How Will The Metaverse Shape Society?

March 14 2008 / by Venessa Posavec / In association with Future
Category: Metaverse   Year: 2008   Rating: 9

The Metaverse, the blanket term for immersive 3D spaces like virtual worlds, is gaining more and more attention as platforms are being built to cater to just about every age group and social interest. From environments that help parents entice their kids to do household chores to worlds that encourage socializing (and business marketing) like Second Life, the space is creating opportunities that go far beyond gaming.

Thanks to Henrik Bennetsen, Research Director at Stanford’s Humanities Lab, we have the chance to peek behind the curtain and see what all the buzz is about. As the Conference Chair at last month’s Metaverse U conference, he decided to pick the brains of some of this year’s participants and guests. Armed with a video camera, four questions were posed to developers, researchers, and students working in the virtual world space:

1. What excites you about current metaverse technology?
2. What concerns you about current metaverse technology?
3. What will be most the surprising impact of metaverse technology on society within the next decade?
4. What barriers will metaverse technology never overcome?

Corey Bridges, co-founder of Multiverse

Twenty-some videos are currently available on youTube with the results. The responses were generally optimistic as to the evolution of the metaverse for communication, collaboration, and learning. There’s great potential for social change too. Mirror worlds are being built to allow us to see and understand things going on in the world that the media might typically filter out. Many predicted a convergence between virtual worlds and social networking, and felt the adoption rate of new mashup platforms would only grow, due to the rate of accelerating technological change.

Concerns about the metaverse, echoed by dissidents of many new technologies that increase transparency, mostly dealt with the loss of privacy, and possible surveillance issues. Government and corporate interference was also a concern, as limitations placed by these entities could hamper the creativity and innovation needed for the metaverse to grow.

Greg Howes of GeoSherpa

The next decade will be an exciting time to see what we’re capable of creating in 3D environments. We’re already seeing a trend that mobile devices appear to be the future of internet usage, and development is already underway to build virtual world platforms to that end. Navigating your avatar to meet friends, conduct business meetings, or visit a foreign country will be as simple as picking up your cellphone.

There may be no replacement for actual face-to-face interactions at the moment, but who knows what the future will hold. With the advances of photorealistic rendering, integration of sensory experience, and capturing the nuances of body language, the virtual world may one day be indistinguishable from reality. What do you think?

To watch the rest of the videos, click here

(Via Virtual World News)

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