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Metaverse Hype: Communist Propaganda?

Does the recent noise and fuss about the Metaverse resemble Communist propaganda? Phil Libin, A CEO who grew up in the Soviet Union. says so. He calls the hype “empty promises of an idealized future.’

Soviet propaganda poster" Art Board Print by Khokhloma | Redbubble

Libin founded Evernote, a note-taking app. He now heads Mmhmm, a videoconferencing firm.

Speaking in a recent podcast hosted by Eric Newcomer, Libin blasted Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of alternate reality. Mr. Z’s promises, he says, will never materialize. It is “…a gloss that uncreative people and companies put over fundamentally a lack of good ideas.” Ouch! That had to leave a mark.

What makes Metaverse hype like Communist propaganda?

So then, where does the comparison with Communist propaganda come in? “I went to first grade in the Soviet Union”, Libin said. “I was subjected to a lot of Soviet propaganda, and I was told… repeatedly, “Communism doesn’t exist yet. We haven’t built Communism yet. We’re building towards Communism.” Libin believes Zuckerberg and company are playing the same game. “You know, you can smell a bad idea before it’s fully built”, he says. “So I don’t want to hear, ‘Oh yeah, the Metaverse doesn’t exist yet. No, no, no, all this stupid, useless, crappy stuff that exists right now, that’s not the Metaverse. The Metaverse is coming. It’s coming.'”

Zuckerberg’s pet project has drawn fierce criticism. Some analysts say it will prove even more addictive than current social media. And so far, a distressingly high percentage of users seem to be children. They would be especially prone to suggestion through immersive digital environments. And people who grow accustomed to such experience would lose ability to function in reality.

Libin sneers at such concerns. He calls the Metaverse idea “so spectacularly stupid, there’s actually not that much to fear.”

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Across the Metaverse

Is your future in the ’embedded internet’?

Can you travel across the Metaverse? Should you?

If you ever saw The Matrix, a 1999 movie starring Keanu Reeves and Lawrence Fishburn, you might guess roughly what this is about. In the movie, self-aware machines have trapped the human race in a virtual reality simulation.

Laurence Fishburne Doesn't Know Why 'Matrix 4' Left Morpheus Out | IndieWire

Well, now a real life version of The Matrix could be coming our way. Facebook and Microsoft have made much noise lately about their versions: an “embedded internet” meant to render the current internet obsolete.

Facebook’s Version of the Metaverse

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, calls his version the “Metaverse”. A “people-first internet”, it would rely less on current forms of social media and browser search. Instead, it would rely far more on VR and AR connections that seem almost to be alternate worlds. Zuckerberg has committed himself so fiercely to this vision, he renamed Facebook as ‘Meta’.

At a recent Oculus Connect event, Zuckerberg’s troops demonstrated seamless connectivity between some of its apps, such as Messenger, and Oculus VR and AR devices. Zuckerberg emphasizes social media and personal use.

Microsoft’s Version

Microsoft, by contrast, gears its version to business and professional use. The company claims to have built a collection of tools for enabling businesses to create “immersive spaces”. Via AR and VR, these tools will facilitate more advanced online meetings. Some apps enable ‘moving’ and interacting in virtual factories and retail outlets. These apps go by the name of Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces.

Microsoft calls the software for this project “Mesh”.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, dismisses Meta’s version as unrealistic. “The public perception of The Metaverse, as a futuristic world where plugged-in people recreate their whole lives online, is still a ways off. But business uses are starting to be available now.”

What Should You Believe?

Of course, we can’t predict the future. However, we can make some educated guesses. The Metaverse is unlikely to be as sinister as alarmists predict. And it’s unlikely to benefit us as much as its promoters predict.

Every new communication medium can draw us in and tempt us to abandon reality. All can be addictive. This was true of the original internet. It was true of television. It was even true of radio. We decide how much we’re going to immerse ourselves in any medium. We can walk away if we want to.


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How can we communicate most effectively? Electronic devices offer efficiency and range, but distance us somewhat from direct experience. In-person contact is more complete, but not always practical. With mixed reality, we can combine the advantages of both.

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Alexander Graham Bell’s first message through the telephone he had just invented was to his assistant, Thomas Watson. Bell said, “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.” As important as his new invention was, Bell still valued face-to-face contact.

The telephone, of course, enabled communication over long distance. But with it, we hear only disembodied voices. We can’t see facial expressions, gestures, or backgrounds, and without this information, we often have to guess at meanings of words.

To this day, we often use our phones to schedule face-to-face meetings.

Through personal computers, we’ve increased efficiency in communication. But our efforts are still highly abstract. We started with keyboards and lines of text. We’ve moved on to touch pads and gestural mice. From these foundations, some of us have moved onto voice commands.

At every step, though, we’re still very much aware of our devices. We stare into rectangular screens. ‘Reality’ is still highly abstract.

What difference does mixed reality make?

Mixed reality (MR), also called merged reality, promises to make computing less abstract and more ‘real’.

Mixed reality is related to virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). MR combines properties of both. AR is display of digital images over a real environment. The heads-up display on an auto windshield is one example.

MR takes the AR concept further by scanning the user’s physical environment. With this scanned data, it creates a digital map of his surroundings. The MR software knows, then, where to place digital objects so they seem real. While AR images appear to be a on a flat plane before the viewer, MR images appear three-dimensional. When a real object is between the viewer and a digital object’s apparent position, the real object obscures the user’s view of the digital object. If the digital object’s apparent position is in ‘front’ of the  real object, it will obscure the real object. MR images, then, interact in real time with the user’s physical surroundings. The viewer can walk around the images, zoom in on them, or manipulate them.

Mixed reality, then, promises to be nearly as direct and immediate as face to face conversation. Jeorg Mewes, the CEO of Avegant, said: “Mixed reality enables people to interact directly with their ideas rather than on screens or keyboards.” We are less conscious of our devices then; immersed more deeply in real and virtual worlds.

In a future post, we will outline some of the most important uses for mixed reality. Watch for it.


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Mixed Reality: the Future of Computing?

Microsoft is betting heavily on mixed reality (MR). Earlier this year, it released the Hololens, a holographic computing system. The Hololens overlays virtual images on real, physical environments. Wearing the Hololens headset and looking at a table in your office, for example, you may see a 3D image of a vehicle or a building on it. You can walk around the virtual object and examine it from different angles. You can even ‘move’ it with your hands, as you can with physical objects.

Image result for mixed reality images

What is mixed reality?

Mixed reality differs from Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). VR is a simulated 3D environment. VR is ‘immersive’; that is, it shuts out the physical world completely.  For you, VR would be what the Holodeck was for characters in Star Trek TNG.

VR is used in advanced flight simulators and other ‘immersive’ trainers.

Augmented Reality overlays simulated images on the user’s view of the real world. The heads-up displays on automobile windshields are examples of AR.

Mixed reality, also known a hybrid reality, is a version of AR. Unlike AR devices, though, the mixed reality device scans the user’s physical environment. It then creates a 3D map of his surroundings. With this map, the device knows where to place digital content so it’s realistic and the user can manipulate it with gestures. The MR images are more dimensional than AR images- hence more ‘real’.

What difference does it make?

Computing now usually entails staring at a screen. The images we see are confined within rectangles. We can’t suspend disbelief since we can’t suspend awareness that we’re staring into machines. No matter how well designed, touch screens and keyboards are highly unnatural means of dealing with our environments.

Mixed reality promises to change this. Communication becomes more intense- more ‘real’. You could seem to share physical space with a friend thousands of miles away. You see 3D objects, not merely pictures. You can move around the objects and manipulate them.

MR computing would be much more ‘natural’ and intuitive than the forms we’re familiar with. With MR, we are less conscious of our devices, We can communicate and learn more easily and more naturally.

In a future post, we will cover some of the most important applications for mixed reality.


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No matter how much you get, you want more. You’ve always wanted more, and you always will.

No, this isn’t about your love life. It’s about your insatiable demand for internet bandwidth. No matter how much you get, it will never be enough. This is mainly because as the pipeline expands, you will think of ever more material to fill it with.

What Makes the Web Different from Older Technologies

In this respect, the internet differs from previous means of communications. In over a hundred years of home telephone service, bandwidth usage for it changed hardly at all. Innovation brought modest improvements in convenience and sound quality, without fundamentally altering the nature of voice transmissions. The internet, though, is constantly evolving. Increasing bandwidth promotes innovation, and innovation promotes demand for increased bandwidth.

Increased bandwidth doesn’t just improve the speed of e-mail. It makes entirely new functions possible. At the dawn of the internet age, few of us would have guessed that it would become a major medium for commerce, telephony, streaming video, or social media such as Facebook or Twitter. Now these uses are so commonplace, we could scarcely imagine living without them.


Technology is forcing massive changes in education. A few decades ago, knowledge was quarantined, and difficult to find. Seeking information in libraries was tedious and cumbersome, and the most important and timely information was in the hands of corporate and government elites.

Now, though, we carry nearly all of the world’s knowledge in our pockets. Whatever we want to know, we can usually find it in a few seconds. Education is now mostly guidance in what to look for.

It was inevitable that greater access to information would affect demand for formal schooling.

MOOCs and Home Schooling

As college tuition rates skyrocket climb into the stratosphere, and millions of students take on crippling debt, and with many of the most prominent universities mired in stifling intellectual conformity, demand for alternatives multiplies. Multiple open online courses (MOOC) are one answer. They cost far less than standard university courses, and are often at least as effective, perhaps more effective, in communicating course content. Unlike textbooks, material on the web can be updated constantly. Students can log in for real-time class discussions on video, download their assignments, and upload their homework.

The web is also becoming vital to home schooling (elementary and secondary levels). Parents can tailor course content to the needs and aptitudes of their children, and students can learn at their own paces, without being either rushed or slowed by the learning abilities of classmates.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

We have learning tools that previous generations could scarcely have imagined. No longer bound by school schedules, we can learn as we need to. Without waiting for others to teach us, we can constantly upgrade our professional skills online.

Virtual reality (VR)  and augmented reality (AR) can hugely enhance effectiveness of online training.

VR is digital simulation of 3D environments.  With VR, you’re not held to one fixed perspective, as when you’re watching a movie.  You can look around and ‘move’ in the digital environmental.

At a trade show in Barcelona, Spain, a reporter climbed into a control booth owned by a heavy machinery firm. Wearing a VR helmet and manipulating levers in the booth, he operated an earth mover in real time in Sweden, 1500 miles away. Think, then, of VR’s potential alter construction, inspection, and manufacturing. It has already changed training for skilled trades. We could learn surgery, piloting of aircraft, and other skills without all of the risks that come with learning them in real environments.

Augmented reality is the overlay of a digital environment over a real one. With AR, an apprentice mechanic or plumber can see a repair diagram laid over real pipe or a real engine. The AR app provides constant feedback on his work, so he can see and feel how the task should be done.

AR and VR can revolutionize education, because they help develop habit or ‘muscle memory’. When he tries his new skills in real environments, the student already understands them from memory. VR and AR are much more effective for skill training than written manuals could ever be.

Of course, such forms of education require huge amounts of bandwidth. For this reason, among others, we’ll always demand more.

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Will your cost of living plummet in the next two decades? Peter Diamandis, the founder of the XPRIZE Foundation, says it probably will.

Diamandis says advancing technology will foster massive reduction in the cost of  living. If he is correct, food. fuel, housing, medical care, electricity, transportation, and education will cost a fraction of what they cost now. Internet services, robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and virtual reality will force revolutionary leaps in efficiency. All aspects of commerce: manufacturing, shipping, and personal services- to name a few- will be affected. The next great technological leap will leave no industry untouched.

As a percentage of income, the cost of food has dropped about 45% since 1960. This trend is likely to accelerate. Innovation in genetics and biology will multiply yields for a given plot of land, with far less water. Vertical farming will bring agriculture closer to the consumer’s home. Since 70% of the cost of providing food is in transportation, storage, and handling, vertical farming by itself will force massive price reduction.

Uber and Lyft are disrupting the mass transit industry. This is barely the beginning. Such services will soon be fully autonomous, meaning they won’t need human drivers. This development will lead to rapidly plummeting transportation costs. Much of your expense in car ownership is for insurance, repair, fuel, parking, and traffic tickets. When transport is a service, not something you own, you will be freed from these expenses. Diamandis estimates that this will reduce your cost of travel by five to ten times. In our view, he’s overly optimistic, but your costs certainly will drop sharply.

Fossil fuels are expensive chiefly because of the cost of extracting and shipping them. We soon may be able to do without them. Solar energy is becoming steadily more efficient. Inherently safe nuclear sources, such as thorium reactors, will provide extremely cheap energy, enough for thousands of years. Distributed energy sources, practical only with the newer fuel sources, will reduce our reliance on centralized grids. With fewer and shorter power lines, and with less maintenance expense, the cost of electricity will plummet.

Medical care is a big factor in the cost of living. Robotics, advanced biochemistry, and a faster internet will reduce costs dramatically. Artificial intelligence applications can diagnose patients more accurately than the best doctors can. They will have huge databases of patient history, genomics, and similar cases to draw from. They can analyze massive amounts of data in a few seconds, for only the cost of electricity. The best surgeons will be robots. They will be more accurate than any human surgeon, and they’ll have all the data from millions of previous surgeries. Automation will accelerate drug testing by several orders of magnitude. New drugs will reach the market much faster, and they can be customized for each patient. You are likely to have several diagnostic tools at home. You can diagnose most of your own ailments with sensors worn on your wrist.

Learning is necessary for living well. Education is expensive, though. Teacher salaries, buildings, bus routes, and an army of administrators add to the cost. Outmoded rules and outdated curricula add expense without adding value, so the student wastes time as well as money.

If you were in full control of your education, would that make a difference? How can you take control, though? How do you fit your classes around a busy work schedule? The internet can help. Skillsology, the Khan Academy, Coursera, and other online sources provide instruction and testing at your own pace. They are also far less expensive than standard college courses. Some universities have begun to adapt to the competitive threat. Harvard, MIT, and Stanford, among others, offer thousands of hours of online instruction. Online instruction is in its infancy, though. In the near future, your ‘professors’ are likely to be artificial intelligence apps. They will be the best instructors you’ve ever had. They will know your needs, abilities, weaknesses, desires, and personality almost perfectly. With this knowledge, they will teach exactly what you need, at the rate you can best absorb it, by the methods you respond to best. Automated education will cost almost nothing. The same schooling available to the billionaire’s child will be available to the pauper’s child.

These are only a few of the factors in the cost of living. Others, such as housing and entertainment, also will cost less as technology develops. If we can convince our public officials to leave markets alone so innovation can thrive, we can enjoy much higher standards of living- for much less money.

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Are we on the verge of the third great technological leap in human history? Some economists and inventors say we are.

The First Great Leap, about 7, 000 years ago, was the development of agriculture. The hunter-gatherer societies that had existed until then were small, unstable, and at the mercy of the elements. People had to move frequently to follow game.

With agriculture, the human race developed a degree of control over nature. In planting and harvesting crops, we could build up food surpluses. The surpluses became a foundation for credit and trade. In domesticating animals, we had predictable supplies of meat, hides, milk, eggs, and wool. With predictable food supplies, permanent dwellings became practical, and man built the first cities. As trade accelerated, we built up further surpluses, which encouraged greater division of labor and some leisure time. This fostered sophisticated religion, philosophy, entertainment, scientific inquiry, and the arts.

The Second Great Leap, the Industrial Revolution, occurred about 200 years ago. Man’s output would no longer be limited to the product of his own muscles or the muscles of his livestock. With the invention of reliable steam engines, then electrical power, man could multiply his productivity many times beyond what was possible with muscle power alone.

The Industrial Revolution multiplied wealth for the masses. An ordinary citizen in America or Western Europe now enjoys comfort, leisure, and mobility that were unavailable even to royalty two centuries ago.

The Third Great Leap is the information revolution. We are on the cusp of it now. Computer technology has come a long way in the last forty years, but still is primitive compared to what it soon will be. The internet, scarcely dreamed of a generation ago, is still in its infancy.

The third leap is the use of information for more than training and education. We are about to use encoded information routinely to manipulate physical reality. With a VR headset and a control console, someone in Spain controls an earth mover in Sweden. A surgeon operates on a patient remotely, with robots cutting more precisely than his hand. A factory manager in Phoenix controls production in Tucson, with no staff on site in the Tucson factory. He can monitor and address any problems in real time.

Some of the most important emerging technologies include virtual reality, 3D printing, gene editing, and the ‘internet of things’. Sensors will be nearly everywhere. If we want, we can have nearly constant feedback about nearly everything in our environment.

Some experts believe the Third Great Leap will multiply average productivity more than fifty times within a few decades. If this happens, nearly all of us will be much richer. We could easily pay off the national debt. We would have cheap and abundant energy. We could solve problems that seem intractable now.

We cannot know now exactly how the Third Great Leap will affect us. We can make only the vaguest of guesses. It will, no doubt, bring us many new problems as well as opportunities. At any rate, we can be sure that our lives will be very different.

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