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Monday, December 13, 2021

The Metaverse and all that

 Science fiction pointing the direction of real science?

 Silicon Valley’s Metaverse Problem   in IEEE Spectrum

Sci-fi expert Annalee Newitz wants would-be visionaries to sift satire from soothsaying  09 DEC 2021

Last week in New York City, Neal Stephenson spoke at an event promoting his latest book, Termination Shock. But at question time, some folks were eager to know his reaction to Meta-nee-Facebook’s recent embrace of the metaverse, the virtual reality setting of his much earlier work, 1992’s Snow Crash.

Stephenson seemed amused by the situation, but said the demonstrations he’d seen so far from Meta “looks like old hat,” and warned that people should “focus on what [Meta] is doing now and what is their business model? Everyone can use the app for free but the company is very wealthy. [So] they are selling your data. If they use that same model with whatever they are planning to do with the metaverse, we need to pay careful attention.”

Stephenson moved on to other topics (most of his talk was actually a primer on climate geoengineering, which forms the backdrop of Termination Shock), but Meta/Facebook isn’t the only company with metaverse ambitions—graphics chip maker Nvidia and Epic Games, creator of the wildly popular Fortnite, are just two of the other big names that have started bandying about the idea.

So to learn a little more about Silicon Valley’s current obsession with a 30-year-old book, IEEE Spectrum spoke with science journalist and science fiction expert Annalee Newitz, the founding editor of io9, author of the critically acclaimed novels Autonomous and The Future of Another Timeline, as well as the recently-released non-fiction book Four Lost Cities, and is the co-host of the award-winning Our Opinions Are Correct podcast, which looks at the intersection of science fiction and reality. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.   .... ' 

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