Facebook set to hire 10,000 people across the EU to work on the ‘Metaverse’
A new era of computing is upon us... but what does it all mean?
Facebook is on a journey to create the next big computing platform. Working alongside other individuals and companies, Facebook is set on creating ‘the Metaverse”. A term used to describe interconnected virtual experiences, using technologies like virtual and augmented reality. With “virtual presence” being its very core, and allowing for a more refined and deeper online interactivity. On an official Facebook blog, by VP of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg explained that: “The Metaverse has the potential to help unlock access to new creative, social and economic opportunities.”
What is the metaverse?
Before we go into more detail, it’d be wise to understand what exactly the Metaverse is. In the simplest way, the metaverse is a vision for a new place to interact with other people or even bots. To play games, conduct business, socialize and shop. That’s what the plan for the metaverse is.
Right now though, the metaverse is just an assortment of hardware, software and unrelated experiences. You’ve probably even seen various pieces of what would be the Metaverse. Whether it’s Steam’s VR Chat, the AR game Pokemon Go or Facebook’s Horizon Workroom which uses mixed reality.
Furthermore, if you’ve played games like Animal Crossing or Fortnite, you might have a better idea of what the metaverse could look like. A world where you’ll be able to build it all yourself or visit someone else’s. But it’s not just games in the metaverse, in fact there are even some platforms where you can buy real estate in virtual worlds, such as Decentraland and Cryptovoxels. And if you’ve also gotten involved in the world of cryptocurrency or NFTs, then you’ve also gotten a taste of the metaverse.
Basically, if you’ve seen or read Ready Player One, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.
Only thing is, the differences between these examples and the real idea of the metaverse are the immersion. Some spaces can be plenty immersive but we still have to wear VR headsets which can be awkward, nor are our sensations matching those in the virtual space.
This plan is not new either, as the creator of Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds is also working on a similar project, one called Artemis.
Many tech leaders already see the downfall of one company running a giant social experiment. Biases would be built into the algorithms, one group of suits could decide the fate of the Metaverse. Instead, it’s been said that although Facebook are taking the lead on the project, they won’t be the sole owners of it. Rather, it’d be more akin to the internet as a whole. Not owned by anyone, but different people being able to plant their feet in the metaverse’s soil and create something for themselves.
Facebook have even gone about investing $50M to build the metaverse in a responsible manner. Creating an AI that will make sure the metaverse is accessible to everyone and that there’s no penalty for a thin bank account or slow internet connection. Whether this spurs on a real era of Skynet or AI reign, we’ll just have to shrug and see.
Although it’s still very new, these seem to be very promising steps towards a future with a metaverse. In our lifetime or the next? Who’s to tell.
But having a metaverse would then also redefine a whole lot of stuff. Would we be able to transfer our minds and memories into a virtual scape, would we be able to escape our dying world into the virtual world whilst fending off ads everyday with downloaded weapons? It’s all quite fun to think about, as long as you don’t start thinking too much about all the ethical questions and so on…
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