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Digital: Disrupted: Removing the Stigma of the Metaverse

February 15, 2023

The metaverse: a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other participants. In this week’s episode of Digital: Disrupted, Paul is joined by Chris Duffey, taking a deep dive into the metaverse and what businesses can do to use this technology to its fullest potential.

Duffey shares his thoughts on why he believes the metaverse is inevitable, how it might look in action in the future and how we can create a world of empowerment using the metaverse. Paul and Chris also go on to explore how users and businesses can avoid the pitfalls and misuses of these technologies, like AR, VR and the metaverse.

Digital: Disrupted is a weekly podcast sponsored by Rocket Software, in which Paul Muller dives into the unique angles of digital transformation — the human side, the industry specifics, the pros and cons, and the unknown future. Paul asks tech/business experts today’s biggest questions, from “how do you go from disrupted to disruptor?” to “how does this matter to humanity?” Subscribe to gain foresight into what’s coming and insight for how to navigate it.

About This Week’s Guest:

Chris Duffey heads the Strategic Development Partnership for Adobe's Creative Cloud. He is also the author of the award-winning book Superhuman Innovation, the world’s first book co-authored by AI about AI. And has a new upcoming book, Decoding the Metaverse: Expand Your Business Using Web3. Listen to the full episode here or check out the episode transcript below.

Digital Disrupted

Episode Transcript:

Paul Muller: Depending on who you talk to, the term metaverse, heralds humankind's great next step into liberating our soaring creativity from our otherwise recalcitrant physical incarnations. You know that boring old wetware that is our body. For others, it's just a lonely person wearing an expensive pair of 3D goggles talking to an unconvincing render of a dude who doesn't appear to have legs dressed as a panda. Shopping for virtual goods in a virtual world, accomplishing virtually nothing, a sad combination of Myspace and e-waste waiting to happen. The truth? Well, I guess that's the point of today's episode. Before we get into it, a quick shout out to Rocket Software for making today's episode possible. If you haven't already, please to check them out at to see why over 10 million IT professionals rely on them every day to run their most critical business applications, processes, and data. Well, welcome to Digital Disrupted. I'm your host, Paul Muller. Today's guest is the author of the upcoming book of Decoding the Metaverse: Expand Your Business using Web3, and it's set to be released in February 2023. But pretty much as we're recording this show. He’s also the author of the award-winning book, Superhuman Innovation, the world's first book to be co-authored by an AI about AI along with a storied career as a creative consultant and thought leader. Please welcome to the show, Chris Duffey.

Chris Duffey: Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Paul Muller: It's great to have you mate. Before we jump into the topic and just full disclosure, I'm probably more on the skeptical side of this discussion, so put me in the corner of needing to be convinced on this one, mate.

Chris Duffey: No that's great. We all should be. 

Paul Muller: Right, fair point, fair point. We have a little taste and amuse bouche that we do at the start of every show we call the lightning round. Are you ready to do it?

Chris Duffey: Let's do it.

Paul Muller: Let's get into it. First question, Chris Duffey, what would people say is your superpower?

Chris Duffey: Creativity.

Paul Muller: I'm not even going to go anywhere with that. But we will talk a bit about your career in a minute. The most disruptive technology of all time?

Chris Duffey: Cars, I would say.

Paul Muller: Why do you say that?

Chris Duffey: I think, I don’t have the stats off the top of my head, but I believe the deaths by automobiles are up there in terms of yearly deaths

Paul Muller: And that’s disruptive.

Chris Duffey: You know, it has a negative consequence. Obviously, we need it for our day-to-day lives, but it has some unintended consequences I think, which is an interesting metaphor for technology and the metaverse as we head into it even more so.

Paul Muller: Call me intrigued, we'll get into this in a minute. The best quality a leader can have?

Chris Duffey: I think I was about to say empathy, but I think that's almost overused at this point. I would say the ability for them to put themselves into other people's shoes.

Paul Muller: Your advice to people starting their careers.

Chris Duffey: Just get into it. Just believe in yourself. Go all in.

Paul Muller: We're going to talk about your career in a minute, so we'll get some lessons from you there. The first thought that comes to mind when you think about the metaverse?

Chris Duffey: Empowerment.

Paul Muller: We're going to get into that shortly too. And finally, if you could use technology to solve one world problem, Chris, what would it be? And why?

Chris Duffey: Healthcare. I think that's one of our most pressing issues and I think the ability of artificial intelligence and even the metaverse has the ability to really transport humanity forward in terms of better healthcare.

Paul Muller: Fabulous stuff. Well, let's get into it then. Where do we find you today? Out of curiosity? Where you based out?

Chris Duffey: After I’d say 20 winters in New York, we recently moved down here, my family and two daughters, into beautiful Miami. So happy to have a new culture, a new energy. I've been really inspired on the web3 kind of vibe down here in Miami the last couple of years. I went to post grad school back here in the nineties. So, it's been fun to see Miami evolve in many ways.

Paul Muller: One of my great podcast heroes is Scott Galloway, who talks about the great shift down to Florida. It seems to be where it's all happening.

Chris Duffey: I don’t know if it's all happening, but it's a nice I think — mirror of society at the moment that you can do distributed work in meaningful ways. And so why not do it in a place that many people are happy and healthy and get a little better quality of life? Not to say I didn't have a good quality of life in New York, but it's been a nice welcome change for us.

Paul Muller: Yeah, I love it. So tell us a little bit about your background, because we talked a bit about some of your journey with your career during the lightning round. Just get on with it. Tell us a bit about how you came to be where you are.

Chris Duffey: Yeah, it has been a fascinating journey to be honest. I grew up in the Midwest. I had a multicultural home. My father was an academic Irish, my mother was a Mexican elementary school teacher, and from a very early age, I think really gravitated towards this interest of the merging or fusion of the unintended or the contrasts of things. I think that really stuck with me. And then combine that with, I was somewhat of an awkward kid. I had a little bit of a speech impediment that I had to overcome, a little bit of shy, maybe a little chubby. And so, I found great empowerment in creativity. At that time, it was drawing and painting model airplanes and RV. And so, I love the basement work table. And then I think my big aha moment was in high school when my mom got me the Apple 2E and that really just opened my eyes to creativity and execution and design. So, I was off to the races after the Apple tour. Oh -

Paul Muller: You, you've just aged yourself for me there, Chris. Then you, sort of post-high school, what direction did your career take?

Chris Duffey: I went to a traditional four-year college, and it was really interesting. I spent the day, I put on a polo shirt and went to a traditional college and at night I would put my black t-shirt on and go to art school. I had this really fascinating dynamic that I could see firsthand of the benefits of both. It's been scientifically debunked, but the benefits of a right brain and left-brain approach. And I think that that's been my somewhat superpower over the years. I've been able to combine creativity with a business mindset for business growth. Admittedly, I've met a number of people who have been more creative than me and I've met a number of people who've been more business MBA minded than me, but there's not that many that can span that spectrum and take that macro view and then you combine it with technology, and you can really scale those ideas from an execution standpoint.

So, I went to the college both from a traditional standpoint and an art standpoint, went to post grad school really to hone in on the craft of creativity, specifically design and advertising and marketing at the Miami Ad School. Many call it the Harvard of Creativity. And then I came with my little portfolio to Madison Avenue in the late nineties and just started banging on the doors of all the Mad Avenue shops. I spent 20 years on the advertising side and really learned the craft of designing across all mediums, storytelling, product design, marketing design, experience design. The last 10 or so years really went deep into digital health and that's quite honestly where I carved out a nice niche for myself in terms of this compilation of data and creativity. And then we amplified it through a couple successful partnerships with Apple and IBM Watson, where we used artificial intelligence to do predictive healthcare analysis and then the Apple Watch to predict orphan disease states and symptom assessment for fibromyalgia. So, been a fascinating, somewhat zigzag of a career. And then I've been here at Adobe for about six years now, coming up on six years. And in many ways, this was the dream job to work at Apple. I think over the years I've probably spent more time talking to Photoshop than most people in my life all day, every day for years and years. So, it's been really fulfilling to be on this side for the last number of years.

Paul Muller: Fabulous stuff. I'm curious, when did you realize you had a book in you?

Chris Duffey: Yes, from an early age my father was a reading specialist. So, although I was somewhat of an outlier, my family, even my sister, all academics, my grandfather an academic, I was the art person in the family, the zany one. But from an early age he always supported me, but he always kind of encouraged me to hone in on the craft of writing, even though I was gravitated toward being more visual. And I thank him a lot for that because that really helped me articulate thoughts that could then be visualized. So, it's always been implanted in me. A couple years ago after working with artificial intelligence and healthcare. It was a fascinating dynamic at that time to maybe some of the early days of desktop publishing where there was some polarization on the introduction of computers in the design process. But I was even shocked to see how much pushback or kind of deflection there was around introducing AI into the creative process. So, I thought that A, I was a believer of it, but B, thought there was an opportunity to showcase its capabilities. So, I started writing a book about artificial intelligence and its capabilities in the business landscape.

Paul Muller: And now you've moved on to tackling the topic of the metaverse. So, congrats on the upcoming release of that. What inspired you to write it? Other than of course the ridiculous trailing royalties that tech books are so famous for.

Chris Duffey: Well, thank you. This was a tough one, honestly, it might be the last one in me. This one was a two-year journey, if you can put it in a nice context, this had to go pretty deep. There was some twists and turns along the way because the reality is we're at the very onset of the so-called metaverse, if that's the agreed upon name, at least for now. So, it's been a fascinating journey at Adobe. I really am thoughtful and grateful for the role I'm in where I get to speak with fascinating people like yourself all day, every day. And I like to think I can start to see patterns before a number of people. And about four years ago, the buzz around the metaverse started popping up and I kind of got into it just out of self-preservation to delve a little bit deeper. And the more I got into it, the more you realize it's a term that wasn't used so often in collective society vernacular, but the basis of it are not that foreign actually. I was just going back I think 2014, 2013 was one of the first Google Glass users and we used that for healthcare to showcase the MOA - mechanism of action - of a new oncology drug. And there were really, I think, profound ways to use VR/AR even 10 plus years ago. And the metaverse is really kind of the summation coming together of a lot of technologies as an evolution of Web2 and now Web3.

Paul Muller: Well, and I think you've introduced the real issue for me. By the way, I take it by the title you are pro-metaverse. I think half the battle is describing when people say we're looking at the Metaverse or Web3, which I think is even more egregious when it comes to this thing is what is it? Can you maybe describe some of the building blocks of the metaverse, how you know it when you see it?

Chris Duffey: Yeah. One of the interesting moments for me, somewhat of a horrific moment, I was a quarter of the way through the book and I'm staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night, and I had this moment of realization that the Web3 and metaverse are distinctly different. And so, it's been so conflated over the last couple of years that I had to make a pretty early call, put a stake in the ground and I'm happy I did that because I'm a believer that this is the correct right course things are going to be taken. But there's a delineation between Web3 and the metaverse. There's some that have taken an early stance and said, yes, it's delineated, but Web3 is crypto, crypto is all awful. Don't associate metaverse with crypto. There was another camp or school of thought that said they're one in the same.

Don't try to pull them apart because they're so interconnected. So, I took the stance, yes, there's innate characteristics of the two, but they're going to be more powerful together when you bring them together. So that, that's the structure of the book early on is we go through the history of Web1 that you're so familiar with, which was the read only environment, right? Then we go, as you're familiar as well, Web2, kind of the mid 2000’s where we could then go read and write. So, there was some more interactivity dynamic to that. We then went to Web3.0 and that was more about semantic sharing of information, which is again, distinctly different and conflated quite often with Web3. Web3.0 and Web3 are not one in the same. Web3 is what we're currently talking about and is all about decentralization, blockchain, decentralized finance, smart contracts, Dows and NFTs and so on.

And so, once you establish that foundation, you can then go into the metaverse, and I try not to define it because it is moving so quickly, but I try to describe it. And so, I gave use cases of where currently the metaverse is and then where it's going to go. And there's essentially maybe six or seven core characteristics. I'm sure many you and your audience have heard, immersive, real-time ownership, interoperable, shared experiences, shared economies and persistent. And so those are some of the core characteristics that are going to really unleash. What I'm quite excited about is unleash creativity for the betterment of business, society and individuals.

Paul Muller: So, give us a sense of this. I haven't had a chance to read the book, so full disclosure here can you give us a sense of how you've structured the book and what the fundamental premise of it is?

Chris Duffey: The structure is essentially three dimensions. The first one is the foundation dimension, the second one is use cases. There's about five or so. And then the third part is really honing in on unintended consequences: what we can learn from Web2 and how we can leverage those learnings to infuse a more ethical, diverse, and more empowering metaverse going forward. After spending two years going deep on this, I'm pretty confident to say the metaverse, the name may change. We may gravitate towards something a little more relatable, but it's inevitable. I'm 100% certain the metaverse will be inevitable, in terms of immersive experiences, will be the future for businesses, society, and individuals going forward.

Paul Muller: All right, so let's get into that then. I mean there are definitely some concerns, and I don't know whether you've read William Gibson's Neuromancer or and some of those sorts of amazing pieces of science fiction, which paint a somewhat dystopian into you of what this could look like if we let it go on unmanaged or as you say, the unintended consequences of some of this stuff. But give me the for case before we get into some of those concerns.

Chris Duffey: I think that two things, one, just to kind of underscore a great point. When I was writing the first book about artificial intelligence, I almost was a bit irked with some of these dystopian viewpoints on AI, greatly coming out of Hollywood or movies. But I had this point of realization where they are cautionary tales to inspire us not to get there. So, I welcome now cautionary tales of the metaverse because I think it helps us identify where we don't want to be.

Paul Muller: Yeah, sure. Have you heard of the paperclip making machine metaphor?

Chris Duffey: No, please.

Paul Muller: There’s this idea that if you could create a piece of technology maybe with a bit of artificial intelligence in it, and you say to this piece of technology, your job is to make paperclips as efficiently as possible, and you set it off into the wilderness and it starts doing its thing. But if you think about it, it wasn't given another rule that says at some point in time you should stop making paperclips. And taking ad absurdum, this paperclip making machine will eventually consume every resource on the planet trying to fulfill its basic obligation of making paperclips. It’s not malicious, it's just doing the thing we asked it to do. And eventually, if it's got artificial intelligence and self-replicating technology, you could conceive of an environment where it builds its own mines, its own mining equipment, it starts refining ore. All so that it can go about making more paperclips for us and so consume the entire planet.

And I think taking the case for the dystopians is especially when you set an algorithm loose, and we've seen this with things like YouTube's algorithm for selecting content is by not thinking through some of the, well, it's hard to think through unintended consequences because they're unexpected — is that we can accidentally put ourselves in a situation where an oversight can become amplified very quickly to the point where it becomes problematic. So, I'm kind of on, I get the case for the dystopians. I also think to your point, a lot of it's just click bait designed to generate ad revenue for somebody. But simultaneously, I do think to your point, there's some cautionary tales there that should hopefully allow, remind us to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves as the young people would put it. Yeah. Sorry mate.

Chris Duffey: Maybe just to extend that, I'm quite proud with Adobe's approach on releasing technology specifically around artificial intelligence. There were just some write-ups on an initiative we started a couple years ago called Content Authenticity. And so, we're really honing in on using that mindset of the ethical ramifications of content with generative AI. And we kind of see we're going off a little bit, but it's come back generative AI. We're thinking about generative AI in four kind of horizons. The first one maybe text prompts, so text generation. The second one would be image generation. The third one is video generation, and the fourth one is 3D generation. Ironically, the toughest one, probably, is text just because of all the nuances of language. But we've got some great technology around the image and the video generation currently, and very quickly on the 3D.but we're holding it back because we're trying to play out what are all of the implications of releasing tools like that into the wild? What is the ownership? What is the co-ownership? What are the monetization models. What's the providence guidelines that we should put around things like that? Just to kind of echo, I do see and recognize the importance of taking time before. Just because you have the technology doesn't mean you should release it type.

Paul Muller: Yeah. One of the things I'm really proud of with this show, I mean just amplifying that and I guess maybe the linkage back to this episode is we've had a couple of ethicists on the show and one of the things we talk about is that you know, can go to tech school, you can often even go to B school and not have received an ethics course or unit and thinking through that, an ethics is layered itself, right? Ethics, I think we think of good versus bad, but ethics is also the unintended consequences. I think ethical thinking is also about have I thought about what could potentially go wrong? I mean, I'm looking for the positives confirmation bias, right? I'm, I'm always going to see the good things, but have I really sat down and maybe brought in a diverse enough group of people, back to diversity thinking, that that would help me maybe look at this through the counter narrative. What could go wrong and how do we think about that and anticipate that?

And I guess the same is true of things like the metaverse. I mean, I talked about this earlier on at the beginning. We've just been through two years of isolation. I hear metaverse and think, I'm so glad not to be staring at a computer screen through at a camera, irony noted. We're doing that right now. But I’m so glad we’re able to interact now. I see the metaverse as being almost dystopian in the sense of I want human contact. The last thing I want is to have that mediated through some set of goggles and go back into being a lonely white man locked in a room by myself for all of eternity. So sorry, I don't always sort of jumping around.

Chris Duffey: No, no, I love it. I think that's a great bridge to your point on what is the metaverse solving? And maybe there's this mindset and it's all or nothing type of thing. It's all digital or it should be all physical, but the true benefit will be of the physical just to New York, very comfortable apartment on the west side highway, but when Covid struck, I'm in one room working, my two kids were doing school, my wife in the other room, the dog running around loving it, but barking. But the technology in some ways you could call that. I had the zoom calls, my kids were doing virtual schooling, my wife was talking with her family members overseas and that created this sense of connectivity. And at night, Roblox was the big thing for my daughter to do, her virtual playground. Not to say that's the only ideal.

To your point, there should be a mixture of the physical and digital, but in that scenario I thought kind of idea of what the metaverse can provide. Obviously, you have to balance that. So that's my personal take. People sometimes view technology and more specifically the metaverse as a way to escape. The metaverse greatly evolved from gaming, and I think gaming early on, maybe correctly characterized, was saying people use that as an escapism. I actually think the metaverse is the inverse of that. If we created and crafted correctly and design it with some safeguards that it's going to connect us, unite us, and align us, and that's kind of where we land the book, is if we have all of this information about the technical components for interoperability, co-monetization, co-ownership, and then we build in some ethical safeguards, learn from Web2, we can really create a digital and physical environment that's going to unite us and ultimately, what I call, create a world of empowerment through the use of the metaverse. I’ll jump in because I think I can maybe predict where you're going with this. There are many on-ramps to the metaverse. There’s AR, there’s VR, and so there's not one on-ramp into the metaverse. Much like what is the internet? It's tough to, and that's why I kind of shy away from a sentence or two at this point to fully define the metaverse, I like to describe it through use cases. So there's not just AR is the metaverse, it's one way you can get into the metaverse. VR is not, and so on. Gaming is another potential.

Paul Muller: And I’m going to amplify that in the same way that saying the internet is my router or the internet is my web browser. Both of those things are components of this, but neither are exclusively how you would define “an internet”.

Chris Duffey: Yeah.

Paul Muller: Onto that then, are there some specific foundational elements or things that, because again, I asked you the question a little bit earlier on, what is it, and I still think we're kind of dancing around that. Are there particular elements that people listening would go, okay, as I'm thinking about this, what are some of the areas maybe I should be researching?

Chris Duffey: Foundational informational capital, maybe characteristics which will lead to foundational use cases as I call them. So, I defined seven Web3 characteristics and then seven metaverse characteristics. I mentioned a few earlier, the seven characteristics for the metaverse is immersive 3D, his ability to create a multi-dimensional immersive experience. If you just pull some of the terminology from the Web1, Web2 use case, we often talk about a webpage which is referencing a one-dimensional page of a book, an experience. And so now we’ll have this immersive 3D experience via the metaverse. Another one is real-time. And this is a characteristic taken from gaming. This ability to have a multi-player, if that's of interest, in real time. And that, I’m happy to go down that rabbit hole maybe later. But the technical capabilities to allow for real time is infinitely complex from a technical standpoint, from a user frictionless standpoint.

But that is a core characteristic that should be of great focus for creators in the future of the metaverse. Another one is ownership. And this is kind of, I would say an e encompassing thought reference of Web3, this ability to co-own. If you use the product, are you the product type of thing. And this is kind of inversing that mindset with ownership. And I call out early in the book the metaverse is not about monetizing people's time it’s about rewarding their time. And that's how we can do it through co-ownership and fandom and a number of things like that. Interoperability I think is probably, if you or your listeners delve into some of the standard associations out there, that is one of the top up—voted topic right now. You know for the web, we have the hyperlink, we don't have the hyperlink for the metaverse worked out yet.

So how can you take your digital assets and transport them from different worlds within the metaverse? I took also an early stance. There is one by all intents and purposes, one internet, there's one metaverse with multiple worlds in the metaverse. You might hear some people say there's multiple metaverses, I think we're starting to align. There's one metaverse, multiple spaces. And so, the challenge is going to be how do you create digital assets that can be interoperable within those worlds, but also from the digital to the physical world and back and forth? That is going to be, I think, one of the biggest challenges to unite around. The next one is shared experiences. How can you have these real-time experiences but shared with these multi-player aspects to it? How can you have sidebars with some people and flow in and out from a group setting to an individual setting the shared economy is another one, and that kind of is an extension of ownership.

But the shared economy is essentially how can brands, businesses create these environments where they're almost kind of sacrilegiously giving up their brand to their audience to co-create those experiences and those brand experiences together — going to be really fascinating. And then persistent is another one where just what happens if you are in an environment, and you are about to take off on a plane and you lose Wi-Fi connection. When you land, where do you end up in that experience is going to be another interesting dynamic. Will you have a history of what happened? Will you just be kind of airdropped into where things ended up and what happens if you didn't want to end up there? So that's going to be a interesting exercise to explore as well. So those are some of the core characteristics. You take those and then you start to apply use cases for the metaverse. NFTs, we could have a whole show on NFTs. I think a lot of people get NFTs wrong. Early days. You know Early days meaning 2, 3, 4 years ago it was a digital asset, a digital painting that people bought and used as an investment opportunity. I think the true utility of NFTs that we're starting to see is it's the start of a more utilitarian loyalty club, which is going to be, I think, really exciting for businesses and consumers. Another one is digital fashion, which is a booming, booming, so maybe it's the word fashion, what about digital representation?

Paul Muller: Equally, yes, I just think the frivolity of some of this stuff, and this is really odd because I am so I'm a big William Gibson fan. I love the concept of things like Neuromancer, as I said, of this notion of being able to project this completely different image of myself into this third realm. And by third realm I mean we've got the realm of the physical, we've got the realm of our imagination. And then I sort of see this metaverse, let's be clear as the third realm. It's neither my brain alone and it's certainly not physical, it's this third unique thing. But for whatever reason, and it's possibly the fact that I'm racing towards my gerontry, as I get older and older, I sort of look at it and just think what a waste of time and money watching people in Fortnite dressed up as half man, half unicorn thinking, we've got world, we've got world hunger and health problems to solve. Why are we wasting our precious time and money off this rubbish? Apologies. But that's kind of my visceral reaction.

Chris Duffey: I went through a similar thought process. And maybe I'll share kind of where I landed, but also where I started just to reference my childhood: a kind of shy kid, slightly slight speech impediment. And so that kind of made me self-conscious, right? So, I spent a lot of time alone building things by myself. And so, what I like about the metaverse is it gives expression for people who might feel self-conscious in a physical world, might feel self-conscious about body part. And so, they can express themselves in one world, one way, in another world a different way. And so, the metaverse is going to unleash self-expression, freedom and creativity in all of its glory. So that's where I do agree. What's made the headlines recently is a digital sneaker, which is an early introduction, but the greater promise is true self-expression, exploration of self-identity, be comfortable who you are when and where. So, I think that's a really interesting —

Paul Muller: I'm going to interrupt you for a second because one of the things you mentioned, you mentioned the digital sneaker. Both of my kids are in marketing, but one of them works pretty heavily in the world of advertising and creatives and she's also a gamer. And it's interesting because she gets inadvertently in e-commerce, in air quotes, she gets the metaverse and this notion of digital assets. She's less skeptical, less cynical about it than I am. And I do wonder whether you kind of bypassed the gaming conversation a little before, but I do wonder whether people who are used to spending two or three hours a day of their time or more. But I'm talking about people who have regular jobs and work, who also are capable of devoting quite a large amount of screen time to — not watching YouTube or television — but actually living in these other worlds.

This third place I spoke about that they seem to be more embracing of it. And I do also wonder whether it's just my outlook on life as I've sort of put gaming to one side and said, I've got better uses unquote from my time. That sounds judgmental. It's not meant to be. I have made a call that says, that doesn't suit me, but there are a lot of people out there who spend time on Roblox or Minecraft or whatever it is. Do you think that that's maybe not generational, but a demographic thing that a segment of the world for whom this is going to be a place that will make sense recreationally as part of their lifestyle? But there's also a set of use cases to your point earlier on about things like augmented surgery and augmented learning which are not so much recreational and would maybe appeal to somebody like me a little more. It’s like how can I use this to feed my brain or to help me accomplish a task.

Chris Duffey: There is I think a universal theme to vary different degrees of collectibles. As a kid, I was into BMX and my parents thought I would always ask for a dollar at the time to get a blue chrome air valve cap.

Paul Muller: You're speaking my language, I remember the days, well BMX band is my best movie ever.

Chris Duffey: Right? Or different pads, different stickers at some point. So, we've all, I think every generation has been a fan of collecting some may say that's social flexing. And so, I think that's where the digital assets are being leveraged by some of the early adopters which have tended in the consumer space to be more generationally younger in many ways. So, I think that's kind of where we currently are. There's another dynamic happening, and we saw this early on in the mobile era of skeuomorphism, right? The old case study is the first iOS bookstore was the bookshelf that looked kind of faux wood, and I think we're also starting to see — we went very skeuomorphic with the visual design of the meta metaverse and we're starting to see it evolve. Like, why in some virtual meeting rooms is there a table? Because that's a visual cue of your, maybe be a little more serious in the conference room type of thing. So, I think we're going to work through some of those visual metaphors as well as time goes on really, I think quite exciting time.

Paul Muller: Alright, so. Let's fast forward me to, and you get to pick the year and you get to pick the use case, but fast forward me to a time of Chris Duffey's liking and walk me through a day in the life of let's just pick on business people because most of our listeners come from the business world. Walk me through a day in the life of the metaverse in a business use case or context. What does it feel like?

Chris Duffey: Yeah, let's say 2030. And that number has sparked a fact. I think recently over the last 12 months or so, they said 70 to 80% of the jobs that are going to exist in 2030 don't exist yet. I think just to paint that context, and I reference that quite often to my kids. I think the big characteristic needed for the next generation is critical thinking and creativity to solve future problems. And so, if we kind of have that shared vision of what 2030 will be like I referenced 10 years ago with some early indications of the Google Glass put aside the social awkwardness, the release of that. But we saw just playing around with it, the utility of what happens when your messages pop up, what happens when – you know, I did it a couple times on a City Bike where you could turn left here, turn right here.

So, I imagine a world where AR, I'm very pro-AR. The hardware and we talk a lot about the hardware is going to be very complex to solve battery life, the latency and so on. And so, I think AR is going to be the iPhone moment for the world. But imagine you wake up, you put on your AR device hopefully very thin, maybe someday a contact lens and you start to get your newsfeed, you get your daily to-do list, maybe some inspirational quotes, you can do some mindfulness exercises and then you go off to your day and you get some insights. You can do some self-analysis I think will be really interesting of very privacy concerns aside. But I think the AI embedded into the metaverse will allow for, so often when we talk about personalization, we're talking about marketing, but I think that personalization of the future will be for self-empowerment in terms of self-knowledge.

And so that's going to be really interesting when you start to have this AR metaverse experience. You can have end of the day midday, you can check your biometrics, your glucose measurements, you get a feed on that and then at nighttime you can get some inspiration for dinner after work dates and appointments. So, I think it's really just going to inform us, amplify our capabilities and I think the creative aspect will be how do we use that to uplevel how we work, get the grunt work out of the way and let us do these higher-level critical thinking activities. So, I'm quite excited about it.

Paul Muller: And I like your opening statement that AR is for you the more attractive – I’m going to use that word - option because I do think as I think about my own life, I mean number one is if I'm going to be putting a set of goggles on, I'm not really into the idea of walking into a physical wall accidentally. That doesn't appeal to me for some strange reason, but I can see utility in popping on, as you say, a pair of glasses and having my world augmented by the information around me some of which may involve digital assets, some of which may just help me. Whether it's that cliched use case, “Oh, that’s Chris Duffey walking towards me.” Yeah, I know the person, I know the face. I've just had a mental block. What's their name? Talk about personalization. It's the simplest thing you can do.

Just remember somebody's name. I suppose the technology right now is the thing that we're looking at going. It's just that little bit away. If we think about the real time aspect of things, as you say, that's a gnarly problem. If we think about the immersive 3D, that high fidelity experience at the moment, it's still all a bit low-fi, still all a bit Atari, 8-bit compared to maybe what I think of as an immersive real time experience. How important do you think the underlying physical — cause I'm going to ramble on a little longer — but we're all anticipating, we've mentioned Apple a couple of times, apple releasing a product in this space. There's been a lot of talk, the first couple of iterations, well Google Glass kind of disappeared. We've had sort of a play with HoloLens. There's been a few people playing with this stuff, but it's always been a bit like nuclear fusion. We're always augmented realities 10 years away and always will be. What are your thoughts about the importance of the actual physical device in this and some of the limitations we're bumping up against?

Chris Duffey: No, it's completely dependent on I think the mass market appeal of the physical device itself. I liken this back five, six years ago when there was a lot of emergence breakthrough of these language transformers. And some of them were pretty clunky. And we probably all experienced some chatbots or some voice bots that were really clunky and everyone was on the fence. Is this truly of service? And the aha moment, obviously over the last few months with ChatGPT, which is just an absolute game changer in terms of text generation. I think that's an example of when it happens, it changes the world type of thing. And so, we're waiting for that piece of hardware to be introduced that's really going to open the doors for a number of these use cases.

Paul Muller: So, let's talk about, by the way, I could continue this conversational all day, so thank you so much. We're we, we've gone through an hour, and I'd reckon we could go for another three without breaking a sweat. Talk to me about maybe as we wrap up is how can people, the listeners start to take actionable steps around this stuff? I mentioned one of my daughters before. She’s in brainstorming sessions about what sort of digital assets could we create NFTs, how can we start to monetize this thing? How can we start to apply it? And with all due respect to her and her team, some of this stuff you sort of feel is a bit of a, I've got a hammer now, let me go and find every nail I possibly can. Some of this stuff is really very early days. I would anticipate people might spend a couple of million dollars very easily on a thing that never actually progresses to the next stage. There's going to be a lot of waste. In other words, innovation is a wasteful process. What would your advice be to business leaders as they're starting to think about this and they've got their chief digital officer running up to them, “Let's go into the metaverse. I've got this great idea.” What would you say to the board business leaders about how they should think about this?

Chris Duffey: I think the tomorrow - let's do something tomorrow approaches. Find a characteristic of the metaverse or Web3 that is germane to your business and just start to use that as the dipping your toe into the water aspect. I think the immersiveness is just a mindset, how can I make something more immersive in terms of using your daughter as an example of an experience. And I think that's just an easy way to get into it very quickly. To pull a Web3 characteristic is the co-ownership aspect. How can I create from a marketing perspective, how could I create a marketing engagement that has co-ownership capabilities to it? And so, I think once people start to just adopt some of these mindsets or characteristics, you're just going to naturally start to arrive and be in the metaverse maybe without even knowing. So, I think that's kind of where I've gravitated towards without getting too technical or getting into too recommending NFTs or gaming or entertainment, digital fashion, tokenomics. I would just say focus in on the core mission of the metaverse as a starting point.

Paul Muller: You chuckled when I said innovation is wasteful. What expectations do you think people should be setting around the, let's speak the language of business, the return on investment. Again, you've got a background in business. Yeah, you've got a background in creativity. Does my statement resonate to begin with? I mean, do you agree innovation's wasteful and how do we set expectations around what this process is going to feel like?

Chris Duffey: What I gravitated towards in that statement is, and I grapple with this quite often, is early days, 20, 15 years ago, there was the, and out of all respect, due respect, there were chief digital officers, and it was this siloed capability discipline. And when it started to become a horizontal across companies when it really took off. It just was rather than, okay, let's stitch it on at the end type of thing. And I think that's where there, there'll probably be some chief metaverse officers in the early days, but at some point, it's going to be and should be infused into all aspects of sales, marketing, product, go to market strategy and so on. So that's the hope. But early days will probably be somewhat of a siloed execution of it and then the hope is it gets infused across organizations.

Paul Muller: Yeah. I've got so many more questions for you. I mean just the topic of digital identity and for that matter, anonymity.

Chris Duffey: Oh please, let's go.

Paul Muller: There are so many more things I'd love to get you back and talk about. In fact, I can just see a 30-minute episode on each of those seven topics. Not to mention the topics around Web3. Chris Duffey: It is big and important. If I could just emphasize the importance of that. And I think that maps up to the ethics of the metaverse, right? That we all know there were some unintended consequences of Web2, and I think we can use this moment in time as a silver lining to learn from some of those mistakes and apply it to the metaverse. I go through in the book maybe a number of learnings. The biggest, and I think universally recognized, the biggest thing that can solve a lot of problems is just to human identify, to authenticate who the user is. That would take 90 to 95% of all problems away. The research has come to the conclusion. So just would love to chat more with you in the future about that. But I just want to leave that with your listeners, viewers, that authentication is of utter importance going forward.

Paul Muller: You’re speaking my language, we've talked about this on the show quite a few times, but I think one of the great scourges of today is the anonymous internet. And again, I'm probably a bit more like Scott Galloway in this regard. I think there's times when people need anonymity, very, very specific corner cases, but I think anonymity in general has created more problems than it's solved for us. But that's getting super political, and this is not a problem that's going to yield to a 30 second soundbite either, is it. Not least of it just technologically, it's a gnarly problem. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to join us today. I literally could chat with you for hours. It's been a great honor having you here. If people are interested in the topic, where can they go to learn more? For example, do you know anyone who's written a book on it?

Chris Duffey: Oh yeah, thank you. So, Chris Duffey, you can find me at and I think you know, you deserve a shout out as well. You're coming off of what a torturous flight 24 hours or plus. And so, I just wanted to acknowledge and appreciate having me on, but also to showcase to listeners like this is of such importance that you know, made this happen after such a grueling flight. So I think this conscious approach to our digital future is really important going forward.

Paul Muller: I would not be anywhere else right now for all the money in the world. Final question for you, our show sponsor, again, big thank you to Rocket Software. They've got a set of values that they talk about a lot that matter to them. Empathy, humanity, trust and love. Curious doesn't need to be one of those four. What matters to you right now?

Chris Duffey: Adobe just went through this exercise, and it was very personal to me, is be the future. No better way to create a future that you want then if you're part of it. So be the future.

Paul Muller: Love it. All right, well with that, thank you again and thanks to Rocket Software again for bringing us another episode of Digital Disrupted. And thank you all for listening in. If you like what you've heard. By the way, just speaking of skeuomorphism, I used to say for tuning in and I realize no one has a radio anymore. If you like what you've heard, please do give us a thumbs up on whatever pod catcher you happening to be listening to us on. You can also reach out to me at extra streams on my Twitter handle which still exists. I need to get a Mastadon set up. I need some sort of identity in the metaverse now that I think about it. Also, our show sponsor at Rocket. So, if you've got any questions for our guests of just Chris or ideas for topics you'd like to hear covered on future episodes to hit us up. We read every word. With that, we'll see you all next week. There's another skeuomorphism. Stay disruptive, everyone.