Niantic founder calls Metaverse a “dystopian nightmare”

John Hanke, the founder and CEO of Niantic, has posted his detailed opinions on the metaverse. Niantic’s head seems to be far from enthusiastic about the concept, with the fear that a virtual universe might evolve into a “dystopian nightmare” and that humanity should try to avoid it.

In a lengthy blog post posted on the Niantic website, Hanke describes his fears around a proposed metavers, arguing that fictitious representations of this concept serve as a warning to society. He says, “A lot of people today seem very interested in bringing to life this vision of the near future of a virtual world, including some of the big names in technology and games. But in fact, these novels served as d ‘warnings about a dystopian future of technology have failed’.

It’s not that Hanke is against complementing the real world with technology; i mean, he is the founder of a software company that creates augmented reality games. The CEO, on the other hand, says that “we can use technology to lean into the‘ reality ’of augmented reality, encouraging everyone, including ourselves, to stand up, walk outside and connect with people and the world around us “. According to Hanke, technology is not something that should be used to replace basic human experiences by launching people into a virtual mega-sphere of total escapism. In addition, it should be used to enhance human experiences by using technology to complement their experiences in the “real” world.

Hanke’s interest in designing games that drive more real-world interactions through the use of technology can be seen in Niantic’s release catalog. Games like Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite use AR technology that connects the virtual with the physical in order to promote active play. In this regard, Hanke says Niantic wonders how technology can improve people. “Could it push us to get off the couch and go for a walk in the evening or a Saturday in the park? Could it attract us to public space and contact with neighbors we would never have known? Could you give us a reason to call?” to a friend, to make plans with our families or even to discover new friends? Collectively, could you help us discover the magic, history and beauty that are hidden from view? ”he asks.

In the message, Hanke describes his future hopes for more real-world interactions within what he calls the “real-world metaverse.” The CEO explains that “Building the real-world metaverse is at the intersection of two major technical companies: synchronizing the status of hundreds of millions of users around the world (along with the virtual objects they interact with) and accurately link these users and objects to the physical world “.

In order to further develop its augmented worlds, Hanke says Niantic is pursuing pathways within its Lightship platform (the technology that underpins Pokemon Go) that would support a “shared world” experience of the world. In this shared state, interactions with digital objects in the physical world would be consistent for everyone. If a person changed anything in the digital world, it would be reflected in what the millions of other participants who use the AR system also see. Hanke says linking digital interactions to the physical world like this is a similar task to creating Google Maps, but for computers.

Niantic’s long-term goal in the field is to develop games that promote a shared-state experience that can be discovered and explored through other RA technologies such as smart glasses. To make sense of this, Hanke says, “Let’s imagine a future of worlds that can overlap with the real world. For now, we call these ‘reality channels’ to name the idea. Think Pokémon GO, updated for smart glasses Where the Pokémon walk through your local park, looking like they really inhabit the world.In this future version, the Pokémon appear to you as if they were really there, running through the passing pedestrians, hiding behind a park bench or they roamed the herds, for your favorite park. “

Hanke continues to explore the idea, explaining how real-world digital creations can affect the infrastructure and other users of the game. “Buildings can take on the pastel hues of the Pokémon universe; a ten-story Pokémon GO gym can be elevated above your local mall. If you meet another player on the street, they could even appear transformed into the game costume. person “. he says.

Niantic has partnered with Qualcomm to invest in “a reference design for outdoor-capable RA glasses” that would sync with Niantic maps to create a medium through which users could experience these overlapping worlds. Despite early versions of existing hardware for “internal R&D,” Hanke says the company’s work in the field is just beginning and he hopes it will continue for a few years. Looks like we won’t see our favorite Pokémon flying through the still busy city streets.

In other Niantic news, why not check out this article detailing how the company recently posted a response to fans to complaints related to its decision to reduce the game’s extended range feature for Pokéstop to Pokémon Go interactions .

Jared Moore is a freelance writer for IGN. He loves the idea of ​​chasing his favorite Pokémon through the local park. You can follow him Twitter.

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