Is Metaverse a costly impasse or a future revolution?
Work, entertainment, social relations… Like artificial intelligence, the metaverse could soon upset all aspects of our society. Is Metaverse a costly impasse or a future revolution?
For Mark Zuckerberg, this is no more, no less, than the future of the internet. At the end of 2021, the creator of Facebook renames his company Meta. In the process, he explains that he wants to invest more than US$ 10 billion per year in the construction of his immersive world accessible via a virtual reality helmet, such as Meta Quest 2. “In the 2030s, we will no longer use the same technology than today to communicate (…) Someone has to believe in it and invest, ”he explained to the New York Times at the end of 2022.
Changing once again our relationship to the Internet. “I believe that the prevailing logic, in the case of Zuckerberg, is to say to oneself: “I am going to invest, and I will see my return on investment in the long term”, notes Asma Mhallah, specialist in the political stakes of the digital.
Overtaken by TikTok and shunned by young people, Facebook is forced to reinvent itself. And for its creator, determined to reign over the future Web3.0, this reinvention has a name: Horizon.
With Horizon Worlds, Meta displays considerable ambition. Work, entertainment, education… The company wants to make its virtual universe an essential part of your daily life, by paying the price. Even if it means placing the metaverse at the very heart of the firm’s development strategy.
“Innovations that mark a fundamental break in usage require a long time and above all a vision, further comments Asma Mhallah. These are necessarily risky bets and especially risky financial bets”.
Available since the end of 2021, Horizon Worlds has so far struggled to keep its crazy promises. The virtual world made in Meta is singled out for its graphics deemed outdated, its bugs and its relative stability. For the time being, only 200,000 users would regularly play the game, a figure still far from the expected revolution. Enough to feed doubts and questions internally.
In a note dated September 2022, Vishal Shah, vice president in charge of the metaverse, wonders: “Within Meta, we do not spend a lot of time in Horizon. Why don’t we like the product we built? If we don’t like it, how can we hope to make our users like it?”
What cool some shareholders of the group who would not taste the stubbornness of Mark Zuckerberg. In an open letter to him in October 2022, Brad Gerstner, a major investor in Meta, warned its founder: “An investment of more than $10 billion in an unknown future is oversized and terrifying, even by the standards of Silicon Valley”. “Ten years from now, people will look back and talk about the importance of the work done here (…) I think our work is of historic importance,” replies the main interested party.
But faced with the success of artificial intelligence, and in particular ChatGPT, Mark Zuckerberg, anxious to reassure investors, said in early February that AI would now be Meta’s priority in the short term and that the metaverse would be developed over time.
Only time will tell if the creator of Facebook was right before everyone else and if Meta managed to make this old geek dream a life-changing reality for the general public. But the idea of an immersive virtual world, widely exploited by cinema and literature for decades, is not new and Meta is far from the only actor to take a serious interest in it.
War of the Worlds
As proof, the great powers that are the United States and China are monitoring the evolution of the metaverse very closely. “For economic reasons and to maintain technological leadership over time, which takes on a dual dimension,” says Julien Nocetti, specialist in the geopolitics of technologies and researcher at Ifri. They are interested in it for commercial reasons, wanting to ensure mastery of the metaverse in order to then export its products, services and technical standards, but also from a military perspective. It is a question, in particular, of these two great powers, of potentially combining the metaverse with military maneuvers, even with strategies of disinformation in times of war as in times of peace”.
And for its part, the European Union does not intend to watch the train pass. “The metaverse is one of the urgent digital challenges that we must meet, explains on Twitter, the European commissioner in charge of the internal market, Thierry Breton. To promote its emergence in Europe, we will rely on people, infrastructure and technology.
Well aware of having missed the mark with social networks, the Old Continent wants to ensure its digital sovereignty in the future. And faced with the American or Chinese giants, it is on the normative aspect that Europe could stand out.
But at a time of climate change and major environmental challenges, the question is whether humanity can still afford the luxury of developing such an energy-intensive technology… which is still struggling to find a real raison d’être. and to convince the general public of its usefulness.
Different perspectives on future revolution and costly Impasse of Metaverse
The concept of the metaverse is still evolving, and its potential impact on the future is subject to debate. While some see it as a future revolution, others view it as a costly impasse. Here are different perspectives on the matter:
- Enhanced User Experience: Proponents argue that the metaverse has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with technology, providing immersive and interconnected experiences beyond what is currently possible.
- New Business Opportunities: The metaverse could create vast opportunities for innovative businesses and entrepreneurs. It could enable the development of new virtual goods and services, digital economies, and unique monetization models.
- Collaboration and Connectivity: The metaverse could facilitate collaboration and connectivity on a global scale, allowing people from different locations to work together, socialize, and engage in shared experiences in a virtual environment.
- Technological Advancements: The development of the metaverse could drive technological advancements in areas such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud computing, benefiting various industries.
- Technological Limitations: Critics argue that the current technology infrastructure is not yet ready to support the full realization of the metaverse. Challenges such as bandwidth limitations, device compatibility, and scalability may hinder its widespread adoption.
- Privacy and Security Concerns: As the metaverse involves collecting and sharing vast amounts of personal data, there are concerns about privacy and security. Safeguarding sensitive information and ensuring user protection would require robust measures and regulations.
- Economic Disparities: Building and participating in the metaverse could require significant financial resources, potentially creating economic disparities and exclusivity. Accessibility and affordability for all individuals and businesses may be a challenge.
- Social and Ethical Implications: The metaverse raises ethical and societal questions, including issues of digital identity, virtual property rights, addiction, and the blurring of boundaries between virtual and physical realities. Addressing these concerns would require careful consideration and ethical frameworks.
Overall, whether the metaverse becomes a costly impasse or a future revolution depends on various factors, including technological advancements, market demand, infrastructure development, regulatory frameworks, and societal acceptance. As the concept continues to evolve, it will be important to monitor its progress, weigh the benefits and challenges, and adapt accordingly.
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