The digital future has arrived in the metaverse. Mark Zuckerberg is guiding us in the right direction.
Written by Ossy on October 28, 2021
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg detailed his vision for the social media giant’s future on Thursday, formalizing the company’s focus on the metaverse.
Zuckerberg announced the company’s renaming as Meta and described his company’s plans to construct a new version of the internet during a presentation at the company’s annual Connect conference.
“We believe the metaverse will be the mobile internet’s successor; we’ll be able to feel present – like we’re right there with people no matter how far apart we actually are,” he added.
Here’s what you should know:
What exactly is the metaverse?
The metaverse is the intersection of the physical and digital worlds. It is a virtual world in which digital representations of humans – avatars – engage at work and play, meeting at their workplace, attending concerts, and even putting on clothes.
Virtual reality, a digital environment that you may currently join with Facebook’s Oculus VR headsets, will be at the center of this cosmos. It will also contain augmented reality, a step back from VR in which digital components are put on top of reality – think Pokémon Go or Facebook’s recent smart glasses partnership with Ray-Ban.
Facebook is already working on a professional version of the metaverse: Horizon Workrooms, an app that allows Oculus-wearing employees to visit virtual workplaces and attend meetings.
Indeed, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, has his Monday team meetings in the office metaverse, complete with virtual table and whiteboard. Clegg stated last month that the metaverse will be a set of interconnected universes in which a user could go effortlessly from Facebook’s reality to Apple’s, Google’s, or a computer game publisher’s. This month, Facebook announced the creation of 10,000 new jobs in the European Union as part of its expansion ambitions, which include the creation of a metaverse.
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The phrase metaverse — a combination of the prefix meta (meaning “beyond”) and the universe – was invented by American science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash. According to the Amazon description, it was composed “between the years 1988 through 1991 as the author listened to a large deal of loud, persistent, sad music.”
Hiro, the novel’s protagonist, is a hacker and a mafia pizza delivery guy, and the novel’s initial description of this virtual world states: “So Hiro’s not here at all.” He’s in a computer-generated world, which his computer is drawing into his goggle and pouring into his earbuds. This fictitious location is referred to as the Metaverse in the jargon. Hiro spends a significant amount of time in the Metaverse.” And if Facebook has its way, you will as well.
In a blog post, Michael Abrash, chief scientist of Facebook’s Oculus division and a major role in the company’s VR ambitions, stated, “It all started with Snow Crash.”
What are the legal issues surrounding the metaverse?
Privacy and security are the most pressing issues, particularly in light of the Frances Haugen disclosures and the pervasive targeting of social media by state-backed hackers.
For example, an advertiser targeting you in a virtual environment may be reacting to more than simply your age and gender: what about your body language, physiological reactions, and knowing who and how you interact?
Facebook has previously launched a $50 million (£36 million) funding initiative to “ensure the metaverse is constructed ethically,” with funds going to organizations and academic institutions such as Seoul National University and Women in Immersive Tech.
How much money does Facebook spend on the metaverse?
Already, billions of dollars are spent each year. The firm said this week that investments in its Facebook Reality Labs section, where it focuses on VR and AR, will lower operational profit by $10 billion (£7.25 billion) in 2021.
It’s a large number, but Facebook makes a lot of money from its primary business of collecting user data and charging advertisers to reach those individuals with tailored adverts (focusing on things such as gender, location, income, relationship). Facebook made a net income – a US measure of profit – of $29 billion last year from its 2.8 billion daily users across Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and, of course, its eponymous platform. It can afford $10 billion.
Will Facebook be successful?
It’s difficult to picture Facebook being able to introduce any product quickly right now. The Haugen disclosures and testimonials have raised its profile among lawmakers, regulators, and campaign organizations on both sides of the Atlantic.
Through its own studies, Facebook has been presented clearly as a firm that strives — intentionally or unwillingly – to limit the detrimental impact of its products on its own users. Indeed, because of the uproar sparked by the Haugen disclosures, Facebook halted the development of one product — Instagram Kids – last month.
Clegg has stated that the metaverse will take ten years to construct. Will it have allayed the public’s, watchdogs’, and governments’ worries about the corporation and its leadership by then?