A lot of conferences and discussions in the field of information, data and technology has happened in the past few weeks, but none of them captured the eyes of mine as much as Facebook's plan of Metaverse has captured the public's imagination and it did catch mine too and it got me to thinking about what the future might be if the product get's successful but also some very important questions not only relating to privacy but the entire way we humans interact and behave in the world.
So in case you have been living in a bubble or had disconnected with the world for a while or had one of those internet shutdowns 🥲, Facebook has changed its name to Meta and it has plans for creating something called the "Metaverse" a name for a shared online 3D virtual space"
So basically it would be something like a virtual reality in which you would be able to interact with friends in a setting to what ever is suited to you. You will be able to instantly move to any location you wish, have friends instantly at your house and much more without ever moving out of your house or commuting anywhere.
I have heard this before and virtual reality headset's are not that really good and all...
I agree that when VR was released most of us were a little unhappy about what it could do, we had expected it to do all the things which I said above, but you have to understand something:- There is something called Gartner Hype Cycle, let's look at the diagram below
As you can see from the above diagram that initially when we hear about a new product launching we immediately believe that when the product shall launch we shall experience all the things our sci-fi shows has made us imagine and when the product actually launches we see the actual product and that's when we feel betrayed and all but it is only after this step that the actual development of this cycle starts, most companies would just build hype make a product and forget about it but the best ones the companies which understand the future and/or have the resources shall continue to improve it and finally slowly shall work on it and launch it and Facebook both has the potential, resources and the believe to complete it.
So what is the hype about?
Meta (facebook) has released a VR headset that would allow you to live in a completely virtual environment. Although it is still in prototyping stage and not everything is available, you can find out how it feels like by watching a video of a journalist who has experienced it and it does look a bit promising. Basically imagine a world in which you would be able to be in any place at any time, you can tweak your surrounding to be in any environment you wish to be in, you might be disabled but in the metaverse you are walking, running heck even flying. You will be able to have your surrounding the exact way you wish to be and you can invite your friends over there in an instant. The learning side shall be the most creative of all. I like studying about cosmology but I am of course not able to visit and see the actual space, planets and all. In metaverse I would be able to do that, I could be standing next to a neutron star and see how it works (Of course it would depends how the images, the knowledge which is present at that given time, but then also this shall be one of the most exciting things. You will be able to learn faster, do things faster and improve your productivity to the very next level.
How the future may look like if metaverse becomes a success?
Imagine now, if you want to invite your friends to your house your friends would have to travel from their house to yours, also if you are going to do an activity you would definitely need the equipment of that activity, whether it could be a board game, or sports equipment or controllers etc. Now if you were in a metaverse, your friend and you would be able to meet in an instant. You would be able to choose the location you want, it can be a theme-park, flying, space or even a graveyard. You shall be wearing clothes digitally in the metaverse. So slowly but steadily the products which you shall need won't be the physical objects but virtual objects. Of course this does sound a little bit far fetched and yes you would still need to eat, drink and do other things in real life but if you spend a majority of your time in a place where you are going to be, you will start buying things related to that place.
For example if right you spend a majority of your time playing a particular game, it would make sense for you to buy things related to that game. So in the metaverse there could be different stores for customising your avatar, going to certain places, experiencing particular things. If you have the creative side for it, you will not be constrained by the physical things you can acquire but just by your imagination and how well you can use the software that would help develop those things. If you are afraid of your designs being stolen, I am guessing the validity would be verified using blockchain.
Everything is not green...
The metaverse is being created by "Facebook" whose track record of privacy is let's go with questionable at best. Also let's have a look at what is shown to our news feed right now on various social handles, most of them are things which we like, our political beliefs are shown to us more, what we believe in, the things we like are shown more to us and the things we dislike are not entirely shown. No doubt it is important for a person to believe in the things he believes (if that makes sense) but it is also important that the person tries to understand the other side also. If Metaverse were to become real there is no telling what things might be censored and if you were to live your life mostly in the metaverse (its not unrealistic to think about it as we already spend a considerable amount of time on social media rather than real life) and the same censorship is to be followed won't it be quite dangerous? Suppose you believe in a particular political party blindly and suppose you are interacting in the metaverse, is it possible that the content which shows the problems, flaws of that party will be hidden from you? Not just about a political party, there exists many problems in the world which are unsettling to discuss and many of those problems are likely to continue to grow. Suppose let's discuss about homelessness, now it is a real problem but will it be shown in a metaverse?
Now all of this may seem very far fetched but remember technology moves very quickly, a few years ago many things we take for granted would have not been thought of...
There is so many things currently going around the metaverse that I plan to make it a complete series in which we shall discuss further about the problems of the metaverse, the possible solutions to it and also some of the current metaverses like sandbox.