Recently you may have noticed that Facebook rebranded to Meta. Meta then announced that they would be creating the Metaverse. The Metaverse is a virtual world where people can socialize, work, and play. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes it to be the future of the internet and how we use it.
In 1992 Sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson coined the word Metaverse. He derived the word from the Greek ‘meta’ meaning beyond and ‘verse’ meaning world. Essentially, a Metaverse is a virtual reality world that coexists alongside the real world. People will be able to do everything they can in real life in this virtual world. Meta isn’t the first company to attempt to create a Metaverse. There have been previous attempts with games such as Second Life.
Mark Zuckerberg’s vision goes beyond what others have attempted previously. He wants users to immerse themselves in the technological experience fully. One will be able to see, hear and touch people that aren’t there. This idea has become increasingly popular due to the lock-downs we have experienced since early 2020.
The Metaverse seeks to integrate all parts of our daily lives into the virtual world. Students will be able to take virtual lessons from home. Business leaders can conduct meetings from anywhere in the world. People will be able to use cryptocurrency to carry out transactions in the virtual world. Some companies and individuals have already begun to invest in it by buying virtual land.
While the opportunities brought about by it may be endless, skeptics have also voiced concerns. For example, some believe that creating and distributing hardware and software to get billions of people to join in isn’t feasible. Moreover, some are concerned that having a fully immersive virtual reality universe will exacerbate the already prevalent issue of social media addiction. Problems such as obesity and cardiovascular disease may become endemic as more people adopt a sedentary lifestyle and spend more time in the Metaverse. It may also magnify the social impact of online echo chambers.
Experts are also very concerned about information privacy. For example, meta, formerly known as Facebook, has been involved in scandals involving misuse of the information they gathered from their website users. Now, suppose they were to create a Metaverse with complete control over the space. It may lead to even more harvesting of information from users, which malicious individuals could use for nefarious purposes. However, its development is still in its early stages, and developers will address these issues with time.
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