Longworth: The Metaverse – danger ahead

This is the last of our four-part series on the Metaverse. If you haven’t read the previous articles, it would be advisable to do so before continuing.

Why am I averse to the Metaverse?

Richard Longworth column header

We have the freedom and independence to become whatever we want to be. There is nothing to stop us. Or is there?

I once asked my college students how do you see life? Their responses were varied and some of the more common answers were, Life is like a deck of cards.’ ‘A 10-speed bicycle with gears we never use.’ A circus.’ ‘A maze. A puzzle. ‘A deep hole.’

Apparently, college students, possibly unconsciously, admit their life is somewhat controlled, and do not have the freedom and independence they desire. How would you have answered the question?

Further, I fear with the most recent technology advance, the Metaverse, will further erode our liberty and will come at a monumental social and psychological cost to all of us. As Jason Lanier, founding father of VR (Virtual Reality) writes, “the Metaverse could turn out to be the most evil invention of all time.”

We have reached an impasse where a dishonorable genie has been released from the bottle.

The way you see life shapes your life

Like my students, how you define your life metaphorically determines your destiny. Your perspective will influence how you invest your time, use your talents, value your relationships, even spend your money.

Just imagine if most of your time is invested in non-human activity (watching TV, using apps, interacting with avatars) how sadly our life will be shaped by external (non-human) agents.

It is estimated that over a one-week time-frame, more hours are spent with AR (Augmented Reality) agents than at school or work.

A Question of ethics

Facebook’s push toward AR (Augmented Reality) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) just didn’t happen. It started about seven years ago through corporate acquisitions, investments and research.

If Facebook’s Meta rebranding is truly moving us away from social media and more toward AR we have a very serious problem on our hands. As we increase the use of virtual and augmented reality, we blur the lines between cyber and physical space. Facebook’s direction is not about gaming anymore but unethically toward data and control.

What can we do?

The further removed from reality we are, the more emotional numbness and distant we experience and the less human we become. Knowing this is happening, what can we possibly do?

First, policymakers would do well to consider these issues right now, rather than wait for them to arrive full force. Governments could start by repealing the research and development as tax credits. Congress, in the USA, should revise existing anti-trust law that permit large technology companies to enjoy favoritism in respective industries allowing these grandiose visions for what could be a dystopian future.

Second, as a parent, businessperson or interested person we need to be proactive and limit amount of time spent on the Metaverse or similar AR/AI sites.

Third, write to your MP or local government and alert them to the concerns you have about the Metaverse in your own words.

With the Metaverse, we are at what I consider a critical crossroad. We have an opportunity to do what humans do best—harness technology to serve our needs. The future is what we make it to be and devoting our time and energy to building a future we want to live in, and to pass it on to the next generation.

This article was well scrutinized and taken from current research papers. If you would like the source, please contact the author.

What do you think? Post your comments below and we will respond.

To read all Richard Longworth’s columns, click here.

For 40 years Richard Longworth worked as a systems analyst and university professor at Capilano University teaching math, information technology, and system analysis and implementation. Longworth has published three books: Reflections on Life Issues, Turning the Self Inside Out, and Harnessing the Internet into a Knowledge Framework – all related to technology and trends in the industry.

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