Opinion: The metaverse – a fusion of realities – is being built this decade so you can live in it

According to the earnings report of July 28, Facebook plans to “move from a social network to a company from the metaworld.”

Let’s start by defining this new buzzword, the metaverse: a fusion of physical, augmented and virtual reality.

In the metaverse, these media formats combine to create a permanent digital presence in which users can communicate, share experiences, and share goods.

If this reminds you of the Internet, you can’t go wrong. The metaverse is the evolution of the Internet and more. The full breadth of the term has been discussed in other articles (including this wonderful primer), so in this article I want to focus on Facebook FB,
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CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the structure of the metaverse and, therefore, why any dominant profit-oriented organization constrains the full potential of the concept.

In an interview with Verge Zuckerberg, Casey Newton explains in detail what the metaverse and the role of Facebook in it mean to him. The biggest conclusion is the emphasis on developing a seamless, natural way to connect – be it meetings, collaborations, games or other types of interactive experiences.

To achieve this goal, Facebook wants to rely not only on existing smartphones and PCs, but also on futuristic versions of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) devices. The company wants to develop sleek, powerful fashion applications that are socially acceptable to wear on the street. Forget about strange helmets or visors.

Zuckerberg’s vision

Zuckerberg mentioned that someone was wearing AR glasses and drinking coffee at Starbucks SBUX,
cafe. Instead of unpacking her laptop or taking her cell phone to work, she set up her entire workstation with as many virtual monitors as needed, just a few flicks, using the existing configuration she has at home or in the office.

Another example was VR / AR-style meetings, where people in one working group can see not only each other’s faces, but also entire virtual bodies, as well as hear spatial audio and share multiple screens (something we still can’t do today) . .

There is also a sense of presence and the ability to read facial expressions and physical posture, which adds more elements to the interaction, making it more natural and seamless than its 2D alternative.

Content – whether games, meetings, teamwork or something else – underlies the experience of the metaverse.

Equipment boundaries

However, there are other pillars that make this possible. One of them is hardware.

Modern equipment is still not where it should be. Zuckerberg believes we need another decade or so. The new equipment will have a higher resolution, higher processing power and better screens and lenses that will provide a crazy dive.

Another important pillar is the economy that will emerge to support or receive help from the metaverse. Creators will be able to sell real goods, but especially digital consumer-level content, such as virtual offices or VR / AR fashion items for users and their avatars.

Users will be able to buy these items using cryptocurrencies or centralized digital currencies earned while working in one meta-universe – just as today’s remote workers buy goods on Amazon AMZN,
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with their hard-earned money.

Facebook has already planned to release its centralized digital currency, Diem, formerly known as Libra. Zuckerberg wanted to turn Libra into a global digital currency, but the plan was thwarted by regulators and a commercial reaction. By rebranding Libra, Facebook wanted to publicly distance itself from the failed attempt, as well as reaffirm that it does not refuse to create and manage money for its own part of the metaverse. For Diem to succeed, the company will have to make a number of concessions, but it is unlikely that it will abandon the concept at all.

Other companies in the metaverse

If you are an investor, you can now bet on the meta universe. Roundhill Investments, a registered investment adviser from New York, and Matthew Ball, a meta-universe researcher, investor and advisor, launched the Roundhill Ball Metaverse ETF META on June 30,
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the first exchange-traded product to give investors access to the fast-growing meta-universe market. (Among the leading holdings Roblox RBLX,
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Unity Software U,
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Let SE,
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and, yes, Facebook.)

However, as an individual user of the metaverse, there are several problems. First, we are still talking about Facebook – data breaches and privacy were a problem. Even if you don’t like Facebook, you may be forced to sign in to the service and accept its terms.

For example, as the owner of the Oculus Rift S, I have to connect to Facebook to use my device, whether I like it or not. This condition was imposed on me after purchasing the goods. Expect the company to work this way with all its equipment.

If the past is any sign, Facebook will continue to use data provided by users, ie sometimes without their permission. So the question is, do we really want to live in a universe (albeit a digital one) where one CEO rules and all of your work, career, and reputation depend on the service environment and corporate policies of that company?

Building a healthy ecosystem

But Facebook is not the only game in town.

Other contenders are vying for the crown of the metaverse. They come from the realm of cryptocurrencies and open source camps, and will fight tooth and nail to ensure that the evolution of the metaverse belongs and is controlled by its users, not the technology giants.

Unlike Diem or any other centralized digital currency developed and managed by a single entity, the cryptocurrencies used in their version of meta-universe transactions will be decentralized and without permissions. You do not need someone to allow you to use or extract them, and they will not be controlled by a central authority.

Having a healthy economy is the first step towards ensuring the overall health, stability and growth of any ecosystem, including the metacosm. Recent developments in the evolution and spread of cryptocurrencies show that these first steps have been taken.

All that remains is that future residents of the metaverse are aware of the benefits of cryptocurrencies and open source providers and make financial choices that will lead to the prosperity of the digital universe. However, for this to happen, consumers must be aware of the dangers of centralization and blind faith in megacorporations. Unfortunately, this is currently not the case.

How do you feel about the metaverse? Are you looking forward to it? Let me know in the comments section below.

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