In a widely circulated video posted in October 2021, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company’s brand change as Meta.
During an hour-long video demonstration, Zuckerberg moves back and forth between the real physical world and what he calls metavers, a reference to the three-dimensional manifestation of the Internet in the science fiction novel 1992, “Snow Crash”. Basically, the move means investing the company in virtual and augmented reality, which Zuckerberg saw as the future of the Internet.
Shortly after Zuckerberg’s press release, the metavers became the city’s conversation. Memes have proliferated on Twitter, investments in Big Tech have increased and “metavers” has been selected by the Collins English Dictionary as the word of the year 2021.
As the hype surrounding the metavers has sparked a conversation about the future of virtual reality, some speculate this discomfort can distract from major corporate ownership issues.
Jenna Caravello, a professor of design media arts, said the fuzzy definition of metavers has created a mythology around the word and aroused public interest, even though most people’s lives it is already deeply rooted in technology. .
“The weirdest thing we never really consider is that we’re already in the process of a growing virtual life, and it’s not like the metavers are falling from the sky, and then we’re all connected,” Caravello said.
Caravello, who experiments with virtual reality in his work, said that the use of the word “metavers” creates a brand association with Meta, giving Zuckerberg the power to shape and control the immersive virtual ecosystem that already exists.
“The final ingredient of the potion is the metavers that becomes … a kind of final link of all our virtual resources in a single pipeline,” Caravello said. “It just means we can’t expect a billionaire to have all this. We’re sitting here waiting for the next person to make their mark on it and merge it all with Amazon’s equivalent of the VR (virtual reality) world.
While there is a lot of excitement surrounding the concept of metavers, many are skeptical about its ability to generalize, including sophomore electrical engineering student Elona Khoshaba.
“I mean, how many people have access to virtual reality? It’s already something that few people have just for fun, or people who want to have it can get dizzy. And then it’s expensive. Only a few privileged rich … members of the upper middle class will really participate in the metavers, “Khoshaba said.
The company that creates this virtual pipeline will need to increase the accessibility and efficiency of the equipment needed to participate in a three-dimensional virtual world, Caravello said. The goal is to make the hardware cheaper and smarter while merging server vendors to create a global virtual world.
“Right now, one of those limitations to make virtual reality work is that we have different headphones, we have different vendors, we have different types of computers, we have all these different tools that are not under one umbrella, ”Caravello said.
David Bosnak, an engineer working with artificial intelligence, said it is unclear to what extent Meta will be involved in the formation of the metavers.
“I think Meta will be an integral part of moving forward (from Metavers). But I think the real acceptance will come from someone who is much more agile, younger, and who designs in a way that doesn’t necessarily have to be monetized.” , said Bosnak.
In addition to accessibility, Bosnak added this the metavers will have to organically acquire social capital to be more widely accepted.
“It will take a truly organic eruption of a specific community to create something that people want to be a part of,” Bosnak said. “If a company tries to force you to say ‘No, this will be the next one,’ everyone will rebel against it.”
Communications Professor Rick Dale said in an emailed statement that one of the driving forces behind the mainstream metavers is the monetization of virtual entities.
“It’s not just about the graphics, the images and the gaming experience. These are the economic trends that will link the “things” of this digital world to the people and things of the “real world,” Dale said. “I think this will be the biggest change: it will be to see things in the metavers as” worth “something, something that can be traded or sold in a new realm of artifacts that will have an exchange rate with what we still have “call to the real world”.
Regardless of the corporate investment, the Bruins and the pros believe it virtual reality is still a force to be reckoned with. In a world increasingly saturated with technology, it is easy to imagine a future where the virtual world and the real world are more intertwined.
“VRChat’s fourteen-year-olds will grow up with technology in a way they won’t want to let go,” Caravello said. “They’re 50 years old and they’ll always have a VRChat friend, or a virtual reality platform friend they may have never met. Maybe they’ll have a virtual reality woman, you know, it’s not that exaggerated.