Welcome to the metaverse: Five things you need to know

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IIn the wake of Facebook’s rebranding as Meta, shifting its focus to the “Metaverse”, Microsoft has now announced that it will also launch in this space.

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Meta has proposed that the Metaverse will eventually allow us to engage in education, work and social contexts, while Microsoft is focusing exclusively on the realm of the virtual office for now.

But what exactly is the metaverse, and to what extent should we believe that the philosophy being presented to us will actually be central to our daily lives?


The idea itself is not new. The term “metaverse” was coined by science fiction author Neil Stephenson in his 1992 cyberpunk novel snow accident, imagining a 3D virtual world in which people represented as avatars can interact with each other and with artificially intelligent agents.

As with any great vision of the future that doesn’t exist yet, many people have attempted to print their definitions on the metaverse. If the idea is new to you, it might help to understand some of the qualities you can expect in the metaverse.

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1. A Virtual World: This is, in my opinion, the most important feature of a metaverse. You can explore it while experiencing 3D graphics and sound using a computer, gaming console, mobile, wearable technology or any other device. The idea is that it makes you feel more present in the metaverse and possibly less present in the everyday world (where your body stubbornly resides).

2. Virtual Reality. For this you need a virtual reality headset. The idea here is that you immerse yourself in the virtual world, so you feel even more present – ​​at least until you collide with something that inhabits the everyday world, like a coffee table.

It’s likely that some things are going to be instantly more appealing and practical than others. Playing the game would seem like a fair jump

3. Other people. The metaverse is social. There are many other people out there who are depicted as avatars. Some of these avatars may be bots, virtual agents or other manifestations of artificial intelligence. You can hang out with other people or even work together. Given its history as a social network, the social aspect is likely to be central to Facebook’s metaverse.

Fans of the Metaverse and some researchers agree that communication may be more natural than video conferencing—because, for example, you can use gaze to show who you’re addressing (your avatar might be someone else’s). can turn his head to look at the person). Your avatar can also walk up and sit next to someone else’s avatar to start a conversation.

4. Perseverance. This means that the virtual world is available whenever you want to see it. You can change this by adding new virtual buildings or other objects, and the important thing is that the changes will remain in place the next time you travel. You may be able to take the housing and own part of it. The metaverse will rely on your user-generated content – ​​your digital creations and personal stories – in the same way that social media does today.

5. Connected to the real world. In some scenes in the Metaverse, the virtual material in the virtual world actually represents the real content in the real world. For example, you can fly a virtual drone in the Metaverse to steer a real drone in the real world. People talk about the real and the virtual being “digital twins”.

What can I do in the Metaverse, and how soon?

Different corporations will probably have their own perspectives or even localized versions of the metaverse, but like the Internet, they’ll all be connected, so you can move from one to the other.

It’s likely that some things are going to be instantly more appealing and practical than others. Playing games would seem like a reasonable leap forward, as many gamers already enjoy gaming online, and some games, to some degree, have already entered the metaverse (think back to the above characteristics).

You can attend a real meeting in the form of a hologram, or play chess with anyone around the world on a virtual chessboard superimposed on the real world.

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You can attend a real meeting in the form of a hologram, or play chess with anyone around the world on a virtual chessboard superimposed on the real world.

The idea of ​​being able to socialize or get along with others, and feel like you’re really with them in person, is also appealing – especially in today’s pandemic era.

We don’t have a particularly clear idea of ​​Meta’s Metaverse offerings yet. Announcing the rebranding, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg mentioned the various possibilities. You can appear as a hologram in a real meeting, or play chess with anyone around the world on a virtual chessboard superimposed on the real world.

Facebook’s vision of the Metaverse is that it will be our future interface with the Internet. But whether we will one day be able to access 3D virtual worlds and all internet services through virtual reality headsets remains to be seen.

The headsets still seem to be a somewhat niche technology, despite efforts by several large corporations to market them in recent years, including Facebook with the purchase of Oculus.

I suspect Facebook will need to be in this for the long haul, and their vision of the metaverse is still many years away from becoming a (virtual) reality.

one last observation

Stephenson’s original vision of the metaverse was very exciting, but full of possibilities for both online and real-world damage, such as addiction, criminality, and the erosion of democratic institutions. Interestingly, Stephenson’s metaverse was mostly owned by large corporations, with governments largely removed from being unimportant paper-shuffling outposts.

Given the current tensions between big tech and governments around the world with regards to privacy, freedom of speech, and online pitfalls, we must seriously consider what kind of metaverse we want to create, and who creates, owns and regulates it. To do.

Steve Benford is Professor of Collaborative Computing at the University of Nottingham. This article first appeared on Conversation


Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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