I have yet to experience the metaverse, but it’s coming. My understanding of the metaverse is still hazy. However, with the rebranding of Facebook to Meta Platforms Inc. (“Meta” for short), I decided to learn more about it. Based on my understanding, the metaverse will be a way for us to:
- Experience our existing world in a new way; and
- Connect with others in a more tangible, yet still virtual, way.
For example, instead of a Zoom call, we might be able to walk around a virtual conference room. I imagine something similar, but more technically advanced, to the conference I attended. Another example is the virtual production room BMW built to mirror its real life production room. They did this to improve efficiency. Having a simulation of an assembly line allows them to test out processes to build new models. This enables them to make changes and adjustments before investing time and resources to develop it. Or it allows them to make changes in real time after testing them in a safe and risk-free virtual replica.
Learning more about the metaverse is interesting. Especially as I’m discovering the places where it could be really beneficial. However, I’m wary of how it will be developed and by whom. One of the most concerning parts is Meta’s (aka Facebook) involvement. I wonder how the metaverse will operate. Will it be freely available? Or will we have to pay money to use it? Or pay with our personal data and information?
And the one thing the metaverse can’t provide is touch. We’ve all been missing touch and real-life human connection since the pandemic started. No amount of technology is going to replicate that experience.
As for me, if I could enter the metaverse I would use it to visit all the worlds we’ve already destroyed. I would scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef. Walk through majestic, mystical old growth forests in the Pacific northwest. Visit the tropical rain forests, without the smell of oil and mining. Tromp through marshy, boggy lands bridging fresh water with salt water. Meander along beaches without seeing a single piece of plastic or that weird, sludgey, polluted foam. Ironic that we use technology to create an escape hatch, rather than using it to fix the problems we’ve created.