The concept of the metaverse has gained popularity. Everyone from comedians to Wall Street analysts has weighed in on the much-discussed concept. Some see it as a vague business meme with no chance of success. However, experts believe it is the internet’s future.
Not yet perfect
Despite advancements, immersive interfaces are still largely unknown. And, in some cases, more difficult to use than, say, an iPhone. This will need to be addressed before users can progress to the next phase of computing. Current AR smart glasses give you a metaphor that looks like an Android phone on your face. So, rectangles float in space. That’s not enough for [mainstream smart glasses] adoption to happen,
The metaverse, like social network apps and gaming, will require privacy and security protocols to protect users. There is offensive content, illegal activity, and bad actors. The fact that these activities are now permitted in the metaverse does not alter the rules. Especially now, when there are growing concerns about consumer safety and the effects of social media on mental health.
All real-world issues will be translated into the metaverse. After all, it will be an extension of your real-life experience. The metaverse will include crime, harassment, scams, bad people, bad interactions, and fraud. As this develops, there will be numerous discussions about privacy.
Especially with wearables, many privacy protections and regulations are still being established. Having headsets and sensors in people’s homes poses a security concern. Add the potential to have your meta-identity stolen, or simply cloned. Once a hacker assumes your identity, he can do bad things in your name. It is quite scary.
Following the money
As business moves to the metaverse for remote communications, there are workforce, challenges of people opting out. Another problem will be the sheer cost. With headset and gear costing several hundred dollars to start. The biggest pain point will be access and the digital divide. Most users don’t use VR, and the pandemic has driven a wider digital divide, especially between the poor and the rich, and between developed and developing countries.
Then there’s the issue of the metaverse’s infrastructure, which has yet to be developed, whether it’s the single metaverse platform that Zuckerberg envisions or something more akin to the current internet with different domain names. Meta would like to play that role, but it would only benefit them. I am concerned that in a virtual world, we will only reinforce our existing prejudices when we have a rare opportunity to reimagine how we interact and create value.
We only need to look at social media today to see how damaging a lack of caution can be. All of these billions of dollars are bets on the next decade, based on the belief that these technologies and solutions will enable our virtual future and digital life content, and that there will be a market for it, namely users. Because, of course, these investments are not made for philanthropic reasons.