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Facebook to change name and focus on metaverse

© The Verge

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Is the metaverse our digital future? Facebook thinks so. But some think Mark Zuckerberg has his head in the clouds and is getting his predictions wildly wrong.

Sarah smiles as she walks through a magical garden with her newfound friends. Next to her, Joe bobs his head as he dances excitedly at a packed Coldplay concert. Across the room, their father adjusts his headset as he tries on a shirt at a new city centre boutique.

They are all in the same room. But the family are living in different worlds.

This is what life could look like in just 10 years, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The company has had a turbulent year. Accusations that Facebook prioritised profit over users’ welfareWelfare can take a variety of forms, such as monetary payments, subsidies and vouchers, or housing assistance. have dominated headlines. Zuckerberg is betting on a new name and project to transform Facebook’s fortunes. The future, he says, is the metaverseAn online virtual world. A combination of meta, meaning beyond, and universe. .

But what exactly is the metaverse?

The term was first coined in 1992 by sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson. In his novel Snow Crash, people escaped from the dystopian real world into a virtual 3D land.

Today, technology experts describe the metaverse as the next evolution of the internet. From Facebook to Fortnite, entrepreneurs are racing to get ahead of the game. 

For now, each company has their own vision. Facebook is working on a virtual reality office called Workplace. Last April, Fortnite owner Epic Games hosted 12 million live viewers at a virtual Travis Scott concert.

But most tech enthusiasts agree that within 15 years, our avatars will be using the metaverse for almost every routine activity, from working to shopping to chatting with friends. 

Is this future inevitable? The tech experts seem to think so, but not everyone is so convinced.

Most expert predictions about the future are “impossibly bad”, points out American neurophilosopherErik Hoel’s research interests are the study and philosophy of consciousness and cognition.  Erik Hoel. 

Cars, the cinema, electricity and telephones were all once dismissed as passing fads. Meanwhile, one vacuum cleaner boss told The New York Times in 1955 that “nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years”. 

One American study collected 82,361 forecasts from 284 experts over 20 years. When the experts declared events to be impossible, 15% of them occurred. When they declared events to be certain, 25% of them never happened.

“The truth is that most futurists are attracted to speculating about the future for the same reason as science fiction writers: they like geeking out about technological possibilities and the associated metaphysicsA part of philosophy concerned with the fundamental nature of reality.,” summarises Hoel.

The best way to predict the future is not to fantasise about non-existent technologies, but to instead look at what is already happening. 

A time traveller from 1998 would not be shocked by the modern world, declares one futurist. People still wear the same clothes, read the same books and talk about the same things: globalisation and terrorism. The leap from a Nokia 9800 with inbuilt email to a smartphone would not be difficult. 

Hoel’s predictions for 2050 include anti-ageing technology and female-dominated workplaces. He thinks virtual reality addiction is a possibility, but not a certainty. 

Is the metaverse our digital future?

Brave new world

Definitely not, say some. Mark Zuckerberg is taking a wild gamble to save Facebook’s fortunes. Most exciting new possibilities in the tech world eventually wither away into nothing. Virtual reality may be the future of gaming, but it will never be a complete substitute for the physical world. 

It could be, say others. The metaverse may have begun as a sci-fi concept, but today it is more than just a crazy fantasy. Unlike the hoverboard or brain downloads, the metaverse is rooted in a technology that exists now: virtual reality. With Facebook’s money and determination, anything is possible.


Welfare – Welfare can take a variety of forms, such as monetary payments, subsidies and vouchers, or housing assistance.

Metaverse – An online virtual world. A combination of meta, meaning beyond, and universe.

Neurophilosopher – Erik Hoel’s research interests are the study and philosophy of consciousness and cognition. 

Metaphysics – A part of philosophy concerned with the fundamental nature of reality.

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  • Some people say

    • “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”
    • Niels Bohr (1885 - 1962), Danish physicist
    • “The metaverse is going to be far more pervasive than anything else. If one central company gains control of this, they will become more powerful than any government and be a god on Earth.”
    • Tim Sweeney (1970 - ), American video game programmer and CEO of Epic Games
  • Dive in deeper

    • A brilliant explanation of how virtual reality tricks your brain. Vox (6:14)
    • This helpful video explores what a virtual reality office might look like. Wall Street Journal (7:09) 
    • A quick guide to Facebook’s metaverse. Evening Standard (700 words)
    • Self driving cars and climate change: an entertaining list of 20 expert predictions for 2020. USA Today (2900 words)
    • An intriguing analysis of the peculiar blindness of experts. The Atlantic (2,300 words; paywall)

Six steps to discovery

  1. Draw on what you already know, to understand what you do not yet know

    • 1. Read the bold paragraph under the photo. What do you think about this topic?
    • 2. How does it make you feel?
  2. Identify the questions that will best guide your investigation

    • 1. Watch the first video on the Dive in deeper panel.
    • 2. Note the questions it answers and the questions it raises.
  3. Read the article thoughtfully and make sure you understand the key words

    • 1. Make two columns on a sheet of paper. Go through the article noting down factual claims in one column and opinions in the other.
    • 2. Explain why these facts and opinions are important.
  4. Make sense of what you have read and think about the opinions in Some people say

    • 1. Why might the topic of this article matter to you?
    • 2. To make a better world, what kind of things need to change?
  5. Make a case for your point of view

    • 1. In teams, make a list of five to ten predictions for the future. Then, as a class, hold a vote on which predictions are the most realistic.
    • 2. Would the metaverse be positive for society? Hold a class debate on this question.
  6. Describe what you have learned from this inquiry

    • 1. Design your own avatar. Then write a short story about your avatar’s day in the metaverse. Does writing the story change how you feel about the metaverse?
    • 2. Is it useful to make predictions about the future? Write a short essay or persuasive speech explaining your thoughts.