Meta isn’t the only company that builds Metaverse

LG: We’ve been talking a lot about Facebook lately, and I’m just wondering if it’s time for a break.

MC: You don’t have to twist my arm.

LG: That’s the thing though. I can’t promise you that we won’t be talking about the Metaverse maybe, but maybe from a slightly different perspective.

MC: Should I say Zap from the Metaverse or something?

LG: Yes that’s good. We’ll get to that.

[Gadget Lab intro theme music plays.]

LG: Hello all. Welcome to Gadget Lab. I’m Lauren Judd. I’m a senior writer at WIRED.

MC: And I’m Michael Kalor Senior Editor at WIRED.

LG: We were joined this week by WIRED Editor in Chief Stephen Levy. Stephen, Thank you for joining us.

Stephen Levy: It’s a pleasure.

LG: Your background in Zoom looks really poetic. It is the scenery of falling foliage. where are you?

SL: Well, it’s actually where I’m not, it’s a full view and scenes from my home in western Massachusetts, but at the moment I’m in Palo Alto.

LG: I got you. Yes. So the Metaverse is the Berkshires?

SL: Yes.

LG: Yes. So there’s been a lot of talk about the Metaverse lately, including on this podcast. But we promise we’ll make it worth your while, Facebook, oops, Meta has been touting the idea of ​​a virtual reality experience where you wear a headset and completely cut off access to the real world. But you’re supposed to have a truly immersive computing experience. Some technologists though, see this as a step too far or too dystopian and wanted to offer a different view of this hyper-futuristic world. So take Snap for example, yes. The maker of the Snapchat messaging app that disappears, the company also makes very high-end augmented reality as well. And later on in the show, we’ll hear live from Bobby Murphy, Snap’s co-founder and CTO, who I spoke to earlier this week.

But another person who has very strong opinions about the Metaverse is Niantic’s CEO, John Hanke. You probably know Niantic as the company that makes Pokemon GO, but Hanke’s vision of a connected world is very different from what Mark Zuckerberg put there. And Hanke has no problem pointing out what he sees as flaws in Facebook’s plans to control metadata. And Stephen, I spoke with Niantic’s John Hanke for a story published on this week, coming out in the upcoming December issue of the magazine. So he told us a little bit about his vision of this hyper-augmented world in the future.

SL: right. He has already put a stake in the land in exchange for the Metaverse as depicted by Mark Zuckerberg. He actually did a blog post a couple of weeks ago, he said Metaverse is miserable. His vision is not that we will cut off all our senses and go to this fantasy world. Our meetings were held in a fake place, where we all put on headphones. He says, I have no desire for a meeting, being a cartoon character somewhere is like a Tahiti cartoon. Instead, his view is that the Metaverse will be a digital layer on top of where we are physically. Now his background is that he founded a company called Keyhole, which, oddly enough, was funded by the CIA, but did satellite imagery. He was then hired by Google who bought his company and was instrumental in the development of Google Maps.

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