The Metaverse Winter is Coming – POLITICO
With the help of Mohar Chatterjee
It’s been a bumpy road for the metaverse in the last few months.
First Meta, the most prominent supporter of the ambitious project, cut more than 10 percent of its workforce in November just to break the news only today that they plan further cuts. (The company has also reduced the number of its Quest Pro headsets Price around $400 a few weeks ago.) Then Microsoft has cut its VR staff to the bone. Pico, the VR arm of TikTok parent company ByteDance, fire more than 200 people in the past week. Chinese giant Tencent gave up his plans for a VR headset totally.
Developing the metaverse is a capital-intensive project, covering everything from the tricky as hell of hardware development to beefing up the computing and network infrastructure that would support it. That means even some of technology’s most passionate advocates and architects are adjusting their expectations in the face of the tough economic headwinds the technology industry is facing.
“The Metaverse is a long-term game,” he said Zvika Warrior, Advisor and former Director of Responsible Innovation at Meta. “Unless you have a lot of cash to burn like Meta, you’re not going to stick around during a market downturn. When things are going smoothly, everyone likes bright new ideas, but when you have to prioritize it will be the first thing on the chopping block.”
Case in point: the layoffs mentioned above – and the recent conquest of the technology and media discourse by an even brighter, newer idea of generative AI models.
But companies like Meta that have cash to burn can use their weight in other important ways, such as building institutions designed to ensure “long-term business” keeps going. The XR Association, an industry group that includes board members from Meta and Microsoft, this week released a remarkably upbeat “Report on the state of the industry‘, which touts its growing membership and influence, including successful lobbying for the inclusion of “immersive technology” as a research focus area in this year’s CHIPS and Science Act.
“This recession is being viewed as a short-term thing, not a structural change or a real recession of any sort,” said Edwina Fitzmaurice, global chief customer success officer and leader of the Metaverse efforts at consulting firm Ernst & Young. told me. “People are sticking with their (metaverse) strategy while also looking for short-term opportunities or adjustments.”
Most of these adjustments have to do with a cutback in hardware development. When it was revealed last month that Apple was both a product design company and a technology company scrapping plans Serious alarm bells were ringing for lightweight augmented reality glasses in favor of a less expensive mixed reality headset: If Apple I can’t do this right What hope does the rest of the industry have when economic growth slows?
“I suspect Apple is just realizing that VR is a technology whose time has not yet come,” Krieger said. “(Meta’s) Quest headset is good, but I don’t think Apple would feel comfortable releasing something like the first Quest, probably not even the Quest Two; It’s just not a seamless user experience, which I think would hurt the brand from Apple’s perspective.”
In conversations about the state of the metaverse and the pace of its development, it’s often said that hardware is, well, tough. (See Metaverse evangelist Matthew Ball long essay on the topic published last month.) This has led to some surprising moves by companies fighting for their position in it: Following the aforementioned shutdown of Tencent’s VR headset project, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the company is negotiating with Meta to sell the Quest in China.
It would be Meta’s most significant consumer-facing company in China since Facebook was banned in 2009, which is no small feat given the current hostile tech and industrial climate between the country and the United States.
“Companies have to make decisions about whether to go one way or the other (between the US and China),” Fitzmaurice said.
Of course, as a driving force in this burgeoning industry, Meta can afford to at least try to achieve both. But smaller fish are unlikely to resist the pressures of geopolitics any more than they are free to spend on hardware R&D during a slight downturn – meaning Meta is likely to stay on top as long as Mark Zuckerberg keeps pursuing his metaverse Vision.
Amazon has been working on an AI model that outperforms GPT 3.5, at least according to some early metrics.
There’s no major press release yet, but Amazon Science has published a comprehensive language model on Github that outperformed GPT 3.5 by 16% on a standard set of scientific questions and answers – such as whether two magnets in a given orientation attract or repel each other. with which Amazon researchers have compared their model. (If you remember, however, GPT 3.5 is the latest AI version of OpenAI GPT 4 Is close behind).
And while there’s no elegant UI for Amazon AI (yet), if you have the skills and inclination, you can playing around with the model itself.
What distinguishes Amazon’s contribution to the world of large language models from the current state of the art? Well, when a question is asked, the Amazon model can integrate information from text and images to formulate an answer. The Amazon model is less prone to “hallucinations” compared to previous attempts to incorporate visual capabilities into smaller language models, Amazon AI researchers reported in the accompanying research work.
Amazon Science’s rationale for including images in the complex reasoning process for large language models is fairly simple: “Imagine studying a textbook with no figures or tables.”
Next, pay attention to how Amazon’s AI behaves on common tasks and queries—not just research benchmarks. — Mohar Chatterjee
Why did Wyoming become a place for a loose collection of sinister tech (and political) entrepreneurs dissatisfied with American life and politics?
James Pogue answers this question in an article published yesterday in Vanity Fair about “The dissident fringe, where the new right meets the far left and everyone braces for the apocalypse.”
“Tech executives and crypto investors are creating secret groups to help people “exit” our liberal society, our tech-dominated lives, and our frayed system — a term that has recently taken on an almost mystical meaning in some circles has,” Pogue continues to describe a clandestine group formed by The Network State writer and VC Balaji Srinivasan planning a “postal future”.
It’s well-reported, funky stuff, in the spirit of Pogue previous reporting for the magazine on the “New Right”. And it’s increasingly creeping into mainstream politics: Pogue describes how during his campaign last year former Senate candidate Blake Masters repeated to him environmentalist Edward Abbey’s anti-growth agenda that seems to be on everyone’s lips in this new community was. — Derek Robertson
Stay in touch with the whole team: Ben Schreckinger ((email protected)); Derek Robertson ((email protected)); Mohar Chatterjee ((email protected)); Steve Heuser ((email protected)); And Benton Ives ((email protected)). Follow us @DigitalFuture on twitter.
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