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Every time a billionaire CEO vaguely mentions the Metaverse, our memory of Facebook fades a little more. But the concept of the virtual world predates Zuckerberg’s rebrand and represents much more than legless avatars. Consensus AI CEO and Chief Scientist Louis Rosenberg founded two early augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) companies and developed the first functional AR system for the Air Force in the ’90s.
We talked with Rosenberg about the early days of VR and AR technology and what the Metaverse will actually look like.
How would you describe the metaverse?
People often describe it in terms of the technology or hardware you’re wearing while wearing a virtual reality headset or augmented reality glasses. But I think if you take a step back, you start to realize that this is really a transition from a world where people see digital content from the outside, to a world where we see content from the inside. are experiencing. [of it],
You’ve been studying AR and VR technology since the 90s. How has public perception about these technologies evolved?
In the early 90s, there was a lot of excitement about virtual reality. It was the type of technology that everyone thought was the next big thing. And instead, we went into a virtual reality winter because all the oxygen was sucked up by the internet startups and dot-com bubble of the late ’90s. And people thought oh yeah, we tried and it failed. When it didn’t actually fail. Just not enough time was given.
Then, in the early 2010s, it began to come back to life, but instead of being small startup companies leading the space, it has been major corporations.
Should the metaverse bother us?
Metaverse’s technologies, by their very nature, have the potential to give platform providers incredible levels of power. I think it’s really scary. The Metaverse is about to take us from a world where Big Tech platforms, which are currently tracking where you click, track everything about your life. They currently track people and use the information to profile people and sell targeted ads. In the metaverse, these would be new forms of advertising. And they’ll be far more persuasive than just pop-up ads.
Instead of advertisers putting a pop-up ad for a soft drink on your screen, in the metaverse I was just walking down the street and I can see someone drinking a particular brand of soft drink and I can walk a little further. And I can see someone drinking the same brand of soft drink and all I can think is, “Well, that drink is so popular here.” And I might not realize that those are virtual product placements from a paying advertiser that’s poured into my world.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.