Digitization, datafication and virtualization

During 2020 and 2021, many of us experienced the virtualization of our offices and workplaces, as remote working arrangements were swiftly put in place. This was just a crisis-driven surge of a much longer-term trend. In 2022, we will become increasingly familiar with the concept of a “metaverse” – persistent digital worlds that exist in parallel with the physical world we live in.

Inside these metaverses – such as the one proposed recently by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg – we will carry out many of the functions we’re used to doing in the real world, including working, playing, and socializing. As the rate of digitization increases, these metaverses will model and simulate the real world with growing accuracy, allowing us to have more immersive, convincing, and ultimately valuable experiences within the digital realm. While many of us have experienced somewhat immersive virtual realities through headsets, a range of new devices coming to the market will soon greatly improve the experience offering tactile feedback and even smells. Ericsson, which provided VR headsets to employees working from home during the pandemic, and is developing what it calls an “internet of senses," has predicted that by 2030 virtual experiences will be available that will be indistinguishable from reality. That might be looking a little further ahead than we are interested in for this article. But, along with a new Matrix movie, 2022 will undoubtedly take us a step closer to entering the matrix for ourselves.