Proponents of XR and the development of more advanced and immersive 3D online worlds say its rapid evolution is likely to benefit all aspects of society: education, healthcare, gaming and entertainment, arts, social and civic life, and other activities. They believe that the infusion of more data into people’s experiences, advances in AI assistance systems, and the creation of entirely new spaces and experiences for technology users can enrich and expand their lives. Of course, as with all digital technology, there are concerns about health, safety, privacy and the economic implications of these new spaces. This has stimulated a lot of speculation about what the maturation of XR and the metaverse will look like and what that means for society.
There are tangible and exciting developments in the field of digital world-building. Many companies that have jumped on the metaverse bandwagon also envision a kind of new digital economy, where users can make, buy Metaverse News and sell goods. In more idealistic visions of the metaverse, it’s interoperable, allowing you to carry virtual items like clothing or cars from one platform to another, although this is harder than it seems.
This is a non-scientific study based on a non-random sample; this wide range of opinions on where current trends may lead over the next 18 years only represents the views of the people who responded to the questions. A notable proportion of these experts predicted that layers of AR and MR information that can be easily deployed in real-world environments will be more widely accepted in societies than VR by 2040. They predict that AR and MR tools will become increasingly important in the daily lives of many millions more people at work, at home, at school, in healthcare, shopping and socializing.
Matthew Belge, president and chief UX designer at Vision & Logic, a Massachusetts-based design consulting firm, said, “I imagine the metaverse will be used for almost everything people are currently doing, from social gatherings to business meetings, sex, gaming, medical work and simulations. I think the most provocative areas will be where it’s too difficult or too dangerous to do this in “real life.” For example, virtually climbing Mount Everest, driving a vehicle in space or diving to the ocean floor. James A. Danowski, Chairman of Communication Sciences and Technology, predicted, “People don’t need extra bandwidth to communicate with other people for most types of work. By 2040, the metaverse and social media will be gone from everyday life. Direct interaction through digital media will still be important, but there’s already enough or even too much social presence with current video apps like Zoom. Jon Lebkowsky, former CEO and founder of three technology companies, now an activist writer/blogger focused on strategic foresight, cyber-openness and digital culture at Plutopia News Network, commented: “My three decades of experience working and playing online have taught me that generally the simplest approaches prevail. For example, the strong preference of simple text messages for communication. Many people play immersive 3D games, but many more don’t. Second Life has had a fairly dedicated set of adopters, but it never got off the ground in a big way. Olivier Crépin-Leblond, founding board member of the European Internet Governance Dialogue and board member of ICANN’s European At-Large Organization, wrote: “Many activities will take place online by 2040 using more immersive interfaces than the current web, for example, e-commerce options where you feel like you’re walking down a shopping path, full virtual reality meetings and fully immersive virtual reality or holographic fitness options. The technology already exists today, it just needs to be made sophisticated, error-free and user-friendly and affordable. “Many people first saw the power of the metaverse in the Second Life online community, but even before that, computer scientists created virtual reality experiences in labs using expensive specialized hardware and software. In science fiction literature, Neal Stephenson wrote about the metaverse in “Snow Crash,” and a decade earlier in “Neuromancer,” and one of William Gibson’s protagonists, Case, enters and leaves cyberspace. Gibson’s novel Pattern Recognition is about a female protagonist, Cayce, and the line between the real and the virtual was completely blurred. It should be noted that on June 21, 2022, after these experts wrote their answers, Meta, Microsoft, NVIDIA, PlayStation, Sony, Epic Games, Adobe, and dozens of other large, medium and small technology companies joined large open standards groups, including the World Wide Web Consortium, the Open Geospatial Consortium, the Web 3D Consortium and others to announce the creation of the Metaverse Standards Forum, a group that organizers said was designed to ensure interoperability in the metaverse.
If it all sounds too absurd, remember that there are large and functional metaverse platforms out there these days that aren’t just for kids or brands. Zwift, for example, is a popular cycling and running app with some four million registered users competing against each other in virtual worlds. Zwift has the equivalent of its own digital currency, and its CEO recently told Barron’s that it wants to provide tools for developers to create their own worlds in which they can compete. She was not vaccinated and healthy, she explained to the small group around her, but everyone she knew who received the injection had become ill. It was then, listening to this dubious tirade about the vaccine at a digital fast food restaurant on a virtual reality platform created by one of the most problematic tech companies in the world with one of his headphones connected to my face, that I began to doubt this whole metaverse idea.
Some of the skeptics about XR’s significant and widely accepted advances predicted that unless people have to do so, for example, by employers, government agencies, or health entities or other public services, most don’t want to spend their time, money, or attention on more immersive virtual environments. These experts point out that the public has not found the technology useful enough to immerse themselves in. Second Life was often used as an example when respondents noted that the public has had the opportunity to participate in some fairly immersive virtual spaces for many years, but has not adopted them on a large scale. This early VIRTUAL reality metaverse platform emerged in the mid-2000s and has gradually improved, but participation in it stagnated years ago. Andy Opel, a professor of communications at Florida State University, wrote, “While the ghosts of corporate control, data mining, privacy anxiety, and predatory capitalism haunt these emerging spaces, just as they continue to haunt much of our daily lives outside the metaverse, the power and potential of these tools runs too deep to reject because of their business entanglements. These digital spaces must become another front in the ongoing struggle to democratize our media systems, dismantle monopoly control and bridge the digital divide. An internet pioneer and an old network manager wrote: “Most interaction with social media and the internet today is not immersive, but rather collective or complementary to real-world interaction. Some people may want to be in a fully immersive experience in their home, but in public, both safety and practical concerns strongly suggested that participation in virtual reality will instead be augmented reality, if AR becomes more fashionable.