Friday, December 3

Metaverse, Mars, meditation retreats: billionaires want to escape the world they ruined | Life and Style


OROn Thursday, Facebook announced a groundbreaking and groundbreaking new distraction from its public relations disaster. As journalists continue to study thousands of leaked documents showing that the company is fully aware that it is degrading democratic societies, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will change its name to Meta, it has a new logo that looks like a slanted Na’vi. and it will go from spreading vaccine misinformation to creating a super cuddly version of Second Life.

Zuckerberg promised that in the future we would all work, play, and “throw surprise birthday parties” as avatars in Facebook’s virtual reality “Metaverse.” His examples of how this could work had all the cultural awareness of a Kendall Roy’s social media strategy.

In one sequence, Zuckerberg arrives in a spaceship: “This place is amazing! It was created by a creator I met in Los Angeles! “- before opening your contact list, stop by 2007’s hottest rapper, T-Pain, and reach out to a friend who dials up some” 3D street art “from the streets of New York to the platform of the spaceship. “This is awesome! I love movement,” say Zuckerberg’s virtual buddies, looking at something that looks like clip art someone might have used on a letterhead for a small-town law firm. Then, just as it disappears from sight, Zuckerberg buys it, ostensibly as an NFT, so it can stay in virtual space forever.

Zuckerberg’s virtual gaming world is a way to escape the destruction he has caused in the real world. Facebook has played a major role in fostering ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, inciting lynch mobs in India and Sri Lanka, amplifying white nationalism in the US, and providing the anti-vaccine movement with a massive megaphone during a global pandemic. . Rather than tackle this wreck, Zuckerberg wants us all to turn our attention to a fantasy land where he’s friends with rappers and you can watch Instagram stories on a pirate ship.

He joins a group of robber barons of the 21st century who, having successfully colonized large swaths of Earth 1.0, seek to escape to other spheres of reality.

Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are obsessed with physically leaving the planet, investing their wealth in a fiercely fought space race despite the fact that no one is going to Mars anytime soon. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, attempted a more metaphysical escape, spending weeks at a time in glamorous meditation retreats, practicing total silence, in an effort to escape the noisy and unregulated world of hate speech that he organized.

Zuckerberg has now gone one step further, creating a reality so virtual that Facebook has yet to destroy it. But his take on avatar poker games is also fantasy. From Habbo Hotel to SecondLife, Sansar and High Fidelity, there are hundreds of similar social VR offerings that you probably haven’t heard of because all that really happens is people stand in poorly rendered condos saying “yours works, mine is lagging behind. ”These kinds of social worlds remain a niche concern (in part because few social interactions are improved by a soup of headphone nausea).

An example: the world has been living working from home for 18 months, and in that time there have been thousands of high-tech deals trying to recreate the office, yet all major companies still go for the sad call of Zoom. . That’s because VR is inherently dumb and most work isn’t.

These multibillion-dollar hustles are real, in the sense that they will have billions of dollars invested in them, and an absolute fantasy. It’s impressive that SpaceX and Blue Origin have reached low Earth orbit, but we’re not going to move polluting industries into space or colonize Mars. These projects have more to do with providing a psychological salve to their owners (and selling shares of Tesla and Amazon) than with the future of technology.

What Facebook released on Thursday was a Pixar-like dream sequence of how Zuckerberg wants people to see him. He’s harnessed one of the largest tech operations ever imagined to create a whole new universe where he’s not a bad guy. For the rest of us who live on Earth, nothing has changed.


www.theguardian.com

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