Earlier this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed the company would be renaming itself Meta in order to better reflect the company’s goal of creating “an embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it,” as described by Zuckerberg.
Even before Facebook was founded, the idea of the metaverse was already in existence. Futurists and tech experts have dubbed the metaverse as the internet’s spiritual successor, envisioning a shared virtual space where we can interact with other people’s virtual realities. The idea of a virtual-reality platform where users can create an avatar to interact with other members of the digital population has been explored in various ways by science fiction authors or Hollywood filmmakers over the past several decades.
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“Snow Crash,” a 1992 novel in which the storey unfolds in both virtual and real worlds, was an inspiration for the term “metaverse.”
Trond Undheim, PhD, a futurist and author whose podcasts cover topics like artificial intelligence and technological innovation, says the term “predates the internet as we know it today. That has become the term for the gradual shift in digital communication, whereby the internet is becoming both physical and digital at once.”
Observing the gaming community, which is the closest any group has come to entering the so-called “metaverse” as far as Undheim is concerned, may be the best way to grasp this concept. Players have created virtual representations of themselves, which they use to interact with those in other virtual worlds. Real-time collaboration, meeting-ups, and even spending in-game currency are all part of the experience.
Even after the pandemic cancelled their real-world receptions, some people have hosted their “wedding” in Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing” virtual world and invited their friends’ digital avatars to attend. To commemorate MLK Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech in the nation’s capital, “Fortnite” recently reimagined Washington, D.C. in the year 1963.
One of the many ways the metaverse will take hold of our lives is open-world gaming. We can expect to see a lot more innovation from the likes of Google and Facebook.
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Meta is attempting to build a section of the metaverse where users can interact, work, shop, play games, gather for social events, or create content, as explained by Mark Zuckerberg in a video released Thursday. He also asserts that Meta’s efforts will result in the creation of millions of new jobs, similar to the way the internet eventually led to the creation of previously unimaginable employment opportunities.
There will be a lot of opportunities for people in the metaverse, Zuckerberg predicted. Nevertheless, no one knows exactly which models will work and make this a long-term success.
Besides Facebook’s virtual playgrounds and boardrooms, Microsoft has discussed its own “metaverse apps” for creating, and connecting to, all-new digital spaces.
As a result of the pandemic, the need for at least some types of metaverse-adjacent experiences increased, with more people working from home and relying on technology in order to be places that they can’t physically be. More and more people want to be able to attend virtual events, such as art galleries or concerts, with their online friends, and spend their hard-earned money (or cryptocurrency) on real or digital goods and services.
Undheim explains that the metaverse is “different and much more powerful than a complete virtual reality,” in that it “combines the two without merging them all the way.”.
As he continues, “It doesn’t really exist yet.” Even so, “But if we see it, we’ll know it.”
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Much of the technology needed to build the metaverse is already in existence, or is in the process of being developed. A number of hurdles must still be overcome before the concept can be implemented, including bandwidth requirements and attracting enough participants. A second concern of Undheim’s is that the metaverse may become overly commercialised in its early stages, causing users to feel marginalised or exploited.
The one thing Undheim is certain of, however, is that it will arrive relatively quickly in the metaverse.
Undheim predicts that this will behelve us in the next five to seven years. There are times when “I don’t know if I’d rather spend time in the real world or on the internet,” a reasonable person might say. There’s a chance they don’t know the difference.