Intelligent petri dishes enter the metaverse: from avatar to animat.

Virtual reality redefines the concept of identity and could even extend it to intelligent petri dishes.

We may one day evolve into a metaverse populated by entities whose intelligence is organic but whose body is only virtual.

About avatar

Before you fly into the metaverse, it is important to deepen your digital identity. The first step will therefore be to create your avatar. The latter is a three-dimensional representation associated with your identity in the metaverse. The term refers to a transformation or metamorphosis of a person or thing. Your avatar can be true to your picture or completely different. In a way, your avatar expands and enriches your personal identity. It’s yours and it’s up to you how it looks. You can even create multiple avatars if you want to change them.

There are several platforms to create your avatar. For example, the readyplayerme solution offers a fairly large compatibility with different metaverses and an interesting realism. Note that your avatar is your virtual incarnation. It will follow your movements and your face. During exchanges with other avatars, they will thus perceive you in your new costume.

We advise you to create an avatar that looks like you so that your friends (and yourself!) can recognize you. Do not neglect the appearance of the latter, because, as in real life, it will affect your feelings, your experiences and the perception of others. It is very likely that the image of your avatar can affect your confidence and self-esteem. Your involvement in social groups can also be determined by this avatar. It is an integral part of the metaverse experience.

Note that you can create multiple avatars and change them whenever you want. Thus, you can have an avatar in your image and others more imaginative or in accordance with an image you would like to have. Virtuality gives us a chance to remain ourselves while becoming someone else!

You will be able to change your virtual appearance from head to toe. You can also choose clothes and other accessories. It is possible to buy digital artifacts offered by brands (glasses, shoes, clothes) to associate them with your avatar and take them with you everywhere in virtual universes. These items are often in limited or even unique quantities: in this case they are NFTs. By getting it, you will be able to traverse virtual environments in style.

Brands and creators are gradually finding their place in the metaverse, especially for offering avatar customization with quality accessories. We can quickly imagine the multiplication of virtual stores. These elements will help to strengthen the virtual identity, which plays an important role in the acceptance of this technology.

About the animation

Yet science has already gone a step further by creating an animat: an avatar powered by a biological neural network. An avatar whose intelligence is biological but whose corporeal casing is only virtual.

This involves developing a neural network on substrates in the laboratory. Growing neurons is done on grids that allow electrical activity to be captured and transmitted at regular points. Culture of neurons on a substrate makes it possible to obtain a two-dimensional organic neuronal network whose connections are built in a few hours and whose spontaneous action is observed after a few days. This can be done by taking samples of rat hippocampus and cortex cells.

In their work, which dates from the beginning of the millennium, the authors of the California Institute of Technology will take an astonishing step, that of the animal controlled by neural networks. This is to control a virtual animal from the activity of a very real neural network. The virtual rat is placed in a fairly simple virtual room so that it can move. The system then measures the action potentials on the biological neural network and transcribes them into the rat’s action in space. Meetings with virtual walls are reflected on the network.

Ultimately, the analysis of the thus obtained spatiotemporal patterns could allow a better understanding of the learning mechanism. At this point, the researchers’ observations don’t appear to be yielding entirely usable data, but the effort is as remarkable as it is troubling.

To conclude

One day we may evolve around entities whose intelligence is indeed organic but whose body is only virtual. The metaverse will benefit from advances in brain-machine interfaces. Especially those from the company Neuralink, which was co-founded by Elon Musk in 2016. Man is virtualizing himself by injecting with each new advance a little more of this natural reality onto electrical circuits.

To find out more: The World of the Metaverse: The Practical Guide to Discovering Web 3.0

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