SenseTime CEO Xu Li: Digital natives determine the future of the Metaverse|BEYOND Expo 2022

Technological innovation and social influence have always been the focus of BEYOND Expo. On September 21, the opening ceremony of the second BEYOND International Science and Technology Innovation Expo (hereinafter referred to as “BEYOND Expo 2022”) was held in BEYOND Metaverse. This BEYOND Expo set up five industry summits around investment and financing, consumer technology, sustainable development, life sciences, and Web3, and invited industry leaders to discuss industry development and reform.

Among them, BEYOND Expo and ICBC Macau will create a consumer technology summit, and discuss with the world’s top technology companies and representatives the application of innovative home technology, personal technology, travel technology and other emerging segments, and discuss the application of new technologies to empower industry changes and New opportunities, promote the transformation of consumer technology business, and look forward to the development trend of consumer technology.

The following content is compiled from the speech “Digital Natives Determine the Future of the Metaverse” delivered by Xu Li, CEO of SenseTime in BEYOND Metaverse:

When discussing a new thing, we always want to find a suitable definition or final explanation for it, and the same is true when confronted with this new thing, the metaverse. As shown in the classic sci-fi movie “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, a high-level civilization used a supercomputer to calculate for 7.5 million years in order to seek the ultimate answer to the universe, but only got a very simple answer in the end: 42.42 in binary The performance is 101010.

But in fact, from Aristotle, to Newton’s law, to the theory of relativity, the universe has always increased its complexity by an order of magnitude when humans thought that the ultimate law had been discovered. Therefore, it is actually very difficult to find a truly unified cosmic law (Grand Unification Theory).

Then, in the metaverse, it is more difficult for us to find the so-called answer.

Digital native cognition determines the future of the metaverse

In the present moment, the cognition of the digital natives, that is, the natives who have grown and grown in the Metaverse, determines the future of Metaverse business.

A conversation between two generations of product managers may help us spy a thing or two. Young product managers told their parents that the design of instant messaging software is very inhumane, and all kinds of advertisements are always swiped. The product manager of my parents said that because it used to cost a fee to send a text message, now switching from a paid scenario to a free scenario, spending some time watching advertisements is a relatively normal product design. That is to say, if there is no past cognition, there will be huge differences in the cognition of the same new thing between two generations.

In fact, the Internet has been subverted by the new cognition of this type of people. There is a classic case. In 2020, rapper Travis Scott held a concert in the “Fortnite” game, which earned $20 million in revenue, watched 12.3 million people online, and played 100 million times. Everyone thinks it is very strange that the concert should be offline, how can it be moved online, and even the traffic of its derivatives can reach such a high level. But a new generation of digital natives has long embraced this model.

This is actually a change in the cognition of the new generation of digital natives.

Breaking the cognition of the binary opposition between virtual and reality

So, what perceptions would be decisive for something like this?

First of all, in the traditional Internet era, the virtual world and the real world have always been binary opposition. In the past, the Internet connection had to be dialed by a Modem, and the whole process was very ritualistic. But in the era of digital mobile Internet, we are connected to the Internet all the time.

The metaverse can also be compared. The internet used to be not so real and very different from the real world, so it wouldn’t be considered a universe. However, since the development of the Internet, the vividness of digital presentation and the interactive degree of experience have reached a new level, and the boundary between the digital world and the real world is becoming more and more blurred.

A new generation of digital natives will see no difference between the two experiences. The core elements required to enter the new generation of digital world, we boil down to people, things and fields.

The first is people. The core point of entering the digital world is how to form a natural interaction between humans and digital humans. In reality, we can drive virtual avatars in the digital world; and virtual humans in the digital world can also be projected into reality with the help of augmented reality technology to complete a complete interaction. So avatar technology helped us find the entrance to the metaverse.

Second, things. Various objects in the real world do not necessarily have additional intelligent properties. But when you enter the metaverse – a digital society, everything can be designed as an agent.

For example, SenseTime uses AI technology to drive the intelligence behind the “StarCraft” game, which can generate autonomous decision-making capabilities. This kind of decision-making intelligence has already surpassed the level of real people on many open problems. For example, the decision-making complexity of “StarCraft” is 10 to the 1685th power, which is much higher than 10 to the 170th power of Go. The current decision-making intelligence can already achieve the level of 6200 points of a human master in games such as “StarCraft” and in the game matching mechanism of a single race of Zerg. In the future, all kinds of objects in the virtual world, even tables, chairs, benches, stones, and trees can have the ability to make intelligent decisions.

Third, the field. At present, the digital metaverse can digitally reconstruct the real world in three dimensions. Now that digital capabilities are getting stronger and stronger, after full digitalization, entering the metaverse will feel more real and interactive.

Value narratives that connect the real and virtual worlds

After the channel into the digital world is opened, the integration of reality and virtuality can bring two types of value narratives.

In terms of productivity, the integration of virtual and real has brought stronger productivity tools, making the original production and social collaboration more natural. For example, in some realistic industrial scenarios, when this connection is stronger, it is possible to realize remote collaboration, and use augmented reality to guide a series of actions such as maintenance, making the entire workflow simpler and more efficient. Another common scenario is in the digital metaverse, where meetings, collaborations, and interviews all redefine distance. Therefore, the new changes in social collaboration will bring about an explosion of productivity.

In terms of interactive experience, the information density brought by the entire metaverse is much higher than that of the traditional Internet, because it is a reflection of the real world, so the interactive experience is better. Entering the open world, people can explore the world according to their own ideas; in the real world, virtual content can also be projected into real scenes through mixed reality technology.

Metaverse spawns new productivity and new consumption

With the improvement of the two core capabilities of productivity and interactive experience, new phenomena are emerging.

The first phenomenon is the new productive forces. The metaverse brings new productivity, new modes of production, and supply-side bursts. The confirmation of the elements of the metaverse through the digital chain stimulates people’s desire for production, which in turn promotes a large-scale explosion of overall productivity. Under this trend, UGC (User Generated Content) can quickly be transformed into UGA (User Generated Assets), because once the content is confirmed, it becomes an asset, which can be traded and transferred. For example, an artistic creation that combines 5,000 works, “The First 5,000 Days”, was sold at a Christie’s auction for a sky-high price of more than 60 million US dollars, which is also the first piece in the world to be sold at a traditional auction house purely digital works.

With the breakthrough of this type of capability, some traditional expression techniques can also be attached to inherent objects through XR, AR and other modes to obtain a new presentation of digital assets. The digital cultural and creative “One Thousand Years Moment-Dunhuang Nine-color Deer Limited Digital Mural” jointly launched by Shang Tang and Dunhuang was completely sold out 30 seconds after it went online. This also shows that the new generation of digital natives has highly recognized the digital assets produced by users.

After the explosion of productivity and the enrichment of the supply side, it has also stimulated the creative desire of many people. For example, on OpenSea (NFT trading platform), the annual transaction volume reaches 20 billion US dollars. When the works of many authors are confirmed and traded again, the creators can receive “commissions” from them every time, so their desire for production also increases.

When artificial intelligence develops to a certain level, AIGC (Artificial Intelligence Generated Content) will bring new production tools, that is, use artificial intelligence to produce what you want. As long as you have creativity, you can achieve digitalization in the true sense. Google Imagen, which was popular a while ago, is a tool that can generate creative content with text. Someone entered a famous painting of the Song Dynasty and asked to wear VR to the Oriental tiger of the Song Dynasty, and Imagen generated a picture. Its creation is very personal and completely consistent with human cognition and perception. The birth of such tools has greatly accelerated the overall production process.

MMEditing in SenseTime’s computer vision open source algorithm system OpenMMLab can adjust and produce the shape of cats in various dimensions, as well as details such as eyes, ears, and tails. Enter the desired variable, you can generate a completely different pet cat, and then share it to the circle of friends. It can be seen that NFT technology’s affirmation of creativity has stimulated people’s desire for production, and AI technology has promoted the improvement of production efficiency and production capacity. It can be said that productivity tools and interactive experience tools have truly improved our productivity in the digital world.

The second phenomenon is new consumption. In the metaverse, our concept of consumption has changed. The aborigines of the Metaverse do not just consume the “things” they see, but find their identity by consuming “virtual labels”.

The OpenSea platform mentioned earlier achieves an overall transaction volume from 0 to 20 billion US dollars in one year. Its representative is the avatar of the NFT monkey, which basketball player Curry bought for $180,000. As of today, the price of such a simple monkey head is about 3 million yuan. Many people bought it as a metaverse identity tag and used it as an avatar to indicate that they were a metaverse player and a native of this open world.

In addition, in some game virtual scenes, people generate their own avatars with one click. As the so-called thousand people have thousands of faces, people hope to have their own characteristics in the virtual world. The extroverted expression of personal character and attributes will become the core of the new consumption of the metaverse.

For another example, at a large-scale AI exhibition, SenseTime used original digital humans to drive Gongsun Li in “Glory of the King” to interact with the audience. In fact, behind the scenes, as long as someone makes an action or speaks, Gongsun Li at the front desk can recreate it in real time and communicate with the audience. It was completely unexpected that such a female figure as Gongsun Li was actually a big man behind it.

Metaverse’s future business vision

Many people are asking, does the Metaverse have such a large commercial space? In fact, the key lies in whether the metaverse can truly bring about the evolution of productivity tools and interactive experience tools. Such evolution will subvert the core model of the Internet, mobile Internet or traditional business. In the real world, there are many Internet platforms for social networking, search, advertising, e-commerce, and games. If productivity tools and experience tools can be improved, it is conceivable that in the metaverse, these platforms will become open worlds and be redefined. The original business model of the Internet will be perfectly replicated in the Metaverse. In the next stage, as long as the business model is redefined with the cognition of the real aborigines in the metaverse, there can be huge room for imagination.

In Gartner’s Hype Cycle for emerging technologies in 2021, NFTs, decentralized identity, generative artificial intelligence, digital humans, artificial intelligence based on physical information, AI-enhanced engines, and multiple experiences have all become popular technologies. Most are related to the Metaverse.

Many people may think that the metaverse is close at hand, but from this curve, although the metaverse has huge possibilities and potential, the technological maturity has yet to be perfected, and it will take longer to build. Huge infrastructure. Just as the Internet “3W” was born in 1989, its real commercialization may be 10 years later. So many things seem to be imminent, but it takes a long time to build and mature.

Of course, we must not belittle ourselves. The ability of technical iteration is actually very fast. For example, the demand for computing power for the best artificial intelligence algorithms has increased by more than 1 million times in the past ten years, which has broken through most people’s imagination of the original technical development. The only limit here is your imagination. Let’s embrace the digitalization of the metaverse together!

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