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Is Metaverse A Threat To The Real World We Know?
Tech firms of all scales, from social media giant Facebook to software company Microsoft, have announced their plans towards creating a metaverse, which many think is the next big thing for the Internet in the coming decade. Metaverse could be the next big step for smartphones and the web from what they are now.
However, as of now, it's a metaverse that is still under development, and no one knows how it would shape up. It raises many questions like who would control this virtual environment or who will make sure everything works seamlessly.
Big Players Jumping The Wagon
Microsoft is aiming to create a mesh platform to be a core link that will bring together several virtual environments. The firm will bring Mesh to its Teams collaboration platform, which currently has a user base of 250 million people across the globe.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently changed the name of his company Facebook to Meta. He also laid out plans for the metaverse. The company has the resources to build the metaverse and it aims to hire 10,000 people in Europe to accomplish this huge task. That said, is metaverse going to be a threat to the fabric of reality as we know it?
A Dystopian Future?
Louis Rosenberg, a computer scientist, who created the first functional AR system at the Air Force Research Laboratory, wrote a piece for Big Think recently. He warned the metaverse - an immersive AR and VR world that is currently under development could bring a real-life dystopia that has only been seen in films until now.
"I am concerned about the legitimate uses of AR by the powerful platform providers that will control the infrastructure," Rosenberg wrote in the essay.
Rosenberg also wrote that third parties could bring in "paid filter layers," allowing a certain group of users to see specific tags over real-life people. These tags could be circulated and provide information about them.
"And they use that layer to tag individuals with bold flashing words like ‘Alcoholic' or ‘Immigrant' or ‘Atheist' or ‘Racist' or even less charged words like ‘Democrat' or ‘Republican,'" he said. "The virtual overlays could easily be designed to amplify political division, ostracize certain groups, even drive hatred and mistrust."
Metaverse To Make Reality Disappear?
In the essay, Rosenberg also raised a concern that metaverse would "make reality disappear" as it would create a system where people can't simply away from their devices and have real-world interactions. He believes the metaverse could grow to an extent where it will start impacting essentially every aspect of our lives, and it would be very difficult to just walk away from it.
It means users will be exposed to a false reality third parties want to show them, as there would be a layer of augmented reality over everything users experience in the metaverse. Rosenberg isn't the only person worried about the existence of metaverse.
Ethan Zuckerman, the director of the Initiative for Digital Infrastructure at the University of Massachusetts, also wrote an essay for The Atlantic about Meta's ambitious vision for the future. Zuckerman developed an early version of the metaverse around two decades ago and suggests that the metaverse might do more harm than good.
"Facebook's promised metaverse is about distracting us from the world it's helped break," Zuckerman said.