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From the Atlantic Ideas Festival: Journey to the Metaverse

Today at The Atlantic Ideas Festival, Head of Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) and incoming Facebook CTO Andrew “Boz” Bosworth joined WIRED Contributing Editor Peter Rubin for a fireside chat to discuss Facebook’s vision for the next computing platform — one that puts people squarely at the center.

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The term ‘metaverse’ was coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. Although the term itself is nearly 30 years old, it’s only recently that the metaverse has expanded beyond its science fiction roots and entered into the broader cultural lexicon. In today’s talk, Bosworth describes the metaverse as a potentially embodied but certainly continuous experience — one that stitches together previously disparate digital spaces into a cohesive and interoperable whole.

As Bosworth points out, part of the reason that definitions of the metaverse can seem vague is that it’s early days yet. Rather than having the public and regulators be surprised by the next sweeping wave of technological change, Bosworth argues that we ought to have these discussions out in the open as the technology itself is still on the cusp of burgeoning. In fact, first and foremost among FRL’s responsible innovation principles is: Never surprise people.

To that end, Facebook today announced the XR Programs and Research Fund: a two-year $50 million investment in programs and external research to help ensure the metaverse isn’t developed in a vacuum. Through this fund, we’ll collaborate with industry partners, civil rights groups, governments, nonprofits, and academic institutions to determine how to build these technologies responsibly. Click here to learn more.

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