Don’t Let Technologies Distract you From Today’s Problems !

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Credit: Lucrezia Carnelos/ Unplash
  • The metaverse will be a digital graveyard if we let new technologies distract us from today’s problems.
  • The collapse of digital ventures like FTX shows that no amount of hype and starry-eyed proselytizing can escape reality.
  • Let’s find out more about it.

The tiny island nation of Tuvalu recently announced that it would be the first country to fully replicate itself as a virtual reproduction in the metaverse.

Case Of Tuvalu

Tuvalu, comprising nine small islands in the Pacific situated between Australia and Hawaii, fears that its demise is inevitable due to human-induced climate change, and wants to preserve “the most precious assets of its people … and move them to the cloud”.

This fatalism was perhaps part publicity stunt but also part resignation, as the Pacific nation tries to grapple with the looming climate disasters that will hit islands like theirs hardest.

But the idea that it should capture a digital version of itself, a virtual ghost in the shell, belies our flawed attitude towards technology as a savior and the narrative that new technological worlds will inevitably replace our vibrant physical one.

The Metaverse

The metaverse promises to be a fully immersive, universal virtual world powered by virtual reality and mixed reality technologies. Mark Zuckerberg popularized the term in 2021, when he announced that his company would change its name to Meta and pivot its future towards building metaverse technologies.

Since then, pundits who claimed metaverse expertise emerged seemingly overnight, clamoring to get a piece of the pie of this shiny “new” phenomenon. This naive futurism expresses itself in different ways – as believers herald more new technological marvels – Web3, cryptocurrency, blockchain, non-fungible tokens. But the hype and starry-eyed proselytizing could not escape reality, and we are seeing examples of these new technologies collapsing.

Long Termism

Meta’s stock is experiencing deep crashes, as its dogged investment in the metaverse despite lack of returns and tough economic conditions forced it to lay off 11,000 staff. FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange once valued at $32bn and considered a linchpin of the Web3 world, has spectacularly flamed out and is now facing liquidation. This disconnect between the promise of these new technologies and the challenges of today’s problems is rooted in a philosophy preferred by tech evangelists – known as “long termism”.

Long Termism is the view that we should support world-changing projects – like the colonization of Mars, private space travel, and Web3 and the metaverse – because the alleged future value these will bring humanity justifies any potential disruption in the present or immediate future.

Philosopher and author Émile P. Torres criticizes this way of thinking: “Why does Musk care about climate change? Not because of injustice, inequality of human suffering…”.

If we build new technological worlds at the expense of addressing today’s problems, the metaverse won’t be a shiny new utopia, it will look more like a digital graveyard, full of the lost memories and copies of a world we chose to ignore.

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Source: TheGuardian

 

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