The upcoming meta-universe battle

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Virtual and augmented reality updates

Long before the Internet entered the public consciousness, there was an information superhighway.

The name became popular in the early 1990s to describe a digital backbone network that is expected to become a communication, entertainment, and business channel. The media and telecommunications giants at the time dreamed of controlling this ubiquitous network.

What finally appeared in the form of the Internet was a more open network, paving the way for a new category of online intermediaries.

Decades later, some people in the science and technology community believed that they could see a new field of information gleaming on the horizon: the meta universe. A completely immersive virtual reality world, where people can alternatively pursue all aspects of life, just like in a parallel digital universe.

Like the information superhighway, the early vision of the meta universe is likely to be an imperfect approximation of the final appearance of reality. What form it takes and what its first “killer app” will be is a guess. And, most importantly, who will set the rules and collect the profits is yet to be determined-even though today’s Internet giants are in a leading position.

Of course Mark Zuckerberg has placed a bet.At the end of last month, Facebook CEO Announce His company will one day not be regarded as a social network, but a “Metaverse Corporation”.

Given the political pressure on Facebook, this seems to be an attempt to distract. However, trying to shape the future like this has always been an important way for technology companies to prepare the market for the products they plan to sell next, and Zuckerberg has been in this area for some time.He has been seven years purchase Virtual reality company Oculus.

He is likely to have to wait for a while to get a return on these investments. For many people, the idea of ​​some of the most important personal and social interactions through digital avatars in the virtual world evokes a distant but not particularly attractive sci-fi future.

However, after the pandemic has brought social isolation to most of the world’s population, the idea of ​​escaping into a fully digital space does not seem so weird anymore. If employees use Zoom so easily, why not gather in the digital office?

This is not an all-or-nothing thing. Unlike allowing users to directly enter a complete VR world, the meta-universe is likely to take shape gradually. For example, if you use augmented reality to project all aspects of the meta-universe onto the physical world, you will first see it formed as a partial digital overlay.

The final product may be the ultimate “walled garden”, a place where a single company benefits from the user’s complete immersion. If Facebook and other large Internet companies build their own – especially if they each sell their own proprietary hardware to access these areas – then the result could be a collection of isolated worlds, forcing digital citizens to choose where they spend most of their time .

On the other hand, Metaverse can contain a set of more closely interconnected worlds, some of which are completely controlled by the user. This will be a place where people can take personal data, digital goods and favorite services with them.

It is easy to think of Internet giants as today’s version of the power of telecommunications and media in the early 1990s, dreaming of shaping and owning the next iteration of online media. In this comparison, it is also easy to regard blockchain technology and cryptocurrency as the decentralized power of the early Internet. Encryption enthusiasts see people have their corners in a more decentralized meta-universe, instead of throwing all their data on several huge platforms.

However, restricting the power of dominant technology companies is not easy. This will largely depend on the results of the current global push for more effective supervision. It also depends on whether the technology behind the encryption revolution will produce new experiences and new ways of interaction that today’s mass online services cannot provide. Exactly what these might be is still difficult to say.

As far as the current situation is concerned, today’s Internet powers are in a favorable position to dominate the future meta-universe. If this happens, they will eventually have greater power than they do now to shape the online lives of billions of people. What could go wrong?

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