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May 1, 2024 · Reading Time: 5 minutes Page last updated May 15, 2024

Autonomous Worlds

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The Future of Blockchain-Powered Virtual Realities

The rapid advancement of blockchains has introduced a new paradigm in virtual environments: autonomous worlds. These self-contained, decentralized ecosystems are redefining the way we interact, create, and transact in digital spaces. By leveraging the unique properties of blockchains, autonomous worlds are unlocking new possibilities for immersion, ownership, and community-driven experiences.

The tech behind Autonomous Worlds

At the heart of autonomous worlds lies the concept of diegesis—the notion that every element within the world adheres to a consistent set of rules and exists within a self-contained narrative. In traditional virtual environments, the boundaries of diegesis are often blurred, with external factors such as centralized servers and corporate interests influencing the user experience.

Blockchain technology, however, provides a new framework for creating truly autonomous worlds with hard diegetic boundaries. By utilizing smart contracts and decentralized ledgers, these environments establish a clear set of rules and mechanics that govern all interactions within the world. The state of the world is recorded on the blockchain, providing a transparent and immutable record of every action and transaction.

In autonomous worlds, users have true ownership over their digital assets, backed by the security and immutability of the blockchain. This enables the emergence of vibrant in-world economies, where virtual items and currencies have real-world value and can be freely traded and exchanged.

Diegetic boundaries and consensus

Central to autonomous worlds, diegetic boundaries refer to the clear distinction between what is and isn’t part of the world. In these environments, the introduction of new elements is governed by a set of predefined rules, encoded into the blockchain itself. This ensures every change is added by consensus of the nodes running the decentralized network.

The consensus mechanism is a critical component of autonomous worlds, as it ensures the integrity and security of the environment. By requiring a distributed network of nodes to validate and approve every transaction and state change, autonomous worlds are resistant to tampering, fraud, and centralized control. This creates a trustless system where users can interact with confidence, knowing the rules are enforced across the board

The concept of diegetic boundaries also has implications for intellectual property rights and creative ownership within autonomous worlds. By providing a clear framework for introducing and managing content, these worlds enable creators to assert control over their work and be fairly compensated for their contributions. This opens the door to new models of collaborative creation and revenue sharing, empowering artists and developers to build thriving careers within these virtual ecosystems.

Use cases

The potential applications of autonomous worlds span a wide range of domains, but perhaps their most promising aspect is enabling fully onchain gaming. Fully onchain, crypto-native games are emerging as a new frontier of interactive entertainment. These games fully embrace the decentralized architecture and principles of blockchain technology, creating immersive, player-driven experiences that blur the lines between virtual and real economies.

Crypto-native games leverage the unique properties of autonomous worlds to enable new forms of gameplay and player agency. By implementing game logic and rules through smart contracts, these games create persistent, evolving narratives that respond to player actions and decisions. The transparency and security of the blockchain ensure that player achievements and assets are truly owned and can be freely traded or sold.

Beyond gaming, autonomous worlds have the potential to revolutionize social interaction and community building. These decentralized environments provide a platform for users to connect, collaborate, and create in ways that transcend geographic and cultural boundaries. The open, permissionless nature of autonomous worlds enables anyone to participate and contribute, fostering a sense of shared ownership and governance.

The educational and professional sectors stand to benefit from these technologies by offering simulated environments for learning and collaboration that are both engaging and effective. Through blockchain and AI, autonomous worlds can host economies, governance structures, and social systems, showcasing the potential for more immersive, interactive, and meaningful online experiences.

Challenges and opportunities

While the potential of autonomous worlds is immense, there are also significant challenges that must be addressed in order to realize their full potential. One of the primary technical hurdles is scalability—ensuring that these environments can support large numbers of concurrent users without sacrificing performance or security. Developers must also grapple with issues of interoperability, working to create standards and protocols that enable different autonomous worlds to communicate and exchange value seamlessly.

From a regulatory standpoint, autonomous worlds present a number of complex challenges. As these environments blur the lines between the virtual and the real, questions arise around jurisdiction, taxation, and legal responsibility. Policymakers and legal experts will need to work closely with technologists and community leaders to develop frameworks that balance innovation with consumer protection and social responsibility.

Despite these challenges, the opportunities presented by autonomous worlds are too significant to ignore. These environments have the potential to democratize access to virtual experiences, enabling anyone with an internet connection to participate and contribute. They also provide a platform for new forms of economic activity and value creation, empowering individuals and communities to build and monetize their own virtual assets and experiences.

As autonomous worlds continue to evolve and mature, we can expect to see a proliferation of new business models and revenue streams. From virtual real estate and asset management to decentralized marketplaces and creative economies, the possibilities are endless. The key to unlocking this potential will be fostering a culture of collaboration, experimentation, and community-driven innovation.

Autonomous Worlds and Starknet

Cartridge, the team behind Dojo, provides the necessary infrastructure on Starknet to build, ship, and explore autonomous worlds. Dojo, a provable game engine, allows developers to create autonomous worlds using the Cairo programming language.

Topology, another prominent project, was founded with the vision of creating sovereign, persistent, and interoperable realities by advancing the composability and interoperability properties of onchain programs. This aligns perfectly with the concept of autonomous worlds, where different virtual environments can seamlessly interact and exchange assets.

One notable example of an autonomous world built on Starknet is Loot Realms, a fantasy multiverse filled with fully onchain games. Players can explore, battle, and trade within this immersive environment, all while maintaining true ownership of their digital assets. Another example is Influence, a massive multiplayer space strategy game, which makes use of Starknet’s scalability and ability to host large-scale, complex virtual worlds.

DopeWars, a fully decentralized, community-driven gaming metaverse inspired by hip-hop culture, is also built on Starknet. This project demonstrates how autonomous worlds can be tailored to specific communities and interests.

Future outlook

Looking ahead, the future of autonomous worlds is brimming with potential. As blockchain applications become increasingly sophisticated, we can expect these worlds to become increasingly immersive, and interconnected. The convergence of virtual reality, AI, and blockchain will likely give rise to new forms of spatial computing, blurring the lines between physical and digital reality.

One exciting prospect is the emergence of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) within autonomous worlds. These self-governing entities, powered by smart contracts and community consensus, have the potential to redefine traditional models of governance and decision-making. Within the context of autonomous worlds, DAOs could take on a variety of roles, from managing virtual economies to facilitating collaborative creation and dispute resolution.

Another area of potential growth lies in the intersection of autonomous worlds and the creator economy. As these environments become more accessible and user-friendly, we can expect to see a surge in user-generated content and experiences. Creators will have the tools and platforms to build their own virtual spaces, economies, and communities.

As autonomous worlds continue to evolve, it will be essential for developers, users, and policymakers to engage in ongoing dialogue and collaboration. By working together to address the challenges and seize the opportunities presented by this transformative technology, we can ensure that the growth of autonomous worlds is guided by principles of inclusion, transparency, and social responsibility.