We hear it all the time: The metaverse is going to take a decade to build. But why do we assume this will be the case?
First, consider what an ideal metaverse would look like: Millions of people on a single map just like in the real world, but where every action taken is irrevocable and true for everyone—for example, if you break a statue in the metaverse it’ll stay broken for everyone until someone fixes it. And finally, a player has complete autonomy over their actions and can perform any act anywhere so long as its legal by the rules of the metaverse.
To achieve this, such a metaverse would requires the power of 5G, AI, next-gen processors, Quantum Computing, Edge Computing, AR, and VR all combined together. Right now, however, these technologies are not advanced enough to scale en masse at an affordable price. As a result, an all-encompassing immersive metaverse is a faraway target.
The Blockchain Trilemma
To understand the scalability problem, we first need to dig deeper into another issue, “the blockchain trilemma.” Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, first used the term in explaining the transaction delays and high gas prices in the Ethereum blockchain.
Buterin’s trilemma posits that there are three aspects of a Web3 solution—decentralization, scalability, and security—but that projects must sacrifice one to retain the other two. In Ethereum’s case, they had to trade off scalability to keep the integrity of the blockchain. One result is that, in a congested blockchain network like Ethereum, validators prioritize high-gas-fee transactions over lower ones.