Web3 aims to offer new answers to old questions


The age-old query of “what occurs after we die” is one humanity has grappled with for millennia. Religions, philosophers and thought leaders have put forth theories about every particular person’s destiny past life on earth. Till now, no factual, science-based conclusion has offered a satisfying reply.

Psychologists have understood that the concern of dying — or the belief of mortality — is a serious motivator of human motion. Developments corresponding to cloning and creating digital worlds, which had been beforehand science fiction, have come to actuality, maybe as one other scramble to reply this query — and even defeat dying.

Now, within the age of the metaverse, people are the architects of a brand new digital world and, subsequently, a brand new digital life. Within the Web3 area, the metaverse has garnered a lot attention from outside investment and elevated participation from legacy firms. The metaverse sector may have an estimated value of $5 trillion by 2030.

Many imagine that the metaverse will reshape how social life is structured.

This new genesis of digital life naturally brings out the identical timeless questions — with a twist. If life is reinvented in digital actuality, will dying even be totally different? Particularly, what occurs after we die within the metaverse as people and avatars?

What occurs once we die digitally?

The existential query of what occurs after we die stays unanswerable relating to our souls’ ultimate or subsequent vacation spot. Nonetheless, cultures worldwide have alternative ways of dealing with death-related ceremonies, which is the human expertise of deciding what occurs to our our bodies after dying.

As extra folks proceed to digitize their identities, create avatars in digital worlds and maintain digital belongings, the query of what happens after death reappears.

The introduction of social media was one of many earlier cases of people having to cope with a digital id after dying.

At Fb, for instance, a consumer’s profile turns into “memorialized” as a “place for family and friends to collect and share recollections after an individual has handed away.” It additionally serves as a safety characteristic to forestall any future logins.

Fb’s guardian firm Meta has been actively pursuing metaverse development. Mark Zuckerberg, the corporate’s founder, made an explainer video for Meta’s metaverse in October 2021.

Whereas the clip didn’t explicitly point out dying, customers started asking the dying within the metaverse query. Shortly after, a dystopian meme circulated on social media with a quote attributed to Zuckerberg: “Should you die within the metaverse, you die in actual life.”

Nonetheless, founders and executives of metaverse platforms are toying with the concept of dying as digital actuality develops. 

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Frank Wilder, the co-founder of metaverse platform Wilder World, informed Cointelegraph that as we construct sacred locations throughout the metaverse and create new avatar variations of ourselves, the idea of “dying” is now not restricted to the dying of a bodily physique:

“On this digital world, we’ve the power to think about new types of existence after dying, such because the preservation of an individual’s digital consciousness or the creation of a digital memorial.”

Wilder mentioned that honoring the “sacredness of life is a fragile exploration,” and people will inherit varied avenues to decide on how they wish to honor their life.

Cemeteries within the sky

For Mariana Cabugueira, the lead architect and concrete planner of Wilder World’s first digital metropolis, Wiami, this “new dimension of actuality” invitations a contemporary strategy to protect legacies.

Take the idea of cemeteries, for instance. In her view, metaverse cemeteries might be much less like graveyards and extra like designated memorial areas with capsules that maintain reminiscence and soul, created by the proprietor for digital relaxation.

“These digital capsules share how we need to be remembered and honored, inform our story, and convey the nice and cozy feeling of a soul.”

Though avatars don’t age, the thoughts behind the avatar can supersede the digital character and deserves closure and celebration, Cabugueira mentioned, including, “memory-capsule cemeteries might be locations for all times closure, for ending our characters — a self we departed from — or a stage of life we’re now not in.”

A memorial stone from Keep in mind, an ecosystem that enables customers to mint memorials for vital life occasions. Supply: Keep in mind

In Wilder World, Cabugueira has a imaginative and prescient of how these areas will visually take form. She mentioned these memorial areas can be high-up “like cathedrals,” with symbolism tied to the sky and lightweight. 

“Remembrance is now not only a burial however a celebration of life evolving,” she mentioned.

Ethics of digital life after dying

Digital cemeteries are just one a part of what occurs after a digital dying. A extra urgent query is: What occurs to our digital belongings and knowledge?

Yat Siu, co-founder and government chairman of Animoca Manufacturers, believes we’re nonetheless early on this dialogue. He informed Cointelegraph that these fascinated with these items are doing so extra by way of “how custody of belongings might be transferred to heirs moderately than managing metaverse id.” Siu mentioned:

“Within the metaverse, your digital persona can nonetheless have affect and impression even when it’s now not operated by you. In actual fact, a digital persona would possibly develop into much more influential and subsequently precious after bodily dying.”

Marja Konttinen, the advertising and marketing director of the Decentraland Basis — the founding group of the Decentraland metaverse — mentioned that digital worlds are sometimes regarded as a “factor of the long run;” nevertheless, they may also be a robust instrument as home windows into the previous.

Konttinen highlighted {that a} digital twin that continues life after its customers’ bodily dying may elevate moral questions just like these surrounding synthetic intelligence and deep fakes.

“It actually opens up the potential for making a everlasting digital mausoleum of our recollections and experiences, possibly within the type of a NPC [non-player character] that appears and speaks like us, perpetually dwelling within the metaverse,” she mentioned.

‘Thanotechnology’ and ‘dremains’

Loss of life in digital actuality has united rising applied sciences with older fields of examine encompass dying and grieving.

Cole Imperi is a thanatologist — a specialist in understanding dying, dying, grief and bereavement, derived from the Greek phrase for dying, “thanatos” — and founding father of the Faculty of American Thanatology. She informed Cointelegraph that there’s a subfield in thanatology known as “thanotechnology” that focuses on the intersection of her subject and know-how.

She informed Cointelegraph that digital areas may provide extra methods to “seamlessly join the lifeless with the dwelling,” which bodily areas don’t have:

“The digital afterlife presents extra alternative for continued bonds with our deceased family members and, I imagine, additionally homes the best alternative for development in how we memorialize and bear in mind our family members.”

In 2009, Imperi even coined the time period “dremains,” which refers back to the digital stays folks depart behind on-line after dying. Imperi helps run the ThanaLab, which screens “on-line memorialization patterns and developments associated to consumer dying.”

She mentioned the digital dying of customers is changing into extra prevalent, and it’s solely pure to carry this side of our bodily lives right into a digital area.

Do we’ve solutions?

The metaverse has been a very long time coming. In 1992, the American sci-fi author Neal Stephenson first coined the time period metaverse, even earlier than the existence of any of the platforms we’ve at this time.

That mentioned, even now, as we’ve extra tangible concepts of the metaverse and its capabilities, it’s nonetheless in its infancy. Which means that vital ideas to humanity which have a spot within the bodily world, corresponding to dying, are nonetheless taking form digitally.

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Digital architects like Mariana Cabugueira are actually reenvisioning the way forward for digital cemeteries, and researchers like Cole Imperi are monitoring the digital stays of human life on-line. 

We nonetheless might not know what occurs after we die; nevertheless, within the metaverse, we’re getting a lot nearer to the reply.