As the uncertainty of the ever-evolving virtual world lures upon us, mixed expectations surface. We asked the industry: The Metaverse, utopia or dystopia?
Senior Account Manager at Gambit Communications
I think that, in the age of global satellite surveillance, deep fake videos, and misinformation, we are already in a dystopia in many ways. So, perhaps the Metaverse provides a utopian alternative in some areas. The big attraction of the Metaverse is the ability to live more of your life in a virtual realm. This opens up possibilities of a fuller life for disabled, injured, or sick people who are confined to their bodies. It also opens new doors for entertainment and other experiences such as virtual travel, sporting events, or concerts without the need to spend the big bucks. Finally, it may take the emphasis off physical beauty if people can live vicariously through an avatar. Of course, the potential risks of the online world, some of which we’re already witnessing such as low activity levels, body dysmorphia, and criminal exploitation, will co-exist with the pros. It needs to be carefully monitored in the roll-out phase.
Account Manager – Technology at Edelman
In the last decade, we saw a shift from desktop web to mobile Internet and the next decade will be about shifting into the Metaverse. It sounds like the next evolution in social technologies, so it will be exciting to see what experiences it provides. Instead of oscillating between utopian and dystopian views of the Metaverse, we should openly acknowledge that new technologies do bring new challenges but also present fresh opportunities.
Communications Project Manager at APCO Worldwide
Ultimately, it will have to do with how humans decide to use the Metaverse. I personally feel that this utopian world could allow many people to escape their everyday lives and pursue dreams they were never able to [otherwise]. However, an inevitable truth is that living purely in the Metaverse will have negative effects on us.
Will success in the Metaverse feel the same? Will we be able to hold the same value for all those things that we’ll have so easily? Will we not compromise on essential human behaviors? Will a world like this exacerbate the political divisions and socio-economic issues we see today across the globe? Before humankind enters a new digitally advanced universe, there are many questions that must be answered.
This is why I would use the Metaverse purely for entertainment purposes, and not as a substitute for reality. In my opinion, we as a species should prevent it from turning into a dystopian nightmare.
Senior Account Executive at Memac Ogilvy
While it’s in my nature to be a cynic, I am open to entertaining the thought that future virtual experiences might present a brighter, elevated extension to our consciousness. But we must not fail to ask who and what will shape our experiences in the Metaverse, as it might just be wealth and identity.
If the time comes when we’re unable to distinguish between the real and the virtual, we’re in for a world filled with both delight and great horror, unless we give academics, philosophers, and governments the chance to put in place measures to safeguard our presence in the Metaverse.
As regulators play catch up, it’s easier for tech organizations to capitalize on a largely unregulated industry that has the potential to influence our experience of reality. We need to assess how much the Metaverse will benefit individuals and ensure that it does not exacerbate existing inequalities in society. This is what frightens me.
But we still have time. The Metaverse is just not there yet – unless you’re open to lowering your expectations significantly.
Media Relations Specialist at Markettiers
In my opinion, right now, the Metaverse is an unknown. It is still new, and we do not know how it will impact the world! Like when the TV was introduced to the world, many assumed that it would fade away as no one would have the time to stare at a box for so long. But look at how important it has become!
However, I think the Metaverse is a promising place, where all mankind can be the same and race is not something to consider about a person. The concept of race might not even exist over there. Yet, let’s not forget that it is still an unknown.
Associate Director at Spread Communications
I am with team utopia. The Metaverse – a term that we are all still trying to fully understand and grasp at this point – can simply be defined as a parallel virtual world where people/avatars will socialize, work, and interact. I am quite optimistic and do believe that we will get to see incredible innovations in AR & VR. We are already seeing these mixed technologies slowly becoming a part of our daily lives. Imagine collaborating on a project with individuals across the world, with a sense of having them right by your side. As creativity flows and technology advances, I’m sure brands will launch exciting and engaging campaigns too.
While the Metaverse brings about several business opportunities, we do need to be mindful of safe and responsible innovation. I believe this is something that will eventually be regulated by government bodies and I don’t think the Metaverse will ever replace the real world – both will simply co-exist.
Founder of Shakespeare Communications
Like for every emerging technology, there are those championing it and those who are fearful. Those championing the Metaverse see it as an open, fairer, more inclusive and diverse environment, with enormous opportunity. ‘Cooler’ brands and fashion houses are already embracing it – such as Adidas, Nike, and Balenciaga.
It certainly seems like a utopia in that we can all enter our own virtual space and create our own environment, for work, play, or socializing. I like to think it’s a similar leap to what we’ve seen with mobile phones. We’ve gone from carrying around enormous bricks to supercomputers on our wrists in a few decades. The Metaverse is the next iteration of the Internet, whether we like it or not. It’s taking a keyboard-based experience to a fully immersive virtual world of our own design. And doesn’t that sound interesting?
However, there are two sides to every coin, and the more cynical among us might agree it could quickly become a dark, scary place. They might also suggest it’s a little odd that as climate change becomes an irreversible catastrophe, we’re all being encouraged to plug into a virtual world while megalomaniac billionaires all jet off into space. Either way, it’s an absolutely fascinating construct, and I look forward to seeing where it takes society.
This article was published in Communicate's latest issue.