you are there with thousands  and thousands of people all around you.   And to replicate that experience, there  is the 3D challenge we talked about, but   just having large number of people in the same  world altogether, it's a compute challenge.  RAOUL PAL: So, let me understand this.  So, if they managed to get 10 people,  

even the idea of having a university class  of 100 people together, it's still impossible   that you can actually meet fellow students. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah, you can play around   with tricks. And I think you can play around  with tricks of like, hey, I'll trade off   the resolution or the quality. So, for example,  everyone in the class will be wearing the same   clothes and then we will take maybe one or two  characteristics of what makes us different,   but more or less, our tasks will look the same  and then we can have 100 people or 1000 people,   but then you start making tradeoffs. But I think what we want is you and I  

in this resolution among 100 other people with  the same resolution, I think that's a challenge   right now. Now, it's solvable. But it's a  compute challenge, and the reason is that   if you take the largest computer, largest server,  the amount of compute available on it isn't enough   to run that simulation in full fidelity. There are  solutions companies working around the world on   how do you break past? And how do you  have not just hundreds, but thousands and   hundreds of thousand people in full fidelity all  interacting in the same world? But yeah, again,   I think if you have to realize metaverse, that's  another challenge which we'll have to solve.  RAOUL PAL: How far, because you know the  technology, you're seeing people working on it,   how far away do you think it is where we make  that quantum leap from some of these slightly   blockier experiences, or like Epic Games is high  fidelity but you can't get many people together?   When does it suddenly start to  see, oh, wow, okay, this is now   a real human interaction thing where we  can engage with large numbers? How far   is that? 10 years? Five years? VATSAL BHARDWAJ: No, I would say it's   within five years, definitely, even faster.  And you are seeing some examples of it already,   again constrained either by it's high  fidelity, but it's not fully real time yet,   or it's fully high fidelity, it's real time,  but not enough people. There are a variety of   teams working on this. And I think you'll see  breakthroughs in the next two to five years, where  

you will have 100,000 people in a Travis Scott  concert in Fortnite, and all together all at once.  So, I think technologically,  we're getting pretty damn close.   Now, all the constraints I talked about about the  local device and local device ability to render,   I think, all of those and how many people you can  have in the same world, things are getting pretty   close, where you will pretty soon see just massive  scale games in hundreds of thousands of people   in full fidelity and they're rendered in the  cloud and back in wherever you're hosting it.   And then they are just streamed down to devices. And some of the streaming tech is already there.  

You see Google Stadia, and NVIDIA GeForce,  for example, streaming really high fidelity,   AAA games. So, we're getting pretty close. RAOUL PAL: So, the other thing in the   technology side, talk us through AR and VR,  because those are the other parts of this.   And how are you seeing-- so Apple seems to be the  AR leader. That's where they seem to be going, and   Facebook's obviously the main player in VR right  now. How do you see that playing out? Because   that's, again, a lot of new technology coming? VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah. So, my view on both AR and   VR, is that obviously like I think when some of  these experiences become online, and they mature,   they'll be a key part of the consumer experience.  They'll be a key part of-- if you are in fully  

immersive VR, put on the headset and experiencing  a concert in 2D or hanging out with your friends   in 2D, you are in a fully immersed world, and  you can pick and choose on where you want to be,   wanting to be on top of a race or you  want to be on your favorite playground.  So, I think on consumer, you will see that on  AR, again, with both AR glasses, and frankly,   with phones, Apple iPhones. Apple is certainly  a bit ahead. You can embed virtual objects in   real world so for example, I can leave a gift  or leave something for you in a physical space   for you or a friend. And when you get there, it just gets activated. But   the key point is it's tied to a geographical point  and it's persistent and you can interact with it. 

And so, I think we are going to see that.   In some ways, you already have those examples  with Niantic's Pokémon GO game where   you are embedding these virtual objects in real  world in some way and enhancing the real world   and in VR games. Where I think it's more  interesting is on enterprise technology.   And if you think about what COVID did, it  made it impossible for us to work together   in the same room. And so, a lot of collaboration  which typically happened with architects standing  

around a model of a new building, or a design of  a new car fully crafted in play, that went away.  And so, what that did was just open up this  opportunity for creating it virtually. And again,   going back to where the technology is, right  now, you have game engines, which can do   full real time ray tracing, and what that  means is you can, for the first time, have very   photorealistic 3D models, which you can change in  real time, have multiple people interact with it   in real time during product design. And a lot of  automotive companies and other engineering firms  

were already looking to adopt these technologies,  but that's certainly something which   has accelerated partially by COVID. But partially, they also realized it's much more   cost effective and it's just a much better way  to collaborate when you can have people from   around the world looking at the same model,  making changes, starting causes and effects.   So, I think that's one part which I see in  addition to like consumer which more medium term,   I think short term, you're already seeing that.  You're also seeing good applications of we AR   and AR in defense and public sector. And so, I think I will completely mess  

up the acronym, but IVAS is a program by  US military on equipping soldiers with   augmented reality headsets. And they're  bringing all the technology which   is present in headsets today with infrared sensing  and all of that, with full immersive map of the   mission and real time communication between the  entire fleet which is doing an operation. So,   you see those in different sectors. You see people being in VR actually,   there is Strivr is an interesting company,  and it partners with football teams, where   if you're a quarterback, you have  to memorize thousands of players.  

And the way for you to quickly memorize and learn  is actually much more-- you can do it much more   faster by putting on a VR headset. So, you see  some of these enterprise-type applications now   which are taking off. And then I think eventually,  we get to the complete consumerization of yes--  RAOUL PAL: It sounds like things like AR is  obviously going to go fully into cars when we've   seen it with things like Waze and stuff. But as  you go further into it, Apple's building a whole   AR digital map of the world. And I think even of  your local proximity by using your iPhone to ping   the surroundings to understand what it looks like.  So, it feels like everything is going to be guided  

not just the military, but all of our lives. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Well, yeah, totally.   AR and geospatial data will both create  applications and experiences which we can't   imagine today. And both for consumers where  enhancing the physical world geospatially   with these virtual objects, but also, again,  I think, even in enterprise setting where   one of the developers in Beijing he  created-- I think it's called 51World,   they created a full live model of the entire City of Shanghai. So, the entire of City of Shanghai   in full fidelity and they used a combination of  satellites and drones and sensors on the buildings   and traffic patterns. Again, you can do a very  realistic rendering of some of these large worlds.  So, you have a full digital representation  of this entire city which are being created.   And what it does is it opens up possibilities for   city planning. If you want to create a park or  a new building, instead of doing it on a paper,  

you can actually all visualize and then  you can run a whole simulations around,   if you make these changes in the city, what  is the impact on traffic and utilities?  RAOUL PAL: So, you can use machine learning  and AI to then understand the knock-on effects   of doing certain things? VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah, I think   so. That's already happening. You have the City of  Shanghai, you have Wellington is another city. So,   these projects creating digital life cities  are smaller. So, that is the city scale   AR and simulation, but there is a much more of a  room or a factory scale of the same thing where   you can make changes, where it's a live link  between your digital replica, your digital twin   of the real-world object, where it's a live  link, where you can make changes in this   digital object, and it gets reflected in the  physical world. And there is a feedback loop back.  And so, the way for me, it all comes together  and eventually in this larger metaverse is   that it's not just our social life,  or games, movies, play, but we'll   also bring most of our work into this world. RAOUL PAL: One of the things I've been thinking  

about is we've we saw remote medicine, skilled  remote medicine in India servicing, let's say,   hospitals in the Middle East, but  you can now be an expert surgeon by   using VR, a surgeon in one place can basically do  hundreds of surgeries, and help by either using   robotics and VR or whatever. Are we seeing much  development in the medical space and all of this?  VATSAL BHARDWAJ: That's an area I haven't kept  up. I think I'm very familiar with what you were   saying around like performing remote surgeries. It  is certainly on we've seen much more on training   around trauma [?] and soft skills and more  counseling. And I have to get back on like, what's  

the latest on-- the remote surgeries have been  around for a while and VR assisted, but what's   the latest? I've not kept up. But yeah, I think  medical applications, especially on counseling,   they're definitely taking hold. RAOUL PAL: So, what is the thing that you've seen   recently that's totally blow you away? That  you were like, wow, okay, that's another   whole quantum leap that I didn't expect yet. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Let me take a little example,   actually, which is pretty cool. Again, I think  last year stretched all of us in many ways. And  

one thing, which I thought was super neat was how  Google has a division called Waymo, they're making   autonomous cars and technology for autonomous  cars. When everything shut down, they were able   to carry on training for their car sensors for  their autonomous setup, and generating all of this   data to train their models in a virtual world. So, they have a project called CarCraft, think   of it as GTA but done for cars in full fidelity  for a massive city in which they could train   I think 100 years' worth of training in the  physical world in a single day. And that's 100x   leap. That's 100x improvement and 100x leap of  what's possible in the physical world. And they   were able to use and argument that data along  with everything they are doing in real world   around collecting data. When you run an autonomous  car, you're collecting all these signals. So,  

it was pretty cool and interesting, at  least from my perspective, that look, you're   almost training a robot in a virtual  world. This is one example of a 100x--  RAOUL PAL: Making the singularity  fast is what you're telling me.   I want to wrap up on some of this  because we've talked about this   gigantic wholesale change that came from gaming  is spread into commercial world, financial world.  

And then the everything around us world, as  everybody builds out AR/VR, and all of this stuff.   How does it affect society in a society where  humans don't get together? There's no sense of   smell in the metaverse. There's no sense of taste  in the metaverse. Things that are very human   experiences. How is it going to affect people? VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah. As a technologist,   my first answer is not yet. I  think it started with vision   and haptics and I think things will get  pretty close. But I do think of it as  

we are at the very early innings, and we have  an opportunity to actually shape it. The one   way in which we can shape it is not just fully  digital, again, like enhancing physical spaces   with virtual or digital objects. That's one way in  which we can shape it. The second way in which we   can shape it is now the time to think about what  does again, property rights, ownerships, identity,   because things are already headed  there. And how do we, as a community,   help drive right decisions on ownership, identity? RAOUL PAL: That foundational   layer is so important. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah. So that we get it right,  

so that it's truly a utopia and not a dystopia.  I think that's the second thing I would say.   The third thing is, at least personally for me,  I'm an optimist. It's certainly going to take   the time away from other-- I forget, I think on an  average, an American spends 20 plus hours watching   TV, it's going to take time away from passive  consumption of media to much more active and   interactive, now albeit it's in a digital world,  I do think it's better for your overall wellbeing.  RAOUL PAL: These, you would say the 3D  digital world is better than being in a   2D digital world. So, if you're spending that  long watching television, you'd be better off   probably mentally healthier in a 3D world. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah. I think it's not going  

to be a replacement for what we do physically.  I think that will persist. I think what you'll   see is, again, it takes time away from passive  media, where you're watching television to you're   immersed in a virtual world, you are immersed in  a 3D world where you are picking up skills, same   skills you pick up in real world around how do you  interact with others? How do you collaboratively   create things? How do you hang out? There is an  aspect of all of these that do teach your life   skills. But at the same time, I do think it's not  going to be-- I don't believe the real Player One   version of it, where you're always in the headset. RAOUL PAL: And I love your vision that you've  

mentioned, I hadn't really thought about it  that way. But this is something to think about,   is you can exist in a physical world, yet  there'll be digital objects around you.   And digital enhancements. We understand the  enhancements, your phone can help you out.   So, you can have your NFT art displayed in the  wall that you don't see in the physical space,   but you see it in the digital space by you pick  up your phone, and suddenly it reveals things.   That's an extraordinary world where physical and  digital are real properties as you talked about.  VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah. And I think once the  AR glasses, they will get to a form factor  

of your sunglasses. I think that's a little bit  further away and I don't think next two years,   but next five years. But just imagine you actually  have an AR glasses which transform not just NFT,   but they can transform your room. You're still  in the physical world with people but it's   a bit more enhanced. And in some way, we enhance  ourselves today. We wear clothing and watches   and all kinds of things to enhance our world. We  decorate our homes today. So, I don't view it as   much different from, hey, I'm going to digitally  enhance it in addition to do it physically today. 

RAOUL PAL: Just a final thing on the AR versus  VR thing is-- I just want to pick your brains on   this quickly- - is Apple has an advantage because  it has massive computing power. So, it can have   AR glasses that can talk to the phone. How to  Facebook sold that without having clunky headsets   because I think Mark Zuckerberg said the hardest  thing to solve is how do you get all of that in   a spectacle frame. They can't, but Apple can. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: So, my view is that it's still   quite open. Like AR/VR headsets are still  quite open. The Oculus headset, it has its own   "operating system" like the new quest two devices.  It's a headset, it doesn't need to be connected,   it's a fully untethered headset, it doesn't need  to be connected to your PC or your phone. Now  

it does take a hit on battery life. And there are  constraints today on how much graphics and compute   you can pack on it so that it doesn't heat up and  make your brain hot. But I think it's still open.  I think Apple has an advantage with an  iPhone. But I also don't believe that   one of the early learnings of the VR  industry was that you need a fully untethered   and fully mobile headset or glasses for it to  get traction. So, my view is yes, you will have   a phone. But I think this phone also gets broken  apart. You already have a AirPods, it's matter of   time, and you have a watch. And you can make phone  calls from your watch. And it's only a matter of  

time where the phone is completely untethered  into, like, yes, you can make phone calls with   Siri with just your headphones and your watch. And so, the need for Apple's advantage around   phones, I think it gives them an advantage of  what you're saying in install base and know-how,   but when it comes to form factor  operating system, I think it's still open   between Apple and Facebook and Microsoft, and  others in this field. That's just my view.   Where I think they have been smart is they  probably have the most advanced chipset on their   phones when it comes to AR, their software. Both  the hardware and software, they are further ahead,   is they can bring it together. And  that's been Apple's genius of like   being this fantastic curators of technology,  hardware, software form factor put together,   so they can certainly blow us away. RAOUL PAL: So, this is clearly an   exponential trend that is accelerating. It's  one of the true classic of the exponential age.  

Let's go 10 years ahead, how much further  advanced is it from now? Are we really   starting to see this whole vision come together? VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Oh, definitely. I think you are   starting to see bits and pieces of all of these  things today. Again, Fortnite is an example.   Niantic's Pokémon GO is an example. Some  of the simulations in public sector like BMW   just having a digital replica of their factory  floor and making changes as an example,   Shanghai. So, I think it's already there. I do  think in 10 years, all of this comes together   and accelerates and where I think the  physical-- the scary part is that the   boundaries between physical and digital  world will start to blur even more.  I do think it changes the nature of jobs,  I think we talked about-- like we started   this conversation talking about gamification.  And that's just the tip of the iceberg. You can  

only imagine like kids are growing up now, it's  not just they're gamified but they are actually   so used to working and immersing themselves  going back and forth between physical and 3D. So,   it's going to impact the whole nature of  workplace and design of workplace. It's going   to create jobs which we can't think of now. When I look at Axie online, yes, it's play   to earn, but it's a new type of job, new class  of jobs which are created. The skillset will be   materially different for what we are teaching kids  today. So, I think that's the scary part of like,   yes, it's happening so fast. The kids send the  human subject off but will our institutions and  

our regulations and the law and order [?]? RAOUL PAL: I've been thinking through this,   it feels like the world is going to go to these  digital states. And the regulators will have to   catch up. It's just a different world. It's  just a very different world. And as you said,   that whole traditional institutional  infrastructure is going to have to change.   But I think of this as a whole new GDP like  discovering Americas. It's not incremental. It's  

an entirely new thing. You can get the same way. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah, I agree. And again,   ICOs transformed how you can start a company. And  I think that compounded as just going to have just   massive effects on what it is to own a business.  And so, yeah, it's an exciting world. I think the   part which will lag behind is regulation and   new norms will be established. Institutions is  the part I feel like will get even further behind,   like any of human created institutions. RAOUL PAL: Because the entrepreneurs that are   innovating so fast, but look, really fascinating.  And thank you for spending some time with us  

to talk us through what's going on, because  most people hear about it, but don't realize   how real it is and how fast it's happening. And  the quality of what is coming ahead is something   people can't get their heads around yet. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Yeah, Raoul,   I enjoyed it. Thanks for having me. RAOUL PAL: Thank you. And I'll   definitely pick your brains again in  due course, once this stuff all starts  moving again. But great to see you, Vatsal. VATSAL BHARDWAJ: Likewise, Raoul. Thank you.  RAOUL PAL: Thank you. When change comes,  opportunity abounds. We're about to enter   a period of the fastest pace of technological  change in all human history, something we refer   to as The Exponential Age. And Real Vision is  going to be your guide to this incredible future.

2022-03-04 19:28

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