تحت رعاية سموّ الشيخ خالد بن محمد بن زايد آل نهيان، ولي عهد أبوظبي رئيس المجلس التنفيذي لإمارة أبوظبي
Under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council
Will Life Be Better in the Metaverse?
WIRED’s spiritual advice columnist on the lure of augmented reality and what may get left behind here on earth.
“I KIND OF want to live in the metaverse. There will be all the same stuff as my regular universe—friends, work, shopping, entertainment—but it will somehow be more thrilling. When I move, will I still be myself?”
It’s hard to believe that only two years have passed since we were promised the new dispensation—the digital universe where, as Mark Zuckerberg put it, we would “be able to express ourselves in new, joyful, completely immersive ways.” In the metaverse, brain surgeons in Scotland would operate on patients in New Zealand, and friends would gather in simulated space stations, luxurious alpine retreats, and enchanted forests. The soaring promo video at 2021’s Meta Connect suggested that the metaverse would remain untainted by the limitations of the real world—even, perhaps, the laws of physics. (One clip showed the novelist Octavia Butler saying, “There are no closed doors, no walls.”) It certainly was, as you say, thrilling. Amid the global pandemic’s alternating waves of fear and monotony, I don’t think anyone could have been faulted for wanting to decamp for something new. World without end, amen.
Since then, as you probably know, this dream has undergone the steady erosion of technological disenchantment. The fluid virtual bodies we were promised turned out to be boxy cartoon avatars. The Oculus headsets were awkward and, because the nondigital world is still one of doors and walls, its most enthusiastic users kept injuring themselves. Meta’s Horizon Worlds platform failed to hit its user targets, and several companies that had set up shop there, including Disney and Microsoft, pulled out.