Aaron Mcdonald: Metaverse Interview on Ripple, Futurverse
The Cryptonomist interviewed Aaron Mcdonald, the founder of Futurverse, during the Apex Developer Summit in Amsterdam organized by Ripple.
In a nutshell, Futurverse is a metaverse based on the Ripple ledger with a team of around 250/300 people in 16 countries. The headquarters of the company are in Oakland, New Zealand and L.A., with people mainly located in Japan, Colombia and Germania.
One of the first speeches with which the Apex Developer Summit opened was Aaron speaking about Futurverse and its development.
“We have 4 millions NFTs in the ecosystem, we have 20 different collections and so quite a bit of content and experience there”,
he said during his speech.
Also, Aaron has an interesting perspective on what a metaverse is.
“I can’t see the idea that there is this digital and physical society separated, it is silly. There are no separated things. If we take the digital from the physical, there would be no economy or society as we know it. And for enterprises it is a good thing to provide more experiences for customers”.
But The Cryptonomist also had a chance to interview him to learn more about AI and NFT as well.
You and Shara Senderoff recently launched ‘Born Ready’, a $50 million fund to invest in emerging technology companies. What prompted you to launch in the Ventures Capital world?
The idea of Born Ready is to have a fund that can support founders across different stages and across different kinds of activities. Generally it’s focused on 3 areas: people putting infrastructure around the Ripple network, so it can be node infrastructure, wallet, explores, all that kind of stuff that can add capabilities on the network.
And then we have the next area which is people who are interested in building things on top of the network or using our tools. We have this kind of group of tools that can help people build applications to integrate in the rest of our ecosystem, all powered by Futuverse token.
And the third area is people who want to build experiences or applications, using the contents we have created, so the worlds and games and all that kind of stuff.
How do AI and metaverse tie in within the Futurverse platform?
There are two links between digital ID and AI in my perspective. AI is going to have a big impact on the world and so it’s important that the AI agents and models are owned by the community, in the same way that we think financial infrastructures should be owned by communities through blockchains and not by big corporations.
Because if it does it’s going to be a shitty world. And so we work on a tool that helps users own AI agents. And the second part is about data.
The AI doesn’t live without data and so if data is the fuel for artificial intelligence, we have to treat them with a lot of respect and things like privacy matters and so we need to make sure that inputs going into AIs are good and respect users’ privacy.
And make sure that the outputs can be owned and managed by communities. And then the next part is on the content creation side: so you’ve got this AI that can produce contents and we want the co-ownership and provenance and traceability of that content to be on chain too.
During your speech you said you are collaborating with Fifa, can you tell us more about it?
Our first strategy on Futurverse is to make the technology invisible so everything we do we try to onboard users in a very frictionless way and put the funny experience in the face.
And the second part of our strategy is the “play to learn” because I think one of the reasons why people don’t get into Web3 is because it’s scary and so we try to let them play something fun and then you are surprised by the protocol that allows you to do something you couldn’t before.
Fifa is an example of that. We were the first Web3 company who signed with Fifa and we produced a game for them and so we built the Fifa AI league, which is two teams of four football players and each one of the players of your team is an AI that you can own and train.
In a simple way, people are on-board through a mobile app on the App store and they can actually create a blockchain account when they do it, they mint NFTs, they train AIs, and they don’t know, they are just playing a fun game.
The metaverse concept has lost much of its 2021 hype. Will we have to wait for the next bull run before this sector becomes mainstream again?
I see the hype around AI as the metaverse hype. It’s the same thing, there are no distinctions between these two things and so to say that the metaverse hype is gone is not true. It’s just a different word we use to describe it that is changing.
So in my view the metaverse run keeps going because this is the way the economies are driving. We will see a resurgence of people’s imagination being triggered by that for sure. The Vision Pro is going to launch next year and that’s gonna have a big impact on people’s perspective of what this technology can go.
Apple is famously good in making things cool and they haven’t had a failure yet. So I think we can’t expect them to fail this time. And you don’t want to be in the hype, you want to be in the moment after the hype, because there is real growth. After the hype dies, there is the real business.
On Futurverse we can find “FuturesPass”, a passport to access the digital experiences of your platform. Can you tell me more about it?
It is the digital passport to the metaverse and ripple Futurverse allows users to onboard either as a Web3 native with an existing wallet or as someone new to Web3 like coming from social media or email or phone number and then they can create a smart onchain account.
Users don’t have to worry about private keys or that kind of stuff and the technology has some really smart stuff behind it to control the way the wallet interacts with the applications so you can always have a safe experience and you can also have multiple wallets connected to one Futurespass. It works between chains so it works with Ethereum, Ripple and you don’t have to move your NFTs, for example.
The protocol is called Donuts, which is a patent protocol that works like cookies on Web2 but for Web3 for privacy and permissioning. The cookies were the first, then Google invented a layer cookie called Macarons, and a decentralized cookie is a Donut.