Mark Zuckerberg’s “Metaverse Revelations” about Joe Rogan
Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta has poured over $10 billion into Metaverse research this year alone. What does he spend on and what does he hope to achieve by building virtual worlds?
He offered some pointers last week The Joe Rogan Experience, which by some standards is the most listened-to podcast in the world. The episode, which spanned almost three hours, made headlines for Zuckerberg’s comments about his hellish morning routine and Hunter Biden’s laptop. But the interview also offered some insight into his approach to his flimsy, often derided, Metaverse empire building.
Here are some of the top takeaways.
A new VR headset will arrive in October.
Meta’s latest virtual reality headset, a successor to the Meta Quest 2, will arrive in October, Zuckerberg announced. It will be the company’s first major VR launch since changing its name from Facebook to Meta last fall.
Zuckerberg says one of his top priorities for the headset was to make the user “feel like they’re directly with another person.” The company has added improved face tracking so your avatar may smile or frown when you do so.
“There’s more non-verbal communication when people are with each other than there is verbal communication,” Zuckerberg told Rogan. “When you’re on a video call, you don’t really feel like you’re there with the person. What unlocks virtual reality for me is that it really convinces your brain that you are there.”
Continue reading: TIME’s first Metaverse interview: How a filmmaker made a movie and fell in love with VR
After all, Zuckerberg wants the metaverse to be all around us.
According to Zuckerberg, Meta’s new VR headset is just one stop on a “long roadmap” to a future dominated not by island headsets but by augmented reality (AR) glasses. The goal, says Zuckerberg, is to shrink headsets to the size of regular glasses and allow people to interact with the world via augmented reality or digital overlays. For example, instead of looking at a phone screen for directions, your smart glasses simply draw a line in the direction of the route you’re supposed to take.
“The physical world is important to our being, our essence and our soul,” Zuckerberg said.
However, actual AR consumer products are still a long way off. Zuckerberg predicts that the first products will arrive in three to five years and “will start out quite expensive. It’s going to take a while to get down to hundreds of dollars,” he said.
When AR tech arrives, says Zuckerberg war of stars-style holograms will be the norm. He predicts that instead of moving to big cities, many people will instead “teleport to the office in the morning and show up as a hologram.” That future, Zuckerberg says, will be “pretty sweet” and will “unlock a lot of economic opportunity for a lot of people.”
Zuckerberg also dreamed of virtual poker nights with Rogan, where some friends physically sit around a table, others are beamed in, and everyone plays with hologram cards.
Data protection problems threaten.
When an AR-dominated world comes to fruition, Meta will have access to a daunting amount of footage and real-time data. Every step you take in public may be monitored. When Rogan asked if AR glasses would allow a “Creep” to record people without their consent, Zuckerberg admitted it was “theoretically” possible. (He defended the product by saying that every time a user clicks “Record,” a bright red light flashes.)
Zuckerberg knows you hate the avatars.
In mid-August, Zuckerberg posted a selfie of his digital avatar on Facebook’s Horizon Worlds metaverse platform. It was widely derided for being of low quality or even “soulless”.
Zuckerberg admitted to Rogan that Meta’s avatars are “obviously not super realistic yet.” He said that while the quality will improve over time, his goal isn’t to create a metaverse that looks exactly like the real world. “I’m actually not convinced that if we have photorealistic avatars, people will prefer those over the expressive ones,” he said.
His goal for the near future is for VR to “eat TV”.
According to Zuckerberg, Metaverse growth has come directly at the expense of the TV industry. He said that eventually people will be able to watch their favorite shows and movies in their smart glasses instead of on a screen.
Zuckerberg also criticized the cultural dominance of the television industry and said he hopes people will spend time interacting in virtual worlds instead of watching TV.
“I want to make sure that the experiences we’re having aren’t just these passive things,” he said, arguing that people will form more relationships if they’re socializing in VR instead of watching TV. “That may actually be a net improvement in wellbeing for people as a whole. And there’s just a lot of TV time to eat.”
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