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Virtual reality. Stock photo from Unsplash

The Metaverse is here

Facebook, which owns platforms including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, rebranded as Meta on 28 October, 2021. In the Metaverse, there exists alternate digital realities where people work, play, and socialize. Also known as the AR Cloud, the Magicverse, the Spatial internet, or Live Maps, it is an immersive next-generation version of the internet that relies heavily on virtual reality technology.

Published: November 1, 2021, 1:21 pm

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    Mark Zuckerberg’s dream for the future involves people staring at virtual worlds instead of participating in the real one.

    “Imagine walking down the street. Suddenly, you think of a product you need. Immediately next to you, a vending machine appears, filled with the product and variations you were thinking of. You stop, pick an item from the vending machine, it’s shipped to your house, and then continue on your way.

    “Next, imagine a husband and wife. The husband offers to go to the store but the wife can’t remember the name and type of product she needs. Her brain-computer interface device recognizes it for her and transmits a link to her husband’s device, along with what stores and aisles it’s located in,” Forbes noted.

    For most of us, being on the internet is still a choice, but soon increased connectivity, devices and technologies which use artificial intelligence algorithms, will determine what individuals see and how they socialize. Wikipedia defined it as an enhanced collective virtual shared space.

    But most humans realize that even now, staring at a smartphone screen to watch mindless TikTok videos may not be good for one’s mental health. Also, using TikTok regularly, either as a consumer or content creator, increases the user’s digital footprint. This already poses great risks such as being more prone to phishing attacks and stalking.

    The word “metaverse” is a portmanteau of “meta” and “universe”. The term was coined in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, where humans, as avatars, interact with each other and software agents, in a three-dimensional virtual space that uses the metaphor of the real world.

    Stephenson used the term to describe a virtual reality-based successor to the Internet.

    Facebook said it changed its name to Meta to reflect its new focus on building technologies that “bring the metaverse to life” and described it as “an embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it.” But this “experience” is still just a feeling generated by sight and sound which will be controlled at the expense of users through various computer-mediated virtual environments.

    Technologies are the enablers that drive the transition from the current Internet to the metaverse, such as Extended Reality, User Interactivity (Human-Computer Interaction), Artificial Intelligence, Computer Vision, Edge and Cloud computing, and Future Mobile Networks.

    In this shared realm of Mark Zuckerberg’s AI-enslavement, user-centric elements will include Avatar Identity, Content Creation, Virtual Economy, Social Acceptability, Presence, Security and Privacy, and Trust and Accountability.

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