Mark Zuckerberg: The ‘Metaverse’ digital universe will be the next Internet generation

The Metaverse Digital Universe is not a product, but the future of the Internet.

Metaverse (digital universe) is a sci-fi concept that has been around for 29 years, after AI, AR/VR, blockchain and other technological achievements gradually ingrained in our lives in recent years. . Metaverse suddenly captured the attention of many large companies.

The Roblox gaming platform, the “first form of the digital universe,” had a market value of over $40 billion on its first day of listing, a tenfold increase in valuation. Epic Games stated that they will devote themselves to the development of the “vision of the Metaverse”.

Today, many AR/VR companies are in the process of developing digital universes, and even social networking apps make statements that their goal is to nurture their digital universe. their own.

So, what is the digital universe? What notable big changes could it bring?

Recently, Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, a platform with 2.9 billion users (more than a third of the world’s population), has made no secret of his ambition to turn Facebook from a social network into the center of a digital universe. digital.

“Successor of Mobile Internet”

The term “digital universe” originates from the science fiction novel “Snow Crash”. In the novel, people live in a virtual three-dimensional space through an “avatar”, and the author calls that artificial space a virtual universe. It exists parallel to the real world, like “OASIS” in the sci-fi movie “Ready Player One”.

Poster of the movie Ready Player One

Overall, Metaverse involves blending the real world with the digital world with the help of an AR/VR device.

For example, “Virtual Arena”, people participate in the virtual reality world called OASIS with many different activities such as education or entertainment.

But what Zuckerberg saw was clearly not a “game world”. He thinks it’s time for the Internet to give birth to a new world.

“Today’s mobile internet has been able to satisfy many different needs of people from waking up to sleeping. So I don’t think the main purpose of Metaverse is to get people to participate more in the Internet, but rather allowing people to participate in the Internet more naturally.”

Zuckerberg believes that the core driver of this development is the advancement of technology. The Facebook boss told The Verge that VR (virtual reality) technology allows people to get a variety of experiences that are hard to achieve through apps or websites, such as dancing or other methods of exercise. together.

In short, VR makes people feel more “present” in the virtual world, and can simulate human behavior in the real world naturally and accurately.

Zuckerberg’s “natural” doesn’t just refer to the “sense of presence” that VR technology can provide, but also includes the ability for users to access multiple platforms more easily. In other words, anyone can enter the Metaverse anytime, anywhere.

Zuckerberg has repeatedly emphasized that Metaverse is more than just a game. “We believe it is the successor to the mobile Internet. You can use all different devices to access Metaverse and there are no restrictions on how to access it,” Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg also announced that in the next five years, Facebook will become a “digital universe company”. Interestingly, from an organizational perspective, Facebook’s Metaverse division is a secondary division of the VR business. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that “Metaverse is Mark’s new packaging for the VR business”.

But Zuckerberg still has his own logic. Combined with the density Zuckerberg mentioned about VR in the interview, it’s clear that Zuckerberg believes that if the core of the digital universe is an upgrade of the “Internet experience”, it must first have the right equipment. suitable for entrance. Just like the mobile Internet could not flourish without smartphones.

Zhang Peng, founder of Geek Park, said: “Zuckerberg thinks his involvement in VR hardware is the same as Musk’s involvement in rockets. He is building an important tool for the world. new”.

But is VR really the entrance to the Metaverse?

Mark Zuckerberg: Digital Universe
Since Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion in 2016, its R&D investment in the VR business has grown from $5.9 billion a year to nearly $18.5 billion.

“It’s ridiculous to grow your own digital universe”

Last year, Matthew Ball, a venture capitalist has been doing Metaverse research for a long time and came up with some must-have features of the digital universe.

– The digital universe must transcend the physical world and the virtual world;

– Forming a fully mature economy;

– Provide “unprecedented interactivity” (users can achieve an interactive experience similar to reality in the digital universe through a generated avatar);

– More importantly, the digital universe will be operated by various participants in a decentralized manner, rather than belonging to a certain company.

Zuckerberg also agrees with this view, believing that the digital universe must be interoperable and portable: “Like the W3C World Wide Web standard protocol, Metaverse needs to build a common protocol for companies. to evolve in a shared and interoperable universe”.

From this perspective, “Virtual Arena” does not seem to be enough for the Metaverse. “OASIS”, a virtual universe consisting of many worlds, is created by one company and the sole control is in the hands of this company. This is clearly not the future form of the Metaverse.

“In the future, if you hear that a certain company is developing its own Metaverse, it will be as ridiculous as hearing that a certain company is developing its own Internet,” Zuckerberg said.

At the same time, Roblox and Epic Games also believe that the digital universe must be decentralized and avoid being monopolized by a few powers.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney emphasized: “Metaverse was not created by the hands of any giant in the industry, but is the crystallization of the co-creation of millions of people.”

While Zuckerberg believes the digital universe is a key reason for Facebook’s prosperity over the next decade, he clearly agrees that the digital universe is not something a single company can afford. control.

Zuckerberg started with hardware, the “vehicle to the superspace,” and said he’s formed alliances with Microsoft and several companies in the space, and is committed to advancing the industry and building build standards. But he also said: “I’m not denying that this is a beautiful prospect. But some companies will take a different approach.”

This is exactly the biggest problem facing Metaverse. Internet technologies and protocols are open, but the business world of the Internet is largely closed.

How do mainstream tech companies work together and build together? How to convince global regulators to establish effective management rules and convince them that the world created by Internet companies is beneficial to society?

New protocols and decentralized technology have become a core issue. To support identities, digital assets, and economic systems, Metaverse needs to use blockchain technology to establish credibility. Some in the industry say that NFT (Non-fungible Token) has become a new means of transporting value and realizing the value of data content.

So, what is Facebook’s roadmap?

In the age of mobile Internet, Facebook has no hardware nor operating system compared to Apple and Google. It’s not hard to see that Zuckerberg wants to firmly grasp the weapon of the next age. “One of the reasons we’ve invested so much in AR/VR is that smartphones were born almost at the same time as Facebook, and we didn’t play a big role in the development of these platforms,” ​​Zuckerberg said.

In January 2014, Mark visited Oculus, a company founded less than two years ago, when he first teamed up with the Oculus Rift, saying, “You know, this is the future.”

Then, since Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion in 2016, its R&D investment in the VR business has grown from $5.9 billion a year to nearly $18.5 billion. In recent years, the Quest series, based on high performance and relatively low cost, currently dominates the VR device market, with a 79% market share. Oculus wearable sales contributed about $1 billion in revenue to Facebook last year.

Mark Zuckerberg: Digital Universe
Oculus Ouest 2

Zhang Peng asked the head of Facebook VR at the Facebook F8 conference two years ago what was the crux of the VR boom in Zuckerberg’s mind. His answer was: “The price is less than 200 USD, and the sales are 10 million units a year. We think this will be a good starting point.”

It was also when Zuckerberg first publicized his digital universe strategy, after which Facebook announced the creation of a product development team under the Metaverse vision.

Currently, Facebook has invested a fifth of the company’s 50,000 employees in the AR/VR business. And at Facebook’s Q2 2021 earnings conference call, management said going forward, it will invest billions of dollars a year to accelerate the layout of the digital universe.

Zuckerberg said at the conference call that building Metaverse requires new protocols and standards, new devices, new chips, and new software. From the rendering engine to the payment system, it all needs to be included in the build. This will take years, but the companies involved in the construction can reap huge value.

In addition to investing heavily in the AR/VR business, Facebook also launched AI PyTorch in 2017, which used to tend to catch up with the most popular Tensorflow. In addition, Facebook has long started experimenting with digital currency projects like Libra.

Facebook may be planning to make a profit by selling AR/VR hardware, providing AI services, and building communities and ecosystems after collecting certain commissions. As VR gear approaches the critical point of the boom, Zuckerberg becomes more and more determined about the future he imagines.

In 1995, on a talk show, Bill Gates tried to explain simply about the Internet, “Everyone is free to post. Everyone can have a homepage that belongs to them, a management company. curated content and updated with the latest information. This sounds crazy but it really is the new great thing.”

Mark Zuckerberg: Digital Universe
In 1995, Bill Gates answered “What is the Internet” on Late Show with David Letterman.

But the presenter at the time retorted that they already had a station and could also subscribe to the magazine. Why do they need “Internet” to replace what they already have in life. The audience below couldn’t get rid of the default “conditions are for the best”, and they all didn’t believe Gates.

In 2010, as representatives of “Geek Power”, Gates and Zuckerberg together appeared on the cover of “Wired” magazine forming a picture of one old and one young. In time of transition, a similar picture may emerge.

Mark Zuckerberg: Digital Universe

Even if people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg guess the future right, many people still need time to better understand and confirm the correctness. The more important question is, does the era they see really belong to them?

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