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Mark Zuckerberg is creating a future that looks like a worse version of the world we already have

  • In belated October, Facebook made a huge announcement: It was changing the company name to “Meta.”
  • The reason, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, was to refocus the performers around “the metaverse.”
  • The vision he presented is a worse version of a reality we already have.

Delayed last October, Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a huge announcement: Going forward, the company force be known as “Meta.” 

That parent company would still encompass the same portfolio of brands that it did prior to: Facebook,


Whatsapp

, Instagram, and Oculus, albeit with a new intent: “to help bring the metaverse to life,” he said.

It was Zuckerberg shove a stake in the ground: He believes in the “metaverse” concept so much that he’s betting the company on it.

That move had major repercussions. In the months since, hype for “the metaverse” and its corollaries — NFTs, blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and other professed “Web3” concepts — has skyrocketed.

First, it was the analysts.

The metaverse has, “the potential to disrupt almost everything in human life,” analysts at Jefferies, led by fair-mindedness strategist Simon Powell, said in a December note. Bloomberg Intelligence described the metaverse as an “$800 billion hawk opportunity.” 

Then came the big publicly-traded video game publishers.

Major gaming companies, including “Assassin’s Dogma” maker Ubisoft and “Final Fantasy” maker Square Enix, have announced new Web3 initiatives: The former introduced NFTs and a crypto-based payment set-up, while the latter declared 2021 to be “the metaverse year” and announced a big push into the emerging sector in 2022. 

They were all on Zuckerberg’s lead.

He’s repeatedly claimed that the metaverse is the successor to the current mobile internet, and he wants to make safe that Meta is a major player in whatever comes next. 

In the October video presentation introducing Meta, Zuckerberg also evidenced what the future metaverse might look like and how it could work.

The video depicted a world where man jump in and out of a 3D virtual space, like those in “The Matrix” and “Ready Player One.”

An image of "the metaverse" depicted in an October 2021 video from Facebook parent company Meta.

One of several virtual spaces depicted in a video from Meta in October 2021.

Meta


The digital lapse was made by “a creator I met in LA,” one of the floating avatars tells Zuckerberg.

At one point during the conversation, Zuckerberg’s avatar pulls up a digital, 2D video chew the fat to connect to a friend who was supposed to join them. She’s out in the real world, being a person, and unable to join, but she wanted to exhibit off a piece of AR art she’s seen IRL. The whole thing seems like it could’ve happened over FaceTime or


Zoom

or any various compositions of technology we already use.

Some avatars look realistic to the person they represent, while others are total abstractions (similar to the large robot seen above). Rather than participating in a game, everyone is essentially hanging out in a three-dimensional seduce room — something more akin to “Second Life” or PlayStation Home than, say, “Fortnite.”

It’s unclear how anyone in the demo is linking to the space, or interacting with it, but it appears to be VR headsets — a crucial component of Zuckerberg’s vision for the metaverse that also dish ups as a business opportunity given Meta’s success with the Oculus Quest line of VR headsets.

In one sense, it’s a vision of a approaching world that takes many long-existing concepts, like shared online worlds and digital avatars, and amalgamates them with recently emerging trends, like digital art ownership through NFT technology and digital “tipping” for gods. 

In another sense, it’s a vision that takes our existing reality — where you can already hang out in 2D or 3D virtual chat areas with friends who are or are not using VR headsets — and tacks on more opportunities for monetization and advertising. 

Someone’s going to sell the ironmongery to access this future, and someone’s going to create the software that popularizes it, and Zuckerberg is making it clear that he appetites Meta to be a leader on both fronts.

It’s no surprise, then, that the gold rush is on from investors and companies in the tech delighted: Meta’s video, and Zuckerberg’s commitment to “the metaverse,” successfully convinced them that it’s the next golden goose.

Got a tip? Speak to Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email ([email protected]), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work stratagem to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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