“If Blockchain were around when we started Second Life we would have built everything around it and indeed that is some of the work we’re undertaking now [with High Fidelity]. I think that Blockchain is super important for money, for digital assets, and most importantly for identity. Not just in the virtual world, but in the real world.
Virtual things are only as real as they are durable. You want a couple of things to be true. Ideally, you’d like virtual things that you buy, like a virtual Ferrari, to be persistent and real even if the company that sold them to you disappears. You’d like there to be the strongest possible statement about the ownership of that object, made in as broad a context as possible. The real world gives us atoms to do this. We need to come as close to that as we can. The idea of a blockchain is very, very powerful in that regard. When I sell you something like that Ferrari, I can write to the blockchain and say “Charlie owns this Ferrari”. Once I’ve done that, I can’t take it back. I can’t say he doesn’t own it. I can’t edit history. I can’t censor Charlie. I can’t take his Ferrari away.
And, moreover, there’s a distinction made between this general statement that he owns this thing called a Ferrari and the actual pixels that represent it. Those can be drawn in different ways at different times in different worlds, but the Ferrari, minimally, can be this matter of public record. It can be a thing you enter into a public ledger that proves that you own it. I think in Virtual Worlds there has to be a simple system that allows you to say “this digital thing is mine”. The other thing the blockchain does is it stores that information in a way that only the owner who has the private key can be associated with that little chunk of the blockchain. The owner can update the object, sell it, move it around. No company or central organization is able to do that once it’s printed in the blockchain.” Philip Rosedale
Right now do we feel a Pandora station or an itunes song is more durable? Because you’ve downloaded iTunes song. You have that song. It can’t just be taken away from you, where if you’re using something like Pandora or Rhapsody the deal might break down between the Beatles and those hosting companies and you might not be able to listen to the Beatles anymore. So I think that’s the power of the Blockchain.”
This is an excerpt from my upcoming book Charlie Fink’s Metaverse, a continuously updated, AR-enabled guide to VR & AR, to be published January 9, 2018, by Cool Blue Press.
This post was originally featured on Forbes.com on December 12, 2017