Metaverse is the latest tech trend that everyone is talking about. In the media (a lot), the topic is often approached from the angle of technological innovation, Web 3.0, the future of the Internet. In October 2021, Mark Zuckerberg (his avatar) announced the new name of his group “Méta”, to sign his Metaverse project. Since then, these virtual universes have not stopped being challenged.
The Metaverse, what are we really talking about?
The Entourage network was swarming with Will, the first homeless man in the Metavers, to call attention to the isolation experienced by the homeless in real life.
The e-commerce giants already have their own universes, prestigious brands and stores. With a VR helmet clasped in your eyes, these massive universes offer you to play with your friends (avatars), join them for a concert or watch a movie, take part in a business meeting with your mates, test a car or visit an apartment.
Great ? Not sure. We know, thanks to ADEME, that half of the greenhouse gas emissions from digital technology are associated with data centers that store data (25%), and a sharp increase in uses indicates a doubling of the carbon footprint. by 2025. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been warning us for years of the causes (including digital) of global warming. the solution ? Demonstrate sobriety in different areas, digital, energy, transportation, etc.
In this context, is it really technological innovation to bet on a sustainable future? We asked Frédéric Bordage, founder of GreenIT.fr, a group of experts in digital sobriety. He is the author of several books on the subject and an advocate for ethical and organizational digital.
Interview with Frederic Burdge of Green.IT
- Metavers, can we really talk about a technological phenomenon?
For us, this is ancient, and not even obsolete, given the available mineral reserves from which high technology, including digital, is made. The IPCC figures alert us to the fact that in two and a half years we will reach our peak emissions And that it would take eight years to cut it in half. All experts already know that we will reach +1.5 degrees in 2026/2030, not in 2100.
Besides, the latest studies indicate that to realize the future of Metaverse and high-tech, It will be necessary to multiply the number of mines by three Where raw materials are extracted within 30 years. These mines are now the main sources of industrial waste and social tensions.
If there is a contribution to humanity or the future of our children, there will be no discussions. But Metaverses are engines of growth, a way for the digital industry to create new economic opportunities by providing the entire planet with virtual reality headsets.
I don’t think this will exist. Otherwise we’re headed toward a very divided future where on the one hand there will be rich people who are going to go out there and break the planet faster and increase social imbalances, which doesn’t seem very desirable. I think he’s doomed, like second lifeTen or fifteen years ago.
Another reason, there are currently two bills in the National Digital Regulatory Association. We, our children, depend a lot on screens. Therefore, civil society is in the process of creating laws to control the grip of digital technology on our brains. And this, all over the world.
There is, without exaggeration, a type of collective manipulation that digital actors are doing, exploiting unconscious mechanisms in our brains like the reward circuitry. In these universes, we will find ourselves most exposed to it dark style (addictive interfaces), like infinite gradient Or pellets with a number that allows users to be rewarded. the reason ? Homo sapiens living in the year 2022 has been chosen by evolution on one key characteristic: social contact. This is activated by the color correction of the interfaces, which gives the possibility of interchange with peers.
- At a time when all experts advocate digital sobriety, isn’t that an aberration?
In fact, digital technology accounts for more than a third of Europe’s annual sustainable package, i.e. the amount of greenhouse gases a person could emit to stay below 1.5 degree global warming, or the amount of water that could be taken in without affecting the water cycle, the same applies to non-natural resources renewable. When we look at the greenhouse gas emissions of a French person, we average between 8 and 12 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. The IPCC tells us that if we don’t want to go above 1.5 degrees, we’re entitled to 1.7 tons, so we’ll have to split our environmental footprint from 6 to 10 in 30 years. It’s massive.
The numerical ratio does not have to be 4%. They are details of our human life. It is also necessary to feed, transport, house, take care of yourself, etc. To enter the Metaverse, you need a VR helmet, that is, 50 kilograms of CO2 equivalent to manufacture it, and 200 kilograms of raw materials. In water, that equates to 80 cubic meters (80,000 liters of water)… Multiply by millions or billions of users, and that’s a lot.
- Should we regulate this kind of innovation?
You have to organize. For the first time, on November 15, 2021, France passed legislation on this subject with a digital regulation law by empowering actors and regulating uses. I hope that states will legislate faster and stronger about the uses of digital technology, because today, without getting involved in politics, we have a very liberal view of the topic, where everyone can do whatever they want with digital resources.
We have 30 years of digital technology ahead of us, at the rate we are consuming it. After that, we will have exhausted the resources that allow it to be produced. We have all become dependent on a resource that will be depleted in the near future. Metaverse helps speed up that limit. Do we want a digital that represents the Metaverse or allows us to preserve the climate, heal ourselves, etc.? ? It should be considered a public interest. It’s time for a civilizational choice of what we want to do with digital.
- Why do we go there then?
I think we’re dealing with a cognitive bias. As long as we don’t feel inside of us this wall that we’re crashing against, we won’t respond. In developed countries, such as France, we have shock absorbers (price, debt, exploitation of other peoples, etc.) which make us feel less about what is going to happen compared to countries of the South. They are already suffering the consequences, like the endangered countries of Oceania. They really feel the limits of the planets we get to.