by Gavin Haynes
Friday, 5
November 2021
Debate
15:00

There is nothing disruptive about the Metaverse

The plan is for a smooth transition, entrenching the existing powers
by Gavin Haynes
Working on that smile…

As a man whose digital avatar is more lifelike than his real self, Mark Zuckerberg is clearly delighted to be entering the metaverse — even if the engineers haven’t quite added “delighted” to his smile repertoire.

Last week, in an hour long video, Facebook rebranded as Meta. The company is preparing for a transition from a social media company into a metaverse company ‘within the next five to ten years’, and they’re already spending a full fifth of their revenue on building the software architecture that will take them there.

This is a clear case for the Great Man Theory Of History. The metaverse as a vague concept (augmented reality plus virtual reality times mobile internet) might well be inevitable, but the future is looking increasingly likely to be built in Zuck’s stilted image.

To confirm this: days after Zuck’s announcement, Nike has filed a series of patents that mark out their own stake in a world that will be a bonanza for IP lawyers: the world of virtual products from real companies.

The boom in Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) — blockchain ledger entries that confer ‘ownership’ of digital artworks — has given everyone a dry run.

As has Fortnite, the insanely popular online multi-player game, where ‘skins’ — high-end outfits for your player — can come in at $5000.

Nike are already closing in on dominance in these new spaces. In 2019, they applied for patents on ‘Cryptokicks’: NFTs of their new shoe releases. Their system even allowed for the ‘breeding’ of two NFTs to create a shoe ‘offspring’ that could then be made into custom trainers. But like Monsanto with seeds, it also allowed for a cut-off point in the hybrids, that meant customers would always have to return.

In the dystopia they desire, your avatar will need Air Jordans to get around, and your avatar will be mercilessly mocked for wearing old Air Force Ones.

Of course the precise feel and rules of the metaverse are still a way off — hence Meta’s presentation falling back on stock sci fi clichés that you might have picked from an episode of Black Mirror.

But whatever the pathway, in the fight to shape the new world, the railways that Meta runs represent the conservation of the old order.

There will be no repetition of Digital Rights Management era that broke the music industry for a decade. Far from the kind of anarchic web 2.0 transition that allowed for MySpace to rise and fall and then Facebook itself to become the net’s croupier, this new era is envisaged as a managed transition. No upstarts, no anarchic Year Zero. Just Nike and Disney and Ed Sheeran; everything as it was, only more so.

It doesn’t take much of a futurologist to predict that the same range of market gouging techniques Big Tech has perfected over the past decade will apply to a new architecture they control. Just as most software is now sold as a ’subscription’, so too in Mark’s branded dystopia, your avatars could well be digitally denuded if they fail to keep up the infinite repayments on their Fendi account.

Meet the metaverse, same as the universe.

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Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
10 months ago

The Great (Soma) Reset – “You will own nothing, you will have no privacy, you WILL be happy”. Or else.

No thanks, I prefer the real world – the effects are better.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
10 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

6uild 6ack 6better is on track, the ‘Real World’ you mention is already disappearing; the phone an extension of your mind and body of all you phone clutching sheep, and it is just another step till your mind actually goes inside it, rather than having it in your hand. Zuckerberg and his fellows will soon have you completely captured by this hellish metaverse, the phone you are addicted to is the foot in the door; his monster is going to get inside.

David Simpson
David Simpson
10 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

What did you write this on?

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
10 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I haven’t got a smart-phone.

sarah
sarah
10 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

well done, we need to ditch them, but not so easy

Matthew Baker
Matthew Baker
10 months ago

Is it just me or is the metaverse the most boring and pathetic of all possible dystopias? Basically a video game, virtual reality version of Facebook with lots of ads and fake shoes you can buy for thousands of dollars? Starting to think the Amish might inherit the earth

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
10 months ago

I would rather take my big stupid friendly shaggy sheepdog for a long ramble to the pub, sit by its log fire, drink pints and share a bag or two of crisps with said dog, then go home. I do have a phone, but I use it for phone calls and sending texts.
To listen to on the walk, I have a 1990s-era MiniDisc player. On one disc there are five hours of music, which it plays it back with better sound quality than MP3.
The dog and the MiniDisc player are entirely unconnected to the internet.
There’s nothing else I need. Life peaked in about 1998, and little or nothing that has happened since has been necessary, with the possible exception of the satnav and wi-fi, although even the latter depends greatly on how much time you waste online.
I can’t be the only one who thinks this way. This must be the only age of technological evolution in which most of what’s being invented is of interest or use to such a small demographic subsection of the populace (who are also unwittingly being harmed by a lot of it). I just hope that this latest wheeze turns out to be the future only in the way that, 100 years ago, Zeppelins were the future.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
10 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

A book is a far better companion than a dog.

Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
10 months ago

Nicely written! I really liked ‘the net’s croupier’.

George Glashan
George Glashan
10 months ago

I looked, and behold, an ashen Ed Sheeran; and he who sat on it had the name Nike ; and Disney was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
10 months ago

I rather hope that this turns out to be Facebook’s suicide note as its users find there is more to life.

Aldo Maccione
Aldo Maccione
10 months ago

No thanks, I’ll wait for the release of the Metaverse 10 Pro, with a bigger screen and a better camera.

Warren T
Warren T
10 months ago

No thanks! I prefer to stay at home in my log cabin, burning a wood fire for heat and to cook. When the embers start to fade, after making eggs in a cast iron skillet, is when I head out to the barn and re-shoe my horse and hitch up the old nag to the carriage to head into town for supplies at Lee’s General Store. Fourteen and three quarter miles each way on a narrow mud road that meanders alongside a creek.
My wife and 2 children perished last winter from a bout of consumption, so the days now linger until the cold winds subside, which gives me time to fill the spaces between the hand sawn logs that are my walls. After a supper of dried venison and a few shots of moonshine, the din of the coyotes’ howls lull me to sleep at night. I am awakened occasionally by the very large female black bear, whom I’ve named Thumbelina, when she attempts to break down my front door after the wild blueberry bushes are picked clean.
She is the only living thing I communicate with regularly, with the exception of Agnes, the surly, weathered woman who exchanges her provisions for my beaver pelts at Lee’s.
No thanks! You can keep your electricity, horseless carriages and icebox’s. I’m not ready for modern life.

Last edited 10 months ago by Warren T
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
10 months ago

Zuckerberg is such an unappetising man.

Aldo Maccione
Aldo Maccione
10 months ago

he looks like the first (and last) image of a very good “Black Mirror” episode

Matt B
Matt B
10 months ago

Is there a better description of Hell On Earth?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
10 months ago

“NFTs of their new shoe releases.”

Where are the real NTFs, you know, the Glock, Colt, Beretta for the cool, the AK-47, Avtomat Kalashnikova, for the hard….The Auto makers? Everyone needs a Rolls Royce SUV with body armor and retractable gun turret, it could be a big asset for the car maker; churning out NTFs.

Will the Tolkien Family Estate be licencing Orks and Galadriel sex doll Elf NFTs?

It will be a deviant’s wonderland, and all are free to enter…..

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
10 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

???

David Batlle
David Batlle
10 months ago

So basically Zuckerberg takes Steven Spielberg’s movie Ready Player One, a cautionary tale about humanity living In a virtual world because their real lives are such a pile of shyte, and turns it into a dystopian manual for the future. Sign me up!

Last edited 10 months ago by David Batlle