More and more company representatives and CEOs are talking about their plans to create a metaverse. Along with Epic Games and Atari, social media’s are also taking part in the race. In an interview with Vergecast, Mark Zuckerberg talked about how in five years people will think of his company as a metaverse, not a social network. This is a short version of The Vergecast podcast in which Mark Zuckerberg talks about the creation of the metaverse.
The Basics of the Metaverse
The interview began with Mark Zuckerberg explaining what the metaverse is and what parts of it his company plans to build:
- The Metaverse is the physical embodiment of the Internet in which a person can exist. It’s a way to feel close to other people instead of just watching content on the screen.
- Like the early Internet, the Metaverse will not be built by a single company. Zuckerberg’s company will contribute to its creation along with many other companies.
- Virtual reality will be an important part of the metaverse but not the only one. The Metaverse will be available on all computing platforms: VR, AR, PC, mobile devices, and even game consoles.
- You shouldn’t think of the metaverse as a game. Entertainment will be an important part of it, but it is primarily a stable, synchronous environment in which we can be together.
Natural involvement, not total immersion
The reality is that people use mobile Internet all day: from the moment they wake up until they go to bed. So don’t worry that the metaverse will involve very deep interactions with the internet. According to Mark Zuckerberg, this simply means a more natural method of involvement.
Zuckerberg cited company meetings as an example. Today, at meetings, people are forced to see only a row of faces on the screen. This is strange because everyone is used to being in the same room and having a sense of space. But the metaverse will help you experience a sense of presence. The interactions will become much richer and more real.
“You can sit as a hologram on my couch, and I can sit as a hologram on your couch. It will seem that we are in the same place, even if we are in different states or hundreds of miles apart.”Mark Zuckerberg
Working in the Metaverse
Virtual reality helmets are still awkward and heavy so people don’t use them at work yet. There are other disadvantages as well: difficult-to-read text and low resolution. However, according to Mark Zuckerberg, by the end of this decade, such technical problems will be applicable no more and people will be able to work in the Metaverse.
Working in the Metaverse will be taking place more in augmented reality rather than virtual reality. The user can pull out his workstation with one click of his fingers anywhere. For example, he will sit down at Starbucks, order coffee, and start waving his hands. There will be several pre-sized monitors in front of him.
The second use case is collaboration. Instead of talking to a colleague on the phone, he will be able to teleport inside the workspace and immerse himself in the entire context. He will see monitors, documents, code windows, or 3D models that you are working on. He sits next to you and interacts with the environment, and then teleports back.
Another area that will be in demand is meetings. Mark Zuckerberg revealed that he is already holding a number of meetings in VR. Avatars are not yet as realistic as they will be in a few years. Despite this, such meetings already seem more real than meetings at Zoom. Everyone has a common sense of space: if someone is sitting to your right, you are sitting to their left. Everyone can remember in what order the people were participating.
In addition to office work, entirely new jobs will emerge in the metaverse. It will be a separate economy. For example, there will be architects creating recreational spaces.
Social Benefits of the Metaverse
Mark Zuckerberg also revealed that he has learned one important lesson over the past five years of running his company. Previously, he believed that his job was to create products that people love to use. But now it became clear that this is not enough. The product must provide positive value for the society in terms of economic opportunities.
Zuckerberg’s company can not think of a metaverse as a simple product. In the metaverse, millions of people will work and create content: experiences, spaces, virtual goods, or virtual clothing. Therefore, it will become a huge ecosystem with its own economy. “It will be the tide that lifts all boats,” concluded Mark Zuckerberg.
Gender Issues in the Metaverse
One of the major issues people need to think about is significant gender bias. Mark Zuckerberg notes that in virtual reality, there are many more men than women. In some cases, this leads to infringement. Social media’s provide users with simple tools to block people so everyone can feel safe.
“We will not have a healthy community if it is strongly biased towards one gender or another, or if an entire segment of the population simply does not feel safe.”Mark Zuckerberg
Addressing gender issues will be critical. This is important not only for healthy social impact but also in terms of creating good products. And that’s what Zuckerberg’s company has been focusing on since the very beginning of its development.
Who will run the metaverse
Mark Zuckerberg said that his company will not be running the metaverse alone. The company is now making Oculus Quest headsets as well as software that empowers people to work, hang out, and build different worlds. Other companies are building platforms for VR or AR too, but Zuckerberg’s software fully supports them just like other social media’s today work on any smartphone.
“The metaverse is not something that a specific company builds but something that has global compatibility.”Mark Zuckerberg
An organization called W3C helps set standards for important Internet protocols and for how people build the Internet. Something similar will be needed for the metaverse. Steps in this direction have already been taken. An emerging association called XR consortium includes Zuckerberg’s company, Microsoft, and several other companies.
There will be many different views on what the metaverse should be. However, according to Mark Zuckerberg, this is not about whether open-source code will prevail over closed source code. Zuckerberg’s company is definitely going to do its part to create an interoperable system. Even so, there are many questions about the way it works:
- Is the system interoperable because it is decentralized?
- Would this system need not only compatibility but also absence of centralized points of management?
- Or is the system compatible because there are bodies that set standards and allow multiple designs to work together?
All these questions have yet to be answered.
The state in the Metaverse
One of the most difficult technical problems is the unification of augmented and virtual reality in the metaverse. Mark Zuckerberg believes that solving such problems will require tens of billions of dollars in research but that will result in hundreds of billions of dollars in profit. Therefore, huge public investment may be required.
In addition, public spaces should be an obligatory part of the metaverse. They range from government facilities to non-profit organizations and are essential to building a healthy community. The metaverse will have creators and developers with a wide variety of motives. Even if they are not directly funded by the government, they may have an interest in doing work for the good of society. A striking example of this on the regular Internet is Wikipedia.
In the long term, it will take a lot of capital and the most talented people working on solving futuristic problems. Probably, some of the initiatives will come from the government. However, Mark Zuckerberg is confident that startups and independent developers will be able to fill some of the gaps on their own.
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