Meta’s attempt at cornering the metaverse will “misfire” largely because nobody can come up with what the term actually means, according to Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin.
In a Twitter thread discussing how the metaverse might look, he said corporate projects currently underway don’t look promising, and he specifically criticized Meta, the tech giant founded and run by Mark Zuckerberg, using the company’s former name.
“We don’t really know the definition of ‘the metaverse’ yet, it’s far too early to know what people actually want,” Buterin said in a tweet. “So anything Facebook creates now will misfire.”
The metaverse is often described as an evolution of today’s internet, centered around immersive 3D worlds and online communities where people interact by using virtual reality headsets and augmented forms of reality.
While Buterin isn’t sold on how corporations envision the metaverse, he did describe its establishment as a somewhat inevitable step in the progression of today’s technology.
“The ‘metaverse’ is going to happen,” Buterin continued. “But I don’t think any of the existing corporate attempts to intentionally create the metaverse are going anywhere.”
Over how the metaverse will be shaped, there is tension between the centralized authority of corporations and the decentralized forms of ownership that blockchain technology affords. Recently, a group of Web3 companies came together with the goal of establishing standards for the metaverse as companies including Microsoft, Meta, and Sony announced a separate alliance.
The Sandbox is currently one of the most popular Web3 metaverse projects, with virtual plots of land tied to the ownership of NFTs. And Yuga Labs, which created the Bored Ape Yacht Club, is in the early stages of its own metaverse gaming project, the Otherside, recently hosting a first-look tech demo of that virtual world.
The term metaverse first appeared in “Snow Crash,” a science fiction novel written by Neal Stephenson in 1992. The term applied to a “computer-generated universe,” conveyed to a character through a set of goggles and earphones.
Meta’s official bid for the metaverse began when the company changed its name from Facebook to Meta in October. The rebranding followed the company’s 2014 acquisition of Oculus, a company that produces VR headsets with an emphasis on gaming, for $2 billion.
“I believe the metaverse is the next chapter for the internet,” Zuckerberg said last year. “Today, we’re seen as a social media company, but in our DNA, we are a company that builds technology to connect people, and the metaverse is the next frontier.”
Meta divulged in the company’s latest earnings report that its metaverse-specific division, Facebook Reality Labs (FRL), lost $2.81 billion in the second quarter. And last year, the company lost $10.2 billion developing software, technology, and content for the metaverse.
“This is obviously a very expensive undertaking over the next several years,” Zuckerberg said. “But as the metaverse becomes more important in every part of how we live ... I’m confident that we’re going to be glad we played an important role in building this.”
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