EXPLAINER: What is the metaverse and how will it work?

"Metaverse" is the latest buzzword in tech. One of the most well-known platforms on the internet is rebranding to show its acceptance of this futuristic idea.

EXPLAINER: What is the metaverse and how will it work?

"Metaverse" is the latest buzzword in tech. One of the most well-known platforms on the internet is rebranding to show its acceptance of this futuristic idea.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday that he is changing the name of his company to Meta Platforms Inc. (or Meta for short) This might be the most significant metaverse event since Neal Stephenson, a science fiction writer, coined the term in 1992's "Snow Crash."

Zuckerberg and his team are not the only tech visionaries who have ideas about how the metaverse should look. It will use a combination of virtual reality and other technologies. Some have been contemplating it for some time and are concerned about the possibility of a new world linked to a social media giant, which could gain access to more personal data. It is also accused of failing to prevent the spread of harmful misinformation and other internet harms that can exacerbate real-world issues.

WHAT IS THE METAVERSE?

It is the internet made real, or at most 3D. Zuckerberg described it as a virtual environment that you can enter, rather than just viewing on a screen. It's basically a virtual world with endless interconnected communities that people can use to meet, play, and work using augmented reality glasses, virtual reality headsets, and other devices.

Victoria Petrock, an analyst who tracks emerging technologies, says that it will also include other aspects of online living such as shopping and social networking.

She said, "It's a new evolution in connectivity where all those things start coming together in a seamless doppelganger universe so you can live your virtual life the way you live your physical life."

WHAT CAN I DO IN THE METAVERSE?

You can go to a virtual concert or take a vacation online. You can also view or create art and shop for digital clothing.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the metaverse could also be a game changer for work-from-home. Employees could be able to join their coworkers in a virtual office, instead of being on a video call grid.

Facebook launched Horizon Workrooms, a meeting software that companies can use with Oculus VR headsets. However, early reviews have been mixed. The headsets are $300 and more, making it difficult for many to access the most innovative experiences in the metaverse.

Users would be able to move between different virtual worlds by using their avatars if they have the financial means.

Zuckerberg states that "a lot of the metaverse experience will be about being able to transport from one experience into another."

It is still up to tech companies to find a way to link their online platforms. Petrock stated that it will take the cooperation of the different technology platforms in order to make it work.

FACEBOOK IS INTERESTED IN THE METAVERSE.

Zuckerberg is investing big in what he considers the next generation internet, because he believes it will be a major part of the digital economy.

Critics question if the pivot could be an attempt to distract from company crises such as antitrust crackdowns and testimony by whistleblowing ex-employees, as well as concerns about the company's handling of misinformation.

Frances Haugen, a former employee of Facebook, has accused the platforms of inciting violence and harming children after she copied internal research documents and turned them over to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

These were also provided to a number of media outlets, including The Associated Press , who reported many stories about Facebook's decision to prioritize safety over safety, and how it hid its research from investors and members of the public.

IS THE METAVERSE A FACEBOOK PROJECT OR IS IT A COMMON ELEMENT?

No. Microsoft and Nvidia are two other companies that have been promoting the metaverse.

Richard Kerris (Vice President of Nvidia's Omniverse Platform), stated that "we think there's going be lots of businesses building virtual worlds or environments in the metaverse" in the same manner as there have been many companies doing things on World Wide Web. It's crucial to be open-source and extensible so that you can teleport from one world to another, regardless of whether it's owned by one company or another.

Videogame companies are also playing a major role. Epic Games, which is behind Fortnite, has raised $1B from investors to support its long-term plans to build the metaverse. Roblox, a game platform, is another major player. It outlines its vision for the metaverse as a place "where people can come together in millions of 3D experiences that allow them to learn, work and play, create, socialize, and share their ideas."

Brands are also trying to get in on this trend. Italian fashion house Gucci teamed up with Roblox in June to offer a range of digital-only accessories. Clinique and Coca-Cola have sold digital tokens that were meant to be a step into the metaverse.

Will this be an alternative way to get more of my data?

In some ways, Zuckerberg's embrace for the metaverse is contrary to a core tenet of his biggest supporters. The metaverse is an online culture's liberation form tech platforms like Facebook, which took ownership of accounts, posts, and playlists, and then traded what they had gleaned.

Steve Jang, a venture capitalist who focuses on cryptocurrency technology and is a managing partner of Kindred Ventures, stated that while we want to be able move around the internet with ease, we also want to not be tracked or monitored.

Facebook seems to want to expand its business model which relies on personal data to target advertising and sell it into the metaverse.

Zuckerberg stated that ads will continue to be an important part in the strategy across all social media components of what we do and it will likely be a significant part of the metaverse too, during a recent earnings call.

Petrock said that she is concerned about Facebook's attempts to lead the way in a virtual world. This could involve more personal data, greater abuse potential, and misinformation.

Updated Date: 29 October 2021, 08:07

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