Friday, November 26

Enter the metaverse: the digital future that Mark Zuckerberg is leading us towards | Goal

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined his vision for the social media giant’s future on Thursday, formalizing the company’s focus on the metaverse.

In a presentation at the company’s annual Connect conference, Zuckerberg announced that the company will change its name to Meta and detailed how his company aims to build a new version of the Internet.

“We believe that the metaverse will be the successor to mobile Internet, we will be able to feel present, as if we are there with the people, no matter how far away we really are,” he said.

This is what you need to know:

What is the metaverse?

The metaverse is where the physical and digital worlds meet. It is a space where digital representations of people – avatars – interact at work and play, meet in their office, go to concerts and even try on clothes.

At the center of this universe will be virtual reality, a digital world that you can now enter through Facebook’s Oculus VR headsets. It will also include augmented reality, a kind of throwback from virtual reality where elements of the digital world are superimposed on reality – think Pokémon Go or Facebook’s recent Ray-Ban-linked smart glasses.

Facebook already has a professional version of the metaverse in the works: Horizon Workrooms, an application that allows Oculus sports workers to enter virtual offices and hold meetings.

In fact, Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, holds his team meetings on Mondays in the metaverse of the office, packed with a virtual table and whiteboard. Last month, Clegg said the metaverse would be a series of interconnected worlds, where a user moves seamlessly from the world of Facebook to that of Apple or Google, or to the publisher of a computer game. This month, Facebook said it was creating 10,000 new jobs in the European Union as part of growth plans that include building a metaverse.

Any recommended reading?

The term metaverse, a combination of the prefix meta (meaning “beyond”) and universe, was coined in Snow Crash, a novel by American science fiction writer Neal Stephenson. The spiel on Amazon’s website says it was written “in the years 1988 to 1991 when the author listened to a lot of loud, unforgiving and depressing music.”

The novel’s protagonist, Hiro, is a hacker and pizza delivery man for the mob and the first explanation of this virtual world in the novel reads, “So Hiro isn’t here at all. You’re in a computer-generated universe that your computer is poking into your glasses and pumping into your headphones. In lingo, this imaginary place is known as the Metaverse. Hiro spends a lot of time in the Metaverse. “And if Facebook has its way, you will too.

Michael Abrash, chief scientist for Facebook’s Oculus business and a key figure in its virtual reality efforts, said in a blog post: “It all started with Snow Crash.”

What are the legal concerns about the metaverse?

The overwhelming concerns, particularly in the context of the Frances Haugen disclosures and the widespread attack on social media by state-backed hackers, are privacy and security.

For example, an advertiser who addresses you in a virtual world might not just be reacting to old world data like your age and gender: what about your body language, your physiological responses, knowing who you are interacting with and how?

Facebook has already announced a $ 50 million investment program (£ 36 million) to ensure the metaverse is built responsibly, ”with the money distributed among organizations and academic institutions such as Seoul National University and Women in Immersive Tech.

How much does Facebook spend on the metaverse?

Billions of dollars a year already. The company said this week that investment in its Facebook Reality Labs division, where the company works on VR and AR, would reduce operating profit by $ 10bn (£ 7.25bn) in 2021.

It’s a significant sum, but Facebook makes huge amounts of money from its core business of collecting user data and then charging advertisers for accessing those people with targeted ads (focusing on things like gender, location, income, relationship). . Through Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and of course its eponymous platform, Facebook generated a net income, a US profit measure, of $ 29 billion last year from its 2.8 billion daily users. You can afford $ 10 billion.

Will Facebook succeed?

Right now, it’s hard to imagine that Facebook could launch any product with ease. Haugen’s revelations and testimonies have enhanced his status as a target for politicians, regulators and campaign groups on both sides of the Atlantic.

Facebook has been emphatically portrayed, through its own research, as a company fighting, willingly or not, to contain the harmful impact of its products on its own users. In fact, last month Facebook halted development of a product, Instagram Kids, due to the furor over the Haugen leaks.

Clegg has said that the metaverse will take 10 years to build. Will it have allayed the concerns of the public, watchdogs, and governments about the company and its leadership by then?

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