In its drive to once again reimagine human interaction, Facebook is setting out to build a “metaverse” that would use virtual and augmented reality to create a space where people who are physically far away can interact via avatars as if they were together in real places. To create the space, Facebook is hiring 10,000 high-skilled workers, mostly engineers, in the European Union over the next five years, the social media giant announced in a blog post Sunday.
“As we begin the journey of bringing the metaverse to life, the need for highly specialized engineers is one of Facebook’s most pressing priorities. We look forward to working with governments across the EU to find the right people and the right markets to take this forward, as part of an upcoming recruitment drive across the region,” the post from Nick Clegg, VP Global Affairs, and Javier Olivan, VP Central Products, said.
The post assures that, like the internet, no single company will have ownership of the metaverse and that “its key feature will be openness and interoperability.”
Facebook’s Oculus virtual reality headset and its newly launched Horizon Workrooms virtual conference rooms will surely be part of the metaverse infrastructure, allowing users to “transform your home office into you new favorite meeting room — and your desk into a shared table where you can gather with your team.”
The bet is that with remote work and the isolation that comes with it continuing in high percentages even after the pandemic, people will want to gather and socialize in a shared virtual space that’s about the next best thing to being in-person.
With Facebook already dogged by antitrust complaints, privacy concerns, and misgivings about its role in society, the idea of socializing — and with it handing over even more personal data — in a metaverse dominated by big tech companies is alarming for some observers. But we’ll probably all still end up grabbing a virtual coffee with friends in there at some point.