Don’t give the Metaverse initiative to Big Tech | WIRED.jp

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Jean M. Volpiceri

Main editor of the American version “WIRED”. He is in charge of cryptocurrency, decentralized technology, policy, technology regulation, etc. Studied Politics and International Affairs in Rome and earned a Masters in Journalism from City University London. Lives in London.

There is a race to seize the business opportunity of enthusiasm on the metaverse. In January 2022, Microsoft announced that it was “a stepping stone to the Metaverse business” regarding the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, a major American video game company, for $68.7 billion. In the past, the acquisition would have been seen as the company Xbox, which literally wants to expand its reach in the gaming industry.

Meta Platforms, which changed its name from Facebook (from Metaverse), is working to develop the world’s fastest supercomputer to bolster the Metaverse space. Meta also plans to work with NFT (Non-Fungible Token) on its Facebook and Instagram social media platforms.

Related article:NFT’s ‘beginning of the end’? What the Meta and Twitter NFT expansion plans mean

Twitter has already rolled out the ability to convert user-owned NFTs to hex profile pictures, and YouTube will soon be close. According to the ever-growing number of metaverse commentators and experts, NFTs, a type of cryptocurrency similar to digital real estate certificates, will be an important component of the metaverse.

Is the Metaverse Really Realized?

Of course, to do this, this concept of virtual space must first become a reality. The metaverse is an elusive concept. The word “Metaverse” was coined from Neal Stephenson’s dystopian science fiction novel “Snow Crash” published in 1992. The book refocuses on venture capitalist Matthew Ball’s blog post, which depicts the Metaverse as a virtual space to escape the mafia-dominated turmoil and anarchy of the real world.

Related article:“Snow Crash” is also a satire of dystopian expression: Neal Stephenson’s role in science fiction (Part 1)

The metaverse concept, which Ball advocated and quickly became the sacred doctrine of this world, combines augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (MR) and mixed reality (MR) to create the real world in which people live. living humans. a permanent virtual world that seamlessly connects and grows online. Video games are one of them, but not the Metaverse itself. When people work and earn income in the metaverse, cryptocurrencies and tokens (NFTs) will play a major role as currencies and assets in the virtual world.

We’re told it’s okay, the Metaverse will happen.

The metaverse is thriving, but it should be noted that although everyone claims to be working on development, what it really is, how it should be and users really, no one knows if they want to use it .

As Gideon Richfield, editor of WIRED puts it, we are seeing a “land grab battle over the definition of terms” – companies and entrepreneurs are predicting that something is about to change. (next big thing) in the tech industry, defining its own name and characteristics (some have a[méta]strong image beyond common sense), and build profitable mechanics. I am enthusiastic. The question is whether the intended user (us) on the development side will benefit.

Unreasonable game

It’s clear what big tech has noticed. In recent years, people have been spending more time on the Internet. It was the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19) pandemic, which accelerated at an unimaginable rate.

White-collar workers started working from home, and in an instant the computer screen became their office. For the same reason, I was forced to spend my private time in the digital world. Cinemas are closed, bars are closed, parties are banned (except for UK government officials), bored people play video games, trade meme stocks that are touted on the market and assets cryptographic. activities, such as work on products and related products (NFT art, etc.).

Related article:What I Found Replicating a Local Pub in VR Under a Pandemic

At times, these activities have combined in a strange fusion of gaming and crypto-finance, with the emergence of paid online gaming platforms like the NFT-based video game Axie Infinity, and the poverty-stricken Philippines. It is a source of income for the Japanese. Big tech like Meta will continue to do so and eventually evolve into the Metaverse (also known as the “Next Internet”) with the advent of faster Internets, better virtual reality, and Internet economies. more efficient. I do it.

Related article:Are NFT games a game or a job: the future of “play to win”

It’s the game that makes no sense. To really work, we still have to stay home and hang out at home for a while. Except in very special cases, we will only visit the metaverse equivalent of virtual space when the club is closed, the concert is cancelled, and face-to-face meetings are prohibited, which is why.

It might be a smart bet (new variants, climate change, and the fear of nuclear war might keep us coming back), but to put it bluntly, it’s a bet on humanity. It’s not necessarily a bad thing for tech companies to refer to science fiction, but anyway, it shows up in Star Trek rather than the dark world of Snow Crash, which is full of violence that makes uncomfortable readers. at least choose something utopian, like Amazon’s Echo voice assistant, which is based on a chatty computer.

The second dance of the “Information Highway Concept”?

However, the problem with the Metaverse concept lies outside of morality. It’s not an unfinished, over-promoted product as a concept, like Google Glass, a token case of technical failure. It’s pure hype, with no product other than a few hypothetical “components”.

Benedict Evans, a London-based Entrepreneur First venture partner, is a pioneering digital communications network that connects Metaverse to the Information Superhighway Initiative, which connects everything from video games to interactive television and fiber optics to the national scale. widely used in the early 1990s.

The information superhighway initiative wasn’t completely wrong (we finally had the Internet), but many of the things that were thought to be the protagonists, like the role of interactive television, came to pass. Once again, tech companies are occupying the future of technology with unreliable things. It’s a technology company and, of course, a future that benefits them.

Big tech that can’t read the air

However, big tech like Meta and Microsoft feel they should have read the air of the world more.

In December 2009, Ubisoft, a French game studio, introduced NFT as a special item in the shooter “Ghost Recon Breakpoint”, and it’s a layer that seems to be jumping in the metaverse trend. Players rejected almost everyone in the world. Many gamers believe that the introduction of economic mechanisms and cryptocurrencies in the game is a way to raise money by making it impossible to play without spending money on NFTs, or by making it impossible to play on a equal footing with other rice fields.

Strangely enough, the CEO of the Japanese game development company Square Enix has announced that he is very attracted to NFTs, people who “play for fun” and people who “play to contribute to the world”. Letters classified in various categories have also been criticized. The idea that everyone wants to make and spend money playing video games may appeal to game makers and digital toy sellers, but some gamers stubbornly deny it.

Similarly, no one would want to work in the metaverse. Not just because the COVID-19 pandemic is heading towards convergence and people will gradually be able to work in the office again (Zoom stock shows this), but everyone is remote, globally as as a digital nomad. in the future, a colleague’s avatar awkwardly shakes his head up and down while the “Oculus” meta VR headset struggles to capture the cup of coffee with the camera and cannot display it on the screen. screen. to have.

Like me, some even claim that the good thing about working from home is that you don’t have to attend meetings all the time. But if you really have to do that, why would you bother wearing a big, bulky VR headset to interact with anime characters?

The “promised land” towards which the world should strive

However, there are more serious issues with Big Tech’s entry into the Metaverse domain.

Before Facebook changed its name to Meta in October 2009, at least according to Google Trends, the word “Metaverse” itself was rarely seen on the Internet. However, in a circle of a few people actively discussing the metaverse, there was growing interest in a single cyberspace that combined crypto assets, blockchain, and privacy technologies like a star (an equally vague term). “Web3”).

Related article:The truth that replaces trust (faith) ~LESS TRUST, MORE TRUTH~: Gavin Wood’s road to freedom

Not just as a user interface, but importantly, they saw the metaverse as a way to end the current internet with its immense power.

The “open metaverse” is the “promised land” the world should aim for, where the technological monopoly is gone, where everyone can manage data and digital assets themselves, and where users decide the direction of the whole. of the network. This is still an experimental and hypothetical concept, but one thing is clear. In other words, don’t give the initiative to Big Tech. If Big Tech worked on it, Metaverse wouldn’t be Metaverse anymore.

(WIRED US / Translation by So Kitagawa, LIBER / Edit by Michiaki Matsushima)

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