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Author Neal Stephenson, who conceived of the Metaverse 30 years ago, sat down with Meta’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, on Wednesday to explain the engineering breakthroughs needed to perfect the virtual world experience during a World Economic Forum panel discussion in Davos, Switzerland.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has estimated that it will take about a decade for his investments in the virtual world to pay off, and Cox believes that by then people will be making video calls the way they are now, Willing to take walks in virtual worlds with friends and family.
Meta’s Reality Labs metaverse unit lost $9.4 billion between January and September, and they expect the number of losses to increase even more in 2023. This loss led to the decision to cut 11,000 jobs.
“We’re in a very early version, the Xerox PARC era,” said Cox of the World Economic Forum group, referring to the company that invented the mouse and other basic computing equipment 50 years ago.
Cox’s company (Meta) is investing billions of dollars developing software and hardware for the Metaverse, and one of the biggest challenges they face in the Metaverse is the relationship between speed and graphics quality. For a virtual environment like the comedy club in the metaverse to be successful and provide a good user experience, it needs a lot of support. In order to captivatingly simulate the atmosphere of the real world, many avatars should be able to chat and laugh, and it is necessary to update these avatars to match the movements of real people. However, this limits the processing power available for high-quality graphics. In response, Cox commented: “We’re trying to figure out if comedy can work.”
Stephenson is trying to solve the problem of fluidly moving between experiences in different virtual worlds while preserving the avatar’s accessories, clothing and other items by partnering with the company he founded for blockchain application development. During the panel discussion, he shared that, in his view, the key question about the Metaverse is is it built from the bottom up or is it created entirely by one company?
In response, CEO Enrique Lores (Enrique Lores) said, “The more open the virtual world, the better.” He added, “If someone controls the entire metaverse, then someone else has much less ability to add value.”
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