Metaverse has become quite a buzzword lately. When you hear CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg and Satya Nadella talk about the Metaverse you don’t really know what to expect. So what is this anyway? A new video game? Natural evolution for the Internet? New social media platform?
It’s difficult to say, especially when you hear that Facebook is changing its name to Meta and Zuckerberg talking about his employees as “metamates”. As expected, that sort of thing usually sparks ridicule and an avalanche of sarcastic memes.
All things considered, the term “Metaverse” is not a new concept. In fact, it’s been here for a while. Only you don’t hear about it so much because it’s been in the science fiction section for some time.
Metaverse or at least something similar to it, is the next logical step in the evolution of communication, social technologies, and perhaps even the digital economy. But will Metaverse become our new reality? Let’s find out, shall we?
What exactly is Metaverse?
As you might imagine, the term Metaverse first appears in the science fiction novel “Snow Crash” written by Neal Stephenson in 1992. A similar concept also appears in another science fiction novel “Ready Player One” written by Ernest Cline in 2011.
Therefore, the “Metaverse” is basically an online world powered by VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) that portrays an escape from the real world. Don’t we have something like that already? Yes we do, in fact.
For instance, iGaming platforms, such as 888 Casino implement these technologies to improve customer experience. Moreover, there’s the game called Second Life that’s basically Metaverse without VR or AR elements at the moment.
Last but not least, various video games already allow us to create custom avatars and participate in the in-game economy while adventuring on. So what exactly is this Metaverse everyone is talking about? That depends on who you ask because various Tech CEOs have different ideas about the Metaverse.
In the science fiction novels, Metaverse is an escape from reality into the virtual reality-based successor to the Internet. It usually involves a dystopian future where humanity’s salvation lies in the virtual world and alternative reality.
The concept of Metaverse today
The view of the Metaverse today is pretty much what you might imagine – a three-dimensional virtual space that uses many of the elements from the real world. For example, you’ll have your own character or avatar and you’ll be able to socialize with others, buy or sell goods and so on and so forth.
It’s like the Internet but more. As mentioned before, various Tech CEOs have different ideas about what the Metaverse should be or should be used for. If you ask Zuckerberg he talks about fake virtual houses where you can invite all your friends to hang out.
Microsoft, on the other hand, sees Metaverse as an opportunity to create virtual meeting rooms where new hires can be trained and you can chat with remote workers. So everyone has a different idea but not really a solid plan on how to realize those ideas.
One thing is for certain, if and when Metaverse becomes feasible it will not be just one thing. As a matter of fact, it will be a combination of platforms and technologies that will come together to form the so-called Metaverse.
What can we expect from Metaverse?
Aside from the virtual world avatars, fake houses, virtual properties, clothes, vehicles and so on we can expect personalized content creation, virtual assets, digital economy and stuff like that. How and will that even affect the real world remains to be seen.
There’s also the mention of holograms. If you watched Facebook’s/Meta video presentation about the possible future for Metaverse, you might’ve noticed a lady joining a friend at the concert halfway across the world through an Instagram feed using a hologram.
But why a hologram, to begin with? Well, have you seen AR and VR headsets? They are clunky and bulky. People actually get nausea and physical pain when they wear them for too long. You can’t have a Metaverse with hardware like that.
Hence the holograms because that makes sense, doesn’t it? But can you project your consciousness through a hologram to a remote place where you can see or hear the concert?
Seems like the folk who preach about astral projections don’t sound too crazy after all. Don’t expect much from that because most of the ideas pitched by Tech corporations are farfetched and involve technologies that haven’t been invented yet.
Will Metaverse become our new reality?
That’s possible but highly unlikely, not in the near future anyway. As mentioned before, most of the ideas regarding Metaverse are wild speculations and pure fiction. Metaverse is simply not feasible yet and it won’t be for some time now.
Just imagine an infrastructure needed to maintain billions of people in a virtual world in real-time. Not to mention projecting yourself halfway across the globe and having your hologram appearing out of nowhere in the middle of a concert with no hardware or software to make it possible.
That would require computing power we simply don’t have. Hardware and software requirements are way out of our league. Moreover, there are concerns over monopolistic approaches to Metaverse development.
Furthermore, there are further worries related to the spread of misinformation and loss of personal privacy because the data companies could collect from the Metaverse are unquantifiable larger than what they already collect from the World Wide Web today.
Therefore, there won’t be any Metaverse any time soon. The Facebook/Meta version of Metaverse will likely become a new form of social media with targeted advertising brought to a whole new level.
Thinking about Metaverse as the next evolutionary step of the Internet is logical. However, we are still far away from realizing this concept in any way. That being said, Metaverse won’t become our reality in the near future but it might be one day. How far away that day remains to be seen.