Science

Metaverse: Will You Hide the “Unwanted” Parts of Real Life? Experts care about it

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Have you ever dreamed of being able to ignore some parts of reality? No ? Too bad for you, according to some experts in the field of augmented reality, who recently raised concerns about the development of the future metaverse of Meta (formerly Facebook).

Since Facebook has presented its desire to turn its metaverse into reality, the feathers have not dried up on this issue. The company even offered a name change for the occasion. It is now called “Meta”. One way to underline your desire to focus on this new technology, no doubt.

This metaverse, which would superimpose virtual elements in our real environment, is casting an ink of concern among experts in the field. Louis Rosenberg, a computer scientist and current CEO of Unanimous AI, known for having developed the first functional augmented reality system at the Air Force Research Laboratory, is among those concerned. He recently spoke in a column, published on Big Think, and also gave an interview on the subject to Business Insider.

Custom reality bubbles?

“I am more convinced than ever that augmented reality will become the center of all aspects of life, touching everything from the way we work and play to the way we communicate with each other. In fact, I am convinced that it will happen in this decade, and yes, it will be magical. But at the same time, I’m very concerned about the negative consequences, and it’s not because I worry that bad actors are hacking into technology or hijacking our good intentions. No, I am concerned about the legitimate uses of AR by the powerful platform providers that will control the infrastructure, ”the entrepreneur clearly asks.

We already live in a world where there are many intermediaries between us and reality, remember. Our access to information, our ways of communicating and interacting, currently go through platforms that alter them. A flagrant example of this is, precisely, Facebook. Their algorithms take into account our preferences to show us content that abounds in the direction of our tastes and our opinions. In terms of information, therefore, we already live in separate worlds. It can be easy to get the impression that the whole planet agrees with us (or the other way around) when they obviously don’t.

What Louis Rosenberg fears is that the generalization of augmented reality is amplifying this phenomenon. A bit in the same principle, it would be possible not to see certain things that disturb us, because they do not adhere to our vision of the world. Take the example of an “anti-abortion” supporter who would choose to hide abortion clinics from his field of vision, or a pacifist who would choose not to see gun shops. We would then live in personalized “reality bubbles” that would exacerbate opinions and worldviews. The “last bastion” of a common world that constitutes tangible reality would run the risk, according to him, of disappearing.

The information that we already show throughout our lives on social networks, and on the internet in general, could also follow us everywhere, constantly giving indicators about our tastes, our consumption habits … A completely different dimension, without a doubt For Advertising and marketing, if nothing is regulated on this issue, the computer scientist also warns.

From comfort to obligation

Louis Rosenberg isn’t the only one expressing concern about the old Facebook metaverse. “Facebook can claim originality in at least one thing. Its large-scale impact, coupled with its irresponsibility, has unleashed a diverse and fascinating set of socio-political challenges that will take at least a generation for policymakers, academics and activists to resolve, ”Ethan Zuckerman said fiercely in a published column. in The Atlantic, referring in particular to controversies over Facebook’s political influence during the elections. A professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he leads the digital infrastructure initiative there. He claims to have tried to build a first version of a metaverse 27 years ago and tells Meta: “It was disastrous then, and it is still disastrous now.”

If the metaverse turns out to be so terrible, wouldn’t it be easy to take off our glasses or any other augmented reality device? It is not that simple for Louis Rosenberg. Because after all, what we embrace for practicality often ends up feeling essential to us at some point, when all kinds of information start to flow only through this channel.

Having an internet connection generally doesn’t seem so optional in our daily life. This is also another problem that he sees: how will families who cannot afford augmented reality glasses do if even the real world is no longer sufficient on its own to provide essential information? However, he maintains a certain positivity on the subject: “Being optimistic, I still believe that augmented reality can be a positive force, making the world a magical place and expanding what it means to be human. But to protect ourselves from potential dangers, we must proceed with caution and thought, anticipating problems that could corrupt what an innovative technology should be. “

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