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Is the Metaverse really the future of work?

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According to Mark Zuckerberg, the “Metaverse,” which Meta’s founders describe as “a embodied Internet where you don’t just see content, but are in it,” will fundamentally change our lives. .

So far, Meta’s main metaverse product is a virtual reality playground called Horizon Worlds. When Zuckerberg announced his push to his company’s metaverse in October 2021, the general feeling was that it wasn’t something anyone asked for, nor was it particularly wanted.

Read more: What is the Metaverse? A high-tech plan to Facebookify the world

Many of us have wondered what people will actually do in this new online realm. Did: What people do in the metaverse work.

But who is this for? What are the implications of using these new technologies in the workplace? And will everything turn out as rosy as Meta promised?

future of work?

The highlight of last week’s Meta Connect event was the unveiling of the Quest Pro headset for virtual and augmented reality. Priced at US$1,499 (approximately A$2,400), the device comes with new features such as the ability to track your eyes and face.

Quest Pro also uses an outward-facing camera to allow users to see the real world around them (using digital add-ons).

Meta’s presentation showed this feature being used at work. It depicted users sitting between several large virtual screens in what was formerly called an “infinite office.” “Ultimately, we think the Quest will be the only monitor you need,” says Andrew Bosworth, his chief of Meta technicals.

Meta also announced that it will work with Microsoft to make virtual versions of business software such as Office and Teams available. These will be incorporated into the Horizon Workrooms virtual office platform, which has been widely derided for its low-quality graphics and floating, legless avatars.

Microsoft’s approach

This partnership could bring significant benefits to both companies.

Adoption of HoloLens, Microsoft’s own mixed reality headset, has been limited. Meta dominates the augmented reality market, so it makes sense that Microsoft would want to ride on Meta’s efforts.

For Meta, the project could gain credibility by being associated with Microsoft’s long history of creating reliable business software. Partnerships with other companies inside and outside the technology sector are the primary ways Meta seeks to realize its Metaverse ambitions.

Metadata for Microsoft Teams in VR.

Microsoft also represents a different approach to product success. After decades of efforts to sell VR technology to consumers with limited success, Microsoft has made a name for itself selling to businesses and others.

By focusing on the enterprise market, companies can normalize emerging technologies in society. They may not be what consumers say. I want Instead of using coercion use.

Recent implementations of Microsoft’s Teams software in industry and government agencies across Australia provide a model for how the metaverse will arrive in the office.

enhanced boss wear

Proponents of work in the metaverse envision a future in which technologies like AR and VR are frictionlessly integrated into our work lives, bringing prosperity and efficiency, but there are many concerns.

One is that technologies such as VR and AR threaten to introduce new forms of worker monitoring and management. The rise of remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in “bossware.” This is software for an employer to remotely monitor every movement of her workers.

Read more: 3 Ways ‘Bosware’ Surveillance Tech Delays Management Time

Technologies such as VR and AR, which rely on acquiring and processing vast amounts of data about the user and their environment to function, could enhance these dynamics.

Meta says that such data remains “on device”. However, recent research indicates that third-party Quest apps can access and use more data than is strictly necessary.

Privacy and safety

Developers are learning and worrying about the privacy and safety implications of virtual and augmented reality devices and platforms.

Experimental environments use VR data to track and measure biometric information about users with high accuracy. VR data is also used to measure things like attention.

Read more: Companies are increasingly tracking eye movements, but is it ethical?

In a future where work takes place in the metaverse, it’s not hard to imagine how things like eye-tracking data could be used to determine the outcome of the next promotion. Or imagine a workplace where certain activities are ‘planned’, such as those considered ‘unproductive’ or things like union organization.

Microsoft’s 365 platform already monitors similar metrics for digital work processes. If your organization subscribes, you can view your own metrics here. Microsoft 365’s entry into the VR space offers a lot of new data that can be analyzed to explain your work habits.

Moderation of content and behavior in virtual spaces can also be a problem, and can lead to discrimination and injustice. Amid growing harassment allegations, Meta has so far offered few concrete means of protecting its users.

Read more: I’m a Black Woman and the Metaverse Scares Me – Here’s How to Make the Next Iteration of the Internet Inclusive

Earlier this year, consumer advocacy group SumOfUs reported that many Horizon Worlds users had been advised by other users to turn off safety features such as the “personal safety bubble.” understood.

Similarly, the use of safety features in the workplace can be viewed as anti-social or not part of the ‘team’. This can have a negative impact on workers who are already marginalized.