The Web is dead, long live the Metaverse!

Summer weather is good for all kinds of reading, especially science fiction writers, who are always quick to imagine futuristic worlds. Neal Stephenson is one of these reference authors. Sa ” The Virtual Samurai », This American author envisions a world where the real universe unites in a parallel cyberspace. This dystopian novel depicts the epic of Hiro Protagonist (the good name), hacker by trade, who participated in the creation of a virtual universe, the “Metaverse”, where to work, move around, meet his friends. .becomes a reality when you connect to enter this parallel universe made up of lines of computer code – so fast, a world where the physical laws of time, space and gravity no longer matter.

It’s more or less this vision that seems to guide Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s emblematic boss[1]. By envisioning the Internet of tomorrow, he intends to make his group the champion of virtual reality in order, within 5 to 6 years, to transform it into a “ metaverse company. Coming out of Facebook we know to be a “simple” social network, and welcoming the company to give its 2.5 billion users the opportunity to immerse themselves in a virtual universe made up of avatars.

The Web of tomorrow, according to Mark Zuckerberg

This ambition is better understood if we understand the term “metaverse”: ” Meta “, in Greek” More “ug” shed », Reducing the English word in the universe,« universe “. The vision of the Web of tomorrow, according to Mark Zuckerberg, therefore consists not only of being an inward spectator, but of being an actor immersed within a universe in which anything, or almost, is possible. thanks to virtual reality.

In a lengthy interview published in late July on the website of American technology magazine “The Verge [2] “, Mark Zuckerberg clarified his vision saying” [dans ce Metaverse], the interactions we have will be richer … In the future, through holograms, I have the impression that we are in the same place, even if we are hundreds of kilometers away … Facebook is looking to build this new technology tools that provide more experiences that allow us to feel closer to each other ”.

To realize this vision in a world where virtual and augmented realities become new habits, the Facebook boss gave himself the way: several billion dollars budgeted and a team of 10,000 employees gathered at Facebook Reality Labs, to solve the construction of this virtual universe [3].

Jump into the world of virtual reality

Before Facebook became “ metaverse company, the solid rubbed shoulders with this world of virtual reality by its helmets (Oculus) or the platform on which it is made, Facebook Horizonwhich, though not perfect, almost looks like a mini social network.

Recently, and aimed at the business world, the launch of Horizon Workrooms joined this ambition to encourage users to move into these virtual universes where users interact through avatars.

Horizon Workrooms

Watch the launch clip [4] this new service suggests what this metaverse is: here, a professional meeting where a dozen “people”, sitting around a large round table, share a presentation by talking to each other or again by “moving” towards a screen where it is possible to write, except that all the guests gathered around this meeting table happen to be fictitious characters, avatars chosen by participants, in their own real, wearing their virtual reality headsets, making the choice “to represent” through these cartoon characters.

Geek fad or bright intuition?

While waiting for the arrival of the world of virtual reality, the idea of ​​this “Metaverse” raises countless questions. In addition to the fact, very prosaic, that the rate of virtual reality headset equipment is still very low (less than 7% of households, against 2% in 2016). [5]) and that it is not necessarily easy to feel comfortable with this thing that weighs about 400 grams, and that, moreover, is the most likely cause of migraines and nausea, the related questions in this project the construction of its digital parallel universes is related to the protection. of human rights and the ethical side of such technology.

Should a new law be invented to control this artificial space? Will we allow a company or a technological oligopoly with virtually unlimited financial means to be the sole masters of the game in these virtual universes? Without of course forgetting the dangerous topic of data protection? (Leaks of personal data, especially those from GAFA, now legion …) or even with respect to the freedom of expression on these platforms. In short, the question is first to agree on where does this virtual world begin and where does it end? If the question is confusing, the answer is even more complicated.

More fundamentally, this metaverse asks us about the flaws of some Tech gurus who have given themselves to the mission. “to look elsewhere”. Here, the colonization of the planet Mars, there is the creation of virtual worlds inhabited by hypocrisy. Does reality seem so boring for them that it is no longer enough for them? It’s true that at the beginning of the 21st century, everything was for the best on our planet. It’s not like people don’t have, here and now, big challenges to face …

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NOTES

1 https://www.latribune.fr/opinions/blogs/homo-numericus/empereur-mark-841307.html

2 https://www.theverge.com/22588022/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-ceo-metaverse-interview

3https: //techcrunch.com/2021/07/28/zuckerberg-is-turning-trillion-dollar-facebook-into-a-metaverse-company-he-tells-investors/

4 https://youtu.be/lgj50IxRrKQ

5 https://www.realite-virtuelle.com/francais-teste-reality-virtuelle/