by Rhiya Shrestha
by Rhiya Shrestha
The digital presence of people, places and things have been reconceptualized with a multitude of ideas being integrated into the artificial reality day by day. What was once a fantasized concept for tech enthusiasts has recently been a topic of interested eyes and minds since this very digital environment has been encapsulated as the next big thing. With Facebook rebranding itself as Meta and Mr Zuckerberg betting the company’s future onto the concept, the idea of artificial reality going mainstream is spiking interest in all areas imaginable.
The term metaverse was first coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash” where the concept was considered to be science fiction. Since then, digitally crafted reality has made its way into gaming, streaming and hangout platforms, all while gradually seeping into every minute second of our lives. Entire businesses have stemmed from a concept that sounded as rash as it could when it was first envisioned. It would not be wrong to consider the metaverse a parallel world allowing for seamless integration of the online and the physical world. Socializing, for instance, is no longer limited to cafes near you but can be done through virtual social platforms like Roblox and Fortnite. In over a few decades or so, Google maps may no longer function on a phone; rather it might be enunciated by an augmented reality where a pair of hi-tech goggles will figure out where you’re looking and which turn to take next. You might turn your head upon noticing a familiar cafe and the goggles will show you its menu and public reviews. Exciting, isn’t it? The younger generation has begun expecting a large portion of their lives to function in the metaverse. It’s best for the rest of us to get on board as well.
Metaverse seeks to incorporate the virtual world where users can connect as avatars of their own for activities including work, hangouts and entertainment. When the tech giant Facebook rebranded as Meta, Zuckerburg seemed hopeful in believing that this form of internet existence could, within a decade or so, replace the internet as we know it. “The next platform and medium will be an even more immersive and embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it, and we call this the metaverse”, he said.
The whole world of the metaverse is a simulation accessible with a pair of headsets strapped to one’s face. It’s a fusion of virtual reality(VR) and augmented reality (AR). In an interview with Wired this year in January, Philip Rosedale described the metaverse as a 3D internet populated with live people. Many have even begun making a living for themselves designing artificial accessories, assets and even pets and selling them in the virtual marketplace, to which, surprisingly these artists found that the ones who bought them viewed it as a real thing in the world. In this regard, it would not be wrong to consider that the metaverse could double out as a product or a service. Corporate meetings could be held online and the meta “mates” could hang out in scenarios of their choice, and actually see a virtual self of one another. The users will literally be in the space in their own individuality and functioning as real people in the real world.
For a promising and seamless experience, however, the hardware and software that are in use today would also demand a significant upgrade of quality and processing speeds. Experts claim that the current reliability and technical performance should increase by over a thousand times for the whole world to practically operate online. This eventual paradigm shift also comes with its own setbacks, especially when many online crimes are still on the rise with the version of the internet we have in operation today. Issues regarding phishing, identity theft, scamming, etc. can only become more persistent in nature, given the virtual world’s brand new existence.
The regulations to make this ultimate virtuality a part of our physical reality needs significant consideration regarding the governing aspect which would play a vital role in maintaining usability and decency for all those in the metaverse. While the quest of turning this virtual dream into reality persists, and top tech companies like Facebook (previously) and Microsoft seem to be operating on the same team, scepticism regarding the idea also tags along. A loss of $200 billion dollars for Meta while working on the idea also points towards a probable lack of resources to turn the vision into reality anytime soon. But hey, this could be the start of a technological revolution too. After all, if you try to do anything for the very first time, you’ll do it worse – only for history to thank you for that. The setbacks and requirements will be identified along the way, and eventually, a concept that seems so far-fetched today could be the need for time in the long run.
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