The recent announcement by Meta, formerly Facebook, of its intention to focus its time and resources on building a metaverse shocked and delighted the world, in equal parts. A concept normally thought of as theoretical does have localized versions in existence, such as the popular game Minecraft, but designing one at a scale to house the world population was thought to be decades away—and it still might be, if the rate of progress at Meta doesn’t improve.
Still, if the metaverse is created it would reshape our world, interactions and behaviour faster, and in a more complex way, than the advent of the smartphone. Technology leaders in particular must be prepared for what some of that change may be, and how they can capitalize on its promises, whilst noting its drawbacks.
The roundtable speakers illustrate a somewhat harmonic and mutual viewpoint of metaverse. We are provided with several examples aligned with personal anecdotes that both support and invalidate the impact and success of metaverse, as a means of a new form of technology.
With Peter Stojanovic moderating this roundtable debate, the speakers include:
- Ian Golding, Interim CIO, SThree
- Freddie Quek, CTO, Times Higher Education
- Leon Gauhman, Founder and Chief Product and Strategy Officer, Elsewhen
- Eileen Jennings-Brown, Head of Technology, Wellcome Trust
- Juan Vilamill, CIO, Imperial College London
Eileen revealed that on the whole, many businesses would consider themselves to be metaverse. In her perspective, the addition of the determiner “the” before metaverse, creates the implication that “all metaverses are joined together somehow into one equal system”. She then goes on to state that in reality, she believes that metaverse is all about different forms of technology “coming together to achieve better outcomes or experiences”. According to her, this term is heavily based on feelings and accessibility. Eileen was not the only participant who held this view; Ian also shared a comparable view. He believes that there is a cloud scepticism shadowing over metaverse, because the concept is somewhat branded and opportunistic.
Juan from Imperial university states that the emergence of metaverse has created “a whole bunch of interest on social media, particularly, Facebook”. Of all participants, it is clear that Juan holds a more pessimistic view of metaverse, stating that “it is difficult to see the future and is unclear”. He then places additional emphasis on his bleak view and states that although metaverse seems to have a positive effect on online gaming platforms, it is “difficult to see the value and efficiency of it yet”.
Present case studies
Earlier we lightly touched up on the world of gaming, and how Metaverse not only affects businesses and those in the working world, it is also incorporated into gaming. Leon Guahman states that “this wave of cultural trend has not entered the workforce” As a result, he implied we cannot predict how it will affect this field. Juan briefly states that Metaverse is somewhat displayed in brands such as Nike.
Freddie, the fourth participant, shares an already existing sentiment similar to other participants, however expresses a sense of doubt in metaverse. He states that this is not the first time a new term has become increasingly popular, and that there have been many forms of technology that have come and gone.
That being said, Freddie then goes on to express a time where he has been positively surprised by a new form of technology: “when I was building the next generation platform for my company for the internet […] they asked me what is this, and I said I have no idea”. Dissimilar to Juan, Freddie portrays himself to be on the optimistic end -of the spectrum, claiming that we cannot “discount that level of investment”.
This roundtable was created in partnership with Elsewhen.