Utopia Brain

Science Our real world may dissolve in the meta world-version, warns a renowned expert The creator of augmented reality and authority in the field warns against the world of the metaversion that is being prepared by Facebook founder Mark Zuckeberg. He used to create the first glasses depicting digital objects in real terms for the US Air Force, but today Louis Rosenberg draws attention to the negative aspects of the creeping connection between the virtual world and reality. He writes in Big Think magazine that the metaverse project recently introduced by Facebook founder Mark Zuckeberg could be much worse than current social networks manipulating our reality by filtering out what we have or don’t see. In addition, it will blur the line between the real and virtual worlds. “Our surroundings will be filled with people, places, objects and activities that don’t really exist, and yet they seem deeply authentic to us,” says innovator Rosenberg. Will you enter Zuck’s universe? The term “virtual reality” is most often associated with monitoring the digital environment through a VR helmet. Today, however, the newer term “augmented reality” (AR) is increasingly leaning alongside him. In it, the distinction between virtual and real scenery is much more nebulous. A typical example of augmented reality are some smartphone games, such as Pokémon Go, in which you catch computer monsters while walking through a real city. The use of augmented reality as a new way of connecting people also has a metaverse as its goal, a kind of 3D internet – a virtual environment that you can enter instead of just watching the monitor. The main role in the metaverse is played by special sets for virtual and augmented reality – VR and AR glasses, smartphones and other devices that work with these technologies. The concept that “Zuck” recently introduced has many offshoots – from the virtual reality observed through the VR helmet to the AR glasses, through which the virtual environment should be reflected in the view of the ordinary world. But that is what Rosenberg warns against. “I’m worried about augmented reality being used by platform providers who control the Internet infrastructure,” Rosenberg writes for Big Think. The virtual world displaces reality Rosenberg sees nothing wrong with augmented reality, but he says the problem is that Zuckeberg, the owner of Facebook, Instagram and other social networking applications, is coming with him. Rosenberg fears that the metaverse will include paid filters that may display information about people around you that they don’t want to share. It could be argued that social network users often misuse information about themselves, carelessly and voluntarily. But Rosenberg does not end with this argument. He warns that Zuckeberg’s metaverse will have the ability to displace reality from life. If the metaverse spreads to every bit of reality, it will be “necessary” to use it for work communication as well, as many people today have established a profile on social networks for work communication. In short, metaverse can infiltrate most aspects of our lives. But in Rosenberg’s eyes, that means it won’t be easy to leave the metaverse. In addition, this “false reality,” as Rosenberg calls it, will be permeated by the ad filter that its provider wants. When will it be? However, ethical issues may overtake practical difficulties. As a similar idea on Google Glass has shown, using augmented reality tools is fun for a few enthusiasts so far – not widespread for a substantial part of the population. Even computerized online MMORPGs, which are close to metaversion, are played by tens of millions of people worldwide. Facebook, on the other hand, has almost three billion active users. There are several reasons for this, but one of them is the fact that you only need a cheap computer or smartphone to use Facebook – not expensive hardware, a VR helmet, AR goggles or something even more complicated. As long as the metaverse hardware is limited to complicated VR helmets or AR glasses in the spirit of Google Glass, something will hardly change. After all, Facebook would be outraged if it came in 1984 instead of 2004. It did not reach real growth until the advent of smartphones a few years later. True, Zuckeberg is working on his own Nazare AR glasses. Without a breakthrough in power consumption, computing power and batteries, Nazare can hardly differ significantly from the hitherto unsuccessful Google Glass. This does not mean, however, that the ethical issues mentioned by Rosenberg are not valid – but we will probably have to address them in a decade at the earliest, perhaps later. All this, unless the metaverse collapses by the weight of its own ambitions.

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