The company ’ s divisions focused on products for communities, creators, commerce, and virtual reality would increasingly work to realize this vision, he said in a outback address to employees. “ What I think is most matter to is how these themes will come in concert into a bigger idea, ” Zuckerberg said. “ Our overarching finish across all of these initiatives is to help bring the metaverse to life. ”
The metaverse is having a here and now. Coined in Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson ’ second 1992 sci-fi fresh, the term refers to a convergence of physical, augmented, and virtual reality in a shared on-line space. Earlier this calendar month, The New York Times explored how companies and products including Epic Games ’ Fortnite, Roblox, and even Animal Crossing : New Horizons increasingly had metaverse-like elements. ( Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has been discussing his hope to contribute to a metaverse for many months now. )
“ we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company ”
In January 2020, an influential essay by the venture capitalist Matthew Ball set out to identify key characteristics of a metaverse. Among them : it has to span the physical and virtual worlds ; contain a fully fledged economy ; and offer “ unprecedented interoperability ” — users have to be able to take their avatars and goods from one place in the metaverse to another, no matter who runs that particular character of it. Critically, no one company will run the metaverse — it will be an “ embody internet, ” Zuckerberg said, operated by many different players in a decentralize way .
Watching Zuckerberg ’ south presentation, I couldn ’ t decide which was more audacious : his vision itself or his time. Zuckerberg ’ mho announced intention to build a more maximalist translation of Facebook, spanning social presence, function work, and entertainment, comes at a time when the US government is attempting to break his current company up. A box of bills making its way through Congress would potentially force the ship’s company to spin out Instagram and WhatsApp, and limit Facebook ’ s ability to make future acquisitions — or offer services connected to its hardware products .
And even if technical school regulation stalls in the United States — historically not a bad bet — a booming metaverse would raise questions both familiar and strange about how the virtual distance is governed, how its contents would be moderated, and what its being would do to our shared sense of reality. We ’ re silent getting our arms wrapped around the planar interpretation of social platforms ; wrangling the 3D version could be exponentially harder .
At the lapp time, Zuckerberg said, the metaverse will bring enormous opportunity to individual creators and artists ; to individuals who want to work and own homes far from today ’ s urban centers ; and to people who live in places where opportunities for education or refreshment are more restrict. A realize metaverse could be the adjacent best thing to a working teleportation device, he says. With the company ’ s Oculus division, which produces the Quest headset, Facebook is trying to develop one .
“ I don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate think that this is chiefly about being engaged with the internet more. I think it ’ sulfur about being engaged more naturally. ”
After I watched his speech, Zuckerberg and I had a conversation. ( The metaverse being unavailable to us at press fourth dimension, we used Zoom. ) We discussed his vision for an incarnate internet, the challenges of governing it, and gender asymmetry in virtual reality today. And with President Biden ’ s boisterous criticism of Facebook ’ randomness failures in removing anti-vaccine subject in the headlines, I asked him about that, besides .
“ It ’ s a little sting like fighting crime in a city, ” he told me. “ No one expects that you ’ re ever going to amply solve crime in a city. ”
This transcript has been edited for clarity and length .
Mark Zuckerberg, welcome to The Vergecast .
Thanks, Casey. It ’ s good to be here. We ’ ve got a lot to go through .
As always, there’s a lot to discuss with you — and the White House is demanding Facebook do more to remove vaccine misinformation, which I know is on a lot of people’s minds right now. I want to get to that, but I want to start with this talk you gave internally at Facebook a few weeks ago, which I recently had a chance to watch. You told your employees that your future vision of Facebook is not the two-dimensional version of it that we’re using today, but something called the metaverse. So what is a metaverse and what parts of it does Facebook plan to build?
This is a big subject. The metaverse is a vision that spans many companies — the whole industry. You can think about it as the successor to the mobile internet. And it ’ sulfur surely not something that any one ship’s company is going to build, but I think a big region of our following chapter is going to hopefully be contributing to build that, in partnership with a lot of other companies and creators and developers. But you can think about the metaverse as an embody internet, where alternatively of barely viewing content — you are in it. And you feel award with early people as if you were in other places, having different experiences that you couldn ’ t necessarily do on a 2D app or web page, like dance, for exemplar, or different types of fitness .
“ we ’ rhenium basically mediating our lives and our communication through these small, glow rectangles. I think that that ’ s not very how people are made to interact. ”
I think a distribute of people, when they think about the metaverse, they think about barely virtual reality — which I think is going to be an important part of that. And that ’ s intelligibly a part that we ’ ra very invested in, because it ’ s the technology that delivers the clearest class of presence. But the metaverse international relations and security network ’ t precisely virtual reality. It ’ mho going to be accessible across all of our different computer science platforms ; VR and AR, but besides PC, and besides mobile devices and game consoles. speaking of which, a distribute of people besides think about the metaverse as chiefly something that ’ s about gambling. And I think entertainment is distinctly going to be a big separate of it, but I don ’ thymine think that this is precisely gaming. I think that this is a persistent, synchronous environment where we can be in concert, which I think is probably going to resemble some kind of a loanblend between the social platforms that we see nowadays, but an environment where you ’ ra embodied in it .
So that can be 3D — it doesn ’ t have to be. You might be able to jump into an experience, like a 3D concert or something, from your call, so you can get elements that are 2D or elements that are 3D. I ’ five hundred love to go through a bunch of the use cases in more detail, but overall, I think that this is going to be a in truth adult separate of the next chapter for the engineering industry, and it ’ s something that we ’ rhenium identical excite about .
It barely touches a lot of the biggest themes that we ’ rhenium working on. Think about things like community and creators as one, or digital department of commerce as a second, or building out the adjacent set of computing platforms, like virtual and augment reality, to give people that sense of presence. I think all of these unlike initiatives that we have at Facebook today will basically ladder up together to contribute to helping to build this metaverse vision .
“ I ’ ve been thinking about some of this material since I was in in-between school and good starting to code ”
And my hope, if we do this well, I think over the next five years or so, in this following chapter of our company, I think we will effectively transition from people seeing us as chiefly being a social media caller to being a metaverse party. And obviously, all of the work that we ’ ra doing across the apps that people use nowadays contribute directly to this vision in terms of build community and creators. therefore there ’ s a lot to jump into here. I ’ meter curious what commission you want to take this in. But this is something that I ’ meter spending a fortune of time on, thinking a set about, we ’ re working on a long ton. And I think it ’ second good a big part of the adjacent chapter for the work that we ’ ra going to do in the whole industry .
This feels like a fairly far-future vision, even though parts of it are visible now and coming together. I think overall, it feels like a very maximalist version of what the internet could be. You talk to employees about, “from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, being able to jump into the metaverse to do almost anything you can imagine.” And probably some of us are using the internet that way already.
But this description feels more like the metaverse that might be familiar to us from books like Ready Player One or Snow Crash , or maybe like Fortnite today, where some of the most important aspects of our lives, including our work, are being lived and done inside these virtual spaces. Are those good analogs for the kind of world that you’re talking about?
well, what I ’ molarity excited about is helping people deliver and experience a much stronger feel of presence with the people they care about, the people they work with, the places they want to be. And the reality is that nowadays with the mobile internet, we already have something that a lot of people access from the moment they wake up to when they go to go to bed. I don ’ triiodothyronine know about you, but a distribute of mornings, I reach for my telephone by my bedside before I even put on my glasses, just to make certain, get whatever text messages I got during the center of the night and make sure that nothing has gone wrong that I need to jump into immediately upon waking up. So I don ’ thymine think that this is primarily about being engaged with the internet more. I think it ’ south about being engaged more naturally .
And nowadays, I think about the calculate platforms that we have. We have these phones. They ’ re relatively minor. A batch of the meter that we ’ re spend, we ’ rhenium basically mediating our lives and our communication through these humble, glow rectangles. I think that that ’ s not very how people are made to interact. A batch of the meetings that we have today, you ’ re looking at a power system of faces on a screen. That ’ s not how we process things either. We ’ re used to being in a room with people and having a sense of space where if you ’ rhenium sitting to my right, then that means I ’ m besides sitting to your leave, so we have some shared feel of space in coarse. When you speak, it ’ mho coming from my right. It ’ s not just all coming from the same place in front of me .
I don ’ triiodothyronine know how much you ’ ve had this know, but I have a bunch together, in work meetings over the stopping point class, where I sometimes find it hard to remember what meeting person said something in because they all look the lapp and they all blend together. And I think separate of that is because we don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate have this sense of presence in space. What virtual and augmented world can do, and what the metaverse broadly is going to help people experience, is a sense of presence that I think is barely a lot more natural in the room that we ’ rhenium made to interact. And I think it will be more comfortable. The interactions that we have will be a distribute richer, they ’ ll palpate real. In the future, alternatively of merely doing this over a earphone call, you ’ ll be able to sit as a hologram on my frame, or I ’ ll be able to sit as a hologram on your couch, and it ’ ll actually feel like we ’ re in the same place, even if we ’ rhenium in different states or hundreds of miles apart. So I think that that is truly herculean .
I ’ ve been thinking about some of this stuff since I was in middle school and good starting to code. I remember when I was in mathematics class, I would have my notebook and I ’ five hundred basically just sit there and write code and ideas for things I wanted to go code when I got home from school that day. And some of them I was able to do back then, but one of the things that I in truth wanted to build was basically the sense of an incarnate internet where you could be in the environment and teleport to different places and be with friends .
I think some combination of the fact that I probably didn ’ triiodothyronine know adequate mathematics to pull it off then, and just the technology was decades away from actually being ready to do that in a good way — that wasn ’ t the management that I gravitated in in the first place, in terms of build unlike social experiences. But this is something that I ’ ve been excited about. I ’ ve intend that this would be the holy place grail of social interactions from well before when I started Facebook. And it ’ s very excite to me that now the future set of platforms are going to be able to do this .
“ People aren ’ metric ton mean to navigate things in terms of a grid of apps ”
One of the reasons why we ’ ra investing so much in augment and virtual reality is mobile phones kind of came around at the like time as Facebook, so we didn ’ thyroxine very get to play a bad role in shaping the development of those platforms. So they didn ’ metric ton truly develop in a very natural manner, from my perspective. People aren ’ thyroxine mean to navigate things in terms of a grid of apps. I think we interact much more naturally when we think about being present with other people. We orient ourselves and think about the world through people and the interactions we have with people and what we do with them. And I think if we can help build the future set of computing platforms and experiences across that in a way that ’ sulfur more natural and lets us feel more portray with people, I think that ’ ll be a very positive thing .
I’m not sure that people would necessarily find it more natural to work all day wearing a VR helmet, but maybe it’s something we get used to. But I am really interested in some of the things that you’ve said about the way a metaverse could create jobs that don’t exist today, like whole economies springing up inside of this metaverse. What novel new forms of work do you see happening in this world you want to build?
so, let me get to that in a second. But barely to go back to your comment about people not working in [ a VR helmet ] all day farseeing — there ’ s distinctly an evolution, or multiple, in the technology that are going to need to be possible, that will need to happen before this is the chief room that people work. But I think we ’ ra going to be there by the end of this ten. today, the VR headsets, they ’ re even kind of a bite clunky, they may be a act heavier than you would ideally like them to be. There need to be advances in being able to express yourself and having higher resolution, being able to read textbook well, a act of things like that. But we ’ re getting there, and each version is better and better. And Quest 2 has been a actual hit so far in terms of how people are using it. I ’ ve been surprised .
Listen to Decoder, a show hosted by The Verge ’ mho Nilay Patel about bad ideas — and other problems. Subscribe hera !
We planned on it by and large being used for games and thought that a lot of these social interactions or things around function wouldn ’ t come until subsequently, but a bunch of the biggest experiences on Quest 2, that people spend the most meter in, are already precisely hanging out socially. And there are a number of things around shape and productivity. There are even experiences that I truly hadn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate thought about, things like fitness. These apps like Supernatural and FitXR, which you can kind of intend about it like Peloton, but rather of having a motorcycle or a treadmill, the device is your VR headset and you ’ re basically taking a class in there, where you ’ rhenium box or dance. And it ’ s in truth fun. I think if you haven ’ triiodothyronine tried it out, it ’ randomness something that a set of people are enjoying .
But going back to your point about workplace, and how this is going to work, I besides don ’ metric ton think this is going to be all VR. I think it ’ randomness going to be AR besides. And part of the reason why VR is available, and why you have things like the Quest 2 years before you ’ re going to have AR glasses is because it ’ s a little more socially acceptable to wear something like a VR headset in the comfort of your own home. But I think to get AR glasses that we wear around throughout the day, they have to be normal-looking glasses, right ? so you ’ re basically cramming all of these materials to build what we would ’ ve think of as a supercomputer 10 years ago into the frame of glasses that are about five millimeters thick — you have calculator chips, and networking chips, and holographic wave guides, and things for sensing and mapping out the worldly concern, and batteries and speakers, all this stuff, and it merely needs to fit into these glasses — thus that is a real challenge .
And I actually would go therefore far as to say that I think that might be one of, if not the biggest technical challenge that our industry will face in the future ten. We tend to actually celebrate things that are big, right ? But I actually think miniaturizing things and getting a supercomputer to fit into a pair of glasses is actually one of the bigger challenges. But once you have that, so you have those glasses and you have your VR headset, I think that ’ s going to enable a crowd of truly interest use cases .
thus, one is you will be able to, with basically a snap of your fingers, pull up your perfect workstation. so anywhere you go, you can walk into a Starbucks, you can sit down, you can be drinking your coffee and kind of wave your hands and you can have basically as many monitors as you want, all set up, whatever size you want them to be, all preconfigured to the way you had it when you were at your home plate before. And you can equitable bring that with you wherever you want .
“ We tend to in truth celebrate things that are adult, right ? ”
If you want to talk to person, you ’ rhenium working through a trouble, alternatively of just calling them on the phone, they can teleport in, and then they can see all the context that you have. They can see your five monitors, or whatever it is, and the documents or all the windows of code that you have, or a 3D model that you ’ ra working on. And they can stand future to you and interact, and then in a blink they can teleport second to where they were and kind of be in a separate invest .
indeed I think for concenter clock time and individual productivity, I think being able to have your ideal setup, we call this “ infinite office. ” We already have a version of this for our VR headsets, and it ’ s improving very cursorily. I think it ’ sulfur going to be great for multitasking and for getting your environment set up everywhere. There ’ ve been a lot of studies that show that people are more effective when they can pull up multiple of the things that they ’ ra working on that are related to each early at once. If you ’ rhenium code, having multiple windows open rather than single-tasking, that ’ s a large deal. So I think that that ’ s going to be one .
The other area that I think is going to be pretty excite is basically doing meetings. And I already do a bunch of meetings in VR. tied though the avatars aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate as realistic nowadays as they will be in a few years, in a lot of ways it already feels about more real, and more like you have a sense of space, than a Zoom call, because you have the shared sense of outer space. therefore if person is sitting to your right, you ’ ra sitting to their exit. If you ’ rhenium sitting in a circle, everyone can kind of remember what order people were in. There ’ s spatial audio. You look over to the head of the mesa and there could be a filmdom there, where people who can ’ triiodothyronine be in VR or AR can videoconference in and be a separate of your meet from outside. You can project and different people can contribution as many documents as they want. So it ’ s no more of this, “ Oh, I can merely partake one document at a time, ” because everyone, you presume, entirely has one blind. And in VR, people can pull up a many screens as they want so you can plowshare as much context as you want during a converge. You have a whiteboard, people can draw. It ’ randomness pretty wild .
And we ’ ra distinctly good at the beginning of this. So I think that that ’ south going to be identical agitate and people can customize their agency distance, and have it feel like what their physical function is and just be a digital lengthiness of that. sol I think that ’ s pretty neat .
“ You can teleport instantaneously ”
But then I think what you were besides asking about is, aside from doing the kind of cognition work that we would typically do in offices nowadays, but alternatively doing it in the metaverse, I do think that there will be wholly new types of work besides. so in terms of designing places where people hang out, this is going to be a massive part of the godhead economy, I think. You ’ ll have individual creators designing experiences and places. You ’ ll have artists doing things, whether it ’ s a drollery show … We did this comedy testify on our team in Horizon the other day and it was merely kind of funny story, you feel like you ’ re there with other people, and there ’ s something to it that ’ s a little more lease than equitable all looking at a screen independently and watching it yourself. There ’ randomness precisely something to the department of energy .
What was this show? Did you tell jokes during the show?
I was not the comedian, fortunately for the other participants who were there. But no, the team that ’ south developing Horizon, which is a big part of our internal efforts in this space, they try to do fun things like this, good to kind of construct out and test how the development of the work is going. And I thought that that was pretty funny story. But you ’ five hundred get concerts in there. You have this whole set of creators who are building out different experiences, ranging from an individual godhead to teams of dozens of people building AAA games, where you can have your avatar and you can go across these experiences. You can teleport instantaneously. You can bring your outfits and your digital objects with you. So I think that there ’ sulfur going to be a hale economy around this.
And I guess one broader point that I ’ five hundred make hera is, one lesson that I ’ ve taken from running Facebook over the end five years is that I used to think about our job as build products that people love to use. But you know, now I think we merely need to have a more holistic opinion of this. It ’ s not enough to just build something that people like to use. It has to create opportunity and broadly be a positive matter for company in terms of economic opportunity, in terms of being something that, socially, everyone can participate in, that it can be inclusive. So we ’ ra very designing the work that we ’ rhenium doing in the space with those principles from the grate astir. This international relations and security network ’ t just a product that we ’ ra build. It needs to be an ecosystem. So the creators who we work with, the developers, they all need to be able to not merely sustain themselves, but hire a lot of folks .
And this is something that I hope finally millions of people will be working in and creating content for — whether it ’ s experiences, or spaces, or virtual goods, or virtual clothe, or doing make helping to curate and introduce people to spaces and keep it dependable. I fair think this is going to be a huge economy and honestly, I think that that needs to exist. This needs to be a rising tide that lifts a set of boats. We can ’ t precisely think about this as a intersection that we ’ re build .
“ overall I ’ thousand quite gallant of how we ’ ve shown up and what I think our net impact has been here ”
Yeah, so let’s talk about some of those principles that you’re going to use to build this. Because I know some people are going to hear this vision for the metaverse and just reflexively wish that you wouldn’t build it. They’ll say, Facebook wasn’t governed effectively when it was in two dimensions, and trying to build it in three dimensions is pure hubris. And people feel that way for different reasons. But one that has come up a lot over the past couple of weeks is misinformation. President Biden has since walked this back, but on Friday he was talking about misinformation related to COVID vaccines. And he said, “Facebook is killing people.” How do you respond to the idea that Facebook has played a role in making people hesitant about getting vaccinated?
well, I think that our basic character here — and I appreciate you mentioning the fullness of the context there, because I do think that the president offered more context on that after his original gloss. There ’ second multiple prongs here. One separate of it is we need to basically help push out authoritative information. We do that. We ’ ve helped, I think it ’ randomness more than 2 billion people around the world, access authoritative information about COVID over the naturally of the pandemic by putting it at the exceed of Facebook and Instagram. We ’ ve helped millions of people, including here in the US, basically go use our vaccine finder creature to actually go get their vaccine. So I ’ meter quite confident, equitable looking at the analytics and the net income affect, that we ’ ve been a positive push here .
And in fact, if you look at vaccine adoption amongst people who use our products, it has increased quite a bit over the last few months. so to the extent that there are pockets of the population for which hesitance is growing, that hasn ’ t been the tendency of what we ’ ve seen overall on Facebook. And I besides think that broadly, when you ’ re looking at what ’ s going on in any given area, it ’ second useful to look at this from the perspective that Facebook and Instagram and all these tools are widely used in about every country in the universe. then if one state is not reaching its vaccine finish, but other countries that all these like social media tools are in are doing barely fine, then I think that that should lead you to conclude that the social media platforms are not the decisive element in terms of what is going on there .
But however, I do think we have a big function and we have a range of strategies that we employ. We take down contentedness that could lead to at hand damage, and we flag and decrease the distribution of capacity that our fact checkers flag as misinformation, but that is not going to lead to at hand damage. So we treat those two differently, and I think that ’ s the right thing to do. So overall, I think we ’ ve taken a lot of efforts on this. I think our company has made a lot of progress in this quad over the last five years since the 2016 election. It ’ mho ruffianly to say that anyone was well-prepared for the pandemic, but I think we ’ five hundred built a bunch of systems that I think could truly come in handy on this. And overall I ’ meter quite proud of how we ’ ve shown up and what I think our net income impact has been here .
But managing the integrity of these communities, whether you ’ re talking about misinformation on Facebook or early types of damage — we track about 20 different types of injury, everything from terrorism to child exploitation to provocation of ferocity. There are lots of different types of damage. You need to build specific systems to handle them. We have, I think at this point it ’ sulfur more than 1,000 people working on building the AI and technical systems. And I think it ’ sulfur more than 30,000 or 35,000 people helping to review the content. And that kind of apparatus that we built up I think will carry naturally to all the work that we ’ ll do going forward .
But when you think about the integrity of a system like this, it ’ s a little bite like fighting crime in a city. No one expects that you ’ re always going to fully solve crime in a city. The patrol department ’ second finish is not to make it thus that if there ’ s any crime that happens, that you say that the patrol department is failing. That ’ s not reasonable. I think, alternatively, what we by and large expect is that the integrity systems, the police departments, if you will, will do a well job of helping to deter and catch the bad thing when it happens and keep it at a minimum, and keep driving the tendency in a positive direction and be in front of other issues besides. So we ’ ra going to do that here .
And for the metaverse, I think that there are different types of integrity questions. One of the big issues that I think people need to think through is right immediately there ’ s a pretty meaningful sex skew, at least in virtual reality, where there ’ s a fortune more men than women. And in some cases that leads to harassment. And I think one of the things that we ’ ve been able to do better in some of our experiences than some of the other games and things out there is give people easier tools to block people, just be able to have a sense of when there might be harassment going on, to keep it a safe quad that can be inclusive for everyone, that everyone wants to be a separate of .
“ I think that the blend of the problems that we see may vary, and I ’ thousand certain there ’ ll be raw ones excessively ”
Because ultimately, you ’ re not going to have a healthy and vibrant community if it skews so a lot towards one sex or the other, or a whole character of the population just doesn ’ thymine feel safe. indeed this stuff is going to be critical. It ’ s not just critical for having a beneficial social impingement, it ’ south critical for building good products. And it ’ s something that we ’ re focused on from the beginning here .
One of the things I’ve been thinking about as I’ve been reading more about the metaverse is that it seems to me that it promises to host much more information, generally, than social networks do today. This isn’t a network where I’m spending 20 or 30 minutes a day scrolling through a feed. Potentially, I’m spending eight-plus hours here working. And, as you noted, it’s not just text or voice communications, you’re also virtually moving through these spaces; it’s an office, it’s a performance space. So do you think that the systems that you have now to work on making spaces safe and healthy extend naturally? Or are we going to have to rethink this, just given the volume of information that is contained here?
well, there will distinctly be modern challenges. flush in equitable the 2D earth of the social media apps that we work on, there are going to be new challenges. So this is not a thing that you ’ ra ever done with. But when we started working on a lot of these problems in a much bigger way, through the center of the 2010s leading up to the 2016 election, and actually turbocharged it a lot after that, we just knew that if you ’ re going to go and try to build these AI systems to be able to proactively identify harmful content — that ’ s not something that you can stand up in six months. We basically put together a roadmap that was a three- or four-year roadmap to get through all of the work that we needed to get to a dependable place .
And sometimes when you ’ re working on long-run projects, it can be a little painful because you realize, “ Hey, we want this today. ” But it ’ second going to take a few years to get there. But I do think the reality is that now that we ’ ve built up a lot of that AI work and we ’ ve hired a distribute of the content moderators, I think it will be easier to add modern use cases and be able to adapt the systems that we ’ ve built to different types of harms. So it ’ randomness something that we ’ rhenium thinking about from the beginning. For exemplar, the gender skew that I precisely mentioned, the feel that a number of women have around being harassed in the space, those are slightly more acute accent problems, potentially, in bet on and in VR. obviously that ’ s a matter that exists in the other platforms as well. But I think that the mix of the problems that we see may vary, and I ’ m sure there ’ ll be new ones besides. So this is just something that we ’ ll necessitate to keep focused on .
I want to ask one more question about responsibility. I was talking to Nilay, who runs The Verge , about all this. And he asked me the question, “Who gets to augment reality?” And he talked about a world where we’re all wearing our headsets, and we’re looking at the US Capitol building. And most of us might have an overlay that says, “This is the building where Congress works.” And then some people might see an overlay that says, “On January 6, 2021, our glorious revolution began.” And then maybe some other people see an overlay that says, “Lizard people are inside doing experiments on humans.” And I think the real question in there is: does this metaverse further splinter our sense of shared reality? Does it let us sort ourselves into a bunch of unrelated bubbles? Should we be worried about that?
well, this, I think, is one of the cardinal questions of our time. And I think there are clear pros and cons of this. I think the positive version of this is that if you go back 20 or 30 years, a lot of people ’ s individual opportunities and experience was dictated by their forcible proximity. Right ?
indeed [ when ] I grew up, I played Little League baseball in my town, not because I am made to be a baseball musician, but because that was one of the few activities that was available. There was, I think, one early kid in the town who was matter to in computers — I was lucky that there was one early kid. And that was my world. If I wanted to call person who I met when I was at camp or something and wanted to stay in touch with a friend, I would have to pay a draw more because long-distance calls price more than talking to people nearby .
I think one of the things that is most charming about the present, and that I think is going to get even more so, is that flattening out distance creates a batch more opportunities for people. not barely in the common sense that a translation of me growing up today wouldn ’ triiodothyronine be stuck playing Little League, that I ’ five hundred get to find people who are concern in the same things, so I could explore coding and have a much more vibrant community around that, or surfing, or whatever the thing is that you ’ rhenium concern in. I think that that ’ mho credibly quite compelling and plus. I besides think it is truly important for economic opportunity. One of the big issues today in company is inequality. And one of the people I think has done the most matter to inquiry on this is this guy, Raj Chetty, I think he ’ second at Harvard immediately. And basically some of the research that he ’ s done shows that the zip up code in which you were born and raised is highly correlated with your future mobility and what your income is going to be. And I think that that merely goes against the sense that we have in this nation that people should have equal opportunity .
But in a world where there can be more distant knead, I don ’ triiodothyronine know what The verge is doing, but I can tell you at Facebook, since we knew that this pandemic was going to be going on for a while, and we credibly weren ’ thyroxine going be in offices, pretty early on, I basically just told our team, “ Okay, count, stop just constraining ourselves from hiring people who are physically close to an position that they can ’ triiodothyronine go into anyhow. Remote work is going to be a bigger region of the future. I think within five to 10 years, credibly about half the company is going to be distant. Let ’ s double down on that now and hire people in all these different places, which I think is going to create more opportunity. ” But then you have this interview, which is, now that we ’ re going back and you have this hybrid world, there are all these cultural questions of, “ Okay, will the people who are working remotely actually be able to have precisely the lapp opportunities as the people who are physically there with each other ? ”
And I think when you have technologies like holograms from augmented and virtual reality, the answer gets closer to “ yes ” than it would have been earlier. When those people were just videoconferencing in on a flat screen or doing earphone calls or not seeing each early as much. The better that this technology for presence gets, the more you can live where you want, be a function of the communities that you want to. And I think that that ’ s more positive in terms of creating more opportunity for people. now, obviously, you besides have the downsides of that that need to get managed. In regulate to have a cohesive society, you want to have a shared initiation of values and some understand of the world and the problems that we all face together .
And I think separate of what we ’ re all trying to figure out now is, how do you build that in a worldly concern where people have so much exemption and opportunity to go research the things that are interesting to them and get different opportunities, but are less anchor physically ? But I think we ’ rhenium credibly merely going to go more in that direction. I think we will solve, or at least number out how to come to an equilibrium on, the cohesion detail. But I think overall, we should be celebrating the fact that this is going to, I believe, create more opportunity for people, not good in all places in the US but around the populace .
How do you think about how the metaverse will be governed? If it’s a consortium of different companies, who’s going to be responsible for shaping these policies?
well, I think that there will be a phone number of different layers to this. I think a good vision for the metaverse is not one that a specific company builds, but it has to have the sense of interoperability and portability. You have your avatar and your digital goods, and you want to be able to teleport anywhere. You don ’ thymine want to barely be stuck within one ship’s company ’ s stuff. so for our part, for model, we ’ re building out the Quest headsets for VR, we ’ ra working on AR headsets. But the software that we build, for people to work in or hang out in and build these different worlds, that ’ south going to go across anything. So other companies build out VR or AR platforms, our software will be everywhere. Just like Facebook or Instagram is today .
indeed I think share of this is, I think it ’ ll be good if companies build stuff that can work in concert and go across lines rather than just being locked into a specific platform. But I do think that, just like you have the W3C that helps set standards around a bunch of the crucial internet protocols and how people build the vane, I think there will need to be some of that here, excessively, for defining how developers and creators can build experiences that allow person to take their embodiment and their digital goods and their friends, and be able to teleport seamlessly between all these different experiences .
“ In order to have a cohesive company, you want to have a shared foundation of values and some agreement of the global and the problems that we all face together ”
So we ’ rhenium already starting to do some of this. There ’ s an XR consortium that we are in with Microsoft and a bunch of other companies that are working on some of this a well. But I think that that ’ second going to be one of the big questions. I don ’ thyroxine think every party is going to have precisely the lapp vision here. I think some are going to have more siloed visions, and I, at least, believe that in ordering for this to work truly well, you want it to be very portable and coordinated .
There’s this great essay that the venture capitalist Matthew Ball wrote last year about the metaverse. I imagine you’ve read it, but he talks about “unprecedented interoperability” as one of the defining features of this metaverse. And we live at this time when the biggest tech platforms are barely interoperable; at most, they might let you share some contact data or export some photos. So it sounds like you’re saying that you’re preparing to build systems that are much more interoperable than the ones we have today, at least on Facebook’s end.
Yeah. I think that that aligns with our mission and worldview. We ’ re broadly not trying to serve a smaller act of people but have them pay us a large bounty. That ’ s not our commercial enterprise model. We ’ rhenium hera to serve as many people as possible and to help people connect. And when you ’ ra building social systems primarily, you want everyone to be able to be a share of the lapp systems. So we want to make them angstrom low-cost as possible, we want to make them a unified as possible, and part of that is making sure that things can run everywhere, can run across different platforms, can talk to each early. There are a crowd of big questions about how you do that. There will be privacy questions, there ’ ll be cerebral property questions .
I thought Matthew Ball ’ second essays, by the direction, were capital, and anyone who ’ south trying to learn about this, I think he wrote a nine-part firearm on a bunch of the different aspects of what the metaverse could be, and I highly recommend all of them. But I ’ d say that, I think sometimes people may be a short ideal about assuming that this will develop in a certain way. I think the vision that Matthew lays out, for example, of being extremely interoperable, is the vision that I hope comes about. But I think we ’ ve seen from modern computing that there are different companies that push in different directions. thus I think from my position, without a doubt, you ’ re going to have some companies that are trying to build incredibly siloed things, and then some that are trying to build more open and interoperable ones .
And I don ’ t even think it ’ s a question of, is one going to win over the other ? I mean, has open-source won over closed-source ? There were just multiple things at unlike times, some are expressed more in the technology industry than others, but we ’ rhenium going to be contributing to trying to build a more open and interoperable one, and that ’ s kind of our goal here. But even within that, there ’ s a lot of questions about how that works. Is it interoperable because it ’ mho decentralized, in the way that a bunch of the crypto work is being designed now, so there ’ sulfur kind of no central dependence ? It ’ s not precisely interoperable, but there ’ s no centralized operate points ? Or is it interoperable because there are some bodies that set standards and enable a bunch of these experiences to work together ? And I think you ’ ll probably see multiple approaches on that besides. so I think this is going to be one of the big questions in terms of how this evolves .
I think I have time for two more questions. So one of them is a little bit nerdy, but when you read books and watch movies about the metaverse, the fact that these spaces are owned by giant corporations are often the subject of satire. Do you see any room here for public, government-owned spaces in the metaverse? Something like, I don’t know, libraries, parks, and is this something that governments should start thinking about so that they have a role to play as this stuff gets built?
I surely think that there should be public spaces. I think that ’ second significant for having goodly communities and a healthy celestial sphere. And I think that those spaces range from things that are government-built or administered, to nonprofits, which I guess are technically secret, but are operating in the populace interest without a profit goal. so you think about things like Wikipedia, which I think is very like a populace good, even though it ’ south run by a nonprofit, not a politics .
“ each caller should not have its own metaverse ”
One of the things that I ’ ve been thinking about a set is : there are a bent of big technology problems today that, it ’ s about like 50 years ago the government, I guess I ’ m talking about the u politics here specifically, would have invested a long ton in building out these things. But now in this nation, that ’ s not quite how it ’ randomness working. alternatively, you have a numeral of Big Tech companies or big companies that are investing in building out this infrastructure. And I don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate know, possibly that ’ s the correct way for it to work. When 5G is rolled out, it ’ sulfur sturdy for a startup to in truth go fund the tens of billions of dollars of infrastructure to go do that. so, you have Verizon and AT & T and T-Mobile do it, and that ’ s reasonably good, I guess .
But there are a bunch of big technology problems, [ like ] defining augmented and virtual reality in this overall metaverse vision. I think that that ’ second going to be a trouble that is going to require tens of billions of dollars of inquiry, but should unlock hundreds of billions of dollars of value or more. I think that there are things like self-driving cars, which seems like it ’ randomness turning out to be pretty close to AI-complete ; needing to about solve a fortune of unlike aspects of AI to in truth amply solve that. So that ’ s just a massive problem in terms of investing. And some of the aspects around space exploration. Disease inquiry is still one that our government does a lot in .
But I do wonder, particularly when we look at China, for example, which does invest a lot directly in these spaces, how that is kind of setting this up to go over time. But expect, in the absence of that, yeah, I do think having public spaces is a healthy separate of communities. And you ’ re going to have creators and developers with all different motivations, tied on the mobile internet and internet today, you have a lot of people who are interested in doing public-good influence. even if they ’ re not directly funded by the politics to do that. And I think that surely, you ’ re going to have a fortune of that here deoxyadenosine monophosphate well .
But yeah, I do think that there is this long-run wonder where, as a company, we should want a very large total of capital and our most talented technical people working on these futuristic problems, to lead and innovate in these spaces. And I think that there credibly is a short bit more of a balance of distance, where some of this could come from government, but I think startups and the open-source community and the godhead economy is going to fill in a huge sum of this deoxyadenosine monophosphate well .
Last question: If you succeed in building a metaverse, will you at least consider giving it all away to the first person who solves a scavenger hunt?
I appreciate the Ready Player One mention .
I mean, just to nitpick on something here for a moment, I don ’ t think in the future, people are going to call the work that individual companies do a metaverse. Hopefully, if we ’ re successful jointly in building a system that ’ randomness more interoperable, and where you can teleport between things, it should all be the metaverse, each ship’s company should not have its own metaverse. Hopefully in the future, asking if a company is building a metaverse will sound american samoa farcical as asking a company how their internet is going. So I think merely in terms of giving a sense of sort of where this should go, but within that … now I ’ ve lost track of what your question was .
It was a joke question. But look, as always, there’s a lot to think about here and I appreciate you coming on and sharing some of the vision .
I mean, this is an arouse area. It ’ mho going to be a big focus, and I think that this is precisely going to be a big separate of the next chapter for the way that the internet evolves after the mobile internet. And I think it ’ s going to be the following boastfully chapter for our company excessively, truly doubling down in this area. For the last 17 years, we ’ ve worked a lot on building different apps for people to connect, and the main direction that they ’ ve done that is on phones. And I think if we ’ rhenium successful, then possibly five years from now, or seven years from immediately, people will primarily think about us as a metaverse ship’s company, rather than a mobile internet party, that ’ s kind of helping to build these kinds of experiences. And I think it ’ south just going to span therefore a lot .
“ people will primarily think approximately us as a metaverse company, preferably than a mobile internet company ”
People will hang out, you ’ ll be able to truly feel like you ’ re salute with other people, you ’ ll be able to do all kinds of different influence, there ’ ll be raw jobs, new forms of entertainment. Whether it ’ s bet on or fabulously complex magpie hunts like you ’ re talking about, or more and more enjoyable ways of doing fitness or concerts, or getting in concert at the comedy prove that we talked about. I merely think that there ’ s a long ton here, and I think we can do this in a direction that creates a lot of economic opportunity where millions of people around the world can be doing creative exploit that they very enjoy, building experiences or virtual items or artwork or different things that are more inhale to them than whatever the jobs are that they may feel like they can do today. sol I ’ m actually looking forward to helping to play some character in building out this next chapter for the internet. And I ’ m certain over the years, we ’ re going to have many conversations about this, Casey .
For sure. I’m looking forward to writing about all of the unanticipated problems that come about as a result of the metaverse! But the good things, too. Mark, thank you for coming on The Vergecast .
felicitous to do it. All right. Talk soon .
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