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Neal Stephenson, Metaverse

Neal Stephenson Optimistic About Metaverse, Citing Progress in Mixed Reality Tech

Amid fading metaverse hype, Neal Stephenson, the visionary sci-fi author who introduced the term “metaverse” in his 1992 dystopian novel “Snow Crash,” remains an unwavering optimist. He asserts that the foundations of the metaverse are maturing, evidenced by the emergence of new mixed reality headsets from tech giants Meta and Apple.

Neal Stephenson on the future of the Metaverse:

Meta’s latest $499 Quest 3 virtual and mixed reality headset, which was announced just recently, and an upcoming Apple headset, highlight the continuous support for the development of an immersive digital realm. This reality seems to be getting closer to Stephenson’s vision of a vibrant, three-dimensional virtual environment where a broad range of human activities can take place.

In a talk at the Augmented Reality Expo, Stephenson said, “Just in the last couple of years, it feels like a bunch of things have snapped into place — the prerequisites that we need to have on hand in order to really start building a metaverse.

What is Neal’s Involvement in the Industry?

Despite the waning buzz around the metaverse concept, with Meta facing backlash from investors, and the Web3 movement struggling with various problems, Stephenson stays firmly in the optimist camp.

The author’s vested interest isn’t limited to his novels. He has been associated with several startups since the 1990s, including augmented reality headset maker Magic Leap. His current endeavor, Lamina1, aims to develop “metaverse plumbing” to foster an open foundation that’s easy for developers to build upon and for people to visit.

There have to be experiences in the metaverse that are worth having,” Stephenson said. The goal for Lamina1 is to improve the metaverse tooling so developers and creators can build these worthwhile experiences. This includes integrating blockchain and NFT technology, even as cryptocurrencies have lost much of their value since peaking in 2021.

Stephenson’s optimistic viewpoint isn’t shared by everyone, though. Creative Strategies analyst Olivier Blanchard has voiced skepticism about the mainstream adoption of VR, AR, and mixed reality (XR). “Metaverse and XR companies are going to have to clearly communicate to users how their solutions will actually make their lives better rather than just more expensive and complicated,” Blanchard said.

But with upcoming tech from Apple and Meta, the tide may be turning. Apple’s expected headset, years in the making, could inspire developers to build mixed reality apps. Similarly, Meta’s Quest 3 XR headset’s video pass-through mode may further facilitate AR capabilities.

Despite the progress and potential in the industry, the metaverse still has a long way to go to reach the level of widespread adoption seen with today’s web or the metaverse in “Snow Crash.” Yet, for Stephenson, the journey continues. With each advancement in VR, AR, and XR technologies, we move a step closer to the metaverse becoming a significant part of our daily lives.

What’s next for the Metaverse?

Stephenson’s take on the future of the metaverse presents a thought-provoking look at the intersection of technology and society. While we may still be in the early stages of the metaverse’s development, the potential of this technology to transform our digital interactions is undeniable.


What’s your take on the future of the metaverse? Do you see it as a fleeting trend or a game-changer in the realm of digital interaction? Let’s continue the discussion in the comments section below.

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