Metaverse Prophet’s Warning – POLITICS

Just a few minutes before we send this newsletter, Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg announced via — what else — facebook post that she is retiring after nearly a decade and a half at the tech giant.

In Sandberg’s time at the company, it has evolved from a social media company to a company looking to manage the digital future covered in this newsletter, and from a technology newcomer to a global corporate powerhouse. When Meta shapes domestic politics, it does so not just for profit or its monthly active users, but for China, social cohesion, and even American democracy itself, making Sandburg one of the most important behind-the-scenes players in American life for 14 years. years. She helped run the company for years.

The influence of the Meta, born Facebook, over this span of time is of course the subject of intense debate and research, not least around Sandberg herself – who will remain on Meta’s board of directors as the company continues its turn into a new dimension of social life.

It is very, very difficult to build a world.

The Metaverse is still made up of more questions than answers. If the Internet becomes more immersive and virtualized, who will create the space we spend time in? Who will profit from them? Who is watching us?

And who really thinks seriously about these questions?

The last one has an answer: Philip Rosedale.

Rosedale is the founder of Linden Labs, the creator of the huge, ahead of its time virtual world Second Life. Since he began working with digital media and virtual reality in the 1990s, Rosedale has seen what could go well, what could go very badly, and what could even be brought to justice as virtual worlds proliferate to include themselves important parts of the real world.

In a stream of recent public speaking that included two separate panels on the Metaverse, on Davos last weekit has a warning to its architects: don’t mess it up as badly as we made the current version of the web.

“We have enough problems with humanity right now without adding a physically identified version of reality on the Internet,” Rosedale said. “We have to take a tactical look at the Internet as it currently exists and ask who owns the places where people hang out, what are the rules for participation, what is the moderation strategy, and learn how to do it right.”

Today I spoke with Rosedale via Zoom, which he repeatedly pointed out is still technically smoother and capable of more nuance and expression than any VR interaction.

He worries about leveraging existing technology world business models for the next version of the Internet, given the widespread persecution and controversy these business models have caused on 2D social media platforms. According to Rosedale, the metaverse as it is currently understood risks exacerbating all of this harm and more, potentially causing us to “lose ourselves as a species.”

“All these ideas are really futuristic, and they are fraught with danger,” Rosedale said. “And an opportunity, but probably even a little more danger.”

With the growing hype around the Metaverse’s vision of the Metaverse, not to mention the headline-grabbing blockchain spaces. like Decentraland – the closed, idealistic sandbox that is Second Life seems to be a vision of an alternative future that never really took hold. But in fact, despite the fact that the statistics are closed and difficult to track, the platform still maintains a reliable user base hundreds of thousands every day, some of whom have been visiting Second Life for almost 20 years.

And there are plenty of ways that Second Life predates not only the idea of ​​a fully immersive virtual world, but also aspects of cryptography and Web3 – the in-game “Linden dollar” is pegged to a real dollar to which it can be cashed out; The most fundamental building blocks of the virtual world are functionally equivalent to NFTs.

But these are the ways that Second Life another from modern concept a metaverse of real-world purchases, immersive games, and full interoperability that reveals the barriers to making this world real. In a world with a single central authority like Second Life, it’s pretty clear who sets the rules and resolves disputes (even if they sometimes escalate into conflicts). real courtshow did it happen on several occasions).

I asked Rosedale what he thought of the Met. recent proposal for co-management of the metaverse. His answer was unequivocal: as long as Facebook retains its ad-based business model, it can make any rules it wants, but those rules will end up bound by the perverse incentives of behavior that social media users are now all too familiar with.

“Any centralized company like Facebook that is trying to maximize shareholder value is going to create an environment of rules that allows people to hurt each other too much,” Rosedale said. “Ideas that maximize company profits are not contained in the social contract that people need to behave in a civilized manner.”

If people do bring their current internet activity into the metaverse in large numbers, as companies like Meta hope, it will be because just as technological advances have made the experience smooth enough, the claimed companies have created a world that is attractive enough to constantly distract from the real world. . one.

Rosedale says this will be much easier said than done.

“Second life is important in this discussion because it is the best example of what can happen once we get there,” Rosedale said. “But it’s still tough and there’s still no evidence that we’re going there.”

When I pressed my foot on the pedalI was driving too fast”… to hear the regulator-mandated sound of the electric vehicle revolution.

Damon Krukowski, indie rock veteran, poet and blogger wrote this week about how he detected the ambient noise emitted by the current Honda Accord hybrid model and caused an annoyance that turned out to be composed by fellow musicians and futurists Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst (shown in DFD for last week).

When Herndon and Dryhurst were tasked with creating a car that would replace traditional engine noise, they set out to make something that was not “skeuomorphic”, i.e. a duplicate of an older object, such as an old car. Ford Galaxy. Thus, instead of the low rumble of a traditional injection engine, the car emits an eerie, angelic hum which is reminiscent of the work of the recently deceased composer Vangelis.

However, there is a clearly skeuomorphic catch in all this. As it turns out, the creative challenge is the result of a federal regulation that requires electric vehicles to make noise at speeds below 18.6 miles per hour (or even more than 30 kilometers per hour), so as not to catch pedestrians or the blind by surprise.

As such, Krukowski is unlikely to find the peace and quiet he desires anytime soon, even in the EV-heavy Boston area. But at least the regulatory landscape around the new technology gives some room for creativity and sparks unexpected creativity – compared to skeuomorphic old Europe, where regulators mandate that electric vehicles repeat the sound of a gas engine.

Stay in touch with the entire team: Ben Schrekinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson[email protected]); Konstantin Kakaes (ur.[email protected]); and Heidi Vogt ([email protected]).

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