At an event celebrating in-person networking for the first time since Austin-2019, Mark Zuckerberg appeared on video to share the joys of meeting through augmented and virtual reality, which he calls the “Metaverse.”
“I believe the Metaverse is the next chapter of the Internet,” Meta Platforms CEO told Daymond John shark Tank Here at a panel Tuesday at the SXSW conference.
Zuckerberg argued that head-mounted computing using high-resolution displays and precision sensors would recreate the feeling IRL met, and eventually replace mobile in the same way that the mobile Web overtook the desktop Web. “You’ll be able to feel like you’re right there with the other person,” he said. “It’s an extremely magical sensation.”
When asked by John whether there would be one metaverse or several, Zuckerberg said the company, formerly known as Facebook, aims to be one of several virtual-world builders.
“A metaverse is not something that a company builds,” he said. “You wouldn’t say Facebook was building the Internet before. I don’t think you would say that Meta is building a metaverse now.
(As Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen remarked in an SXSW talk Monday morning, Facebook essentially created an internet in developing countries by offering “free basics” — limited mobile connectivity to designated popular sites, Facebook included.)
Zuckerberg said that interoperability would be essential; He wants to make sure that people can bring their avatar and their costume to the virtual words of different companies.
He nodded for further diversity. “It’s really important that people can see themselves in the system that is being created,” he said. “We are taking a lot of care in including things like wheelchairs and hearing aids, and such things in the avatar system,” he said.
Zuckerberg suggested that creating a mass-market-tasty set of augmented-reality glasses would be harder than building a VR headset that everyone would want to strap on. “We’re probably a few years away from the first thing you call augmented reality and look like glasses,” he said.
Zuckerberg also shared some news: Meta’s Instagram app will add support for non-fungible tokens “over the next several months,” including the ability to import both these cryptocurrency tokens and other mints in the app.
The CEO’s 47-minute presence was also notable for things he didn’t discuss. Although he began his speech by acknowledging the war in Ukraine—”How much I care about those affected by this invasion”—he did not name the author of the war, Russia.
Nor did they discuss the Russian government’s recent moves to block Facebook and Instagram as Western tech companies have moved to punish Russia for an unprovoked attack on its democratic neighbour.
John asked no questions about Haugen’s more caustic remarks here on Monday. For example, she said: “Mark Zuckerberg can make us safer today, but he chooses not to.” He did, however, inquire about the negativity reaction to Zuckerberg’s Metaverse ambitions.
The CEO responded, “On some level, the type of future belongs to those who believe in it more than others.” “I think we care more.”