The Metaverse and It’s Impacts on Virtual Reality

The Concordia Courier

Concordia University campus

By Eva Prewitt and Olivia Highstreet | 1/21/2022

What is the Metaverse? It’s a question that has been plaguing a lot of people since the term was first coined last year by Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, the app, and owner of Meta, the rebranded Facebook, the company.

It gets a little confusing for me too.

But confusion seems to be on the menu today since no one seems to know what “The Metaverse” actually is. Is it meant to be the future of VR, a new game of some kind, or is it meant to be a way to connect people from all corners of the globe in a more semi-physical way?

The answer is something of an “all of the above.” To hear it described, the metaverse is not a singular technology, but a collection of technologies, and, more importantly, a new perspective in observing and interacting with that technology, all while building off our existing internet infrastructure, by using existing technologies, such as phones, virtual and augmented reality, computers, and existing servers, to build a more interconnected virtual world. 

The reality, however, is that despite Meta’s attempts to make The Metaverse seem appealing, it’s also not a realistic depiction of what it may or may not look like, at least not if we expect to see this within the next few years. Meta has advertised it’s Metaverse by showing off science-fiction levels of technology. 

One of the first presentations about the Metaverse showed a holographic woman interacting with another person halfway across the globe. The simple reality is that we cannot actually do that with modern technology.

Additionally, questions are being raised as to whether or not Meta should be the ones responsible for ushering us into this “Meta-future.” Facebook has seen more than its fair share of criticisms for censorship and favoritism on its platform, and there are those who view Mark Zuckerberg as something of a technological boogeyman.

“The minute that people control a form of communication and put limits on freedom of speech, that’s when I start getting nervous,” said Dr. David Schulz, professor of Communication Studies. “What concerns me about the metaverse is there are no checks and balances for it, and no way to filter anything. The people behind it will be letting in and out what they want. This applies to Instagram and Facebook too.”  

“It’s very much still a Wild West of sorts,” Schulz added, “They fact check people, but who fact checks them?”

This is a sentiment that has been echoed since the dawn of social media. The lack of accountability for big tech is viewed as a cause for concern with people, calling on governments to attempt to put limitations on the ever-increasing power of tech giants.

“From what I know of the metaverse, I think it’s like many things in that it can be good, bad, or a bit of both,” said junior Rebekah Mehrley. “On the one hand it can provide technology that makes business and entertainment more accessible, but it could also damage or destroy genuine human connection.”

The Metaverse may be in our future, but the promises made by its creator are a long way off, and only time will tell if it will be possible to fulfill them.

Tags: World News, Technology, community, development

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