To the metaverse and back
Last week I found an interesting thought in the New York Times. It is sharing the assumption that Smartphones may be too good, that their unhindered success may be holding back innovation, and that new technology may not be able to displace them. I really liked the idea and needed to write about it…
from a universe to a metaverse
As a first point the article brings up the fact that people working in technology imagine the future as an implicit bet that smartphones will be displaced as the center of our digital lives by things that are less obvious. They are preaching (or theorizing, if you prefer) the vision of the metaverse, a rather old idea predicting that all virtual human interactions will be as complex as the real thing (or even more so). I have already written about robots, cyborgs and humanoids…
A first question here is, whether this vision of an all knowing, all learning machines could become a reality.
A second one is, if it will become a reality, but I do not have the answer to that question.
The third and probably most important thought clearly is, if this vision should become a reality.
theory and practice (and reality)
Technologists should first prove (and be approved) that their future is more compelling and useful than the digital life, we already have. The magical supercomputer we carry in our pockets is on one hand, unfortunately for some, already taking up quite a lot of virtual space in our real world, difficult to find more. On the other hand, the supercomputer has allowed a blasting transformative evolution for a majority of its users. It is, as always, just a question of the point of view.
Here is the kicker
Challenges for any innovative, up and coming or new technology will be that smartphones succeeded to the point where it’s hard to imagine alternatives. The devices are not just a novelty for rich nerds anymore, they have probably become the only computer that billions of people around the world will ever own, or will be able to own.
Any new consumer technology will have to answer inevitable questions, such as: Why should one get another gadget to take photos, flip through cycling directions or play music when I can do most of that with the smartphone that’s already in my pocket? I am not opening the “weren’t we going green to save the planet?”, nor the more radical “why do we still need to buy more shit, we don’t need?” boxes.
Do we really need to be forced to live in a metaverse when we can already caress rectangular screens to have a similar experience?
I reject some of the apparently appealing parts of caressing screens, but am completely intrigued by the undisputable and subliminal powers those small computers exercise on our lives (day and night). I agree with the New York Times, as I am curious too, to see the development of technologies that want to move away from smartphones. For now, and maybe forever, most technologies for our daily lives are supplements to our phones rather than replacements. These tiny supercomputers may be so amazingly ineluctable that there will never be a post-smartphone revolution.
Wherever the future will go, whether it stays in a universe, or moves on to a multiverse, a metaverse or a supraverse, the real world of now still offers everything we really need. Let’s make sure it stays this way!
This article is based on our newsletter “thoughts&coffee” published on 24.09.2021