Article by: Ms Anshika Seth, ICS Alumna and Grade 9 Student at City Montessori School Gomti Nagar II, Lucknow (Cambridge Section)
Edited by: Ms Sanchita Dwivedi
“Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master,” said Christian Lous Lange, Norwegian historian, teacher, and political scientist. In this context, today, we will take a look at the Metaverse – one of the most talked-about technological wonders of our times.
‘Metaverse’ has been a buzzword since October 2021, when Mark Zuckerberg announced his rebranding of ‘Facebook’ as ‘Meta’. It was Zuckerberg’s nod to this futuristic concept.
What is the Metaverse?
Imagine a universal, immersive, 3D avatar of the Internet – one that has social networking at its core. Interactions and experiences in this digital world are facilitated through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets that use special lens cameras and motion-sensing controllers.
If you have engaged in online communities such as Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite, you have already experienced existing forms of the Metaverse.
So, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of the Metaverse:
1. It would bring far-away experiences within your reach
Whether it is playing a quiet game of chess with your friend living halfway across the world or surfing the smooth San Diego waters, the Metaverse will make all kinds of experiences possible from within the safety of your home.
2. You wouldn’t have to limit your identity anymore
You could choose to be what you wish and would be able to don an avatar that best represents you. Inside the Metaverse, you wouldn’t have to be confined to the idea of any one race, gender, or even species. This would offer you freedom of expression and representation, but would have some downsides too (also discussed in this article).
3. You will have boundless learning opportunities
The availability of education courses, online schooling, and other forms of e-learning would become hyper-realistic and widespread. Educators and edu-companies are already carving out a space in the Metaverse, calling it the ‘Eduverse’. The key benefit in this segment would be Metaverse’s ability to bring online learning environments to life.
Imagine learning about Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicting the existence of a black hole – with a 3D perspective of a black hole right in front of you!
1. Adverse impact on mental health
Of course, with the pros come the cons, too. One of the biggest problems the world will be facing with the Metaverse is the impact it will have on the mental health of humans. There are worries that excessive digital use, which a fully realised Metaverse is expected to trigger, will increase cases of depression, anxiety and various other mental health issues.
2. Fertile ground for harmful behaviour and crimes
The world is full of everyday instances of harassment, abuse, and hate crime.
Now, imagine an online community where people could take up any form or shape they fancy – effectively hiding behind digital personas. Wouldn’t it add to the already present huge challenges of cyberbullying, cybercrime, etc.?
The adoption of the Metaverse would rapidly multiply cybersecurity risks, which brings us to our next point.
3. Increased costs in cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is about the protection of Internet-connected systems – such as hardware, software, and data – from all kinds of cyber threats. The data obtained from the headset of Metaverse users, or any other wearable device, could be exceedingly sensitive. If these devices are hacked, it would lead to data leaks and a wide range of problems for the target.
As a result, expenditure on cybersecurity to safeguard our online identities and business activities – both for organisations and individuals – will go up.
Other aspects to consider:
- Distinguishing between what’s real and what we’re supposed to think is real could also play a compelling trick on the human mind. It may sound crazy, but consider this – suppose you don’t like the idea of world hunger, you could simply not include it in your version of the Metaverse! It gives you what you desire but does it make you a well-rounded human being?
- Another point to ponder is that you wouldn’t know if the people behind the digital avatars you’re interacting with are actually who you think they are. They may not be real persons at all, but automated response bots, created by platforms, trying to keep you there longer!
- Then, there is also the usual debate that precedes any new technology – will it lead to better job opportunities for the youth, or will it cause widespread unemployment? How will companies upskill their employees to stay in tune with this new digital universe?
- All said, the Metaverse has the potential to be the next big technological revolution. Not only does it bring people together, but it also enhances user experiences. With this next giant step in the realm of technology, the world will experience exhilarating highs, such as immersive shared experiences, and debilitating lows, such as increased hate crimes that feel much closer to home.
- Also, as we move towards an increased virtualised existence, at the end of the day, we’re human beings – and we need that special human touch to navigate the challenges of life. No matter how advanced technology gets, people would still need to eat healthily, walk their dogs, and maintain their personal and professional relationships. Everything can’t be catered to by the Metaverse and social networks!
Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)