Neos Wiki:Environmental Impact and Sustainability

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A Quick Summary

  • By building real time VR collaboration platform we have built a virtual team across the world working from home, significantly reducing environmental impact from daily commute and traditional offices not just for our own team, but others as well
  • At scale, metaverse technology might be an important part of the solution for a sustainable future of mankind
  • Neos uses crypto to give back to early supporters and fund development without having to give control to big companies which could change vision and goals of the project
  • Neos Credits (NCR) are not mined, but instead are minted with monetary value. This is done in batches through Patreon or by sending Ethereum to a minting address
  • We do not support NFTs at the moment and are only considering them for integration only on environmentally friendly blockchains and other decentralized platforms.
  • Neos implements its own off-chain in-game transaction system, which has much better efficiency than Proof of Work blockchain to minimize the environmental impact
  • Total environmental impact of ICO in the last >2 years is about 4 tons CO2. A single flight from Europe to the US for an event or for a traditional investment meeting produces 5-6 CO2 tons alone for two passengers (or one passenger if you account for the return trip).

Neos and crypto

You’re probably asking, why did we decide to use crypto technology with Neos Metaverse. To explain our reasoning, we need to share a bit of background. Both me and Karel (co-founders of Neos) have become backers of the Oculus Rift Kickstarter back in 2012.

We saw its potential as a world transforming technology, whether it comes to sharing stories and experiences or improving education, training and many other areas of daily life. We have been working hard since the early days to contribute towards those goals, promoting VR and building apps and demos to showcase people what the tech is capable of, whether it was through narrative experience like SightLine: The Chair or educational project World Of Comenius.

Oculus Rift seemed to be a company full of people who were passionate about the VR developer community and we felt that we shared many of the same goals and visions about the future of VR.

However after Facebook has acquired Oculus, we saw all of that slowly change. The VR technology would be more of a walled garden over time and the developer communications would start being stonewalled. Us and many other developers would end up with the short end of the stick, despite the amount of time and money we put into helping Oculus in their early days.

When it came to developing Neos, we knew that we’d need to get a huge amount of help from the community to get this project off the ground and we didn’t want that to happen. If we sold ownership of the company to secure traditional funding, there could come a time where our own goals for Neos wouldn’t align with its owners.

We feared Neos could be pushed by its shareholders to start monetizing user’s data and become less friendly for creators in order to maximize profit - after all it wouldn’t be the first project to meet such fate.

To get around this, we decided to create the Neos Credits token instead, which would allow us to fund the development without heavy commercialization, while at the same time giving early supporters and the community something to hold on to, which should rise in value as Neos grows and transitions into a natural economy to keep the project going.

The ICO has been designed to reward early creators too through the Community Developer Fund with CDFT (Community Developer Fund Tokens) awarded to exceptional creators and supporters and converted to NCR with every 25th batch.

The community is what makes Neos a living breathing space, rather than just a pile of code. We want to share our growth with everyone who helps it grow. With traditional funding, the goals of shareholders and creators and the community can diverge over time, but with crypto we can directly put that into the hands of the community.

To fund the project, we need to make sure that everyone in the community is doing well - creators have good tools and can build awesome creations to earn their living, while users enjoy their stay and buy more content - a functional economy, that keeps Neos continually going forward and improving for creative, professional and casual users.

Building the tech first

Unlike many other crypto projects, we have taken a different approach with Neos. Thanks to our initial seed investment and lean/frugal lifestyle, we spent the first few years building out the core of the technology, long before NCR and crypto even came into the equation.

We saw many crypto projects raising funding purely on promises and claims, without any existing tech to back the project, but that's not how we build Neos. Instead, we decided to build the tech first and make it free and open to anyone. That way you can check out what Neos can do and use it without committing to crypto at all - no functionality of the platform is hidden from you if you don’t use crypto.

Creativity and freedom of expression is at the core of what Neos is and we believe giving everyone great tools and real time collaboration should always be the top priority, because that’s what brings the best quality content and makes the platform alive.

It’s one of the reasons why we are a bit slower in implementation and integration of crypto technologies into Neos - we prioritize mainly the platform itself and integrate crypto where and when it makes most sense for the natural growth of the platform, rather than being forced in.

Having a solid technological foundation for a metaverse is crucial for its long term sustainability and crypto should be used to enhance and support that technology, rather than be the main focus itself.

As an added benefit we can also wait until some of the technology matures before we fully embrace it. We picked Ethereum because we know it’s on a path to environmentally friendly Proof of Stake and it’s the second biggest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin, which is rather technologically stagnant and likely to remain a big source of environmental waste.

If/when Ethereum 2.0 or some other solution with similar qualities becomes available, we will be able to embrace it more fully, but in the meanwhile we can keep building our own tools, grow the community content and the platform as a whole in parallel.

Why Neos doesn’t currently support NFTs

While NFTs are technology that we are watching and discussing, it is not something that we actively support at this moment. There are several reasons for this, one of them being what was outlined above - we implement technology at the point where it makes most sense for Neos.

One of the major additions on our roadmap is the marketplace, along with a native license / object ID system to track creationship and ownership of items and assets. Building a native system for those will ensure that we can do it in a very efficient and easy to use way that meshes well with the rest of Neos’ infrastructure.

Efficiency is currently one of the big concerns of NFTs as well, due to the use of proof of work systems and one that we share. However because technology develops and improves over time, our current plan is to integrate some form of NFTs as a way to export and import ownership from our native system to the blockchain, once it’s possible to do it in an eco-friendly way.

Another of the concerns is that NFT assets can be easily copied. However anything can be copied with enough effort. We consider NFTs more as a proof of ownership, a way to have a record of legitimate “sale” of virtual goods, the same way you buy a game on Steam for example - the game could technically be just copied for free too.

The environmental impact of NFTs is a big part of why we haven’t quite embraced them at this stage of development and why we’re working on our own environmentally efficient license/ownership system as the basis for Neos.

However we view the concept of ownership of digital goods and artists and creators having some control on how and under what conditions their hard work gets distributed if they choose to as positive.

We encourage people to put their creations freely to the public and use pay for free models and similar, as it makes their work more accessible, but it has to be their choice, not something forced upon them - they are spending a lot of their time on it after all.

Minimizing the environmental impact

It’s undeniable that proof of work blockchain systems have an environmental impact due to the electricity they consume to process transactions. To minimize this, we have implemented our own internal ledger for in-game transfers and transactions, that is significantly more efficient (not to mention that you don’t pay any transfer fees), akin to regular bank transactions.

Thanks to this hybrid approach, blockchain is currently mostly used for bigger bulk transactions and the environmental impact of our ICO has been pretty low. Using this estimation, the impact of our ICO so far has been around 4 tons of CO2 after over 2 years of its existence.

You could check how this roughly compares against a typical carbon footprint of daily activities on this website. In short it’s less than a single typical household would use per year, making our actual impact relatively miniscule.

Avoiding commute - virtual team

One thing that gets a bit forgotten when talking about environmental impact are the other sources of carbon footprint, notably transportation, which in general is one of the biggest polluters in the world.

Thanks to our ICO and independence, we were able to build a virtual team across the world and have been working from home for about the past 4-5 years, long before COVID19 started. We don’t commute to work offices, we don’t have an office at all, further reducing direct and indirect energy usage.

And importantly, we don’t do regular flights to/from the US, looking for investments and participating at various tech events in person. Plane travel is one of the biggest polluters out there. Rough impact of a flight to/from Prague to San Francisco for two people is over 5 tons CO2 based on this website:

That is more than our entire 2 years of ICO for a single trip and usually we had to take several over the course of the year! If we continued along with traditional forms of investment, not only would we eventually lose our independence, but our environmental impact would be bigger than it is now.

Building a greener future with VR

Building a greener future with VR Reducing daily commute is one of the reasons we have been building Neos the way it is and focusing heavily on real time collaboration and avatar expressivity. We spend many hours daily collaborating and building projects in Neos Metaverse and so do many other people in our community.

Notably the Metamovie project, which consists of several world builders and actors working from different parts of the world, or the Sydney Human Factor Research, building training applications and running conferences through VR.

This not only reduces the need for travel, but in case of educational and training experiences significantly reduces waste by doing much of the training with virtual props and only doing a few runs with real ones. If you’d like to learn more in depth, you can watch the following videos:

We believe that by making real time collaboration in VR possible and very powerful, while at the same time allowing for more self expression will help more people work from home in the future and reduce produced carbon emissions and waste. Similarly holding more events and expos, conferences and events through VR will reduce the number of people who need to travel to a remote location.

As such, we believe that using crypto to achieve those goals is the best way forward and one that produces the least amount of overall environmental impact, especially when all sources are considered. We believe that the technology we’re building will allow for a greener, more efficient future.

Much like building an electric car or solar power plant has environmental impact by itself, so does funding and building Neos Metaverse, but the resources and emissions saved thanks to this technology more than offset that cost.

By actively working and pushing forward technology that helps lower the impact of those activities we can displace the less environmentally friendly methods. This applies in general too - it’s important to consider how the daily activities of all of us affect the environment and what we can do to minimize that impact.

Analogous to supporting locally and ecologically produced food, rather than not eating at all, we have to look for better ways to go about our work, entertainment, socialization, attending events and other carbon producing activities. We believe metaverse technology might be an important part of the solution for a sustainable future of mankind.