This has several ramifications which can be told only by time (and lots of money). Digital goods will become more commonplace. What is a better mic, webcam and virtual background if not ways to enhance our perception to others through the internet? A future where we spend more on virtual enhancements (dresses, exclusive art, skills) is not unfathomable. When you think of it that way, NFTs start making sense. The bubble we’re living through right now - where people are shelling out millions for a pixelated image - is just that, a bubble. Humans have always been about signaling via ownership, and now with more of our lives going online, NFTs and what they represent are just an extension of that.
The careers of the future
We might see things like virtual world building, digital architects, online concert stage manager, and more becoming a reality. In as short as 5 years’ time. And whatever else a metaverse where we spend 90% of our time might entail. There are several jobs to be created in virtual education, entertainment, not to mention the economy itself. What happens to the real world then? Will there be jobs bridging the two? How will cybersecurity evolve? Personal image management? Virtual architecture? In-metaverse advertising specialists?! It’s mind-boggling and a possibly fun conversation to have over beer.
More hardware, more intrusion
However, many are uncomfortable with Facebook being the torchbearers for this new frontier. See if you can spot the point in this interview
that Zuck did with Ben Thompson (Stratechery) where things escalate a little bit:
We’re trying to help build a bunch of the fundamental technology and platforms that will go towards enabling this. There’s a bunch on the hardware side — there’s the VR goggles, there’s the AR glasses, the input EMG [electromyography] systems, things like that.
Ok….ay. I was all for VR headsets but medical devices plugged into me? And Facebook controlling that? Not so sure.
But who knows what the future will bring? Facebook will need a lot of hardware to make this reality happen. I definitely see VR devices being as ubiquitous and indispensable as, say, a smartphone is today. It that seems ludicrous, remember that smartphones themselves were thought of as a novelty or a rich person’s toy when they first came out. Technology, capitalism and human demand have a way of making things ubiquitous and available at all price points. In the next decade, expect Reliance to launch a JioNextGlass which will be a budget headset so “everyone can explore and work in the metaverse”, priced at ₹2999 (cost in 2021, inflation-adjusted).
Prediction: Sometime over the next decade, we will be able to smell and taste via the metaverse. Don’t ask me how. But I think it will happen.
But FB needs friends
Facebook’s reputation is shit right now. Among tech peers, among general public, among its own employees and most of all among regulators. Not the best starting point while building humanity’s next frontier. The metaverse isn’t a single website or piece of hardware. It’s a concept that will need cooperation from everyone. It won’t work as a walled garden. Dare I say it’s the most fantastical leap on the internet since Tim Berners-Lee thought up the WWW in the late 80s.