What Is The Metaverse & Why Does It Matter?
Undoubtedly, the metaverse is the new favourite buzzword of the Internet. Apart from Facebook’s rebranding as “Meta,” the concept has made headlines for all right – and wrong – reasons. But what exactly is the metaverse? And in what way will it affect each one of us?
The metaverse is a hypothetical, universal, immersive, and all-encompassing virtual space that exists in parallel or as a replacement for the physical world.
It is associated with Web3 – a future iteration of the Internet. It is therefore a network of virtual worlds that can be accessed via augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets.
Author Neal Stephenson invented the term in his 1992 sci-fi novel Snow Crash as a combination of the words “universe” and “meta.” Today, the term does not refer to a specific type of technology. Rather, it is an umbrella term that refers to the way we will interact with technology.
Today’s version already contains several technologies. These are virtual reality, which includes virtual worlds and avatars, and augmented reality – which refers to the combination of the digital and physical. Moreover, some companies and thought leaders connect the metaverse with a decentralized digital economy.
Undoubtedly, the term has become a buzzword and many companies have jumped on the metaverse bandwagon. One of the most famous cases is Facebook’s rebrand to Meta.
According to the social media giant, this rebrand reflects its ambition to shape the future of the metaverse. Under the Meta umbrella, the company is now trying to create a platform where users can “socialize, work, learn, play, shop and create” across its apps.
The popularity of the term has also led many companies to call their game or platform a metaverse. Some even use the terms “multiverse of metaverse” or “hybrid-verse” to exaggerate the company’s technological developments.
This has led critics like journalist Lauren Jackson to say that the metaverse is simply a marketing tactic. Others, such as philosopher Nick Bostrom, have said that improvements in artificial intelligence will eventually lead to the normalization of the metaverse concept.
The idea of a coordinated, unified place is difficult to achieve, mainly because it would require companies to cooperate and set aside profits. Therefore, only time will tell how the metaverse will really develop and in what way.