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Neal Stephenson, Metaverse Visionary, Takes Aim at Mark Zuckerberg

Neal Stephenson Metaverse Vision

Neal Stephenson, Metaverse Visionary, Takes Aim at Mark Zuckerberg

Neal Stephenson, Metaverse Visionary, Takes Aim at Mark Zuckerberg

In 1992, Neal Stephenson first coined the term Metaverse in his sci-fi book Snow Crash. He was the first person to envision a persistent three-dimensional digital world in which humans could exist and interact as real entities, to the point where people could decide to live inside that alternate universe continuously. It was a place with virtual goods and real estate, owned by a major corporation, and accessible only with virtual reality goggles. Exactly what Meta is failing to recreate.

The author has a different idea of what the Metaverse is; one that goes counter to everything Meta is doing. “I don’t believe that most people will access the Metaverse using goggles or glasses,” he says. “I think 30 years ago, we were in a very different place in terms of computer graphics and what hardware was available.”

The Metaverse in its original form is already here. Stephenson’s argument is that it is been here for decades now. And, from World of Warcraft to Red Dead Redemption to Fortnite, these Metaverses are getting more sophisticated, increasing their level of fidelity while building up entire economies. The only problem is that they are still disconnected from each other. There’s currently no way for us to maintain our digital selves—and the assets we own—across these platforms. But the Metaverse does exist. It’s just that, instead of living inside those worlds, we live them through a looking glass that we can’t cross quite yet. “And so today, there are billions of people who are familiar with that style of game and that style of interface. I think that’s how the vast majority of people are going to access the Metaverse.”

Want to learn more about Neal Stephenson’s vision for the emerging metaverse?

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