CRYPTO CURRENCY NEWS: Metaverse: Five Things You Need to Know and What It Could Do for You

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Steve Benford is Professor of Collaborative Computing at the University of Nottingham .

In the wake of Facebook rebranding as Meta, reflecting its focus on the “metaverse”, Microsoft has now announced it, too, will launch into this space.

Meta has proposed that the metaverse will eventually allow us to engage across education, work and social contexts, while Microsoft looks to be focusing specifically on the realm of the virtual office for now.

. But what is the metaverse? To what extent is it going to impact our daily lives and how can we trust that the vision presented is true?

. The idea isn’t entirely new. Science fiction author Neal Stephenson coined the term “metaverse” in his 1992 cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, presenting a 3D virtual world in which people, represented as avatars, could interact with each other and artificially intelligent agents.

. As with any vision of a future, many have attempted to define the metaverse. It may be helpful to learn some of the properties that you can expect from the metaverse if you are new to the idea.

1. The most important feature of a metaverse is a virtual world: . It could be explored using a computer or gaming console, mobile device, wearable technology, or any other device that can display 3D graphics and sound. The idea is that this makes you feel more present in the metaverse, and presumably less present in the everyday world (where your body stubbornly remains).

Read more: Facebook relaunches itself as ‘Meta’ in a clear bid to dominate the metaverse

2. Virtual reality. To do this, you will need a virtual reality headset. The idea here is that you become immersed in the virtual world, so you feel even more present – at least until you bump into something that remains in the everyday world, like the coffee table.

3. Others. Social is a key concept in the metaverse. Many other people are represented as avatars. These avatars could be bots, virtual agents or manifestations artificial intelligence. You can meet up with others or do things together. Given Facebook’s history as a social network, the social aspect will likely be central to Facebook’s metaverse.

Metaverse fans and some researchers believe communication may be more natural than with video conferencing because, for example, you can use gaze to show who you are addressing (your avatar can turn its head to look at another person). To start a conversation, your avatar could walk over to another avatar and sit beside them.

4. Persistence. The virtual world is always available to you whenever you wish. It can be modified by adding virtual buildings and other objects. The changes will also remain in effect the next time you visit. It might be possible to become a resident and take possession of a portion. Your user-generated content, your digital creations and personal stories will be the basis of the metaverse. It is similar to social media.

5. The connection to the real world. Some visions of the metaverse show that the virtual stuff in a virtual world is actually real stuff in real life. You might, for example, fly a virtual drone to control a real drone in the metaverse. People talk about the real and virtual as being “digital twins“.

CRYPTO CURRENCY NEWS: What can I do in a metaverse, and how soon?

Different corporations will probably have their own visions or even local versions of the metaverse but, like the internet, they will all be connected, so you can move from one to the other.

. It’s possible that some things will be more appealing and practical than other. Playing games would seem to be a reasonable leap, as many gamers already enjoy online gaming, and some games, to a degree, have already entered the metaverse (think back to the characteristics above).

. It’s appealing to be able socialize with other people and feel as though you are there in person, especially in this pandemic age.

. We don’t yet have a clear understanding of Meta’s metaverse offerings. In announcing the rebranding, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg mentioned different possibilities. It is possible to play chess online with others around the world, or appear in real meetings as a hologram.

Could the metaverse represent our digital future? Not necessarily. Zhuravlev Andrey/Shutterstock

Facebook’s vision of the metaverse is as being our future interface to the internet. It remains to be seen if we will ever have access to all internet services via 3D virtual worlds or virtual reality headsets.

Headsets still appear to be a somewhat niche technology in spite of many large corporations’ attempts to bring them to market in recent years, including Facebook with their purchase of Oculus.

. I suspect that Facebook will be involved in this long-term and that their vision for the metaverse still has many years to become a (virtual). reality.

Read more: What is the metaverse? 2 media and information experts explain

CRYPTO CURRENCY NEWS: A final observation

Stephenson’s original vision of the metaverse was very exciting, but also full of possibilities for both online and real world harms, from addiction, to criminality, to the erosion of democratic institutions. Stephenson’s metaverse was dominated by large corporations. Governments were relegated to paper-shuffling outposts.

. Given the tensions between governments and big tech around privacy and freedom of speech, it is important to consider what type of metaverse you want to create and who has the right to regulate it.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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