September 30, 2022

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Opinion: The metaverse turns the concept of space and space upside down

Opinion: The metaverse turns the concept of space and space upside down

The metaverse as described by Mark Zuckerberg has a far-reaching impact on spatial planning and area development. Being somewhere becomes an option. This leads us to think, where we see not only the risks, but above all the opportunities for the city.

This article is based on articles in a bookThis is how you create value in a smart city

The metaverse in Silicon Valley is seen as the next phase of the Internet. You can read more and more about this on the old Internet. and see. in this video Mark Zuckerberg, the head of Facebook, explains what he wants with it. It is more than worth a look.

First of all, for what the metaverse promises. It is now basically a vision or a concept at most. The parts are there, the whole is not yet. According to Zuckerberg, it will be a virtual world where you can enter by wearing virtual reality glasses and where you can show yourself with one or more avatars in different worlds.

Zuckerberg shows in the video that he has learned from the lawsuits that have been filed against Facebook in recent years. The metaverse will be an open platform, where users’ rights are well protected. It will also be interoperable. Thus some objections are refuted in advance. Whether we should believe that is the question of course, but for now let’s say Facebook changed his life and Zuckerberg apparently realizes that this will only be successful if it’s open to other providers. And that the European market can only be accessed if privacy and independence are well protected.

The metaverse does not yet exist and we as a country can decide not to participate in it. After all, more technology is banned in Europe that is used elsewhere in the world. But then we have to discuss it now. The ban seems very absolute beforehand. It is interesting to know where the opportunities lie and how we can exploit them, while at the same time counteracting the flaws. How we created Dutch or European metaverses. Not at the level of clothing and avatars, but as a society. How to transform the metaverse into a world that truly benefits us as a society.

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Why go to the office every day if you can also do it online?

The metaverse as described by Zuckerberg has a far-reaching impact on spatial planning and area development. Turns the concepts of space and space on its head. I wouldn’t have to go anywhere anymore, I could be everywhere if I put my VR glasses on. At work, with friends, at a gym, at a game or movie. It’s weird and feels utopian and miserable at the same time. The internet has already radically changed notions of space and distance, and the metaverse is adding a massive shelf to that.

Why travel to a business meeting abroad, if you can also do it from home? Why go to the office every day, if you can also do it online? You no longer call your parents, but meet each other in your own virtual world. Stop being bothered by the ugly environment, but arrange your environment in such a way that you are always happy and happy. It is not for nothing that Zuckerberg smiles a lot in the video, he looks beautiful.

We are already used to it

It’s less futuristic than it looks. In recent years, we have become accustomed to the idea that distance is a choice. I can get my groceries done at home (whether it’s a refrigerator or daily groceries), I can work at home, I can exercise at home, and I don’t have to go to town anymore.

Those who do, make a conscious choice to do so. Because he feels so, as long as the money is available for services. So I can very well imagine that in about five years I will be wearing virtual reality glasses for meetings. And that I will also use other apps. Simply because it is convenient.

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What does this mean for society?

We haven’t gotten there yet. Zuckerberg identifies several obstacles that must be overcome. Much technology still needs to be developed. Meta, as Facebook is officially called since this video, is putting a lot of money into it. Just like the rest of the big tech. And that’s the core business, big tech is good at this.

Meta doesn’t do this alone. For a company, the metaverse is essentially a platform on which users and companies can express themselves. They also put a lot of energy and money into it. That alone is why this metaverse somehow gets there. There seems to be a lot of money to be made. For partners, but certainly also for the big tech. Let’s say there’s a metaverse soon, what will it cost? And who gets this money?

If access to the metaverse costs money, it inevitably leads to the next chasm in society. It is already here, the Internet is not free. You need a fiber optic connection and stuff. and software subscriptions. Anyone who cannot afford it will not participate. This gap is only widening in the metaverse.

Even more fundamental is the question of what this means for society. In the metaverse I can always stay in my bubbles, without unwanted people and emotions. That might be good for me, but it’s not good for society as a whole. The chance of meeting people who don’t look like me is getting smaller and smaller, and if that happens, it’s often a conscious choice. This seems to be the preserve of social media, where one’s right (whether right or left) is asserted and promoted nonstop, but it extends to the real world.

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Hybrid versions

Will we be wearing VR glasses all the time in 10 years? I don’t think so and that’s not what Zuckerberg explains in his video. Most likely it is the hybrid or enhanced versions. metaverse as an add-on service to the physical world or vice versa: the physical world as an addition to the virtual world. This creates digital twins, through which influence can be exercised between the Internet and the real world.

Property developer Heijmans is doing so in Leusdense Maanwijk, where the online variant was developed before the groundbreaking. Future residents can already form a community there. After completion, all kinds of services are offered that are directly related to the house and the neighborhood. So Maanwijk is both online and offline. This is suitable for those who realize that they forgot to turn the thermostat a few degrees down, or for those who want to borrow a ladder from the neighbors. It is very practical for the neighborhood as a whole as it allows to distribute the generated energy sustainably or to combat loneliness. In this way, the online neighborhood can create value in the real neighborhood.