The metaverse is the future of the internet. Even Facebook has changed its company name to Meta Platforms to reflect its ongoing initiative to transition from a mere social media company to a metaverse company.
Other business organizations and industry observers have expressed enthusiasm about this futuristic concept because of its advantages and possible applications or beneficial use cases that would mark a new era in the digital information revolution.
Pros: Advantages of the Metaverse
To understand the advantages of the metaverse, it is first important to understand what exactly it is. Hence, to start, take note that there are different definitions thrown around by business leaders and entrepreneurs, researchers, and the media.
One of its notable definitions describes it as a graphics-heavy digital realm that uses virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and other relevant technologies to create a virtual world that allows a more immersive communication and user experience.
It is essentially an immersive virtual world wherein people can create a virtual presence that provides experiences that are somewhat similar to the real world because of navigability. Interactions with other participants or users are also more life-like.
Based on the aforesaid, the following are the specific advantages:
More Immersive Digital Communication: The major advantage of the metaverse centers on enabling a more immersive form of digital communication in which individuals can interact with one another using avatars while navigating through a complex and life-like virtual environment.
Upgrading Social Media Platforms: Social networking sites and apps such as Facebook and Twitter are two-dimensional because communications are limited to screen-to-screen interactions. A fully immersive and graphics-heavy virtual environment allows a virtual face-to-face interaction while allowing practical use cases for digital contents found or made in the virtual environment.
Notable Applications in Businesses: The technology also creates new opportunities for businesses. Similar to how social media has revolutionized digital marketing and advertising, it provides a more immersive way of promoting their products and services through like-like marketing contents and advertisements, virtualized storefronts, and highly interactive engagement and customer service. It also provides new opportunities for workplace communications and interactions.
Electronic Commerce and Virtual Economy: Online storefronts would move from the two-dimensional planes of e-commerce websites to graphics-heavy and life-like virtualized stores wherein customers can interact with merchants and the merchandizes. The technology can also promote the creation, ownership, and trading of digital assets to include cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens.
Notable Applications to Learning and Education: Another advantage of metaverse centers on specific applications in learning and education. Note that online learning using video conferencing platforms and asynchronous classes are considerably passive and indirect. However, through an immersive virtual environment, the learning experience is more interactive and instruction becomes more engaging.
Suitability with Blockchain Technology: Blockchain technology has several applications that are compatible and can be promoted further through shared and immersive virtual environments. These include the widespread utilization of cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens, ownership of digital assets, blockchain gaming, and other decentralized finance applications.
Cons: Disadvantages of the Metaverse
The aforementioned advantages of metaverse collectively speak of the creation of digital infrastructures that serve as platforms for deploying applications that revolutionize further how people communicate and interact with one another using the internet.
However, several individuals and groups have expressed their concern over inherent disadvantages and limitations that range from the need to develop further reliable access to the internet to the existing issues unique to digital media.
Below are the specific disadvantages or drawbacks and issues:
• Faster and Reliable Internet Connection: The metaverse is a graphics-heavy shared virtual environment. Participation requires fast and reliable internet connectivity to include fiber-based connection and fifth-generation wireless network technology, including the mmWave 5G technology, as well as next-generation networks.
• Access to Relevant Digital Tools: Another drawback centers on the fact that it discriminates between those who have the means to purchase and use needed digital tools and those who do not have the purchasing power to spend on these gadgetries. Poor families and communities will not be able to enjoy its benefits.
• Existing Problems with the Internet: Issues involving the use of the internet such as privacy and security risks, cyberbullying, the propagation of misleading information and propaganda, and other forms of cybercrime remain unresolved. These problems will worsen with each technological iterations.
• Concerns Over Possible Social and Cultural Impacts: Another disadvantage of the metaverse is the possibility of creating new norms and customs that can erode human behaviors existing in the real world and affect behaviors and relationships that are honed through the interaction with the natural environment.
• Question Regarding Utility and Relevance: Does society really need a shared virtual environment? What are its practical applications in considerations of associated costs and benefits? Can it improve human relationships? These are some of the questions that are worth taking into considerations.
FURTHER READINGS AND REFERENCES
- Dionisio, J. D. N., IW. G. Burns III, and Gilbert, R. 2013. “3D Virtual Worlds and the Metaverse.” In ACM Computing Surveys. 45(3): 1-38. Association for Computing Machinery. DOI: 1145/2480741.2480751
- Lee, P., Braud, T., Pengyuan Zhou, Lin, A. W., DianLei Xu, Zijun, J. L., Abhishek Kumar, Bermejo, C., and Hui, P. 2021. “All One Needs to Know about Metaverse: A Complete Survey on Technological Singularity, Virtual Ecosystem, and Research Agenda.” DOI: 13140/RG.2.2.11200.05124/6