How Facebook’s metaverse wants to revolutionize the internet

The sensation was announced a few weeks ago, and the Facebook metaverse has already promised to take us into a virtual world that has never been explored before. But what exactly is it?

We heard about it several weeks ago. After announcing the creation of 10,000 jobs in Europe and the possibility of even changing the company’s name, Facebook is now looking at the metaverse as The future of Facebook as a company, but also as the future of social networking. A kind of trans-dimensional virtual world oscillating between the real and the immaterial, what exactly is a metaverse?

Thinking about the internet of tomorrow

Mark Zuckerberg is convinced of this: In the metaverse will power the internet of the future. Surfing the web, attending virtual events, networking, playing video games, even working from home… Our consumption of the web is about to take on a whole new dimension.

Several months ago, Battle Royale It is an electronic game It paved the way, gathering several million spectators in a few virtual concerts. Before Epic Games, others had already figured out the idea for the metaverse, both through cinema and as with One ready player by Steven Spielberg, released in 2018, or in a more realistic way, like Nvidia and his project Omniverse.

So the idea of ​​a virtual world is not new. It suffices to note the success of the play second life As early as 2003 to achieve this. In the hands of a giant like Facebook, the concept of the metaverse can take on very different dimensions.

In concrete terms, the possibilities offered by Facebook metaverses seem endless. From a smartphone, computer or – even better – a virtual reality headset, netizens will now be able to visit the apartment of their dreams, take a walk in a virtual showroom (where sold works will be NFTs), and attend movie sessions with their friends from the other side of the world. born of games, The metaverse has long gone through a minor stage of entertainmentAnd within a few years, Mark Zuckerberg predicts, the very idea of ​​the Internet could be revolutionized.

New golden egg chicken from GAFAM

If Facebook hopes to revolutionize consumer habits through the metaverse, it’s clearly not of altruistic origin. The company knows that tooShe can win big by dictating the future of social networks. While platforms “Historical” As Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram see audiences aging and engagement rates decline, the metaverse could allow GAFAM renew its offer, And opposing the Chinese octopus TikTok head-on.

Travis Scott at a concert in Fortnite – Epic Games credits

Among content creators in particular, there is no need to look far to understand the interest of the metaverse. It suffices to take as an example Travis Scott’s concert in Fortnite in April 2020, and about 27.7 million spectators, to achieve the potential access – and thus potential income – to the virtual world that Facebook dreamed of.

For brands too, the metaverse can be an opportunity to get the most out of the game. If a significant part of the revenue that Facebook generates each year is played by ads displayed on the social network, then the metaverse is already proving itself as Show selection for companies.

At the same time, the emergence of cryptocurrencies could also play a major role in the development of the metaverse, particularly via NFTs. The general public’s interest in irreplaceable tokens may have run out of steam in recent months, but these virtual objects could soon populate our virtual worlds. According to projections by research firm IDC, spending on NFTs should also increase sixfold between 2020 and 2024.

Dystopia or technological revolution?

The idea of ​​transitioning to a tangible parallel Internet that resembles the world has long tempted pop culture. Imagine in 1992 by novelist Neil Stephenson in virtual samuraiThe concept quickly captured SF’s imagination on both small and large screens. Since the epic matrix, Until One ready player And black mirrorAnd metaverse already exists in the collective imagination, So much so that we know what to expect without ever experiencing it.

However, the idea of ​​the metaverse itself also raises a number of questions, often more ethical than technological. Starting with our avatars, these are the virtual multiples that Mark Zuckerberg dreams of packing the new generation of his social network. In its development project, the company does not rule out an ideaEquip your Oculus headphones with a biometric reader, able to authenticate, but also to reproduce the wearer’s facial expressions. In addition to making future exchanges more realistic, this functionality above all risks providing an amount of sensitive bio-data to Facebook. Not necessarily the engagement of a company that is regularly flagged for its questionable management of personal data.

Virtual Reality Challenge

To implement its metaverse project, Facebook is browsing the idea of ​​a teleportation. In addition to holograms and augmented reality, which are able to transfer virtual reality to the real world, the company for several years has been betting heavily on virtual reality. It must be said that almost seven years after the acquisition of Oculus, it was time for GAFAM to take advantage of VR, which was in its infancy until then, and intended for video games. Started by the University of Utah in the 1970s, the technology had to wait until the 2000s to (finally) imagine widespread deployment. althoug, The concept is still a niche product todayNeither the Oculus Rift nor the PS VR nor the HTC Vive have yet been able to impose themselves on the general public.

virtual reality headset
Pixabay – Mohamed Hassan

Thus, the whole challenge for Facebook in the next few years will be Develop its own virtual reality technology Together with metaverses. To achieve this, the company intends to give itself the means: a few weeks ago, it announced at least $10 billion in investments research and development In the Reality Labs section. Because we have to be realistic: Mark Zuckerberg might insist that his virtual world can be accessed from any computer, and all the interests of the metaverse will make sense once an internet user has a VR headset.

The virtual world already exists

In its immersive nature, the interface of the Facebook metaverse stands out more than the Internet as we know it. able to push us into a virtual world without having to move from our living room, The concept pushes the boundaries of the physical worldto the point that we ask ourselves about the concept of reality itself.

Because we have to be realistic: if the idea today seems to us on the verge of science fiction, it was the same a few decades ago for the Internet. today, The Manichaean conflict between the real and the digital no longer really exists : We spend more and more time in front of a screen, creating and maintaining relationships on social networks, and our work as well as our entertainment responds more and more to the call of the intangible. It wasn’t necessary to wait for the metaverse to appear to see the boundaries between IRL and virtual worlds blurring. By imagining his social network in the future, Mark Zuckerberg is just logging in to the continuity of what started years ago already.

Instead of getting involved in the space war between Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg seems determined to invest in virtual space, which is not surprising in the end. Announced when it was still in its infancy, the metaverse is above all a vehicle for the blue logo company of Seduce another audience – those of young people – at a time when its audience is aging, struggling to monetize its content, and suffering from a reputation at its lowest since airing Facebook files. A lifeline for Facebook in the increasingly fierce internet market Many ethical questions. European and international regulators should seriously consider this issue in order to avoid it Let metaverse become a virtual no man’s landwhere Mark Zuckerberg was superior on board, as Stu Camilo in the series future Man.

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