On the 28th of October, Mark Zuckerberg live-streamed his current vision for Facebook and how the social media giant will shape the future of the internet. He calls it “Metaverse” – a virtual reality type world where we can all interact with each other, play games, do business and do every other thing we currently do online.
To reflect how serious he is about this direction, he even announced the change of the name of the parent company that owns Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Oculus and other brands into “Meta”. Zuckerberg thinks this is the future and they are investing billions of dollars into the development of Metaverse.
Of course, it seems like the most reasonable move forward. Screens and keyboards aren’t that intuitive after all. Interacting in 3d environments is the next step forward. Companies like Facebook have known this for years and they understand that whoever will build the ecosystem will become the next leader in the game.
They want to build a digital environment where we can just stay in virtual worlds and do stuff there as if we would be almost doing the same things in a “real world”, of course, plus all the technological enhancements that real-world experience can’t provide.
It all sounds wonderful, and I’m sure it will be a lot of fun. Mark in his live stream was very enthusiastic about the whole endeavour. No one however talks about the dark side of where it all is heading.
Here are some of the major challenges and dangers of this technology.
First thing is that we are already addicted to the current version of social media and the next version most likely will become even more addictive. Facebook, Instagram and other players spend billions of dollars to create an experience that will make us use their platforms as much as we can. Every little detail, from the design aspects to the way algorithms govern what we see work. They all try to keep us hooked to the platforms. This has a lot of negative side effects. For example, content that can be controversial, which often makes people argue, can naturally be promoted by the algorithm as the engagement is higher with such content. Engaging in such content where people have polarised views makes us often angry and depressed. Social media has a lot of positive aspects as well but it is also very toxic for us. Many young women for example feel bad about themselves when their appearance is not matching the appearance of glamorous influencers on Instagram. However, the image that those people present is not real. Pictures often are perfectly selected, filtered and, etc. Everything looks 10x better than in reality. We know that social media has a lot of negative impacts, imagine now that the metaverse will be even more addictive. The number of negative aspects also will increase and people will waste even more time in fake worlds.
Some teenagers already spend hours on social media every day. This will get more and more addictive. We will get to the point where we interact more in virtual worlds rather than the real one. Another real danger is that companies like Facebook (Meta) will get even more data about us. At this stage, they already record what we do when we use their products or browse the internet while Facebook is open in another tab. But wearables and devices that allow us to interact in the metaverse will bring this to the next level. Biometric data is another major privacy concern. They will gather more and more data about our behaviour, based on how our bodies respond to different stimuli. Imagine now the company that has data on billions of people. They can predict your behaviour more than anyone. They can influence your behaviour. Potentially can invoke certain feelings. This kind of power can be easily abused and we know from countless previous examples that they aren’t the most trustworthy company when it comes to handling private data. The next stage is microchips, after wearables, the next obvious direction is to interact inside our minds, this is what Elon Musk is working on. These are the most dangerous territories. I talk a lot about them in my previous videos
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