The fate of humanity lies in this choice: Nature or Metaverse?

Pinar Seyhan Demirdag
9 min readMay 1, 2022

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The human evolution train picked up speed in 2020. Do you know which station we departed from and where we are going? If so, do you think you are in control of this evolution? If the answer is no, then who is? By observing the dynamics in nature, human spirit, and consciousness in my personal life and combining those observations with the knowledge I have gained by being in boardrooms and marketing think tanks on everything relating to the metaverse, brand strategy, and digital future; I came up with a series of conclusions that showcases how both of these worlds could not be more apart.

Generated nature. Made by Seyhan Lee with JAX + CLIP / Open AI models

Those that have read my other articles know that 4 years ago I had a spiritual awakening, experienced a personal and professional quantum jump, and quit my work to co-found Seyhan Lee, where we bring AI creativity into the heart of culture by way of films, brand experiences, and NFT projects. I have cultivated a mastery of learning, testing, and adapting when it comes to technological novelty and I am a loud advocate for the embrace of new technologies that serve the elation and elevation of humankind. Hence, the conclusions that you’ll read below are written from the POV of someone not only working with the latest technologies (especially machine learning) but also someone who understands the power of her spirit.

Conditional vs Unconditional

Why do plants not pay a gas fee to fungi for bringing nutrients to their roots?

Or why do migrating birds not pay a tax to quantum physics for helping them find their way? Or explain to me why the Sahara desert does not demand a back-end growth percentage for fertilizing the Amazons? Or why mother earth does not track her regeneration with data to send the bill to us humans? The answer: Unconditional giving is the language of nature.

In nature, all elements, creatures, and minerals thrive in a symbiotic altruistic existence. However, as humans, we are conditioned to believe that we need to get something to give something. The blockchain enables everyone to see openly how much people pay to acquire something and how many times exchanged goods with who, what, and how. Each time you send funds or goods to people you are charged with a “gas fee” as it has to be engraved in the nodes of the blockchain in perpetuity.

Conclusion: The transparency that the metaverse offers is wonderful, however, we as humans we need to be careful that this shall not result in an obsession with quantifiable, and conditional giving-and-receiving dynamics in the metaverse. Nor “paying a price” when we exchange goods shall not become the default operating system of the human subconsciousness.

Nature thrives in a symbiotic and altruistic exchange system. Picture: Getty Images

Nature does not need blockchain to trust

Blockchain technology enables the disappearance of the middle man, the gallery, the agent, the bank, in other words, “the established institution”. There is nothing better than people taking back the power in their hands and freely exchanging goods and services without needing to be taxed, monitored, or conned. In many of my professional conversations with metaverse CEOs and blockchain experts, I heard how web 3.0 is “the greatest thing since sliced bread” as it will be putting an end to the deceitful middle man. There is something very nice but equally horrible happening in this sentence as it carries the underlying statement that “humans are not to be trusted”. Humans are inherently a part of nature and the pure human, the essence of the human is in symbiosis with nature. Then again no wonder we came to a place where we are conditioned to think that unless there is a machine that monitors us when stories such as Dmitry Rybolovlev’s Salvador Mundi fraud make the headlines of the world’s top headlines.

Conclusion: Trust is inherent to nature and to the nature of pure humans. We shall be careful of not conditioning our minds that humans are not to be trusted while marketing metaverse as a solution for humans finally being able to trust each other.

Activation of 6+ senses vs limitation to 1.5 senses

For a long time, humanity has been made to believe that we are made of 5 senses: sight, touch, smell, hear, and taste. Thanks to the freedom and disclosure properties of our current astrological age The Age of Aquarius (which began in 2020) we are and will be more open to recognizing our 6th sense: consciousness. In other words, our inner “knowing”, our belief system, our inertia, our gut. Parallel to this, I wholeheartedly believe that with the recognition of our 6th sense, we will also heighten our current other 5 senses, like instead of hearing only we will start listening to one another.

The real-life James Halliday, the CEO of Epic Games Tim Sweeney illustrates the metaverse as a real-time, persistent, and seamless parallel digital existence that is interoperable with a fully functioning economy. I myself define the metaverse as a highly immersive, graphical galore parallel reality based on entertainment, virtual socialization, and commerce. OK fine, sounds great! We all love to be subjected to mind-bending, neck-twisting sensational graphical input, we all love good entertainment, friends, and earning while playing. Meanwhile, I wonder if we magically just forgot that all this is also present IRL?

Facebook and their vision of the metaverse.

When it comes to senses, the metaverse will be a feast for the eye. Sure yes, it will have sound, but have you ever listened to birds chirping in nature and felt that they do this for the rest of the creatures (you included) to know all is well, safe, and that there is no danger. How about the warmth of touch, smell, and taste in the metaverse? Well, there are haptic sensors to mimic touch, but hey… some people also believe that just because they breathe that they are alive. As for consciousness, I do not even need to type to make a point, we all know that organic is better than synthetic for humans so I’m not even gonna try to rationalize a synthetic reality vs our good old organic existence.

Conclusion: Human senses amplify when living in symbiosis with nature. However, the metaverse, when subjected for a long time, may offer an arrested development for the holistic unity of our senses.

Knowing: Proof vs your inner compass

I assume you know the saying “the internet never forgets”. It means it is difficult to erase online errors. It also means that each action you have taken has already become a data point on someone else’s spreadsheet. I am not a master of numbers, but to understand the data web 3.0 will create, we just have to multiply web 2.0’s data by infinity, right?

When there is so much data, it is hard not to base all our decisions on them. It is wonderful to use our minds and the capacity of available technologies to the maximum, however, needing proof and/or data to come up with a solution/answer should not become our new normal. A great art forgery expert inherently knows when a painting is fake against all data that is presented to him. Just like Srinivasa Ramanujan knew that the equations that appeared to him were true before they were tested by Cambridge professors.

Conclusion: Data and blockchain are great! but data shall not become our default decision mechanism nor surpass our majestic capacity of being able to know something without needing the proof.

Law of Mystery

There is the law of mystery in (human) nature. Do not ask me to deliver it to you in the form of a bar exam study book. I just know it. How? Let me illustrate it. Which one is sexier: a fully undressed woman that looks directly in your eyes or a woman with a slit dress and cleavage, with loose hair, sultry eyes, and gestures that is slightly shy and unaware of her charms? You get my point.

Why do filmmakers prefer shooting romance scenes at dusk and dawn over the direct sun of 12 o'clock? Because they witness certain mysteries that can't be explained by computation or language.

Conclusion: There is something magical, a je-ne-sais-quoi in mystery and in nature. In a fully digitized reality where everything can be quantifiable, we shall be careful not to lose the magic ingredient of the art of being.

The mysterious magic light of dusk/dawn. Credit: Getty Images

Patience vs instant gratification

I genuinely think that the definition of patience is tainted in the collective consciousness. We generally think patience is endurance. We tend to pride ourselves and others on being patient when they endure their ruthless boss and/or unbearable life partners. This is not patience, this is a state of sleep where we normalize negativity and see ourselves as worthy of a stream of negativity in our lives. True patience is the state of loving acceptance of the situation while being sure of the outcome. When you are cooking a stew, after 15 minutes you don’t start kicking around, get angry, and aggressive because your meal is not ready. While you prepare and cook, you know that when you follow the recipe, you are going to get your desired dish, hence you showcase patience, independent of the time it takes for the desired result.

Nature’s miracles are a wonderful way for us to experience patience. When trees lose their leaves to winter they do not complain that spring is 6 months away. Nor do plants get impatient to produce more oxygen during the night or on a cloudy day. As Jaron Lanier coins it, web 2.0 is already run by behavior modification empires that got us addicted to instant gratification in the form of likes, comments, and messages. I cringe at the thought of web 3.0’s capacity for encouraging addiction. When our inner emotional foundation is not strong and we define the outside world as our personal validation and recognition parameter, it is very tricky and easy to become addicted to the gratification and action provided by outside stimuli.

Conclusion: A generation/society who grew up consuming instant pleasures risks understanding and experiencing the pleasure of becoming a creative society where it takes time and patience to be innovative and creative. Web 3.0 founders shall address this issue and make sure they prioritize gamer/user wellbeing over profit which will come as a result of addiction.

Control vs private civic life

My last conclusion starts with the bio of Matrix Trilogy’s co-director Lana Wachowski's Twitter bio. It reads “NOTICE. Sacrifice of my private civic life shall have value.” Lana joined Twitter in 2015 and still hasn't sent a tweet, yet from the words read in her bio, I understand that she considers being part of a digital social platform as a sacrifice of one’s private civic life. If she were to be anyone, anyone but the co-creator of Matrix, I’d be brushing off my shoulders in respect of that sentence but as she is the very person who made THE cult movie about a post-metaverse future where robots use humans as electricity for their reign, I needed to stop for a minute and think. Does she know something that the rest of the 436MM Twitter users do not? If being part of web 2.0 is a sacrifice of our private life, my eyes roll out of my skull at the thought of the web 3.0 / metaverse, when looking from her perspective.

Let’s just play the devil’s advocate for a minute. Say the metaverse is here, all is well, you are high on your decentralized existence. This means the way you socialize, earn, and interact with the world, everything is cyber. Fantastic. If for some reason all the internet is to be shut down (wink wink World Economic Forum started their predictions for a cyber attack) and the only solution to re-enter was to have a centralized controlled system, run by AGI then RIP to the decentralized marketing of the metaverse.

Conclusion: Decentralized nature of crypto, NFT, and the metaverse is amazing and worthy of our diligence to keep it that way. To end this article, maybe we should all meditate on this quote from 1984 by George Orwell: “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

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Pinar Seyhan Demirdag

AI director, co-founder of Seyhan Lee. I write about provocative innovative intelligence and the confluence of science and spirit.