Makers of The Metaverse: Brian Shuster of Utherverse io On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality Industries

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

You need a passion for MR. You can be successful as an animator or a character artist or a clothing designer. You need to learn the tools, be good at it, and be passionate about the underlying technology. There are also so many different paths for a career in CGVR like a networker or a front end programmer. It’s all very complicated and so new that it’s hard to discern what truly makes a successful person in MR aside from what always makes one successful — you must have love in the dream.

The Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Mixed Reality Industries are so exciting. What is coming around the corner? How will these improve our lives? What are the concerns we should keep an eye out for? Aside from entertainment, how can VR or AR help work or other parts of life? To address this, we had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Shuster.

Brian Shuster is a pioneer of the internet and the Founder & CEO of He has developed more than 100 patents and pending patents to core internet technologies and the metaverse.

Shuster is a legacy developer and has committed to creating an online virtual community in the metaverse called Utherverse. As a visionary and lead innovator for the internet since the 90’s, key IP and 17 years in the metaverse, he’s learned from the trials of the early internet and mastered the technology needed to build a thriving metaverse. Shuster’s aspirations for the Utherverse are to help undo the damage done by social media, demonstrate the successful application of methods and metaverse technology, as well as provide an open, safe, welcoming platform to nurture community and the economy of the future. He is truly a disruptor and a Web3 radical.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I was inspired by the book Ender’s Game. One main feature in Ender’s Game, and really the trilogy, was this ansible concept: a new type of life form that arose within the technology from faster than light and communications. It inspired me to write the Minerva Virus, which is a much more high tech fiction thriller for the main purpose of warning humanity that it is about to go extinct. In the Minerva Virus, I similarly have a technology that becomes sentient, but it’s not a fictional technology; it is a real technology, which is the internet. The internet basically comes to life as a giant, sentient brain and threatens humanity. That is the inspiration, and inevitably one of these paths humanity takes with technology will destroy us, and I need to delay that. The idea is we need to change our use of technology from being something that separates us, isolates us, and dehumanizes us; and we need to switch it so it does the opposite. It should create love and connection so that people don’t want to destroy each other. We want to lessen the number of people who want to watch the world burn. In that sense, it was an inspiration for what I am doing here. Time is of the essence. I fear that humanity will go extinct from our technologies long before climate change can do it to us. This change has to happen now.

Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in the X Reality industry? We’d love to hear it.

What inspired me here was Star Trek and Holodeck. I realized there were real problems in implementing that technology, but if that technology could exist, everyone would spend all their time with it. It could be the most efficient way to accomplish so many things. The challenge is to get from web 2.0 to the Holodeck end point. This was my inspiration in the early 2000’s. My late partner, Ray Schwartz, and I started mapping out how to get there, how we could put those steps into practice, and that was the birth of the Utherverse.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this fascinating career?

When my first company was shut down, it was because Visa didn’t understand the internet. My company went from nothing to 10 million dollars of sales each month in just a year and a half, and Visa didn’t understand how I could get this without physical signatures on the credit card receipts. They stopped us cold in our tracks. Visa froze our bank accounts, seized our money, and ultimately set us and the internet back multiple years. We weren’t shut down completely, but this was pretty stunning. Our company was the backbone of the internet at the time, and just as we were starting to real money flows that were feeding a vast portion of the commercial internet, the lifeblood got choked out thanks to credit card companies. It wasn’t just Visa either, it was also Discover and American Express. We see parallels now with what’s happening from MasterCard. They are trying to choke out new, innovative businesses and threatening the income of so many online entertainers. It’s why I pray for the success of cryptocurrency. We don’t have to deal with the ignorance, prejudices, and biases of these pseudo-government run industries. It’s an excellent alternative.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I made was letting Kanye West become the creative director of when I produced the first annual Pornhub Awards show. We had created what was going to be a spectacular, groundbreaking event for virtual reality with a fully immersive experience within the Utherverse.

And here comes Kanye West at the eleventh hour, and everyone at PornHub was so enthusiastic, that I agreed to allow him to be the creative director. That decision completely derailed the entire show and 11 months of effort. His team’s operations were utterly chaotic and they had no clue how to put on an awards show — let alone a show that was supposed to revolve around VR, and what should have been a great introduction to virtual reality to the masses, became the Kanye West show. So, I washed my hands of all the players. I learned to trust in myself and my team, and not get starry eyed with distractions.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m grateful to my dad. He had a healthy dose of both encouragement and skepticism. When I was first starting out, I had a business at UCLA, and I needed working capital. He trusted me enough to cosign a line of credit, even though he felt I should pursue a career path instead of being an entrepreneur. Still, he was able to give me advice and support me in that effort. At the time I was bringing up a business to compete with the campus bookstore. It ended up losing money, but it was really motivating to me because I needed to prove to my dad that I would be responsible for that loan. That drove me even harder to be successful in other ventures, and it was super satisfying to be able to make good on repaying the line of credit. I was able to make sure his faith in me was appropriate. He was my inspiration; he truly was a great man.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Utherverse is about to launch our Aeon browser. It’s a next generation metaverse platform. We’re getting ready to mint UTHER Coin. We’re doing an NFT drop in less than two months, which will be the first ever fNFTs. These are “functional NFTs,” so they actually do things in the Utherverse platform. I’m also about to release the Helium Haze, which is a groundbreaking way to consume cannabis. I’m also in the middle of creating the animated series called “Physics Unraveled,” in which I explain most of the issues in physics and conclude with a groundbreaking new breakthrough.

The VR, AR and MR industries seem so exciting right now. What are the 3 things in particular that most excite you about the industry? Can you explain or give an example?

These industries are totally transformative. It’s hard to imagine what life will be like once these technologies reach a point of maturity. Any time there’s a new technology that’s going to completely change anyone’s life — such as the personal computer, the internet, mobile phones and now Mixed Reality, it’s an exciting prospect. What I’m particularly excited about is the notion of a simulation of reality that everyone can interact with and which can provide almost any experience that one can imagine. You can do anything in MR and when considered in a networked framework, you can accomplish fantasy stuff as well as real world stuff with other real people.

For example you can attend college at the highest level for you personally, the class size isn’t limited to the physical building, and you’re not limited to being proximate to the campus. Even people in the most desolate places can get a world-class education for pennies.

You won’t have to physically go anywhere to accomplish both the mundane and fantastic once these technologies mature. This helps the environment, lowers exposure risks and generally makes life much easier.

I’d like to add that there is another technology called “haptics” and the more advanced “adaptics” that give you the ability to feel and be felt. With haptics and adaptics you can pick up a baseball, a doctor can do an exam, you can cuddle and watch a movie with someone halfway across the world. It is liberating and empowering for people to live their best lives, and that really excites me.

What are the 3 things that concern you about the VR, AR and MR industries? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?

The vision I just laid out is the best possible scenario. Left to its own devices, and given the way that these industries are developing, the outcome is shaping up to be the dystopian opposite. Right now we’re spending much of our lives on digital media, and when these flat-web offerings get upgraded into the next-generation metaverse system, the ability to manipulate, by those in control, will rise drastically.

Just as top tier educational experiences can be achieved in an MR future, it’s equally possible that first world companies and governments will, out of fear or greed, want to contain those prospects and keep them for themselves (or their populations). It would be a crime for all of humanity to create discriminatory restrictions and track and sell data from MR technologies, but this is certainly the path we are on. Humanity needs a metaverse bill of rights and digital governance to ensure the metaverse is governed justly and people are protected.

There are two paths ahead of us and one is very dystopian– where people are isolated, spend a lot of time on headsets, and are force fed propaganda. It is possible this could be the downfall of humanity. On the other hand there is a narrow but utopian vision that I am working towards, where people interact with each other, foster human connections and participate in an uplifting community where we are all accountable to each other.

I think the entertainment aspects of VR, AR and MR are apparent. Can you share with our readers how these industries can help us at work?

These technologies will help us at work in that they will create new jobs that don’t exist yet. Once these technologies mature this will create opportunities for virtual fashion designers, event coordinators, interior architects and the list goes on–all of these are new industries in the metaverse. You can also engage in low impact networking because it’s all in MR. You save money, put less burden on the environment and preserve company resources.

Are there other ways that VR, AR and MR can improve our lives? Can you explain?

It’s going to improve everyone’s life if it is done right–in profound ways that individuals have to figure out for themselves. These technologies are going to democratize opportunities and experiences. It will be liberating for everyone.

Here’s an example. A paraplegic man emailed me a long time back, telling me that he thought his life was over — but when he joined the Utherverse platform, he found that he was able to participate in the community as a fully-able bodied avatar. He told me that he became social again and he met someone, went dancing, fell in love and got married. That single message has stuck with me all these years because it reinforced the value that I didn’t even truly appreciate until that moment. So it really depends on who is using it but MR can impact people on every level. It’s what you make it and what you need it to be.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about working in your industry? Can you explain what you mean?

People that are not heavily involved in the industry will look at a stunning image of an avatar and think it’s amazing and assume it can just be dropped into the metaverse. That’s a myth. Something that looks great is absolutely meaningless because there is a difference between how things look and the actual underlying technology. If you buy land in Decentraland you didn’t buy land in the metaverse, you bought it in Decentraland. As the metaverse grows up and turns into a real thing, in order for something that looks good to have value, it needs to be operational and interoperable — meaning people can access it and experience it from other metaverse locations.

What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The VR, AR or MR Industries?”

You need a passion for MR. You can be successful as an animator or a character artist or a clothing designer. You need to learn the tools, be good at it, and be passionate about the underlying technology. There are also so many different paths for a career in CGVR like a networker or a front end programmer. It’s all very complicated and so new that it’s hard to discern what truly makes a successful person in MR aside from what always makes one successful — you must have love in the dream.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why?

The one person I would like to meet with is Niel Degrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist brilliant person. Theoretical physics is a hobby of mine, and I’ve succeeded in solving some wildly challenging math that has eluded even the most brilliant physicists. I would love to talk to him about where Einstein went wrong and show him how I was able to fix the broken math of Relativity. Plus I could really use his help in solving two remaining equations that would pull it all together. As close as I am to solving those, I just don’t have the time to devote to those last two little outstanding puzzles.

Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success on your great work!

Makers of The Metaverse: Brian Shuster of Utherverse On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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