Benjamin Mayo: The Metaverse is not a real thing

Benjamin Mayo:

I can’t quite believe how much ink has been spilled these last few months about a concept that doesn’t exist and is — at best — a pipe dream. The metaverse is not a thing. It’s meaningless. Facebook had an hour long keynote event which wholly consisted of computer-generated sequences of floating Memoji/Xbox avatars. Microsoft joined the fray with similarly unsubstantiated claims that Teams is becoming a metaverse.


Break apart the vision to any individual element and the state of the art technology is nowhere close to good enough. Realtime visual fidelity has to advance leaps and bounds to be as convincingly legitimate as what Facebook ‘demonstrated’ in its mockups. I’d love to know how long it took whatever render farm they used to make these videos. Probably, days.


One of the things that motivated me to write up this ridiculousness in a blog post is this fencing demo from Facebook’s Meta keynote. Zuckerberg is shown to be playing against a hologram of a professional athlete, waving swords at each other. In the demo, when he lunges, she parries with the swords perfectly stopping in mid-air. How on earth is that going to be possible to do, outside of a visual effects mockup? There’s no way to recreate the sensation of metal hitting metal and the sabres rebounding.

This is an entertaining “the emperor has no clothes on” write-up. The point about the uncanny valley and the limitations of technology in senses (like touch) ring true.

That said, I do think we’re heading for a world of avatars, like it or not, because the tech drivers want this and will spend big bucks trying to race each other to this particular vision of reality.

As to the technological limitations, we’ll all live with them and, slowly, the fake world around us will improve over time, much as the graphics on our displays allowed us to move from TTL displays (think Texas Instruments calculators) to modern, varied, crisp, high resolution fonts.

Also, we’ll all have robot bodies.