After a few days of waiting, the actual effect of Facebook’s parent company’s renamed Meta is gradually being released, although at first everyone was scornful.
At first, people felt that Facebook’s name change was a change of soup, not medicine, in order to divert attention from the outside world on the governance of its platform. However, since then, a large number of “Metaverse” (Metaverse) analysis, interpretation, and money-swindling activities that have been praised or criticized have really diverted people’s attention.
The articles related to “metauniverse” read by the president mainly focused on disenchantment, questioning, and depravity. Many people mentioned that the current technology that constitutes the concept of “metauniverse” is weak, with a low degree of commercialization, and is in the initial stage of development. . Of course, this is all right.
But it is worth noting what Facebook has done with the concept of “meta universe” through this name change:
- Naming-among the many candidate words of the same concept, promote “Meta Universe” to become the name agreed upon by everyone;
- Definition-Among the many explanations and interpretations of the term “meta universe”, the definition is gradually refined and narrowed to “VR (virtual reality) / AR (augmented reality) + digital double + NFT (non-homogeneous tokens) ) And other digital assets”;
- Focus-Entering this field as one of the largest Internet platform companies, and leading other vendors such as Microsoft to enter this field to varying degrees.
No one expects the active participation of Meta (Facebook) to promote the realization of the “meta universe” alone, but there is still a little difference between what it does and does not do. The most optimistic result is that, like the first Bitcoin ETF issued in October, this may become a milestone event when recalling the past many years later.
In this article, the president will explain in detail what the above-mentioned “nomination”, “definition” and “focus” refer to, and explain why we should be cautious and optimistic about this.
Naming: just call this
The “naming” mentioned here means that we may call this thing “Metaverse” with a high probability, and nothing else.
Although Meta (Facebook) is not the inventor of the term “Metaverse”, its endorsement makes it necessary for the global media to promptly introduce to the public what is “Metaverse”, this is the predecessors-such as the game “The Sims” (the Sims) And the online community “Second Life” (Second Life) did not do it.
There are some very typical examples of “naming” in technological development, such as “Podcast”, which is obviously related to Apple’s MP3 player iPod.
In 2001, Apple first released the iPod that “can put 1,000 songs in your pocket”. At the same time, some network authors began to record music, live performances or talk shows on their own, and tried to let other listeners listen to their iPods.
In essence, podcasting refers to putting the link of the sound file into a message list (ie RSS) that can be dynamically updated, and after the author is updated, users who subscribe to the list can be notified in time. The user subscribes to the message list on the device by himself, synchronizes it at regular intervals (such as 1 day or 1 hour), and checks for updates. This is different from the mechanism of the WeChat official account-the latter does not require manual synchronization, but the server actively pushes new content to the user’s device.
Initially, the technology was not called “Podcast”. There were two other names: “Audioblog” and “Netcast”. These titles will not encounter Apple’s trademark challenge. However, the term “Podcast”, pioneered by the “Guardian” columnist Ben Hammersley in 2004, still prevailed in the competition because it reflects the fact that the most popular audience for this type of subscription is the purchase Consumers of iPods.
In June 2005, Apple added official support for Podcasts to the iPod, and at the same time launched a “encirclement and suppression” campaign against third-party developers. Some products have restricted access to iPods, and more authors have received letters from lawyers requesting that the product names be changed to not include the words iPod or Pod. Even so, Apple later stated that they did not really want to monopolize the “Podcast” trademark, but would protect it from abuse. This is a bit similar to Ali’s attitude towards the term “Double 11”.
In the business field, if a certain product of a company becomes synonymous with this category, it is usually both good and bad. For example, “Xerox” refers to all “copiers” and “copying”, 3M’s “convenience” “Post-it” refers to all light-colored disposable notes with weak stickiness on the back, and ” Google it” refers to search actions.
We all know that Google does not like that its trademarks directly become common nouns and verbs, which is also called “trademark generalization” (genericization). Although this makes the company a household name, it is not conducive to the maintenance of trademark rights and to ensure that the word appears in a positive and upward image most of the time.
In fact, when Google’s parent company changed its name to Alphabet in 2015, the New York Times believed that Google could not prevent people’s spontaneous “trademark generalization” and had to choose another name to protect the correct usage of the new trademark. It was the one that sought to change the name. One main reason.
In contrast, it is much better for the company to qualify for the name “Podcast” by taking advantage of Apple’s bargaining, because this is not the company’s original product name, but it reminds people of their products. .
The strong binding of Meta (Facebook) to “Meta Universe” is not as natural as the relationship between Apple and “Podcasts”. There is always a feeling of forcibly pushing upwards. But since it discovered the term “Metaverse” spontaneously adopted by the people, it has increasingly used it to replace the original “VR / AR” term used in its Oculus product line.
With its powerful size and constant lobbying and promotion of the “meta universe” concept, Meta (Facebook) is indeed possible to realize the vision of strongly binding this concept to its own company’s business. In this process, “Meta Universe” will also become the most popular name for similar businesses, and other manufacturers will also adopt this name one after another.
At this point, we might recall a piece of news on April 7, 2011 : Sina Weibo changed its domain name to weibo.com instead of t.sina.com.cn. The problem is that, at that time in addition to Sina, Tencent , Netease , Sohu and other various have their own microblogging customer service. A paragraph at the time said:
“In the past, there were several bread sellers, such as Langlang brand bread, Tengteng brand bread, Soso brand bread, and Yiyi brand bread. One day, other families discovered that Langlang brand bread had changed its name and it was called Bread Brand Bread.”
In fact, Sina Weibo had already applied for the domestic trademarks of “Weibo”, “Bib” and “weibo” in 2009-2010. In 2011, it filed a trademark application for “Weibo” and “weibo” in the United States. However, it was not until 2014 that Weibo officially removed the word “Sina” from its trademark and initiated the spin-off process for listing in the United States. At this time, its main domestic competitors basically “exhausted.” Before 2015, Sohu Weibo and NetEase Weibo, Tencent Weibo will be completely closed in 2020.
Will “Meta” brand “Metaverse” succeed in achieving the monopoly of “Bread Brand Bread” like “Weibo Brand Weibo”? Maybe we need two or three years to observe quietly as in the past.
Definition: Meta universe = VR / AR + digital double + NFT
“The Wall Street Journal” wrote a popular science on the concept of “meta universe”, which was a hot search in the US on Twitter. Mentioned in this interactive science page:
“Meta universe is loosely defined as a widespread online world where people interact through digital avatars .”
The report mentioned that “meta universe” includes immersive experiences such as first-person game watching, walking on the moon, and holding meetings in virtual offices, and believes that Unity, Nvidia (nVidia), Microsoft , Meta (Facebook), Snapchat and Roblox are The current major players.
This summary is of course also a single word, but looking at the major financial and technological media in the United States, they all agree with the above definition. In addition, they are also concerned that Meta (Facebook) has already mentioned that it will introduce NFT as a tradable asset within its system.
Facebook has been exploring crypto finance very early. In mid-2019, it first announced a blockchain-based digital payment system and its currency, Libra. It also announced some initial partners, including even the giants of the fiat currency payment system MasterCard, Visa and Stripe . However, because many national regulatory agencies, including the United States, are deeply concerned that Libra may impact the legal currency system, Facebook has gradually faded out of Libra’s implementation plan, and the project, now known as Diem, is in a de facto stagnation state.
However, the issuance of NFT is not as radical as the issuance of currency, and it is a personal transaction of users on the platform, and its legal nature is equivalent to that of game equipment. Even in mainland China, which has adopted a “strike hard” approach to unofficial digital currencies, Ant Group, Tencent, etc. can still issue substantial NFTs in the name of “digital collections.”
Moreover, the “Avatar” mentioned by Meta (Facebook) is also extremely important. Just like all the services opened in the browser and mobile phone can be logged in with a single Facebook account, everything that happens after wearing the VR headset is also tied to the user’s own Facebook account, which is more obvious. To be the user’s “identity card” in the digital world.
In some worlds, such as Roblox, users can have more than one identity and can “squeeze” themselves as needed. Because Roblox is more like a platform for running many independent games, players enter different games, as if walking through different “theme parks” in a virtual world, and of course they can choose a different identity each time.
However, Meta (Facebook) and Microsoft’s envisioned user identities will be as uniform as possible, and simulate real humans as much as possible in terms of physical appearance, face shape, voice, posture, etc. The purpose is to create a person who will not be in the same time and space. A sense of presence pulled together . After all, only in this way can one of the typical usages be realized—colleagues have a meeting in a virtual office, or a teacher gives a class to a student.
In the practice of Meta (Facebook), “Meta Universe” is a combination of VR/AR, digital avatar, and NFT. But the “meta universe” in the mouths of other people is strange. Other popular sayings, including introducing vibration, smell and taste, inserting electrodes to rewrite brain waves, and taking over the nervous system, do not necessarily exist in science fiction. thing.
It can be said that after Meta (Facebook), the meaning of “meta universe” in the majority of the population will tend to be unified, and people will also have a deeper discussion on the basis of this unified definition.
Perhaps the “stand-in” part may have different branches, for example, it will be diverted to some other platforms, allowing people to use false identities that are completely anonymous and unbound to reality at the front and back ends; perhaps some small services cannot support the computing power required by NFT And the cost of confirming the right, so other digital asset forms will be chosen. But the carrier “meta-universe” is mainly VR / AR rather than doing drugs or back of the head tube, in the next ten years and decades to come will be the board nails .
“Meta Universe” was once Schrödinger’s cat, without observation, anyone who said it was anything. The bold definition of Meta (Facebook) makes “the color of this flower become clear for a while”, and the scope of the term “collapsed”.
Why is it important to “collapse” the concept of “meta universe” from the original unconstrained concept to VR / AR? Think about what we have experienced with the well-known concept of “artificial intelligence”.
The earliest artificial neuron model was proposed in 1943. In 1956, the Dartmouth Conference introduced the concept of artificial intelligence, which was recorded in history as the “first year of artificial intelligence”. And “Symbolicism” and “Connectionism” have become the two main factions. The former believes that the meaning of “cognition” is the derivation and calculation process of “input-output”, and advocates the use of explicit axioms and logic systems such as decision trees to build artificial intelligence systems. The latter hopes to study human cognitive methods from the perspective of bionics, and realize artificial intelligence with the connection mechanism of neurons, which is to “reverse engineer” the human brain.
Starting from “symbolism” and “connectionism”, artificial intelligence has produced two great fruits, namely expert systems and machine learning. The expert system systematically inputs a certain part of the knowledge that humans have mastered into the computer, and stipulates rich human semantic knowledge to simulate the process of human reasoning based on existing knowledge. Machine learning is “alchemy” in the big “black box” of neural network, and its computing efficiency is greatly affected by computing power. The result is “watch the sky and eat” and “watch the amount of data to eat”.
As a result, in the 1950s and 1970s when computing power was limited, the expert system first began to develop, and it was the first to encounter bottlenecks. Then the theoretical research of machine learning made a breakthrough, dormant in the 1990s to 2000s, waiting for the explosive growth of computing power in the 2010s.
The knowledge graph released by Google for the first time in 2012 is a structured semantic knowledge base. This is a typical “symbolism” case, but it uses machine learning to automate the implementation, omitting a lot of human participation. The amount of data it can accommodate has increased from the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of levels that can be manually entered, to the level of billions to tens of billions.
This means that from then until today, the concept of “artificial intelligence” we talked about is almost equal to machine learning. Black box in, black box out. No one knows whether an algorithm based on a certain starting point can really lead to the conceived result, or whether a certain algorithm that has been effective all the time has a problem, where it may come from and how it can be solved, only It can be changed in various places, and use whichever works. However, it is such a mechanism for which we do not fully understand its principles. It constitutes a major theme of technological development in recent years. Even important matters such as urban operation, ground transportation, disaster prevention and emergency response, etc., are partly or completely handed over to it. deal with.
The “artificial intelligence” established by people in 2020 and the “artificial intelligence” in 1970 are completely different things. It has used these decades to complete the transformation from referring to expert systems to referring to machine learning. Stabilize over a period of time. Similarly, this time the concept of “meta universe” is also clearly based on VR/AR, and it is believed that it will dominate the definition for the next few decades. Because of the various ways that people can immerse themselves into the virtual world through visual observations, VR/AR is still the most reliable after all.
Focus: Lead the industry to increase investment in this field
The EDG screen refreshed in the past two days has become a watershed that distinguishes young people from middle-aged and old people. However, e-sports including “League of Legends” will become the official event of the Hangzhou Asian Games, so this “winning” is of great significance. I am afraid that people of all ages will agree.
E-sports’ entry into an official sporting event is driven by a variety of reasons, such as the need to win over young audiences. But the president feels that there is a good enough reason that everyone will not regret it after many years: if you wear a VR headset in the future and enter an immersive game environment, then e-sports has the potential to become the most popular among various sports. A welcome item, regardless of age.
Among the many applications of 5G combined with VR/AR, panoramic live broadcast is one of the cases that has been hyped up. It provides on-the-spot experience of watching various games, concerts, forums, etc., sitting in the front row or the referee’s seat. This kind of broadcast method will make e-sports and other competitions in terms of viewing experience leveled, and the sense of presence will be stronger, and audience participation will also be higher.
In fact, the current game live broadcast directly broadcasts screen images. Because some competitive games are affected by manipulation and the screen is relatively abstract, people who don’t play games will think that some pixels are running on the screen, and the dazzling glare of the global field of view is also very big. A large part of the experience of game players is produced by “brain supplement”, which is not conducive to it becoming a variety of watching games for all ages. After switching to VR live broadcast, the situation will be greatly improved if the audience enters the screen and even adopts a first-person perspective. It is like watching a flight show at the Zhuhai Air Show. It is definitely more intuitive and enjoyable than watching the dashboard in front of the pilot.
Of course, at this time, someone will definitely mention Meta (Facebook)’s past attempts: Oculus Venues and Facebook Spaces, which appeared as virtual concert and remote meeting applications, but they are now out of service. Moreover, Oculus itself is already recognized in the industry as the ceiling of the VR headset effect, which is far better than the Magic Leap, which is blown to the sky. However, the existing equipment is still bulky and has a poor wearing experience. It is also limited by the computing power of mobile devices, which is inevitable. Delays, ghosting, dropped frames, dizziness and other issues. Not to mention, these devices are expensive, but the applications developed on them are limited, and they are not good enough to replace mobile phones for a long time.
These are all facts. But how to look at these issues can be viewed from a completely different perspective.
Why has contemporary VR/AR developed for such a long time-almost 10 years or even more than 10 years-but has not achieved the same breakthrough in other applications such as smartphones, AI, cloud computing, short video/live broadcasting, etc.? The pessimist will think that this shows that the development direction of VR/AR itself is wrong; the optimist will think that the turning point will come sooner or later, it is only a matter of time.
Around 2010, the remakes of the movies “Avatar” and “Titanic” gave birth to people’s interest in 3D with glasses and 3D with naked eyes, but this proved to be a detour in the end. The display technology then turned to 4K / 8K resolution enhancement, and HDR as the representative of the image quality enhancement.
But for VR/AR, it really hasn’t improved for many years, but practitioners have never given up on it collectively. At most, they maintain the status quo and are still waiting for the opportunity. Facebook, which acquired Oculus, is based on its assets and firmly believes that VR/AR is the general direction. Its strong endorsement with HTC, Nvidia, etc. has always been a source of motivation for other small and medium-sized manufacturers in the long winter. .
It takes time for a concept to develop from its embryonic form to its maturity. It is just a bit too long for VR/AR, but it is reasonable.
Review the category of “tablet computers”. Microsoft first launched a “Tablet PC” (Tablet PC) running Windows XP in 2001. The concept is completely correct, but there is an immature interaction. It was not until the iPad appeared in 2010 that this category was completely determined. status. Apple itself did “Newton” in 1992. It was a monochromatic screen, lacking vitality and dynamics, only stacked functions, and interacted with a pen product, which failed even more than Microsoft’s tablet. It took 18 years from “Newton” to iPad, and 9 years from Tablet PC to iPad.
If you look back at the multi-touch capacitive screen of the iPad, there is no essential paradigm change compared with Microsoft’s tablet, but only one aspect of it has been improved. Jobs believes that the most convenient interactive tool for people to use is the finger, and he is not used to carrying a pen to operate, so he changed the pen, which also prompted all the interface and interaction of the iPad to be designed around finger pointing. Since then, the return of the pen, mouse, and keyboard to the iPad is only used for more precise operations, and there will be no steps that cannot be completed with fingers.
After the shape of the multi-touch-based tablet computer is determined, although the price of each generation of iPad has risen, on the one hand, this has not affected its sales and proportion, on the other hand, other Android tablets that are also multi-touch are also multi-touch. , And even Windows 2-in-1 computers provide more choices in different price ranges, making the overall selling price of this category lower.
This small improvement huge progress story illustrates, if the next head of VR was able to some revolutionary improvements that greatly enhance its availability, it must also stand on the shoulders of giants, to now a road line basis Make changes. Once it has the conditions for popularization, it can complete the popularization process “overnight”. It is the same reason that Watt, which initiated the industrial revolution, “improved” rather than invented the steam engine from scratch.
Microsoft did a lot of marketing work when the Tablet PC was launched. Although the final results were mediocre, this eventually led other manufacturers to enter the field to varying degrees. Finally, Apple completed the key evolution. Just as Meta (Facebook) is doing now, it entered this field as one of the largest Internet platform companies, and led other vendors such as Microsoft to enter the field to varying degrees. In the end, it may not be Meta (Facebook), perhaps Microsoft, or Nvidia or something else, but the possibility of the fruit eventually becoming mature is a little bit higher.
So this process can be long or short. The problem now is, obviously we have given VR/AR too much patience, but it is still very primitive. What we need to understand at this time is that this process will only become longer, and we can no longer expect to achieve rapid technological evolution as in the past 10-20 years.
This is mainly affected by the external environment, which is divided into two parts, one is the level between countries, and the other is the level within a country.
From the perspective of international relations, China’s technology Internet companies are good at transforming products for consumers, polishing the user experience, doing a good job in market operations, and increasing efficiency and reducing costs. The Silicon Valley technology companies are good at doing basic research and seeking breakthroughs in key algorithms and principles. The two can actually complement each other’s strengths and each seek a good ecological niche. It does not mean that China will inevitably be inferior if it does not do basic research. How to transform technology into products and market them is also an advanced knowledge that is worthy of Copy from China.
However, due to disputes between China and the United States, Chinese technology companies cannot communicate freely with Silicon Valley, and may have to face the issue of choosing sides in the future. Assuming that Huawei has not been sanctioned, HiSilicon is still the top chip design company in the world. With rich experience in mobile phone manufacturing, they can go further on the road of consumer electronics, so Huawei can naturally also be a VR / A strong participant in AR technology may also become a big winner in the new era with high-quality terminal equipment under the premise that people recognize that “meta universe” is the general direction. But all this is just a hypothesis now.
From the perspective of internal conflicts in various countries, Silicon Valley has been greatly affected by “political correctness”, which not only includes diversity issues such as race and gender within the company, but also social issues caused by technology companies’ requests for privacy and inadequate platform supervision. Supervision has been strengthened to allow them to “pay off debts” for their rapid development in the past. my country’s technology companies must also fully realize their social responsibilities, strengthen their mission, and contribute more to the issue of common prosperity in order to better return to society. This also makes it impossible for them to develop new technologies as aggressively as before.
In other words, we must assume that the revolutionary changes in the underlying technology of the “meta universe” may not come to this world until 10 years or more. As for the role of Meta (Facebook), it is to allow this rhetoric and technology to continue to exist without being widely abandoned. At the moment when everything is shrinking and the quilt must be wrapped tightly for the winter, there is a confidence and persistence, as well as the capital and manpower investment required to persevere. This may be more important than anything else.