Tag Archives: rights

metaverse: the good, bad, and ugly

What is the metaverse?

Facebook’s renaming as Meta brought attention to the rise of the metaverse. I would like to explore how to think about the metaverse and related technologies.

the “metaverse” is a hypothetical iteration of the Internet as a single, universal, and immersive virtual world that is facilitated by the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets.


This description identifies VR and AR headsets as an essential feature. However, I believe headsets are extraneous. I contend that headsets are not worth pursuing for the general public. What is essential is the evolution to the next generation of the Internet to become a single, universal, and immersive virtual world.

Next Generation of the World Wide Web

Today’s most important Internet technologies are known as the World Wide Web (WWW). The next generation of the Internet would be the third. The first generation delivered mostly static hypertext content from content producers to consumers. Today’s second generation services and platforms enable users to create content and distribute that content to an audience.

Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood coined the term “Web3” for the third generation. It envisions the WWW to be decentralized with blockchain technologies. Web3 would enable token-based economics.

I have a different perspective on Web3. To expand on this perspective, I wrote What do we want from Web3? In particular, I do not see Ethereum being a suitable basis for Web3. To fully realize the goals, Web3 will require additional innovations and decentralized technologies that are general-purpose and not vulnerable.

WEF interest in the metaverse

The metaverse has even attracted the attention of the World Economic Forum (WEF). They have published a document called Demystifying the Consumer Metaverse.

The World Economic Forum has assembled a global, multi-sector working group of over 150 experts to co-design and guide this initiative. The hope is that this will lead to cross-sector global cooperation and the creation of a human-first metaverse. The metaverse has the potential to be a game-changer, but it must be developed in a way that is inclusive, equitable and safe for everyone.

We can see from their own language that they intend to appoint their own people to co-opt the technology. They wish to set the direction for the technological innovations toward advancing their own agenda. That agenda seeks to design a better world, one in which liberty is curtailed, autonomy is surrendered, choices are restricted, and power is concentrated in anointed leaders.

Metaverse Agenda

Digital Identity

For the WWW to be more universal and immersive, a user should not have to login separately using distinct account credentials, when navigating to each site. The user should have a smooth and seamless experience. Digital identity is an essential element of continuity. A user can specify preferences and localization once, and have sites be personalized everywhere.

In today’s Web2, ad networks use crude techniques to attach an identity to users. IP addresses, tracking cookies, and browser fingerprinting are typical approaches.


Once users have a digital identity that is universally recognized, users can then be tracked. Ad tracking is a creepy annoyance. However, the most serious danger will be surveillance tied to authoritarian control.

The US government regulates economic activity by controlling the money and its flow through financial institutions and payment systems. Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) are policies for this control. Currently, such policies rely on verifying a person’s identity using some form of state issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport.

We can expect the government to seize the opportunity to co-opt digital identity in Web3. A state-issued digital identity would provide a key element for the government to exert authoritarian control. This topic will be addressed later in this article, once we explore other requisite elements.

Digital identity would lead to the loss of anonymity in transactions. KYC and AML policies apply to financial transactions, but every type of transaction (i.e., any online action taken by the user) could be subject to surveillance. Surveillance of consumer behavior has commercial value to corporations. However, the unholy collusion between government and corporations is a hazard for individual rights, as we will expand on below.


Similar to the need for crypto-currency holders to maintain self-custody of their private keys, a person’s digital identity should be protected similarly. This is known as Self-sovereign identity. The owner must be able to control the revocation and re-issuance of their own digital identity. This may be necessary to counter targeted harassment and cancel culture.

More generally, self-sovereign data refers to users maintaining custody and ownership over their own data. Without self-sovereign data, fourth amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure have been eroded. Law enforcement requests to communications service providers for customer data have been allowed without warrants. Courts have ruled that customers have no reasonable expectation of privacy for records about them kept by service providers. We recover these rights by reorganizing services and Web3 to become decentralized and by allowing customers to take custody over their data.

Moreover, if users can take custody over their own services through self-hosting, they would gain sovereignty over the applications that implement functions against their data. The combination of self-sovereign identity, self-sovereign data, and self-sovereign services protects against deplatforming and third party policy abuse.

Physical Asset Tokenization

A digital representation of a physical object is termed a digital twin. Applications in the metaverse will rely on digital twins to accomplish many things, such as enabling physical objects to be explored and manipulated virtually in ways that are impractical in the real world.

Physical assets will need to be tokenized to identify them. Web3 includes the Non-Fungible Token (NFT). A NFT is a digital identifier denoting authenticity or ownership.

Once assets have digital identity, it becomes easier to track them for the purpose of monetizing them. One way is to attach digital services to those physical assets. Subscribing for support, maintenance, and warranty repairs is an example of a service that can be monetized online for physical assets.

The Internet of Things (IoT) goes further by connecting physical assets to the Internet. This enables digital services to make use of or add value to those physical assets. Sensors, cameras, and control systems come to mind as obvious use cases. However, everything imaginable could be enhanced with connectivity to digital services.

Intellectual Property Rights

Physical asset tokenization leads to the erosion of ownership. Intellectual property rights, such as those attached to embedded software components, are retained by the manufacturer. The consumer is granted only a license to use with limited rights. The consumer has no right to copy that software to other hardware. This protects the software vendor from loss of revenue.

Does the consumer have a right to sell the physical asset to transfer ownership? One would expect that the hardware and its embedded software are considered to be an integrated whole or bundle. Hopefully, the software license is consistent with that.

A digital service connected to the physical asset is remote and distinct. A boundary clearly separates that remote software from the physical asset. There is no presumption of integration. The terms of service would need to be consulted.

Modern software is maintained with bug fixes and enhancements over time. Increasingly common, the vendor charges the consumer a subscription fee for maintenance and support. Does the consumer have the right to continue using the asset without subscribing? Can ownership of the asset be transferred along with its software subscription?

These questions go to the erosion of ownership. Physical things, such as vehicles and farm equipment, are becoming useless hulks without subscriptions to connected digital services and software maintenance. Instead of owning assets, people are subscribing to a license to use. It’s like renting or leasing. According to the WEF’s Agenda 2030, you will own nothing, and you’ll be happy.

Right to Repair

Software capabilities are essential to the functioning of equipment and devices. The traditional ownership model of farm equipment, vehicles (i.e., cars and trucks), and mobile phones, is evolving to a model where the end user has a license to use. License terms may restrict the user’s rights to modify, maintain, and transfer that asset.

Traditionally, an owner of an asset expects to be able to repair, modify, or build upon the asset. He can do it himself, or he can contract work out to others. Manufacturers are eroding these rights. They don’t want their software to be tampered with.

Many legislatures are passing Right To Repair acts to preserve some semblance of ownership control over physical assets. However, remote connectivity to digital services may never be brought into the fold.

The World is Virtual and Physical

The relationship between physical assets and digital services, including the metaverse, is fraught. We should think of the metaverse as the landscape in which all future digital services reside. Increasingly, physical assets are connected inextricably to digital services. Thus, the physical world and the metaverse become tied.

Programmable Currency

Monetization of digital services will be integral to the metaverse. Crypto-currency will be a key technology in Web3 to enable the digital economy. As novel cryptos gain consumer acceptance, you can be certain that governments will take notice.

Government has an interest in controlling money. Fiat money is manipulated by the central bank and their monetary policy. The supply is increased by making loans, which is a means of counterfeiting money. Money-printing dilutes the purchasing power resulting in inflation. The biggest loans are to finance government deficit spending.

Government seeks to gain control by making money programmable. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is programmable fiat money for this purpose. Control includes regulating who may spend money, when, where, on what, and how much. Authoritarian control will be total.

  • Who – digital identity
  • When and where – surveillance over services
  • What – physical asset tokenization
  • How much – programmable currency

Authoritarian Control

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has implemented a social credit system of authoritarian control. Individuals are assigned a social credit score based on surveillance of their behaviors. Privileges, travel authorization, and access to services may be restricted based on social credit score.

Programmable digital currency will be the perfect tool for authoritarian regimes to control public behavior. With hard cash replaced, no economic activity would escape government surveillance and control. Discrimination and cancel culture will be institutionalized.

Alternative Reality

Instead of the dystopian future that would follow from a metaverse based on flawed Web3 platforms, we must proceed with caution. Every technology must be scrutinized for vulnerabilities to capture and corruption by centralized powers. Decentralization and self-sovereignty must be paramount.

Avoid crypto-currencies that are not Bitcoin. Shitcoins are all scams. They are all corruptible, already corrupted, or corrupt by design. This is especially true of CBDC (or any crypto that is a candidate).

Disregard the hype. Headsets will never gain broad adoption. People will not tolerate being detached from reality for extended periods. Immersive experiences are valuable. However, people need to be able to multitask. Visiting places in the metaverse must be possible while still remaining engaged with normal activities of daily life and work.

Protect your identity and data. Self-sovereign identity and self-sovereign data are essential. True decentralization is essential. Any Web3 platform that does not honor these principles should be rejected.

The future will be bright, if we refuse to accept technologies that leave us vulnerable. It is early enough in the development of Web3 and the metaverse to reject poor technology choices. As consumers are better informed, they can have an enormous influence on what technologies are developed and adopted. Ethereum’s first mover advantage in Web3 and Meta’s first mover advantage in metaverse should be seen as consequential as MySpace and Friendster were to Web2.

Revisiting the definition of rights

I believe my derivation of Rights from first principles provides the most consistent definition. Let’s see how it holds up in various circumstances, where other formulations fail.

My position on abortion recognizes viability as the existence of an independent person. This is the beginning of a human life’s ability to exist with a mutual recognition of rights.

In the context of criminal justice, a violation of someone else’s rights demonstrates a non-recognition of rights. As a consequence, the violator’s rights may then lose recognition. Under imminent threat of violence, a person may defend themselves or others against the violator. The violator forfeits the right to life through non-recognition. Following the crime, justice may demand incarceration or punishments, as the violator’s rights are diminished. The death penalty is the ultimate retaliatory non-recognition of the violator’s right to life.

The consistency of this definition of rights across abortion, self-defense, criminal justice, and the death penalty strengthens the case for it being correct.

Our Democracy – what it looks like

The establishment elites and regime apologists routinely accuse their political opponents as being a threat to “our democracy”. What does our democracy look like?

Democracy is disempowerment. It directs public activism to elections as the means of exercising power, concentrating power in elected representatives. They want to channel people’s energy into voting as the method to enact political change. They want to manufacture consent of the governed, acceptance of a mythical social contract, and lend legitimacy to a representative government. Institutions are erected to concentrate power and control into the chosen few, while diffusing the cost over the many, who are subjects to being ruled over (administratively, legislatively, and judicially).

Democracy is controlled opposition. Once the public is convinced that voting is their most important channel for enacting change, then elections can be controlled via ballot access. The nomination process to become an election candidate is designed by the party elites. It is an oligarchical establishment controlled system, where big money, big influence, and big crony interests dominate the party leadership. Primary elections are openly rigged, as the party Rules Committee routinely tilts the playing field to favor their preferred candidate and disfavor dissidents and outsiders. The manner in which Republican and Democrat nominees are chosen by denying access to unacceptable candidates and allowing access only to those candidates acceptable to the party establishment is identical to how totalitarian regimes in China, Russia, and Iran control ballot access.

Democracy is corruption. Once in office, democratically elected officials are corrupted by lobbying, bribery in the form of campaign contributions, and being able to take advantage of insider knowledge of pending regulation or legislation to make timely stock trades prior to government actions causing large movements in the stock market. Nancy Pelosi’s net-worth is a good example of this phenomenon, as she has accumulated over $135 million in personal wealth on a $210,000 salary as a member of the US House of Representatives for nearly her entire adult life. The gains in net worth while US senators and representatives are in office is obscene.

Above all, democracy is majoritarian rule. It is a partisan, tribal, collectivist approach. Majoritarianism is a non-recognition of minority preferences and rights of individuals. A moral society places rights above all else, as human life is the standard of value that everything is measured against and that human behaviors work to preserve and advance. When a majority gets to decide, individual preferences that are not in agreement will be disregarded. This is entirely immoral where such decisions belong to the individual. (How would a democratic decision-making process work between two wolves and a sheep regarding what to eat for dinner?) Democracy is antithetical to individual rights.

Majoritarianism leads to institutional capture, regulatory capture, and ideological capture in courts and juries. Community organizing (activism toward rallying popular support for some political cause) grows a block of voters to exercise their power to place elected officials into power. These officials appoint political allies into non-elected offices as career bureaucrats that continue to advance the political agenda beyond elected terms of office. These agencies are usually responsible for writing rules, codes, regulations, and policies that are imposed upon the public with administrative punishments (fines, licensing, credentials, permits, etc.). When organizing is able to form a large enough voting block, this concentration of power and the consequent shaping of the bureaucratic make-up lead to institutions and regulations becoming captured.

Equally insidious and possibly more treacherous, majoritarianism results in the government agents who are responsible for the system of justice to discard objectivity and impartiality. Police selectively enforce, and they target groups with bias. Prosecutors selectively prosecute, harshly charging those they target for punishment, and being lenient toward their allies. Judges, who have near-supreme decision-making power over their courts, are emboldened to discard objectivity and impartiality, as groups become more polarized ideologically. When a judge feels safe to side with a strong majority, instead of being true to their oath to protect the constitution and following legal precedent where applicable, they have near-absolute power to make tyrannical and sinister decisions over people’s lives in service to the majority and in violation of individual rights. Moreover, even an individual’s right to trial by jury becomes powerless if their community has been captured ideologically by an overwhelming majority. This becomes the predators-and-prey dinner party manifested into society.

Finally, democracy is divisive. When the stakes are so large and elections are winner-take-all, as in America, people will organize culturally along political left-right lines in the fight for gaining a majority. As the levers of power grow and become more corrupt, the stakes become larger, and the political divide becomes more extreme. Truth itself will become distorted as truth-seeking institutions in journalism, academia, and science become corrupted in service to politics. Noble lies become the tool to control the narrative for the regime in power. Censorship is the method to sustain those narratives. The struggle for power is all-consuming. The country naturally tears itself apart.

This is what democracy looks like.

Rights – a derivation from first principles

This article is a derivation of the concept of rights from first principles. This is the notion of natural rights consistent with The Jeffersonian Perspective. Throughout this article, I shall use the term “man” to refer to a human being, not to gender.

Man exists as a being of a certain nature, which is distinctly different than other beings. Man is a living being with the unique ability to reason. Man relies on his ability to reason for survival.

For man to exist qua man, as a living reasoning being according to his nature, certain conditions must exist. Man’s rationality is conditional upon being free to think and act according to his reasoning mind. Freedom is the absence of coercion and force from other men. The mind is impotent when man is threatened or attacked with the force of violence.

Rights are based on the mutual recognition of man’s nature and the conditions required for man’s survival. Rights are the mutual respect for freedom of thought and action so that man can exist according to his nature.

my position on abortion

Since the topic of abortion is in the news again, I will once again restate what I believe to be a reasonable position on this issue.

I agree with Rand Paul that abortion is personally offensive. However, a legislator’s personal feelings ought to have nothing to do with public policy and the protection of rights.

I agree with Rand Paul that a seven pound baby in the uterus has rights. Finding the best way of protecting the rights of both the mother and child is not easy.

I agree with Rand Paul that certain exemptions should be permitted by law to perform a late term abortion. This debate is not about abortions before 24 weeks of pregnancy, the limit of viability.

I believe a fetus’ right to life can be asserted when the baby is viable outside the womb. This may be facilitated through modern medical technology at an early stage of gestation, as evidenced by many premature births. Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable to protect a baby’s right to life, when it develops into a viable person who can exist separated from the mother’s body. At that point in a pregnancy, killing the fetus should be disallowed, and the baby should either be allowed to develop to full term in the womb at the mother’s option; or delivered prematurely. Sure, there are dangers to a baby for it to be delivered prematurely, but certainly less danger than homicide. If the parents do not want the baby, it can be adopted by another family. The demand for babies far exceeds the supply.

See also: on the rights of a fetus.

on the rights of a fetus

Living cells do not per se have a right (protected freedom) to life for the same reason a virus or a mouse has no right to life.

Rights are a recognition of requirements for a person to live as a human which means freedom to think and act toward sustaining that life. Non-humans do not have rights, because they are incapable of recognizing rights. Without that recognition, there can be no rights, as their abrogation would immediately ensue through force, coercion, and other manners of violation.

A fetus is not yet capable of living in any way as a thinking, acting person in that sense. Therefore, it has no rights to do so.

As litmus test, can a fetus given rights (freedom without mom) perform the most basic biological acts of sustaining its own life? No. The fetus cannot oxygenate its blood, eliminate its toxins, convert food into a form that can power its cells, and any number of other biological functions that mom is performing on its behalf. If given the freedom to live as a person per se, the fetus cannot perform the most basic actions to sustain its life, it does not have rights, because no recognition of such requirements for it to live and no protection of its freedom will make any difference. The fetus does not need freedom at this stage in its life; it is entirely dependent on its mother.

To artificially bestow a “right” to life on the fetus is merely granting an entitlement to enslave the life of its mother, if the mother does not consent to participate in the pregnancy. This would not be protecting anyone’s freedom—only taking freedom away from the mother.

I am anti-abortion and pro-rights. Therefore, I am for a woman’s right to choose, no matter how much I dislike abortion. My opposition or dislike for something does not automatically mean support for government action to outlaw it. Because the law must exist to protect individual rights, any law that would abrogate rights must never be passed.

My position on abortion is consistent with other similar positions. I am an anti-smoking non-smoker, but I oppose legislation that would ban smoking. I am anti-drug and I do not use drugs, but I oppose the war on drugs. These positions consistently recognize that the law must exist to protect individual rights, not to trample on individual liberties.

When does a fetus become a person with rights? I believe the earliest that can happen is when a fetus becomes viable. That is, when it is medically possible for the fetus to survive when physically separated from its mother. This may involve the assistance of medical devices, medication, and extraordinary measures. The key criterion is the ability for the baby to live without being tied to the mother’s life. At that point, the baby’s life can be sustained by other means, and adoption becomes an option. As medical technology improves, this may happen at earlier stages of gestation. This would be the reasoning behind objecting to late term abortion.