The DeanBeat: Facebook’s ambitions to be the metaverse

The DeanBeat: Facebook’s ambitions to be the metaverse

Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook Connect. Join gaming leaders online at GamesBeat Summit Next this upcoming November 9-10. Learn more about what comes next.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ‘s decision to change his corporation’s name to Meta yesterday at the Facebook Connect online event was a historic moment.

The decision faced heavy criticizism and turned into a meme. Seamus Blackley, co-creator of the Xbox, tweeted that Zuckerbergs new Meta logo should come with the caption, “Here’s a schematic representation of my testicles.” Many more unkind and funny jokes mocked Zuckerberg’s grand plans. “Here’s a schematic representation of my testicles.” — Seamus Blackley (@SeamusBlackley) October 28, 2021 People said the move was tone deaf, coming at a time when Facebook has caught so much flak for putting profits above caring for people or political peace.

While many people made fun of Zuckerberg, I saw some shrewd moves. Lots of people have mocked the metaverse , the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected. But I’ve been thinking about it ever since reading novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One . It has been decades in the making, and while it’s here in some small forms like Second Life and Grand Theft Auto Online, and Roblox, it isn’t really here yet. As futurist Matthew Ball said, the metaverse is something that you should feel you’re inside of. And as Zuckerberg said, you should feel a sense of presence, or that feeling you have been transported somewhere else.

I have been mocked for believing in the metaverse. Against the advice of some, I created a metaverse event in January 2021, and it had 30 panels on the metaverse and brought together many of gaming’s leaders. (We’ve got another conference, GamesBeat Summit Next on November 9-10 where we’re talking about the metaverse again, and our second annual metaverse event will come in January.) While people laughed at me, I stayed the course. And I never expected Facebook, a company with enough money to do the job, to embrace the metaverse like it did yesterday.

Zuckerberg had some awareness he would be criticized. In a press event ahead of the announcement, he said (given the controversies), “I just want to acknowledge that I get that probably there are a bunch of people will say that this isn’t a time to focus on the future. And I want to acknowledge that there are clearly important issues to work on in the present. And we’re committed to continuing to do that and continuing the massive industry-leading effort that we have on that. At the same time, I think there will always be issues in the present. So I think it’s still important to push forward and continue trying to create what the future is.”

All of us science fiction geeks have been laughed at. The smart pundits at places like CNN are mocking Zuckerberg for being such a geek. But Jensen Huang, the CEO of Nvidia, is famous for saying “we’re living in science fiction.” He meant that AI struggled for so long and finally began working around six years ago. Now AI is huge, with 8,500 startups working on so many new technologies, and it is leading to advances in other areas. And yes, AI is one of the necessary breakthroughs that we need to build the metaverse. Because we succeeded with AI, we have a chance to succeed with the metaverse. I think a lot of smart people realize that, and they’re dreaming about it too alongside Zuckerberg.

I know we are a long way from the real metaverse that we all want to be amazingly immersive and instantaneous and ubiquitous regardless of our locations in the world. What we are hoping for is just a long way from reality. But Zuckerberg’s cool images and videos got the feeling right. If he can deliver on his animated visions with the real thing, then that would be really something.

If I were to bring up my favorite adage again — follow the money — I would conclude that so much money is going into the metaverse that it is going to happen. You don’t orchestrate something so huge, something on the scale of the Manhattan Project, and then come out of it on the other side without an atomic bomb. The metaverse will happen because capital is betting that it will happen, and I’ll grant that Zuckerberg has some wisdom in seeing this. The war between Facebook and Apple

Above: Facebook’s demo of the metaverse. But he’s not […]

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