Twenty-five years ago, the internet was still a curiosity, accessible only through a sluggish dial-up modem that tied up your landline phone. Facebook was still a private tech startup on the eve of an IPO 15 years ago, and it was still a private tech startup on the verge of an IPO 10 years ago.
With three of the most popular social media programmes — Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp — used by billions of people, Facebook has become one of the world’s most valuable firms, as well as one of the most contentious and socially disruptive organisations.
Facebook has a new moniker: Meta, as well as a new focus: the metaverse. What is the metaverse, exactly? Will it be as essential as the internet and social media in ten years? Is that a good thing, and if so, why?
What is Metaverse?
The metaverse is a virtual world that allows you to replace or supplement reality with electronic simulations that are as realistic as possible. According to The Associated Press, “it’s essentially a world of infinite, linked virtual communities where people can meet, work, and play using virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses, smartphone applications, or other devices.” They can go shopping as well.
The metaverse is described as “the next evolution of social interaction,” 3D environments where people may “socialise, study, cooperate, and play in ways that go beyond what we can envision,” according to Meta. In his two-hour presentation to introduce the Meta makeover and Facebook’s new emphasis, which CNET has shortened to ten minutes, CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave out some instances.
Was the metaverse created by Facebook?
No, the name comes from Neal Stephenson’s science fiction masterpiece Snow Crash from 1992, although the concept is considerably older. Amherst professor Ethan Zuckerman, who built his own kludgy metaverse in 1995, argues in The Atlantic that Stephenson’s “conception of the metaverse owes a lot to Vernor Vinge’s 1981 True Names and a series of William Gibson books from the ’80s.” “Both of those authors owed a debt to Morton Heilig’s 1962 Sensorama machine, and so on, all the way back to Plato’s cave wall shadows.
The first virtual reality (VR) headset was developed at MIT in 1968, and the technology evolved in stops and starts until Oculus achieved a major breakthrough in 2011. All of the main tech corporations are now engaged, including Google, Microsoft, and Apple, as well as major gaming platforms. The market for metaverse hardware and software is estimated to be worth $1 trillion by Wall Street.
When did Facebook get involved?
In 2014, Facebook paid $2 billion for Oculus. Zuckerberg projected at the time that Facebook will evolve into a metaverse corporation where people would be able to share “not just moments with their friends online, but complete events and adventures.”
In the metaverse, what will we do?
Meta is now concentrating on building virtual office spaces where individuals who work from home can congregate as though in person, as well as virtual houses where people may create and host actual friends for metaverse games, according to Zuckerberg. You’ll be able to go to concerts, travel to far-flung cities and natural marvels, and, of course, shop for virtual clothing and things in our virtual worlds. In theory, once technology is advanced enough, the possibilities are only limited by our imaginations.
“It’ll make our environment seem like Harry Potter,” says Louis Rosenberg, the CEO of Unanimous AI and a seasoned augmented reality (AR) developer. Magic is entertaining, but, like the Wizarding World, it has a sinister side.