Why did Silicon Valley decide to bet on the ‘virtual universe’?
More and more big companies are investing heavily in virtual universe gambling to prepare for the next internet wave.
According to CNN, Facebook is facing many controversies surrounding antitrust violations, spreading fake news about vaccines. But in a recent meeting with analysts, CEO Mark Zuckerberg did not mention the above controversies, but spent an hour talking about the company’s metaverse ambitions.
What is virtual universe?
The virtual universe was originally seen as an outlet for post-apocalyptic societies in science fiction novels. Now the idea has suddenly become a target for Silicon Valley and a favorite topic of conversation among startups, venture capitalists, and tech giants.
They want to create a space similar to the internet, but users can use their virtual avatar to walk around in that space, interacting with others in real time. In theory, you could sit around a virtual conference table with colleagues around the world instead of just staring at their 2D faces on Zoom. After the meeting, you can go to the virtual Starbucks to meet your loved ones who are far away.
Mark Zuckerberg has been interested in the concept of virtual universe since high school and considers it “the successor of the mobile internet”. But he is not the only one to predict the new trend. Last week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the company was building an “enterprise virtual universe”. Epic Games has successfully raised $1 billion for its virtual universe ambitions, bringing the company’s market value to nearly $30 billion. In June, venture capitalist Matthew Ball opened an exchange-traded fund where people can invest in virtual universes, including graphics chip maker Nvidia and gaming platform Roblox.
Despite the current craze, the idea of a virtual universe is still very vague. It could take years and billions of dollars for the first virtual universe to become a reality. The companies participating in the current discussion probably just want to reassure investors that they are catching up with the latest trend. Especially in the case of Facebook, the virtual universe would be a useful way to distract the public from the scandals surrounding the company.
Whatever the motive, the big question remains. How will companies ensure safety and privacy in the virtual universe? Do people really want to live in an immersive world?
“My biggest concern about virtual universes is: Are we ready? Are we emotionally evolved enough to go beyond the boundaries of the screen? Is it safe for us to start interacting on a more than human level, or are there going to be people disrupting us?”
The word “metaverse” comes from the 1992 novel Snow Crash by writer Neal Stephenson. In that world, governments have been replaced by corrupt corporations. Living in a storage container, a hacker named Hiro Protagonist uses the virtual universe as an escape from his deadlocked life. But the virtual universe in the story is also fraught with serious problems like technology addiction, discrimination, harassment, violence, and sometimes they will spill over into the real world.
That’s a far cry from the optimistic scenario that Zuckerberg and other companies paint, and no one has clearly defined what the virtual universe will be like. Like the internet, the virtual universe is not a single technology, but an ecosystem that is built gradually over time with the help of many companies, using many different technologies. There are now analogies to virtual universes, such as many people willing to spend thousands of dollars on virtual real estate even though they can’t live in it, or games like Fortnite that allow players to create virtual worlds and invite them. friends join.
The reason why the virtual universe became a trend
Every few years, the idea of a virtual universe is dug up, discussed, and then disappeared. However, this time it may be different. “There are a lot of people still developing virtual universes, it’s just that we’re waiting for some of the most technological advancements,” said Jesse Alton, lead team at Open Metaverse, which is developing the open source standard for virtual universes. determined”.
Improvements in mobile device processors, game systems, internet infrastructure, VR headsets, and cryptocurrencies are all important bricks for creating virtual universes and ensuring more people join them. Moreover, the Covid-19 epidemic forced the whole world to work, study and communicate remotely, many people are gradually getting used to virtual interaction compared to two years ago. So technology companies are taking advantage of this opportunity to promote the concept of virtual universe.