The Metaverse: What is it and what will it mean for humanity’s future?

By: Madison Bowden

Remember when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the renaming of the company to Meta in October of last year? Why is Meta getting so much attention? Is this going to be something from sci-fi movies and books? What is Meta, anyway? Never fear, I’m here to answer all of your questions.

Let’s start with the basics

What is Meta, anyway? The metaverse who?

According to the New York Times, the word “metaverse” describes a fully-realized digital world that exists beyond the one in which we live, or, in other words, the experiences, environments and assets that exist in the virtual space.

Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard, a company well-known for making online games such as “Call of Duty” and “Overwatch,” in hopes to “provide building blocks for the metaverse” in October of last year. They also are calling their employees “metamates!”

So, if Facebook changed its name already, why does my app still say Facebook?

In summary, the company’s name changed, but not the social network itself.

Google, Microsoft and Apple have all finished or are working on similar things; for example, Google gained so much attention that they created a parent company named Alphabet. But, Google is still named Google- the company’s name changed, not the actual network. Microsoft is doing the same thing, as Meta is the parent company for Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and everything else they own.

The concept of virtual reality was first majorly explored in the novel and later the movie “Ready Player One,” and the “The Matrix” movies all dove into the concept further.

“When we talk about the metaverse, we’re describing both a new platform and a new application type, similar to how we talked about the web and websites in the early ’90s. It’s no longer just playing a game with friends. You can be in the game with them.”

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

Have you ever seen VR headsets? The technology, which has been around for decades, alludes to the metaverse, in that you insert yourself into the virtual world instead of operating your avatar through a mouse or controller; every action your body makes is translated into the game.

Most of what Meta has announced to be the metaverse is VR, but with a more immersive digital space and additional gadgets and devices, which Meta will develop to intertwine with the technology.

“[The metaverse is] moving into what people call ambient computing. It’s about being within the computer rather than accessing the computer. It’s about being always online rather than always having access to an online world.”

Matthew Ball, venture capitalist and writer

Looking toward the future

Microsoft states that Activision Blizzard and Microsoft have already approved the transaction, and the deal will close sometime in 2023.

The metaverse is still a ways out, though. It is proposed to release sometime in 10-15 years, so coming generations will be key to its success and stability.

But, even though the reality doesn’t exist yet, Microsoft and other companies have already invested billions of dollars toward the project. More and more apps have been using the term ”metaverse,” and a search on LinkedIn shows more than 10,000 people have included the term in their profile.

“If you take ‘Halo’ as a game, it is a metaverse. ‘Minecraft’ is a metaverse, and so is ‘Flight Sim.’ In some sense, they’re 2D today, and the question is: ‘Can you now take that to a full 3D world?’ And we absolutely plan to do so.”

Satya Nadella

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