Can we still trust Meta’s promises about the metaverse?

A new report produced by Zuckerberg’s company tries to relaunch the economic potential of the large immersive world into which we should transfer part of our lives, but there are still many doubts

Despite the amount of  analysis and insights that show the enormous (and in  many ways predictable ) difficulties that the great metaverse project has encountered , Mark Zuckerberg is trying in every way to counter the widespread belief that immersive worlds in reality virtual I’m a flop . Not only that: again according to rumors, Meta itself is silently diverting its investments to different projects and only partially similar to the metaverse, which so far has revealed itself to be a black hole that has swallowed up the  monstrous figure of 36 billion dollars, giving I change very little satisfaction.

“A narrative is developing that we are somehow moving away from the vision of the metaverse ,” Zuckerberg recently  wrote on Facebook. I want to say clearly that this is not accurate. We have been focusing on both AI and the metaverse for years and will continue to focus on both. Building the metaverse is a long-term project , we want to make it happen . “

The data

It is also difficult not to consider the  report just released by Meta – which focuses on the economic potential of the metaverse in Italy and Europe – another attempt to relaunch the great promise of this digital and immersive clone of the physical world: “The economic potential of the metaverse in Italy could reach 28-52 billion euros by 2035 , through the growth of our country’s digital skills” , we read in the report, which later also underlines the potential at a European level , where the metaverse “could reach a value economic equal to 259-489 billion (again by 2035), equal to 1.3%-2.4% of world GDP” .

Huge figures, estimated by combining (as we will see later) very different things, projected over far too long time horizons and which seem decidedly overestimated (the GDP of the entire European Union is equal to  16 trillion dollars ). On the other hand, this type of report should always be taken with a pinch of salt, especially in light of the many studies proliferated over the past two years which showed  extremely different numbers . Even greater caution must be adopted when it is the same company that talks about the economic potential of the metaverse and has every interest in convincing us that its vision of the future is the right one.

The promises

Despite all this, some interesting elements also emerge from the study: “Retailers in the European Union are already studying how to connect with consumers in the metaverse , farmers in the EU are already experimenting with how metaverse technology can improve their production , while European car manufacturers are developing virtual reality-based systems to design and reorganize their companies . ” As in other parts of the report (and the statement that accompanies it), in this passage too we note a strange lack of data capable of corroborating this alleged diffusion of metaverse technologies: how many farmers? Which car manufacturers? Where are the “consumers of the metaverse”, which is always referred to as if it were a single entity, where instead there are many projects that are extremely different from each other and managed by different and often competing companies?

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The same doubts are also raised by other points of the report, in which not only – as is now customary – an innovation in many ways opposite to virtual reality such as augmented reality is also included in the metaverse , but under the heading ” metaverse” also appear to end various technologies that have nothing to do with the scenarios of the so-called extended reality : “Italy shows multiple signs of adoption of metaverse technologies “, we read in the report (without providing more detailed data or information) , who then goes on to list aspects that however have nothing to do with the metaverse: “The public administration in Italy is becoming digitalised through the Relaunch and Resilience Plan, with an allocation of 6.1 billion euros. This is leading to changes that will be decisive for the success of the metaverse in Italy , such as the introduction of a cloud environment for public administration, the improvement of data interoperability standards and the strengthening of monitoring and management of cyber threats in the national digital ecosystem” .

Convince the public

What does any of this have to do with the metaverse? On the one hand, one might think that the growing digitalisation of public administration could facilitate the development of the metaverse (but the connection still appears forced); on the other hand, the continuous references in the press release to public administration are striking , cited over and over again together with some actions envisaged by the Italian government and “public policies” that “incentivise the adoption of advanced technologies” .

Why all this attention to the role of the public? The feeling is that one of Meta’s objectives is to involve the government and other institutions to convince them to adopt its technologies , perhaps with the aim of creating virtual reality platforms linked to public administration and the like. It is difficult not to be skeptical when faced with a possibility of this type, especially in light of the recent and  very expensive flop of the “European Union metaverse” .

Despite the doubts, it cannot even be ruled out that Meta’s vision will prove correct over time or that it will at least be able to convince institutions to believe (and above all invest) in these projects. However, whether this can really prove useful and can simplify the lives of citizens remains to be demonstrated. Instead of imagining a future in which we will use virtual reality to go to digital post office or registry offices (with the many complications and inconveniences that all this entails), wouldn’t it be better if our public administration resisted the futuristic temptations of Meta and instead continue to focus its efforts on creating websites that are increasingly simple and intuitive to use ?

More generally, we can really trust the reports, numbers and future promises of a company that has invested all its credibility (and a lot of resources) in the creation of a digital world that for the moment is depopulated (Horizon Worlds, the Meta’s main virtual reality social platform, has less than 200 thousand active users), from which many giants have begun to withdraw (as is the case with Microsoft) and which above all – often appearing to be a minestrone that combines everything and the opposite of everything – we still haven’t even really understood what it is ?

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