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Fueled by the promise of a dynamic remote interactive environment, the advent of the metaverse was seen as a turning point for the technological world. However, just as quickly as it became the talk of the town, it began to face serious criticism and backlash. Now people appear to be losing interest quickly. Mark Zuckerberg, who re-introduced the concept of the metaverse, has even stopped pitching it to advertisers.
In the last financial quarter alone, Meta’s Reality Labs division, responsible for VR and the metaverse, recorded an operating loss of $4.279 billion. Meta is now focused on building LLaMA, their large language model (LLM) competitor of ChatGPT and Bard. It seems that the rise of generative AI could slowly but surely kill the metaverse.
Or will it?
There is no doubt that, unlike the metaverse, generative AI has developed at a rapid pace. The idea has quickly evolved from more than just a concept to taking over the better half of the world. Organizations and businesses that once dreamt of the metaverse have quickly adapted to GenAI, which has created the impression that the former might meet a slow and steady death.
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However, the metaverse is a social platform built on multiple technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and AI. It’s possible that the rapid development of generative AI could further fuel the growth of the metaverse in various ways, including:
- Creating new objects, environments and experiences without the need for human designers and programmers.
- Helping users create custom avatars.
- Eradicating cybersecurity issues by creating dynamic software that automatically scans files for viruses, malware and other issues.
- Performing research on critical cybersecurity issues.
While generative AI has some potential positive impacts on the metaverse, there are also several possible downsides, especially from a cybersecurity perspective. Hackers and cybercriminals are already using the technology to exploit user security in various ways, such as by helping them create better phishing emails. Moreover, there have been reports of hackers utilizing tools such as ChatGPT to create malware.
With AI becoming a dangerous and looming threat to cybersecurity, its implementation can become a safety hazard for metaverse users. This could be one major setback in its development since the concept has faced several speculations regarding its cybersecurity issues.
Not necessarily the death knell
Even though the adverse effects of harmful AI might have a lasting impact on the metaverse, generative AI won’t necessarily kill the metaverse.
These speculations arose in the first place mainly due to the possible coincidence of Meta temporarily shifting its focus. Contrary to the netizen’s claim, 17% of companies in the business, computer and IT sectors view the metaverse as a good business opportunity. Even Zuckerberg claims that this shift in focus could potentially boost metaverse development. Apart from that, while the fully virtual platform may seem to be coming to a slow and evident death, its application is still around in 2023:
- Several organizations — including Nike, J.P. Morgan, and Gucci — that recognize its marketing potential have invested in the metaverse.
- There are several corporate implementations. Accenture, for instance, uses the technology for training, onboarding and other tasks.
- Companies such as BMW have AR labs used to design and prototype new products to judge their market value.
- Fashion brands such as Balenciaga have created futuristic worlds where characters wear their products.
- Various production companies now use the metaverse to host events such as concerts.
This implementation in a world where GenAI continues to grow and adapt shows that the technology will continue to grow too.
The modern world has applied both generative AI and the metaverse in a significant number of areas. Organizations now rely on these technologies to cut down their workloads and increase efficiency in running their operations. The combination of the two could dynamically change how organizations function.
Where the metaverse provides organizations with a safe and cost-effective way to run business globally, generative AI opens up new avenues for growth. Their combined use could mean a whole new pathway for organizations to manage their operations. It could bring about new avenues of growth and ease of use, making it easy for organizations to seamlessly shift from a virtual to a non-virtual environment.
Moreover, this integration could also mean a significant cut in costs for organizations, specifically within developer and programmer teams. The gap between technical and non-technical knowledge could quickly be bridged, leading to vast potential for growth and development.
In other words, combining generative AI and the metaverse could dynamically shape a much more technologically developed future.
The core idea of the metaverse is essentially to create a social platform. To make it fully functional, however, it must be integrated with interactive technologies like VR, AR and AI. However, the rise of generative AI does not necessarily spell the metaverse’s downfall. On the contrary: They could propel each other’s development.
Shigraf Aijaz is an experienced cybersecurity journalist.
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