The Covid-19 lockdowns ushered in a period of virtual life, inevitably paving the way for Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse. This immersive virtual reality that blends humanity and technology may soon be part of our everyday lives. However, Silicon Valley’s latest project is cause for concern. Big Tech is profiting from our isolation and is actively developing dystopian technology while maintaining eerie ties to the US military.
The term “metaverse” originated from Neal Stephenson’s dystopian novel Snow Crash. In an interview with The Verge, Zuckerberg describes the metaverse as “a persistent, synchronous environment” that will be mainstream in “the next five years or so.” He believes Meta (formerly Facebook) will transition from a social media company to a “metaverse company.” Microsoft is also following close behind with their own metaverse known as Mesh.
As of right now, Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s metaverses seem innocuous. However, Silicon Valley is capitalizing on the pandemic. Big Tech companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Facebook all saw their revenue skyrocket during the lockdown. Remote work and virtual learning are profitable for the tech giants as screen time during the lockdown increased overall by five hours.
Zuckerberg’s metaverse should draw immediate skepticism as this is not Facebook’s first time purposely tampering with reality. In 2019, Facebook announced its objective to develop a “brain-computer interface (BCI).” It aims to build a “noninvasive” BCI that would let people type with their thoughts. The team in charge of this development is Facebook’s Building 8, which has been tasked with developing new “futuristic” technologies.
A key component of Zuckerberg’s metaverse is the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality (VR) headset. Erik Erickson at The Daily Wire explains, “In VR, you put a headset on your head and suddenly exist in a 3D world. Turn your head in any direction and you are in that world. Carefully placed speakers let you hear the world and submerse yourself in it.”
Facebook owns Oculus Rift. The founder of the VR company, Palmer Luckey, currently runs Anduril, an artificial intelligence contractor for the U.S. military. Big Tech has extensive relations with the U.S. military. In April, Microsoft received a $22 million contract from the Army for its Integrated Visual Augmentation System goggles. Facebook specifically can trace its origins back to the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The military’s partnership with Big Tech on futuristic neural technologies raises some serious ethical questions. John Horgan in The Scientific American echoes this sentiment. “Given the world’s unpredictability, I have a hard time ruling out the possibility that an unholy alliance of big tech and the military will foist an implant-enabled metaverse on us.”
Increased dependence on virtual schooling, technology, and remote work accelerated the development of the metaverse. Despite Big Tech’s disturbing history of partnering with the Pentagon, many people will still participate in this technological revolution.
Ultimately, the metaverse is not real life. When the Oculus headset comes off, the futuristic dream dissolves and you awake in the real world, only with less motivation and purpose. The tech oligarchs desperately want a subdued populace addicted to their products—even if humanity suffers as a result.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.