To what extent can human senses be replaced or deceived? Is full digitization the way forward for mankind? If everything in life can be digitized, what is the meaning of life itself?
The term “Metaverse” first appeared in science fiction. American science fiction writer Neal Stephenson first coined the term “Metaverse” in his 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash. In this novel, the so-called Metaverse refers to a state in which the real world is mixed with the virtual world created by augmented reality technology and virtual reality technology. Although this work is not as influential in the sci-fi world as Neuromancer, a similar work published in 1984 by another sci-fi master William Gibson, but since then, with the online world With the rapid development of Metaverse, the term “Metaverse” has stopped in people’s field of vision, and then it has been referenced by various works from time to time.
The 2018 sci-fi movie Ready Player One is considered by many to be the most figurative explanation of the concept of the Metaverse. With virtual devices, people can move freely between the real world and the virtual world. Needless to say, the wonder and joy that a more unfettered virtual world can bring far exceeds the real world.
If it was borrowed from science fiction movies, the concept of the Metaverse was still limited to the scope of science fiction fans at the time, then starting from October 2021, this concept will officially “break the circle”, letting people who knew nothing about it before. Also started to discuss.
In October 2021, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the 17-year-old American social networking giant “Facebook” (Facebook), published a “Founder’s Letter: 2021”. , 2021), announced that Facebook had changed its name to “Meta”, showing its determination to move towards the Metaverse – a big event in the Internet world has happened. Although Neil Stephenson, the creator of the word Metaverse, made it clear on his social account: the concept of the Metaverse he created has nothing to do with the Metaverse that has just been renamed Meta, this sci-fi Internet concept. It has swept the world with lightning speed. Then, in a video presentation featuring Zuckerberg, the word “Metaverse” appeared more than 80 times in nearly 90 minutes, aiming to explain to the audience what the Metaverse really is.
After watching this nearly 90-minute video, in addition to tracing the English word origin of the word “Metaverse”, I feel even more confused. According to Zuckerberg’s introduction, the so-called Metaverse, the Metaverse, is a combination of the roots “meta” and “universe”. The Greek word “meta” means “beyond” or “beyond”. For example, “metaphysics” in Chinese is a combination of “meta” and “physics”, and it has also been translated as “metaphysics”.
What about other aspects? In this video, Zuckerberg and some of the researchers at Meta try to show the magic that people living in the Metaverse can experience. It seems that people are no longer bound by the physical body, and the limitations of time and space are no longer a problem. People move at the speed of light, and they can even choose their appearance at will. They can show people as they are, or choose a “virtual avatar” ( Avatar) with friends and family… The question is, which elements of the Metaverse life shown in the video have already become reality, and which are just distant fantasies? To enter the Metaverse, what kind of efforts do people need to make, and what changes will people’s real life experience? These questions, like Zuckerberg’s face in the video, make it difficult to distinguish which ones are his real appearances and which ones are computer effects?
Articles and videos abound about the Metaverse these days, but we still struggle to give a precise definition of the Metaverse. What is certain is that the birth and development of the Metaverse, and some concepts related to it, are mostly related to science fiction and computer games. Not only does the Metaverse itself originate from science fiction, but the term “virtual avatar” used by people in the Metaverse is rooted in Hinduism, but it is actually more closely related to computer games – game designer theory Richard Garriott first used “avatar” in 1985 to describe the image of a gamer in a game.
It can be said that each person has a Metaverse defined by himself. For example, many people believe that the Metaverse is the next form after the evolution from the Internet to the mobile Internet, but it is difficult to define the core characteristics of the new generation of Internet forms. In people’s descriptions of the Metaverse, many technologies are integrated: when blockchain, virtual and augmented reality, sensors, cameras, 5G networks and other old and new technologies are superimposed, what exactly will be changed? Many people are still confused.
In January 2020, venture capitalist Matthew Ball published a lengthy article, “The Metaverse: What It is, Where to Build.” Find it, and Who Will Build It), which discusses some of the features of the Metaverse, such as the Metaverse expanding real and virtual worlds, containing a fully fledged economy, providing unprecedented interoperability, and more. But when we look at the Internet that people are using today, most of them have these characteristics, or are improving towards these goals. Some people have also concluded that the so-called Metaverse means that everything that people can do in real life can be done in the virtual digital world-but what is the meaning of such a Metaverse?
Zuckerberg defines the Metaverse as a new form of the Internet with a human as the main body. In the Metaverse, people no longer need to stare at the screen of a computer or phone (or rather, screens are everywhere in the Metaverse), but become part of the content of the Metaverse themselves. In the Metaverse, people can communicate and interact with relatives and friends (or their virtual avatars) without any obstacles, read each other’s eyes and movements, and get rid of the constraints of the real world and the body to the greatest extent possible. This may be the newly renamed Meta company. The core value of the described Metaverse lies.
Arguably, the concept of the Metaverse bears not only the distinct imprint of a generation that grew up in the world of the internet and gaming, but also Zuckerberg’s own beliefs as a techno-progressive and futurist. He believes that a new generation of technology is the key to solving most social problems, and that every 10 to 15 years, a new disruptive new technology or new machine will appear – in this way, the emergence of the Metaverse is exactly the same. at the right time. It is also under this belief that Facebook’s rapid transformation under his leadership.
The question is, how far is this unfettered virtual world from reality? To what extent can people get rid of the shackles of real life, so as to obtain the freedom of the mind to the greatest extent? If everything can be virtual, then what is the meaning of real life? What is the relationship between virtual and reality, and how can people tell the difference between the two?
The past and present of “virtual reality”
To what extent people can trust their senses, and to what extent can they deceive their senses, is the question. In what sense the “reality” we perceive by relying on our senses is real is another question. Chinese and foreign thinkers have been troubled by the subtle difference between reality and dream. Zhuangzi therefore proposed an assumption: we may not have a clear standard to distinguish between reality and dream which is closer to reality. As the saying goes, “In the past, Zhuang Zhou’s dream was Hu Die, a vivid Hu Die, and he said that he was suitable for his ambition, but he didn’t know Zhou. Suddenly he realized that he was like Zhou. I didn’t know Zhou’s dream was Hu Die, and Hu Die’s dream was Zhou Yu? Zhou and Hu Die, Then there must be a difference. This is called materialization” – whether it was Zhuang Zhou’s dream that he turned into a butterfly, or that Zhuang Zhou appeared in the butterfly’s dream, it is really hard to tell the difference between the two.
French thinker Descartes was also wary of the too many similarities between dreams and reality, so he believed that the reality recognized through the senses was actually only an indirect reality. So where does the most direct truth come from?From a rationalist point of view, sensory experience is not trustworthy, only thought is trustworthy. Hence the saying “I think, therefore I am”.
Others deny the reality of the real world itself. The Pythagoreans believed that “everything is number”, and the world is just a reflection of mathematics; as for the ancient Greeks’ belief that the world people felt might just be the projection of a more fundamental reality in this world, as if Prisoners in the prison can only see the images of the outside world left on the walls, which is another level of doubt about reality.
Reality is not necessarily believable, and the senses are easily deceived – this is what people have learned from psychological and life experience for a long time. People often complain about the constraints brought by reality, and the physical inconvenience will bring them spiritual pain; on the other hand, they also hope to realize the separation of the spirit and the body, so that the mind can travel without obstacles. As described in Shakespeare’s poem:
If the dull substance of my flesh were thought, (If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,)
Injurious distance should not stop my way.
For then despite of space I would be brought,
No matter how isolated, brought to your abode. (From limits far remote where thou dost stay.)
Well, even if my legs stand away from you, (No matter then although my foot did stand,)
The farthest end of the world, what hinders me? (Upon the farthest earth removed from thee?)
For nimble thought can jump both sea and land,
It can fly over mountains and seas at once. (As soon as think the place where he would be.)
People are surprised to find that by subtly deceiving the senses, with the blessing of modern technology, Shakespeare’s scenes may really be realized – as long as people are willing to enter a virtual world composed of digital technology, or call it more fashionable Name: Metaverse.
From this level, whether the so-called Metaverse or the so-called virtual reality, in the final analysis, it is an art that deceives one’s own senses and creates illusions with the knowledge and consent of people. Separating one’s mind and body to the greatest extent, making one seem to be in an illusory world, can even be said to be a “basic need” of human beings at the spiritual level, and also a kind of “freedom” to the greatest extent. Perhaps it is because of this realization that the word “teleport” was mentioned many times in Zuckerberg’s video presentation. If you want to change the position and scene of your physical body in life, you must not only be restricted by the laws of physics, but also by the social environment – but if you just want to achieve spiritual travel, even with the current technical conditions For example, it can be achieved simply by wearing a virtual reality device.
In retrospect, I myself have had two brief experiences with the Metaverse. Once in Hong Kong Ocean Park, every passenger put on special glasses before riding a roller coaster. With the start of the roller coaster, various three-dimensional images began to appear in the glasses, including various magical animals and giant dragons. Flying around me, I was in the blue sky for a while, and then dived into the bottom of the sea… I must admit that in that short minute or so, even though I knew that what I saw were only illusory three-dimensional images, the excitement and excitement The feeling still reminds me to this day.
Once again, I entered the Metaverse when I visited Casa Battló, designed by the talented architect Gaudí, in Barcelona, Spain. I put on a pair of glasses and walked into this apartment inspired and themed by marine life. When I walked into every room of the apartment, I could see various images of marine life appearing around me. From time to time, giant whales swam by me, and the illusory image was perfectly integrated with the surrounding environment.
Of course, this experience of mine was not really entering the Metaverse, at least the device I was wearing at the time was not connected to the Internet, and I couldn’t communicate with other people through glasses. Still, the feeling of being detached from reality and entering an exotic world in an instant is still fresh. By Metaverse standards, my two experiences, one called virtual reality and one augmented reality, were both enabled by headsets.
The idea of building a virtual sensory world can be described as a long time ago. In fact, this type of technology was first used in some special scenarios to train people’s reactions in the real world. In the 1920s, American engineer Edwin Link invented the world’s first flight simulator to train pilots. Later, there were theaters where the seats could vibrate and the interior could emit a special smell to simulate a movie scene. As computer technology advanced, in the 1980s, computer scientist Jaron Lanier coined (or at least popularized) the term “virtual reality.” Lanier founded the company in the 1980s to develop virtual reality goggles and gloves, and in the United States, the first round of hype for virtual reality technology began. But it quickly became apparent that for most people, virtual reality devices were of little use, and the hype quickly faded.
After entering the 21st century, when another round of hype about virtual reality technology rises, in order to reduce the sci-fi color of the hype, some engineers prefer to use the more realistic word “virtual environment”; Even the term “virtual reality” could not satisfy the need for hype, and the “Metaverse” with a more sci-fi sense was born.
Hype is not useless, in modern society, we can think that hype is a necessary business behavior. Hype can quickly attract attention, pool funds, stimulate the emergence of new technologies, and more importantly, attract new users and content developers to join. It’s just that Zuckerberg’s hype that the 17-year-old “Facebook” company is directly renamed Meta is really rare, and it may be expected to cause such a strong reaction around the world.
With the current technical conditions, to enter the Metaverse, the most basic requirement is to have a head-mounted virtual reality device to enter the digital world through visual and auditory virtuality. Facebook acquired the virtual reality technology company “Oculus” in 2014, and the virtual reality equipment produced by the latter has become the hardware foundation for Facebook’s layout of the Metaverse.
Unlike philosophers who speculate on the difference between reality and fantasy, and then cast doubt on reality itself, the concept of the Metaverse does not involve doubting reality. On the contrary, the Metaverse creates a substitute or supplement to reality based on the absolute certainty of reality. Although people hope that the Metaverse has many functions, it is undeniable that one of the important functions is that people can temporarily escape from the reality of being bound by the flesh, and people can live in their own or other people’s fantasies.
The Metaverse, a concept that has not yet fully formed, has an obvious role in promoting the industry. Virtual reality devices have come a long way in a few years. A virtual reality device featuring a headset is a more sophisticated computer.To put a supercomputer in a blindfold, this is a great challenge for the entire computer industry. This new type of computer has extremely high requirements on the operation speed and quality of images, so it will also greatly stimulate the development of image processing technology and equipment. When the Internet was just born, it stimulated the emergence of a large number of new technologies, and then from the Internet to the mobile Internet, many technology industries around the world have undergone major transformations accordingly. It is conceivable that if the Metaverse replaces the existing mobile Internet, people’s lifestyles in the online world will change from text to images to videos, and then develop into immersive scenes, and they will become the content of the Internet itself, which will surely stimulate many people again. Industrial transformation and upgrading.
On the other hand, people’s concerns about virtual reality devices have always existed: although the user manual for the latest virtual reality device “Oculus Quest 2” launched by Meta mentioned that one person in every 4,000 users will experience vertigo, Even epileptic seizures, but from a practical point of view, if the screen update speed of the virtual reality device cannot keep up with the movements of the human head, even if there is a slight delay, it is easy to cause nausea or dizziness. In addition, there is no in-depth study on the long-term effects of wearing virtual reality devices for long periods of time on human vision.
This head-mounted virtual reality device is far from comfortable, and whether it will attract people to use it for a long time is not yet known. The key is whether it can bring the user an “immersive” experience, which means that the user can temporarily forget the existence of the real world around them. To outsiders, users wearing virtual reality devices dance and shout, and they will inevitably find it a little funny, but as long as they can immerse themselves in it, they will naturally linger. Just as modern people have long been accustomed to staring at a rectangular computer or mobile phone screen for a few hours every day – this behavior certainly does not seem “natural” enough, but as long as the content in it can make people addicted, it will be accustomed to users. become natural.
Criticisms of the Metaverse and virtual reality devices have of course always been there, most notably by entrepreneur Elon Musk about the Metaverse in an interview. He thinks this change from the mobile internet to the Metaverse is “not compelling,” it’s more of a hype; virtual reality devices are uncomfortable and unnecessary.
Zuckerberg himself admits that the existing virtual reality equipment is still too heavy and bloated, but he believes that it will evolve to perfection in 10 years. Wearing a virtual reality device is equivalent to getting an infinite screen, and you can ignore the influence of the surrounding environment to the greatest extent. The more important question now is, how can people become addicted to the Metaverse, at least live alternately between the real world and the Metaverse on a daily basis? At present, the most likely to be the first to achieve this goal are the virtual reality games that are already close to the concept of the Metaverse.
Many people think that allowing users to have their own small world in the digital world, such as online games “Fortnite” (Fortnite), “Minecraft” (Minecraft), “Animal Crossing”, etc. The form is already very close to the Metaverse. Under the stimulation of the new crown epidemic, the time people spend on the Internet, including the time they spend playing online games, has increased significantly, and the time spent by teenagers on online games is particularly considerable. These people are likely to become part of the Metaverse. the first permanent residents.
According to a survey, 12- to 17-year-olds in the United States spent 60% more time using social networks and playing online games in 2020 than in 2019. According to the statistics of the Metaverse game platform “Virtual World” (Roblox), in the first quarter of 2021, users spent a total of 10 billion hours on the platform, with an average of 42 million users per day, and they spent a total of 650 million US dollars. Buy gear. Motivated by such data, Dave Baszucki, CEO of Virtual World, believes that the gaming platform will evolve into a Metaverse that will attract more adults to join in.
Although Metaverse games continue to be popular, and virtual reality devices are becoming more and more common, in general, the biggest problem of the current Metaverse is still the lack of popularity. Each new Metaverse platform not only needs to have richer Metaverse games to attract teenagers, but also needs more and more Metaverse content creators to make it evolve into the next generation of the Internet. At present, this is a “chicken and egg” dilemma – without interesting content, it is difficult to attract users to wear virtual reality devices to immerse themselves in the Metaverse for a long time; without enough participants, there is no way to With a reasonable yield, there won’t be enough content creators involved in the Metaverse.
Whose Metaverse does it belong to?
How to enter the Metaverse? In other words, how do you judge whether you already belong to one of the “residents” of the Metaverse? In the absence of a clear definition of the Metaverse itself, it is indeed difficult to discern. If you are talking about joining the digital world to achieve interconnection with distant friends, then the online chat rooms and communities that appeared in the 1990s, including the “World of Warcraft” game that appeared later, can be said to be a certain degree. Metaverse. At the roughest level, the Metaverse can be understood as the greatest degree of overlap between the virtual world and the real world.
However, as a new form of the Internet, the Metaverse should have a much higher standard than online chat rooms. Otherwise, it is easy for people to understand the Metaverse as a new type of online game or a new form of video conferencing. “Putting a TV on your nose doesn’t mean you’re in the Metaverse” – Elon Musk’s critique of the Metaverse centers on the fact that virtual reality devices that go into the Metaverse are uncomfortable and that people don’t enter the Metaverse The universe desperately needs both. In fact, this is also the core of people’s vagueness and disbelief in the concept of the Metaverse.
If we assume that the Metaverse is a new form after the mobile internet, by the latest standards, if you have a non-fungible token, or just cryptocurrency, or you are in a virtual If you have created a space that belongs only to yourself in the electronic world, and even used an avatar in an online meeting, it can be said that you have entered the Metaverse.The crux of these criteria is “engagement”—that is, through your avatar, you are substituting yourself as part of the internet content.
For comparison, when you conduct a video conference through the previous generation of network technology, you sit at home and watch the faces of the participants listed on the computer screen. A group of people speak through the microphone, and your own image will also be carried by the computer. Cameras appear on other participants’ computer screens. The meeting experience in the Metaverse world will be completely different. Participants wearing virtual reality devices feel like they are in a virtual conference room, and what appears in the conference room may be their real image, or it may be an avatar. This more authentic sense of engagement stems from a sense of space in the virtual world. After the meeting, you may still remember the colleagues sitting next to you and their avatars. The conference rooms that appear in the virtual conference, as well as the various scenes and settings, are actually works created in the Metaverse, and belong to a brand-new content form.
There is also a seemingly clear but vague question: Who will the Metaverse belong to? Many people believe that since the Metaverse will be synonymous with the next generation of the Internet, it must be a public place, and there will be no so-called owner. Just as everyone can build their own website, every company can build their own social network, but these are only part of the Internet. Discussing the attribution of the Metaverse is as meaningless as discussing the attribution of the Internet.
The problem is that creating a virtual digital platform in the Metaverse is no easy task, requiring enormous technical capabilities and a lot of resources. At present, only a few Internet giants have such strength. They may become the masters of the future Metaverse. Facebook before, and now Meta, is the most prosperous company in the Metaverse. Some developers believe that it is precisely because Facebook cannot reach an agreement with Apple in the traditional Internet field that it is determined to take the lead in becoming an Apple-like overlord that integrates hardware and system platforms in the Metaverse field. In addition to the virtual reality device Oculus, in the Metaverse, Meta has launched the social platform “Horizon Home” and the work platform “Horizon Workrooms”. Another Internet giant, Microsoft, is currently focusing on the commercial applications of the Metaverse and has developed a collaborative communication platform “Microsoft Mesh” that can be used for virtual web conferences.
In theory, any company can create its own Metaverse and become part of the entire Metaverse. In fact, apart from Meta and Microsoft, no other startup has the ability to create an independent Metaverse platform, and can only rely on these two giants. Apple is currently not focusing on the development of virtual reality technology related to the Metaverse, but is developing wearable devices; while Google’s parent company “Alphabet” is focusing on the research of augmented reality technology-developers expect future augmented reality devices to be compatible with Real life blends better. For example, with augmented reality devices, when a person sees the sign of a restaurant on the street, the menu of the restaurant and the reviews of all his friends who have been to the restaurant will automatically appear on the screen of his glasses.Although such a technology also belongs to the concept of the Metaverse, it seems that its commercial value is far less than that of virtual reality.
On the one hand, it is believed that the Metaverse as the next-generation Internet form cannot be exclusive to one or several large companies. Zuckerberg has also repeatedly emphasized that the Metaverse will have more space for creators, more revenue, and will expand to the entire industry, involving almost all Internet companies. On the other hand, the Metaverse has not yet been formed, and has been almost divided by large corporations. At the same time, real estate hype, advertising… These business models that have appeared in real life have experienced another upsurge in the Metaverse.
Major commercial brands have regarded the Metaverse as the next-generation social network and have begun to promote it; by auctioning virtual real estate with prices of millions of dollars on the virtual platform “Decentraland”, and hitting new highs, we can also see Make bold investors’ judgments about its business value. Speculators like to believe that buying real estate in the Metaverse now is like buying real estate in deserted Manhattan 250 years ago. Perhaps when a complete Metaverse takes shape, humans will repeat everything they have done in the real world in the virtual world. It is also difficult for us to believe that the so-called decentralized virtual world will be more equal or better than the real world.
On October 28, 2021, Facebook Inc. changed its name to Meta. Just five days later, an Australian artist, Thea-Mai Baumann, found that her account “Metaverse” on the website “Instagram” formerly owned by Facebook had been frozen.Bowman has been using the account for more than nine years, has less than 1,000 followers, and uses most of the space to document his art. Such an inconspicuous account was frozen by the website five days after Facebook changed its name to Meta, due to suspicions that Bowman was “impostoring someone else.” The incident came to light, and Bowman also filed a complaint with the website, and her account was eventually reinstated on December 4.
Regardless of why Bowman’s account was frozen and how it was restored, this incident reminds people that they should be more concerned about the ownership of property in the Metaverse. Although in the online game world, players have become accustomed to trading various game equipment, but for most Internet users, they still habitually believe that the various information they leave in the online world, including the so-called virtual property, are Owned by different Internet companies, he completely ignores the benefits that Internet companies create by browsing and clicking on various advertisements on the Internet, and the value created by themselves in the virtual world should also belong to them.
If the Metaverse, as a virtual “civil square”, is occupied by Meta in advance, then from the perspective of Facebook’s previous business style, the biggest similarity between the Metaverse and the real world may be the ubiquitous and overwhelming advertising. In addition to the function of the “Citizen’s Square”, within the Metaverse, the ownership of various items is also an issue. If you want the Metaverse to truly belong to everyone, or to make people the most important content in the Metaverse, then whether it is the image of various virtual avatars in the Metaverse, or the various decorations on top of this image, including in the virtual Everything in the world should belong to its creator or purchaser, not a commercial platform for building the Metaverse. Many believe that a “decentralized” Metaverse community that replaces the bank’s function with blockchain technology and cryptography can achieve this goal. This also means that in the Metaverse, everyone can potentially make profits from their own content and activities on the Internet, not for those Internet giants.
It can be said that the concept of the Metaverse has a natural need for decentralization. For everyone in the virtual world to have property rights, the Metaverse must be an open ecosystem, not owned by some big company. In the Metaverse where personal property rights are guaranteed, the production of virtual avatars, decorations, and even virtual pets, or artistic creation, may become new economic opportunities. Ideally, the Metaverse and real-world commerce could be linked together through cryptocurrencies. In the good imagination, the Metaverse is continuous, dynamic, immediacy and interactive, and everyone has an “immersive” experience, thus forming a comprehensive economic form – which is not the same as the current Internet. There is no essential difference, but its scope is wider, and there is more room for individuals to create and play. Its biggest feature is the virtual reality experience.
Not only does the Metaverse need to be decentralized, but all virtual items need to be consistent throughout the Metaverse – personal avatars, decorations, and all possessions must remain the same across all occasions in the Metaverse – which in turn requires All companies developing the Metaverse follow a common set of rules. All the technologies currently being applied to the Metaverse are collectively referred to as eXtended Reality (XR). And Nvidia, which designs and sells graphics processors, is developing an “Omniverse” system that attempts to create a common set of tools and standards for Metaverse developers.
In such a decentralized virtual world conception, the functions of the government are greatly weakened or ignored. In fact, Facebook changed its name to Meta, and the concept of the Metaverse was hyped at a time when the US government was gradually tightening the regulation of Facebook. The emergence of the concept of Metaverse still cannot make people ignore the supervision of virtual space. Excessive government control will deactivate virtual space, and the Metaverse does have the potential to bring convenience to the lives of ordinary people, but it turns out that false information spreads faster in social networks than in real life. Official supervision of the Metaverse is still essential, but various new problems are bound to arise in the process.
More questions than answers
After all, the Metaverse is a concept that has just emerged, and it doesn’t even have a prototype yet. When we examine it from reality, we will find that there are still many problems that are difficult to solve, and we can only hope for the future.In the Metaverse imagined by tech giants, everyone is not just a cartoony avatar. The so-called “virtual avatar” means that although the image in the virtual world is different from the appearance and clothes in the real world, but his gestures, gestures and habits, and even facial expressions and eyes will be copied to the real world. In the virtual world – only when these goals are achieved will interaction and even eye contact between avatars in the Metaverse become possible.
This strong sci-fi futuristic scenario has been demonstrated vividly in Zuckerberg’s video, but it is obviously far from being a reality. And one can easily see that this goal is by no means within reach of current glasses-like virtual reality devices. For example, to achieve eye contact between people in the Metaverse, virtual reality devices that can only track people’s head movements are simply impossible. In addition to the movement of the head, the instrument at least needs to be able to track the movement of the human eye.
The so-called “eye contact” also includes in the Metaverse, people can read each other’s facial expressions through each other’s virtual avatars – you know, people’s faces can show tens of thousands of expressions, which all rely on facial muscles A subtle combination of movement is achieved. To replicate the tens of thousands of subtle facial expressions on the faces of virtual avatars in the Metaverse, no existing virtual reality device can do anything. Zuckerberg mentioned in the video that Meta is developing a project called “Cambria”, which will be able to more faithfully project human faces into the Metaverse in the future. Even if the scenes shown in the video through computer special effects, only the human face is first treated as a cartoon, which greatly weakens the effect of communication between people through facial expressions.
This difference between real and virtual worlds is not difficult to understand. The rich facial expressions of human beings are the result of long-term evolution and social life. They contain a huge amount of information, and it is difficult to complete virtualization through simple data processing. As for whether this problem can be really solved when the technology is more mature in the future, it is still difficult to predict. Aside from facial expressions, getting your avatar to walk freely in the Metaverse and replicate your behavior in the real world is far from a gamepad-like control device. Finish.
In order for the virtual avatar to imitate the way you walk, you need to replicate the coordinated movements of multiple muscles and bones in the human body—a task like this required people to wear millions of dollars in motion capture equipment to complete, most of which are games. The company has this demand in order to design the actions of the characters in the game. If every member of the Metaverse demands that his avatar be able to simulate his facial expressions and movement habits in real life to the greatest extent possible, then in addition to a set of equipment that can perfectly scan the subtle changes of the face, at least It takes a set of wearables full of sensing devices.
From this, it can be seen that if you want to enter the so-called “everything can be virtual” Metaverse, let a virtual avatar perfectly copy yourself in real life, and live in a wonderful virtual world, it seems that there are almost insurmountable technical problems. ——Even without considering the economic and technical difficulties, it is an unattainable goal for most people to enter the Metaverse wearing motion capture devices every day in real life, and have an immersive experience for hours on end.
To show that people can work more easily in the Metaverse, Zuckerberg’s video shows a person wearing a VR headset with electrodes attached to their fingers, so that workers can watch through VR while watching. The screen displayed by the device is tapped with a finger while the electrode tracks the movement of the finger, which is equivalent to tapping the finger on a virtual keyboard, so that information can be sent and the interaction with the other party can be completed.
The problem is that people need far more contact and interaction in the Metaverse. If the traditional office work is still based on making calls, writing, sending and receiving emails, and it can barely be done by tracking finger movements (this kind of work efficiency is not necessarily higher than typing a real keyboard in front of a computer screen), then think To achieve the real and natural interaction between people in the Metaverse that is currently advocated, it is simply impossible to achieve with existing technology. After all, there is no program that can replace a real hug and kiss.
Given these practical difficulties, it is more likely that the Metaverse presented in the future will be dominated by manga or artistic avatars. The so-called virtual avatar is nothing more than a variety of matching among several pre-set images. To get a more personalized image and decoration, it is necessary to spend non-fungible tokens to buy. As for how to digitize the contact and interaction between people, or between virtual avatars, how to approach reality step by step, and simulate human touch and even smell, there is still no answer.
In the Metaverse, the concept and volume of data will also be completely different from what it is now. The movements, expressions and languages of billions of avatars will be stored. This huge amount of data is difficult to store and process, yet private. Matthew Ball argues that we have five fundamental unanswered questions about the Metaverse: data rights, data security, extremes, disinformation, and platform power. To put it simply, who does the data in the Metaverse belong to, who does the Metaverse platform belong to, and how should the various security issues be guaranteed? There are no clear answers to this series of questions.
In the Hong Kong movie “King of Killers” released in the 1990s, the computer finally confirmed the identity of the killer played by Ren Dahua by repeatedly comparing the back posture of the killer walking in a surveillance video. The plot of this kind of sci-fi movie is likely to continue to be played out in the future Metaverse world – you know, everyone has a unique way of walking, making a certain movement, and even facial expressions. In a Metaverse age where everyone’s every move is recorded and preserved as virtual data, these traits will be like everyone’s fingerprints, allowing users to reveal their true identity. In a virtual world that appears as an avatar, there is nowhere to hide a person’s true identity. If the privacy of this data cannot be guaranteed, but is occupied by some commercial giants, then in the Metaverse, everyone will see more tailored advertisements, carefully crafted news…
How will the rise of the Metaverse affect the real world? This will be a whole new sociological topic. Technology can not only expand human ability to express and experience the world, it can also limit and distort human ability to perceive the real world. The experience gained from using virtual identities in the Metaverse can certainly be educational, and research has shown that people are more honest and loyal to their own experiences when virtual images are present. When using virtual avatars to communicate, people feel more psychologically secure and communicate more efficiently. For people who are shy, introverted, and even physically handicapped, avatars are more likely to allow them to find their true selves… But on the other hand, if people in the future are used to immersing themselves in an unreal Metaverse world, they must It will cause all kinds of discomfort in the real world, which will lead to frustration.
Some Metaverse gamers said that after getting used to the game world, they felt very uncomfortable about not being able to break in at will in the real world, or jump out of any window without any scruples. It is conceivable that the more realistic the Metaverse is made, the extreme or virtual scenes in it will definitely have a huge adverse effect on people’s behavior in the real world. Many behavioral norms of human society will be redefined in the Metaverse, but the Metaverse is more likely to be a refuge for the frustrated in the real world.
To what extent should one be obsessed with the Metaverse? Will the Metaverse create greater inequality in the real world, or the other way around? People are addicted to the Metaverse, and although many new occupations and economic forms may be created, its reaction to the real world seems equally unpredictable at present. If the Metaverse allows people to spend more and more of their work and leisure time in the virtual world, how can people solve real-life poverty, income inequality, medical difficulties and other chronic diseases that have lasted for thousands of years?
It is conceivable that no matter how far the Metaverse develops, these questions are worth repeating: To what extent can human senses be replaced or deceived? Is full digitization the way forward for mankind? If everything in life can be digitized, what is the meaning of life itself? Will the “embodied internet” be the ultimate form of the internet?
Whether in Zuckerberg’s open letter or in his hour-long video speech, his description of the Metaverse mixes reality and future, intentionally or not. In the video, which is full of computer effects, he wants people to believe that this will be what the inhabitants of the Metaverse see and feel, and that people’s senses will be perfectly replicated by electrodes and cameras in the Metaverse. The boundaries between reality and fantasy, body and soul, will no longer be clear in the Metaverse.
The pioneers of the Internet preached passionately about how perfect, creative, and humane the Metaverse Building would be when it was built; on the other hand, the materials needed to build the Metaverse Building were far from ready.More people are still on the sidelines, wondering how even if they can live in the Metaverse Mansion in the future, how can it be different from their original life?
The Metaverse is taking shape, and the internet will eventually be changed again. Standing at the crossroads of another new era, we can imagine that the extent to which the Metaverse can develop ultimately depends on the extent to which humans can accept a virtual way of living. What these pioneers of the Internet industry want to create is not only a new Internet, a new economic model, but also a new social form. Between the dream and reality of the Metaverse, between the virtual and the real, we should be confident and looking forward to the future, and at the same time maintain a calm and prudent attitude.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/10000-character-essay-on-the-dream-and-reality-of-the-metaverse/
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