The web is dead, long live the Metaverse!

The summer period is favorable for all types of reading, especially science fiction authors, who are always quick to imagine futuristic worlds. Neil Stephenson is one of these reference authors. at ” virtual samurai This American author imagines a world in which the real universe merges with a parallel cyberspace. This dystopian novel describes the saga of Hiro (the famous) protagonist, the hacker by trade, who co-created a virtual world, the Metaverse, where he works, moves, and meets his friends. Reality when you connect to enter this parallel universe made up of lines of computer code – to go fast, a world where the physical laws of time, space and gravity no longer matter.

It seems that this vision guides Mark Zuckerberg, the symbolic head of Facebook[1]. By imagining the Internet of tomorrow, he intends to make his group a virtual reality champion in order to transform it in 5-6 years into ” metaverse company. Get out of the Facebook we know as a “simple” social network, and welcome to the company that will offer its 2.5 billion users the opportunity to dive into a virtual world made up of avatars.

Tomorrow’s Network, according to Mark Zuckerberg

This ambition can be understood a little better when we decipher the term “metaverse”: dead “, in Greek” behind ” And ” pour Contraction of the English word universe, being Thus, the vision of the network of tomorrow, according to Mark Zuckerberg, consists not simply in being a spectator of content, but in becoming an actor yourself immersed in a world where everything, or almost everything, is made possible thanks to virtual reality.

In a lengthy interview published at the end of last July on the website of the American technology magazine “The Verge” [2] Mark Zuckerberg explained his vision, saying: [dans ce Metaverse]And The interactions that we will have will be much richer … In the future, via holograms, I will have the impression that we are in the same place, even if we are hundreds of kilometers away … Facebook intends to build this new technology tools that will provide additional experiences that allow us to feel close from each other.”

To achieve this vision of a world where virtual and augmented realities will become the new standard, the head of Facebook has given himself the means: several billion dollars in budget and a team of 10,000 employees gathered at Facebook Reality Labs, to handle the construction of this virtual universe [3].

Jump into the world of virtual reality

before Facebook became metaverse company, The company has already successfully dealt with this virtual reality world via her helmet (Oculus) or her platform, Facebook skylinewhich, despite its imperfection, looks almost like a small social network.

Recently, the world of business targeted the launch Horizon workrooms He shares in this ambition to push users to switch to these virtual universes where users interact through avatars.

Horizon workrooms

Watch the launch clip [4] From this new service suggests what this metaverse could be: here, a professional meeting in which dozens of “people”, seated around a large round table, participate in a presentation by talking to each other or again by “moving” towards a screen on which they can write On it, except that all the guests assembled around this meeting table were fictional characters, avatars chosen by the participants, themselves very real, wearing their virtual reality headset, which made the choice “to be represented” by these cartoon characters.

Heresy nerds or brilliant intuition?

While waiting for this world to appear in virtual reality, the idea of ​​a “Metaverse” raises countless questions. In addition to the fact that the rate of equipment in VR headsets is still very low (less than 7% of households versus 2% in 2016) [5]) and that it is not necessarily easy to get comfortable with this object weighing about 400 grams, which, moreover, is likely to cause migraines and nausea, the questions regarding this project to build parallel digital universes relate to the protection of people’s rights and the ethical aspect of this technology.

Will it be necessary to devise new legislation to regulate this artificial space? Would we allow a company or a tech oligopolistic company with nearly unlimited financial resources to be the sole masters of the game of these virtual universes? Without forgetting of course the exact topic of data protection? (Leaks of personal data, particularly those from GAFA, are now abundant…) Or even respect for the expression of freedoms on these platforms. In short, the question will first be to agree on where this virtual world will begin and where it will end? If the question is startling, the answer is very complex.

More fundamentally, this metaverse asks us questions about the mistakes of some tech experts who have given themselves the task “to look elsewhere”. Here, colonizing the planet Mars, there creating virtual worlds populated by pretending. Does reality seem so boring to them that it is no longer enough for them? True, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, everything is going for the better on our planet. It is not as if humanity no longer has, here and now, enormous challenges to contend with…