🇬🇧 We're on an exponential technology curve - With David Smith


 Hello, David, and thank you very much for joining me today. I've been looking forward to to talking to you.

Oh, thanks for having me. I can get a few a little bit of background on, on myself. I think it's relevant to the conversation we're going to have. And also gives you a bit, I mean's some context here.

So I've been very interested and focused on. Two things in my career. One was collaboration. How did you engage with other people? How do you share complex ideas? And, and the other was interactive 3d. I got captured early on on both of those. So for example, I, I wrote the first realtime 3D adventure shooter game called the Colony.

That won, you know, best adventure game of the year for, I wrote it for on the Macintosh, probably a mistake, but it was, you know, I loved the Mac so much. But the that, that led to a number of things. One was Jim Cameron was making a movie at the time, and the, the movie was The Abyss, and he saw a pirate version of my game and asked if I would mind helping him visualize that.

So, and of course I'm gonna do that. So he sent me the blueprints of, of the set of what it was, you know, kind of the 2D look. And I, I built it out in my game engine so he could literally walk around. This is the very first time anyone in Hollywood could actually see a set before it existed. And so he got a lot of screaming shots from that.

He got, they figured out what, what's the world, what's the camera gonna see? In fact, they saw a whole section of the, of the set didn't even appear on camera. , which was Mar marvelous cuz it saved them a couple million dollars. They still haven't paid me by the way. I'm still waiting. But they, so that was one thing, and that was that kind of like got my interest.

Second thing was Tom Clancy, the, the author, played my game and got really obsessed with it. I mean, I, I was sort of weird. He was calling me once a week. To, to yell at me basically cuz of the very hard game. And but he never asked for hints. He just wanted to, you know, kind of vent a little bit. I was reading one of his books at the time.

So it was kind of like very strange thing to have this very firm famous person calling me up regularly, but we got to be good friends and he became Both an investor and a board member for me and my company. I just, I started right after that, which was Verti Corporation, and we did a product called VER Walkthrough, which basically was a realtime three design tool.

For, for PCs and Mac and actually became a standard in Hollywood for doing design of spaces. So I was really pretty interested in, in, in 3D worlds that what happened with Tom is he wanted to do a project with me. So we he, he introduced me to the FBI hostage rescue team in Quantico, Virginia. And they took me on some of their training missions, which was incredible.

What, what they did is they have these battle towns. They're big concrete towns. I mean, no one lives there, but so we're up on this big tower, looking down on these big black helicopters, fly over our heads, and these black clad ninjas come down off the ropes, off the helicopters and start blowing things up.

And I was like, this is amazing. So I, I called Tom after that and said, Hey, we've gotta do a game on these guys. I've never seen anything like this. It's bigger than a movie. And, and he said, well, if you do a game, I'll do the book. And so that became Rainbow Six, which was a huge hit on the game side.

We started Red Storm Entertainment together. And so that, that, that was a win. But probably more importantly, I. From the Verti product won the first breakthrough product of the year from MacUser. But through that, I met Alan. Kay. Alan I'll give you a little bit of context, is considered the father of the personal computer for a very good reason.

He envisioned this idea he called a diner book, which was basically a tablet sized device. This is actually my phone now, but it was a little bit bigger than this. And he, he had visited University of Illinois and seen their The first L c d displays, which were only about 16 by 16 pixels, but he knew that this is gonna grow and you'd be able to have a computer behind it.

So he was a, he joined Xerox Park and he wrote a paper describing this, called it a personal Computer for Children of all ages. And it was based on a, a number of ideas first of all the, the, the ideas that. Doug Engelbart had, Doug had demonstrated you know, kind of the future of computing in 1968 and, and a thing called mother of all demos.

We call it that today. It wasn't called that then. And where in there he showed collaboration. He showed hypertext, he showed even video conferencing. And he even showed, here's a shared screen. Both of us are working together to understand and, and, and, and build together. The other thing, Alan was very interested in his children how children would program and, and engage.

So he so this diner book idea, when he wrote it up as a, as a paper in 72. , he describes two children. The very first thing he, these two kids are playing a game together, which is no surprise, that's what kids do. But what was really interesting, and you know, they're all on each, on their own Dyna book device.

Remember the, these tablets didn't exist in 1972. And, and and so they kinda get bored with the game cuz it's too easy. And so they say, Hey, let's fix it. And they literally dive into the code together collaboratively. Fix that. and, and then they play the game again and it's harder and more interesting.

But, and, and the girl wins again cuz she won the first one. It was, it was like, okay, that's the vision of the future. And what happened was, The group at Xerox Society, we want to build that vision, build to that vision. And so they created the, the, what we know as a Xerox Alto today. They, they also referred to it as the Interim Dyna book because it was the, the future of system.

And of course it was the first real. what we think is modern personal computer. And, and in fact, if I sat you down in front of it in 1975 or so, which is what, almost 50 years you would already know how to use it because you've been using that interface. So Alan invented pop overlapping windows with that our other partner, Dan Engels, invented pop-up menus.

Dan Engles, by the way, is the person who did the demo to Steve Jobs. When Steve visited Xerox Park of, of, of the Alto, and Steve later said, within 10 minutes, he knew that every computer's gonna work that way. And that became the McIntosh. But going back to why, you know, I, I'm meeting Ellen and both of us realized that the next big steps, because this is the missing part of the alto, was collabo.

How do you engage with other people? How do you see what they're doing as they do it? The problem with the Alto was it was a personal computer and you know, they, had, they even invented ethernet at, at Xerox Park to see just how impressed that this place was. But they. And they could communicate, they could share files, they could share emails, texts, that sort of thing.

But they couldn't really collaborate in the, in the way that Alan had thought of and the way that Doug had demonstrated. And so that was the big task. We saw that the future was two things. Collaboration and interact with 3d. So we started a project together called the Croquet Project. We invite invited David Reid to join us.

David's background is also very interesting. He was the architect of the U D P protocol and he was co architect of T C P I P. He was, Alan calls him the slash and tcp i p cuz he is a guy, figured out that TCP should be on top of ip. By the way, we're using it right now. Anytime you use a browser, anytime you're using the internet, they're using T C P I P for sure.

You might be also using UDP if you're playing games, but usually not. So David's thesis was this idea of replicated computation. How do I share ideas? How do I share information? How do I and, and, and his, the, the vision of, of his system, of, of his thesis was we have replicated computation. In other words, I'm running a virtual machine on my system.

You're running on yours, and it's running bit identical. . So whatever happens on my system, happens on yours. The trick is how do I ensure that when I do something that happens on your system and when you do, something happens on my system? And that was the project that we started. We started the Croquet project and we built the first system.

It was done in a small talk, which is maybe why a lot of people hadn't heard of it. But it was a critical first step to what I call an augmented conversation. And that is, Coming up, you know, we're someday we're gonna be wearing glasses like we're wearing right now, except they're gonna be active and live.

Think of that diner book vision that Alan had, where now you and I talk a computer AI is listening in part of that conversation cuz that's the real thing. I mean, we've been having, having that vision forever now looks like we can do the AI part. And the AI generates the simulation between. That both of us can engage with and interact with.

You know, this is, to me, the whole point of what people call the Metaverse. The metaverse is more than anything, a communication platform that allows us to engage this way, to talk to each other and share ideas and solve complex problems. Going back to Doug Engelbart's vision. So after that project I wound.

as a senior fellow of Lockheed Martin where, where I led a team to build a version of the of, of the system for the defense department. We built a you know, this collaboration framework for, for the, for, but still used by the military today. But when I left there, Allen said, Hey, let's make the real thing.

So, you know, one of the things that's really important to understand, The operating system for the, for the metaverse, for this collaboration isn't gonna be an Android device. It's not gonna be an iPhone device. It has to be something new where collaboration is foundational, where everything you do can be shared instantaneously.

And, and so we started a project I inherited Alan's, Alan's team. They were part of Y Combinator research, so they were peer grouped, open. And they joined me to build this thing that we've been working on, which we still call croquet companies called Croquet Corporation. But what it does, it enables you to build applications.

that don't require what they call net code. In other words, you don't think about the application and how to wire it up so that what you see is what I see. It's automatic, you know, basically, you know, I think of it as here's this virtual machine that I, I was talking about earlier that's running bit identical on my phone and on my PC and my headset, and so anything I do is automatically instantaneously updated on all those other device.

There's no complexity to it from a developer's perspective. There's no rollbacks, there's no, all you do is figure out what is it Do I want that I want users to be able to do? What is it I want them to think? You know, how do, how do they engage with each other? So, so that was the, a critical first step.

You know, when we think about how do I explore this future world and it enables this idea I talked about earlier this augmented conversation where, you know, anything I can think I can explain I can then share. And that's really, as I, as I said earlier, the, the metaverse is all about communication.

The question was how do we make that work when they're not connected? And we had the same problem that Xerox had with Alto. You couldn't recreate those, that vision of Doug Engelbart. Well, we solved that problem. And now the next step is building applications that it take advantage of that capability.

And, and we were talking earlier about games. Of course games are a really great place for it. A good example. Most games have a very limited vocabulary. What I mean by that is that, you know, you can move, you can shoot, you can kill or you can die. It's kind of maybe a little more than that, but not much.

Right? That's, and and there's a reason for that. There's two reasons. One is people like doing that. The other reason is we know how to do that. That's one of the things. You can have a server or it can say adjudicate who dies, who lives, that sort of thing. But when we wanna expand from that, we wanna start thinking about in more interesting things.

You need a much larger vocabulary. In fact, you need sort of an infinite vocabulary. Anything that you can describe should be doable. And so in a sense when I talk about augmented conversation, just like I'm having conversation from you, there's no limits to what I can say except I, I might wanna avoid, avoid profanity, but I, I can do it if I want.

There's no limits. But what if, as I talk. The, the system generates those simulations and they're live for both of us. They do exactly the same thing for both of us. And, and that really was the system. That's the goal of the system we've built to enable that augmented conversation. And this by the way, I think is really when you think about why hasn't the metaverse taken off?

And there's a number of reasons. The main one I think is the devices are not there yet. And what an example I'll, I'll, I'll, I'll give you is smartphones existed before the iPhone. People think they, some, some people probably think iPhones have been here forever and they haven't, you know, there was a Blackberry, which is actually a pretty good device.

There was a palm device and, and they were actually transitioning to creating turning the palm in, in, into a phone. So these things were. , but they weren't. Right. They weren't quite finished. And even the first iPhone wasn't quite there, but it was better than everything else. A Alan K refers these things as good enough to criticize when you get to that point.


in a way, so, sorry, what do you mean by that? Because that's interesting. I've been working with the design and and, and, and you, the palm pilots and, and iPhones and all that kind of stuff. So good enough to criticize, you know? Can you break that down a little bit? You know, what's the meaning of.

So when the McIntosh came out, it was based on the ideas. I mean, as I mentioned, Steve Jobs visit, Xerox Park, saw the interface there, the overlapping windows, the, you know, the, the, what you see is what you get. And he said, this is, he said within 10 minutes he knew that every computer's gonna work this way.

And so he, he created a team to create the Macintosh. I'm using a Mac right now, for example. And Alan when the Mac came out, it was a, like a Mindy Alto. It didn't have a lot of what the alto, what really made the alto. It didn't have object army programming. It didn't have the networking, it didn't have a lot of things, but it had the soul of that.

And really demonstrate for first time to anyone who had a couple thousand bucks in their pocket that they could do modern computing. They could start using a computer to, to really as a thinking device instead of just sort of like a, a tech editor. And so he referred to that computer as a first computer, good enough to criticize because it was kind of at another.

And when we look at head mount displays and, and, you know, I've been doing this for a long time. The, I, I look at the, the Quest Pro. I have one just for one. I have one right here. And it's basically the same device. That I was playing with 20 years ago. Resolution is better. It's faster, but it hasn't taken that step function.

You know, it's kind of like this gradual improvement in the hardware, but it's not at all. Improved on the software side, you know, it's still just as bad and, and unwieldy. Very difficult to write. Applications, very difficult to share. So in a, in a sense, we, we haven't seen the big step function in that enables us to transcend the, the device and, and that's, What I mean good enough to criticize is it has to be good enough to be able to say, and this plus, you know, when you're criticizing, you're not always saying, oh, this is all bad.

You're saying this is how it can be better. And, and I think that's what we can't really say about the current crop of devices. It is like, oh, it does what it does, it's pretty good, but you know, how, how do you make it better? , you know, what is the, the missing piece? And it isn't necessarily the hardware, although I, I do think you know this future where, where you're wearing a pair of glasses that look like this, but it enables this ability for you and I to communicate is, is the thing that that device plus our ability to engage with each other.

In other words, it isn't hard. It isn't software, but it is the two together. And that was what they did at Xerox. That's what they did at Apple. When they built the Mac, they said, let's build the system. And the system was what was magic when they built the iPhone. It was the system. What are the things that go into the iPhone and how do they interoperate with each other?

It was a really seamless experience right out the bat. That's why I, I, I think Apple may build so. that is good enough to criticize and that's I'm, oh, I'm hoping, because what happened with the iPhone, of course, was it forced everybody out of their hole and said, oh my gosh, this is, this changes everything.

That means I have to change two. that meant that, you know Google was definitely afraid for good reason that they were gonna lose the mobile space. And, you know, what's the biggest space on the internet right now? It's mobile, you know? And so they, they realized they had to do something big to get to catch up, and that's how Android.

they literally bought that company and, and built out that infrastructure. And Android's the largest phone platform on the planet. So that's what we need here. We need something that is going to capture people. On the one hand, it's good enough to actually do the things we think about need to be done.

And the other side is it has to be scary. has to good enough to criticize. It's also good enough to be scared of and, and, and and that is going to create the virtuous cycle of competition that forces the stuff to get much better, very, very fast. Even the iPhone, the first iPhone wasn't that great.

They had hundreds of thousands of sales. It wasn't like a huge thing, but it was an exponential curve. We don't see that quite yet. We don't see that in these devices. You know, they're. A little bit shaky. And why? Because they're just okay. And you know, I, I keep in mind how you do these things, by the way.

You don't just throw out like meta is throwing billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of people at the problem. That's not how you do it. The Xerox project, they had 25 people initially. They had a vision. and had clarity and had the 25 people were really, really good. Okay. So it was, you know, but it was 25 people.

And, and the same thing was true of the McIntosh and the original McIntosh team was 25 people. That's not like this magic number. It could be little bigger, maybe a little smaller. Google was teeny tiny and, and running the whole system in a closet. But they had a clear vision of what it should be.

Of course, they, they changed over to becoming an ad business instead of a search business, but that's okay too. But they, they launched with a very small group that did something amazing. You can't do, I, I don't think you can do amazing things with super large groups except space programs. You know, you can go to Mars, but you, you really can't do these kinds.

Human systems with super large groups because you lose the center. You have a lot of middle management that's all interested in, I won't say self-promotion, but you're not looking at vision anymore. You're looking, I'm gonna build this thing. I'm gonna build this thing. And does this thing matter? I don't know.

Are, are you building the thing that is transcendent or. . And you know, clearly, clearly in Meta's case, they, they're, they're not, they can't, they, they're not getting there. And that's one of the things that that that's design of the design is wrong. You know, I mean, it is a process. You talked about the design process.

It is like, well, you don't know where you're going. You're certainly not gonna get there. You have to start with a pretty clear vision of what these things are. That's why I talk. The internet the Metaverse. The Metaverse is a communication platform. And as soon as you get that context, it's a forcing function.

It's like, does this help me communicate better? Does this thing make it easier for me to engage with another person? And why this is important too. Every phone on the planet, every phone can call every other. . Think about that. It's like, okay, so that, so, and, and as soon as I say this is a communication platform, that means that every wearable device in the future has to be able to engage with every other wearable device.

So that means you know, I, I have a maybe Google Glasses in the future, and you have apple devices. Somebody else has a meta device. Well, you know, if they're all in their own little world, , then we can't communicate, then they don't do what phones do. But they have to, they have to be able to engage that way.

So, so that's why I, I, I think of this as not just a communication platform, but it's in a lot of ways the same as the browser. You know, when we, when we use a browser any browser works with every single. Webpage, right? I can go, I can take this browser and go to any page I want, use this browser and go to any page I want.

And they all pretty much work. So in a sense, the, the browser is the future of the phone when we add that communication layer to it. Yeah. Which is one of the things we're very interested in.

I, I, I see what you mean. I've heard, you know, the story about Sony PlayStation, you know, they were like completely shut off.

You know, you play one game on PlayStation and you wouldn't be able to play with people on an Xbox and stuff like that until Fortnite came around. And then there was the, so much, so much audience on many different platforms that they have to open up so that you can engage on playing Fortnite in, in whatever device you're on.

And and that also brings me back, brings my thoughts around to what you mentioned about T ccp, ip because that seems to be like if, if we are looking at metaverse, it's like, you know, what's that one like common accessible to all technology that, that people will build upon, you know, no matter what label or brand of device you have.

Because. And you know, way more about this than I do, but T C P IP was open source,

right? Well, it was part of the internet infrastructure. It's not just, yeah. So it was just like, it was not, you know, by the government. Yeah. It was you know, the, in fact going back, Doug Englebart. There were the first two nodes of the internet, then you had to have two.

You couldn't do one, right? Yeah. That was UCLA and Doug Engelbart's lab at sri. . So that's how, I mean, you think about the internet, it is a communication medium that enables all of us to engage. Some of it's static. We go webpage, some of it's very live. So we go, you know we, we can do video inside of a browser.

The internet was a project that was funded by arpa. You know, the Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is a government organization they, they changed to DARPA Defense Advanced Research project org agency, which was probably the biggest mistake I think our government's ever made because arpa.

Created this incredible, I mean, they're really the found in a sense of where the internet came from, where modern computing came from. All, all, everybody at Xerox Park, for example, was funded originally by arpa. And so they, they, they were all this, this, it was a magic golden time that enabled them to.

Like I said, they invented this future that we live in today. And it all came out of arpa. So, and in fact it wasn't, I mean, think about it, it was an open source project in a sense, but it was before this idea, before Richard Stallman kind of invented the idea of open source and free and open source. So, so yeah, it was The Internet's been open from the very first moment.

What you pay for is really kind of transport, you know when you, you're paying for at and t or you're paying for who, you know, I've got Google Fiber, you're paying for access to that. But. The infrastructure is free. The T C P I P is a stack that was defined back then by among those David, David Reed, and, and we take it, it's a utility really.

You know, I mean, it's, and, and that's the way you should be thinking about it. And,

and if you look at, if you look at that in a, from a metaverse perspective, it seems like everybody. Kind of building their own silo. There isn't this like common rails that, that everybody is, is looking to build on, or That's right.

Or is there

I don't know. No, no. I, I, they, they, they wanna recreate the infrastructure that exists. So Meta wants the Facebook of the Metaverse, where you're captured in there, content is captured in there. The problem with it is, . It's sort of like, well, my phone can only call other people who have that cop phone, right?

So imagine a world where iPhones can only call other iPhones and, and that's weird, right? I mean, it's like, that's unworkable. That's stupid. But that's the kind of thing that they're trying to do when they say, oh yeah, well anybody in here can talk to anybody in here and you know, that's great. Well, I'm not going.

And that means I can't talk to you what's, you know, so you really I, and this goes again, back to what I said, as soon as soon as you understand what the thing is you're trying to build, then you understand all of these other dynamics as soon as you understand the metaverse communication platform.

And that means wall gardens are the stupidest thing that could exist in a communication. because I can if I dial a random number on my phone, I'm gonna reach somebody probably. Well that's really important to be able to, to be, have that fully friction free where I'm a able to engage with you Actually more than that.

I'm talking to you. The third person walks up to us and could instantly join, and that's one of the system that's, you know, our operating system was designed for that you can join instantly and have that three-way conversation that per that simulation we were engaging with is now also shared by this third party who says, oh, that's wrong.

Let me look, let me show you. Right. That's, that's the. That's the whole point of what the Metaverse really is. And that's, that's why yeah, it, it's sort of like trying to be AOL in if you remember America on lawn years and years ago and they say, ah, we're gonna own the internet. I was like, no, you're not.

You're you, you, you're going to be a memory. And that's the way it works. You know? This is, I I, I think that the, the requirements of the system transcend anything that anyone else can do. It's gonna tell us what it, it needs, because that's, the businesses that are gonna be successful are the ones that feed what it needs.

And, and if you go try to go against, You're going to fail. And I think that's really the, that's what makes it so exciting, by the way. I mean, it's a really, really interesting time and, and you know, when it, and again, when I talk about communication this augmented conversation, what's it augmented by?

It's augmented by a computer. It's augmented by an ai. When we think about these ais that are evolving and emerging, they're a centerpiece. I, I think in what the metaverse really is as well. I, I think far more important than web three. Web three is sort of an interesting thing and maybe allows us to securely share content.

Maybe, you know, that's not, I don't think we've proven any of that yet, but AI is gonna be right there. I mean, is, think about where. The, the, this, I say something and the computer understands what I'm saying and makes that right in front of us in a way that now we can sort of criticize. I like that word cuz that's kind of, I mean, you know what I mean?

You're, you're able to, to look at it and say, oh, that's not quite right. Try this. Or you and I are saying, oh, that's interesting. You know, it's like, here's this mathematical structure that we're visualizing and exploring and say, Hey, come over here. Look at this. You know, it's like, wow, what isn't that interesting?

You know, it's like you're going on a field trip, but you're going to math land and you're exploring these wonderful structures that you can see. , maybe you even hear them. I don't know. It's like a a and, but what's creating all that? You know, it's like there's some, some AI is taking this, you know, kind of complex equation and generating something that is understandable to us and engageable by us.

That that's really, you know, build an operating system that does that. Then, then, you know, then I think the vision of what this can be is finally, . Yeah.

That, that sounds , that sounds great. I think it's super interesting points. One of the things I think it was back in the early days when I started this podcast, it was like late 21.

It was actually right when Zuckerberg changed its name to me. I thought, okay, I want to be an independent voice in that whole stream of content that's coming. And, and. I, one of the things that I kind of had the feeling of. From, from ALO for a long time is that, you know, because everybody now is talking about community, community, community, community, community, it's going to be, you know, it's, it's getting used in the wrong ways.

You know, all the marketing departments are now, you know, now they know they're supposed to build C communities and then they use some kind of community platform and they, you know, and we get more of these like debt zones in the internet for these, you know, there was a community for two weeks and I was thinking like, okay, the ones who are going to.

Are going to be the ones who can make, have, give us the same feelings as when we are sitting in a room together, but we can work together from, you know, two different sides of the planet. Yeah. And I was thinking like, okay, cool. You know, that's easy to, easy to say, but what, what are the actual parameters?

You know, what are the boxes that you need to check for for that sensation to actually become reality? , do you

That's a really good question and well, I, I think o obviously one of the problems with community today is. A lot of these places, there's no, there, there, there's nothing to do, right? I mean, it's like, well, I can see you, but I, I actually get a better experience in Zoom to be honest.

So the, that, that, that just going to a 3D world and, and kind of seeing a, an avatar doesn't really move the needle. And but when you're working together, You know the reason you go to the office, I mean, we have a small company and we have, we meet up, and when we meet up we are exchanging ideas. And when I tell you something, then you say, oh, what about.

you know, so you build this and, and you might be working on a whiteboard or you might be sitting together at, at a computer and, you know, showing, I'm showing you something, Hey, have you tried this? And, and so you get this really nice engagement. It's more than nice. It's a necessary thing of exploration, of ideas.

And, and you know, with the whiteboard you can kind. See the ideas, right? You can engage with those ideas. And, and we're seeing in a sense software that enables that. I mean, not outside of the quote, metaverse, Figma is a good example of a, an application that allows you to explore ideas with other people.

I mean, and they just sold for 20 billion to Adobe. So, you know, I, I think. , you know, that idea you're talking about is spot on for what has to happen. But it's not, I, I, I will a little bit back is games are definitely a win here because there's something to do, you know they may not be the most sophisticated things and you're not necessarily creating too much in those worlds.

But but. They're, they're kind of a, a necessary ingredient where, you know, you, you're having fun together, you're, you know, doing something that is intrinsically interesting, but definition of game, it has to be, you know, interesting and compelling in some way. So so and so taking that into the workplace is, Somehow has to be accomplished.

But in the workplace, you create, you don't, you don't consume. This is one of the big problems, I think with the iPhone is it's a consumption device completely. You really, you can make videos maybe with it and maybe do a little editing, but for the most part, 99.99% of the iPhone is you consuming information.

We need to change that. The metaverse has to be a creation. . It has to be a place where ideas become real and explorable. And, and, and that's the, you know, going back many, many years to Doug Engelbart's vision of the, of computing. That's what he thought of is the computers, the place where we meet to, to create.

And he even said if we don't learn to. Our problems collaboratively were doomed. I think that's right. You know, we, we, the problems we face today are far bigger than ever in history. You know, it's like, it is a very, very dangerous but exciting time. And we're going to have to solve these problems in a very different way.

We're not going to be able to just have a guy in a room and say, oh, this is it. It's gonna people who are harnessed together with a clear vision, by the way, going back to that. But, you know, you know, when you have 25 people working on a thing, you can imagine the communication bandwidth is very, very, very high.

Which is one of the reasons maybe that number is the right number for doing very, very hard problems is, you know, it's like there's only so much, you know, you add too many people and bandwidth gets diluted. So you can't solve those problems anymore. So yeah, I, it's, it's hard to say, but I, you know, I, I'm pretty I'm pretty bullish on, on what people call the metaverse.

Alan hates that term, by the way. He thinks it's been co corrupted and co-opted. So it doesn't mean what Neil Stevenson kind of originally imagined anymore. But you know, what's a mean, what's a good term? A d versus is one I like, but going back to the Zinner book. Yeah. But, but we need, we, you know, whatever it is, it's coming and it isn't gonna take off until it's kind of got that until it solves that fundamental problem of understanding that it's a communication device.

I like

that. Lately. I work, I work in a, in a digital innovation department of a, a big Danish energy company. And, and it's like, you know, we have these goals or visions. And I I remember there's a quote that I really like, I can't remember his name because I'm stupid with names, but the founder of Rackspace, he had this quote, you know, all we ever want is to be valued members of a winning team on an inspiring mission.

Yeah. You know, and if you take these three bits and everything, You know, if you're building something for a customer or if you're building something internally, you know, you can, you can check it up into this like kind of equation. And I think like, okay, you can check into what you're building with Metaverse.

It's a collaboration device. And if we can break that down even further into maybe three parts from that, okay, what is collaboration? Then we can always see, okay, are we going in the right direction with this? You know, is it, is it like you say, you know, one of the parameters could be. , it has to be able to call every other device.

Otherwise, you know, we are not moving in the other direction. And I like these kind of like super huge visioned points as as like north stars of, of what we are, like where we are heading and what we are thinking when we are building. Because then you can take these 25 people, you know, with different skills and.

Put them together and then okay, we don't know what's lies between here and there, but, but these are the things that, that we can help them. We know we are at least going in the right direction.

That's right. Yeah. And, and that's why you need a vision. You need a, and, and also I think you need that understanding.

You know, it is just, it's so crucial. Yeah. Just like saying, oh, we're gonna get together in a 3D world. And it's like that. That's nothing, that's not a vision, but you know, this ability to explore. That's what I, I think you have to remember that humans are valuable, they're smart, they're interesting, and you want to do everything you can to amplify those values of humans.

you know, it is like, let's, let's make, you know let's, let's make humans something that are, are transcendent. It's like every time we create new tools and technologies and capabilities, humans improve, I mean, I, you know, I think we are very much an improved species because of the take the way we think, the way we talk and the technologies we've developed.

And I think, you know you know, we think in terms of language you know, when you think about, we, you, you're thinking right now, you just got, you're putting words together. You see, you describe these things almost to yourself. Well, you know, mathematics is a language, extraordinarily powerful way of solving very complex problems as a central to physics and mechanics and engineering.

Everything is like, mathematics is a language. It allows us to, you know, be transcendent. Music is another language. You know, any, ask any mu musician you're, you know, especially you're playing jazz or something. You're listening as much as you're playing and you're adding to this conversation.

Well, the metaverse, I think has to be, think thought of as a language in a way. that's going to enable us to think things we couldn't think before to engage with things we couldn't engage with before. And, and in particular collaboratively. So it's sort of a, Alan said the computer is an instrument whose music is ideas.

And I, I, I've said that if that's the case, then the augmented conversation is, We're going to be able to make a new kind of music together in this new world. Yeah.

Yeah, that's, that is definitely interesting. And I like these kind of, you know, bigger visions and speaking about visions, let me know, you know, tell me a little bit about croquet, the company, what you're doing, what's the point?

What's, what's

your vision? So we started the company to build this system. It's a kind of operating system that actually is web-based. So when you join a, a croquet world, and it's really easy to use, by the way, much easier than trying to do, it's, it's a multi-player system, multi-user system. It allows you to create even complex 3D environments and share those.

Collaboratively every, it's collaboration. I mean, it's an, it's an operating systems collaborative all the way down so you can use it. People are using it for games. We're using it for we talked earlier about industry digital twins. And that's one of the projects we're working with, with a very large company right now.

Actually a number of companies Our, our goal is to provide a platform that enables all the stuff I've been talking about from the beginning. How do. Create applications that are transcendent that allow us to have a huge vocabulary of interactions, but also operate at 60 to 120 hertz. Cuz that's what's gonna be happening when we're wearing glasses.

So latency matters. So, so as I mentioned earlier this, the original croquet and this, this one as well, is a kind of a virtual machine where it's run bit identical on your system and a mine. And then when I interact. With the local version, instead of going directly into this virtual machine, it's, it's indirect via what we call a reflector that doesn't have any state.

It's, it's, so we, we send a message to that, it puts a timestamp on redistributes to back to everybody, including me, and then we execute all the sort of pending simulations in that up to including the new event that just occurred. That means now, You're able to do real time interactions with other people instantly.

No. No complexity, no rollbacks, no what they call net code. The developer doesn't have to worry about. That they just worry about what does the user do here? What can the user do here? And I talk about simulation a lot, but I think about like your win, your, your windowing system on your computer. You're simulating pieces of paper that you're dragging around moving that that's almost every part of a modern.

Interface on computers is a simulation platform. So that, that's what I mean. And, and and, and croquet does it, you know, as this, it was some ways we think about it as a missing protocol of the internet because something, it should be there. And you know, and like I said, the team that built it, Kind of created a lot of the stuff that we take for granted today.

Like, you know, Alan and, and David Reed and even I, you know, kind of laid the foundations of what we think of as modern computing modern computer games. So, It's a real thing and it's a unnecessary thing and you know, we're making it available. It's, you know, we, we've been working on it for quite a while, but it's real now, and we, I think of it as a necessary thing for making the metaverse work the way it could.

So who who, you know, if anybody's listening here, you know, who should turn their heads around and, and look at and, and check out what you've built, you know who would it be? Interesting. Yeah.

Or right now there's, I think, three kinds of people. One is we built a version of the system we call Showcase, which when you go to our website, crok.io, you'll be able to try out right there.

And it's a multi-user world where you can, you know, drop videos at play, synchronize pdf. Files, bunch of other things inside there, you can just, there's no programming at all required for that has Adobe Spatial sound, which is really wonderful. And so that, that's sort of like the non-programmers who have a website can immediately share, share these roles.

The second is we're working actually on a new. Engine, it supports game engines. So so you'll be able to, right now, you'd probably notice that not a lot of multiplayer games on the app store there's reasons for that. One is it's really hard and small teams can't do that. The other reason is you have to stand up the backend infrastructure.

You have. Pay for all that. It's expensive. Typ, typical rule of thumb is multi-player games are about three times the level of effort and cost over single user. , but if you use croquet, it's gonna be the same as a single user all across the board. So you, you, you're changing that dynamic. We we're gonna have something coming out in the next few months that is going to change that game.

We're pretty excited about it. Where you'll actually be able to create multi-user applications so easily. It's, it's gonna. Really wonderful. And the third is actually any developers who have the need to have this communication, collaboration, particularly industry. Digital Twins is one of the places that we are really good at where you're able to project live data into a 3D world and share that where it can run in your pocket, cuz it's a, it's a browser based system.

Although, you know, like I said, we're building systems for native game game apps. But with the browser system, you don't need to download anything. You just go to a website and you're instantly in and you're able to explore that space. So croquet does that. So that, that, that's sort of, so our, our business, our foundational business is selling time on this network that we've built, you know, so, so, which is a very standard business model.

But we built a number of frameworks that are open source on top of that, that you can just go grab and build on top and extend.

Sounds great. Awesome. So, so yeah, I'm definitely going to have a look at, you know, we talk a lot about digital trends and stuff like that. Around here is, is there any chance are, are you going to South by Southwest or something like that?

I know one of our people will be there. I'm not sure off I'll be there, but if there's a good reason, I'll certainly try . Okay.

Because I'm going and you know, maybe I can get in touch with one of your people and get a demo or

something like that. Oh yeah, we can actually. Since it's web-based, we can actually demo I could demo at any time for you.

This is all virtual, so let, let's set up a time and I'll, I'll, I'll give you a demo. And I'm David at Croque Do io. If if anybody wants a demo, I'm happy to. Set one up. It's actually pretty cool. One of the things you can do is live programming inside the system. You can literally modify the code of an of entity inside that world while it's running and it's collaborative.

which is kind of creepy in a sense, you know, it's like you're literally coding the world together. I, I just think that's that's where it gets really what do you need?

Because I, you know, I you know, my coding skills stop at the, you know, H T M L and I know that all my quarter friends, they'll hit me because I called HTML code.

But still what, what do you need to be, you know, what, what, what kind of skills do you need to be able to

JavaScript? This is JavaScript.

Okay. It is JavaScript. Okay. Cool. Alright, well thank you very, very much. David, that was a, an extremely interesting conversation. I think I, you know, I took a bunch of notes of, of stuff and you know, so really happy that that you to have your.

Well, it's been a pleasure. It's always nice to talk about this and, and you know, I, I, it's really just. The most exciting time in, in, in history. I, I think we're, we're on an exponential curve in lots of them actually. And you don't see these, you know, you, you're on it, but you don't necessarily see it until it really takes off.

And we're begin to see that with ai, for example. I mean, that, that's pretty clear. That's an exponential curve, but I think the metaverse also, it's just not at the same inflection. But I think in the next few years you're gonna be riding a, a very crazy wave here. It's gonna be fun and scary and powerful, and it's gonna redefine us.


I, I was there when they, you know, opened off the worldwide web, you know and then that's what started my whole transition into digital. And I've been following that track ever since. And right now it feels, I know everybody's saying that, but it feels a, you know, we have some of the same like feelings, like breakthroughs that we saw in the nineties.

Yeah. Absolut. Well, this is still helpful

and for anybody who's listening you know, there's gonna be links in the show notes to everything that David wants to share. And you know LinkedIn profiles, everything, you know, you know, just find it in the show notes wherever you're listening to this podcast.

Great. Thank you. Thank you very much, David. Have a great day. Thank you. Yep. Bye. Thank you.

Creators and Guests

Jesper Bram
Jesper Bram
Host of Metaversecast.fm | Innovation Facilitator at Andel | Founder of Online Change Makers | Digital Futurist | Internet OG
🇬🇧 We're on an exponential technology curve - With David Smith
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