Mark Zuckerberg talked up his latest passion — creating a virtual reality “metaverse” for business, … [+]
Like millions of people who tuned into Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse reveal last week at their Facebook Connect annual developer conference, we all saw his vision for what he imagines will be the next version of the Web. If you have not viewed this presentation I urge you to spend the hour and a half viewing this video as it is destined to be part of our tech and cultural discussions for years to come.
You will especially be interested in it if you are a science fiction fan as a lot of what Zuckerberg wants to build has its roots in science fiction futurism.
As I watched the presentation, I was reminded of another visionary concept that Apple CEO John Sculley introduced in 1987 called the Knowledge Navigator.
This was introduced way before we had the Internet and it grew out of Sculley and Apple’s work in multimedia computing. Like Zuckerberg’s Metaverse vision, The Knowledge Navigator imagined a world where 3D content and images could be superimposed on top of real-world 2D info and models. At the time it was released it got great media attention as it was one of the first true 3D visualized concepts of real-world applications that came from a company that was working on the vision and not part of Hollywood’s special effects that were more science fiction than visionary goals.
Unfortunately, John Sculley and Apple were way ahead of their time and when he left the company in the early 1990s, this vision fell by the wayside. Apple had the vision but was not the one who delivered on its promise. Interestingly, with the introduction of the Internet that emerged around 1995 and the advancements we have had in semiconductors, broadband, and visual computing, most of what was shown in the Knowledge Navigator can be done today. In this case, no one company brought this vision to market, and instead, it has been done in a piece-meal-like fashion over 24 years.
Enter Zuckerberg with his Metaverse view and we have another grand vision of a new future where people will use VR or some type of mixed reality headset or glasses, to enter and live in an immersive 3D world, populated by avatars and new forms of virtual interactions with people in virtualized worlds.
Given Apple’s vision and the fact that Apple was not the company that made Knowledge Navigator a reality, it is fair to ask if Zuckerberg and the team can realize this vision on their own. Or will it become a reality through the work of thousands of companies who create breakthrough technologies, products, and services over a perhaps 10-15 year period instead?
While I understand it would be in Meta’s best interest to build out this Metaverse within their somewhat closed framework, especially since it could become another advertising cash cow for them, this vision is massive and I just don’t see how a single company could deliver this grand experience on their own.
Indeed, Zuckerberg, in his presentation, admitted that there would need to be a lot of new technology breakthroughs as well as key technology partnerships for him and Meta to realize this vision. However, it is so grandiose that I just cannot imagine this being realized by a single company. Yes, Meta has the finances to deliver key elements of the vision as well as the ability to market it to their 2 billion or so customers. However if this is done on an open platform that allows the participation of thousands of other companies to contribute to their conceptual Metaverse, it will be very hard for Meta to garner the kind of ROI they hope to get from its closed investment in a Meta specific Metaverse.
I am highly skeptical of Zuckerberg’s role in creating this Metaverse given his failures with Facebook and his lack of management for keeping hate speech and false and divisive information out of Facebook today. If he can’t control this type of content now, how will he manage this in a grand Metaverse where this type of negative content could be replicated and be even more disruptive.
How will he keep the Ku Klux Klan from creating their realistic Metaverse gatherings to indoctrinate more people into their society of hate? Would a Metaverse provide even more realistic ways to spread lies and disinformation and allow anti-social hatred groups to flourish and organize more effectively, given the ability to use 3D and more graphic content to advance their causes?
If Zuckerberg’s Metaverse is just a 3D immersive clone of today’s Facebook, this vision does not deserve to see the light of day.
While I applaud the grand vision of Meta’s Metaverse, I hope it emerges on an open platform and allows thousands of companies to create it with more security, ethics, and controls behind its design and execution. Zuckerberg has given us a glimpse of our future in where VR, XR, and AR will be a big part of delivering a new information age. I am just not sure he should be the one to make it happen.
I have been recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists, covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. I have been
I have been recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists, covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. I have been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and have served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Hewlett Packard/Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Sony, Panasonic, Intel, Qualcomm, AMD, nVidia, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others. My articles and/or analysis have appeared in USA Today, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Time and Newsweek magazines, BusinessWeek and most of the leading business and trade publications. I have appeared as a business analyst commenting on the tech industry on all of the major television networks and was a frequent guest on PBS’ The Computer Chronicles. I have been a columnist for US computer industry publications such as PC Week and Computer Reseller News and wrote for ABCNEWS.COM for two years and Mobile Computing for 10 years. I was also a tech columnist for Time Magazine’s Tech section for 5 years. My columns currently appear in Fast Company, Recode, PC Magazine, Forbes and the online publication: www.techpinions.com. My columns and analyses are syndicated in over 55 countries. Further History I am known as a concise, futuristic analyst, credited with predicting the desktop publishing revolution three years before it hit the market, and identifying multimedia as a major trend in written reports as early as 1986. My writing and analysis have been at the forefront of the digital revolution and I am considered one of the leading experts in the field of technology adoption cycles. I have also spoken at many business school programs about marketing to consumers. I have authored major industry studies on PC, portable computing, pen-based computing, desktop publishing, multimedia computing and the digital home. Currently, I serve on multiple conference advisory boards and am a frequent featured speaker at computer conferences worldwide. I also serve on technology advisory councils for IBM/Lenovo, Dell, and on specialty councils for three large semiconductor companies.