Mark Zuckerberg’s official opinion on dragging humanity into the “metaverse” appears to basically be: “You’re going, whether you want to or not.” Meta — the company formerly known as Facebook — is doing genuinely all it can to ensure it will be at the forefront of what it truly believes to be the future of the internet and digital culture. And what does that future look like? Well, basically everyone using VR and AR headsets to play Beat Saber, having no excuse to take off work while ill, and being accosted by ads personalized based on biometric data including our literal eye movements.
Dozens of patents reviewed by the Financial Times showcase the many ways Zuckerberg and Meta plan to utilize existing and emerging technology to amass advertising revenue while selling every product imaginable, digital and physical, to consumers. As Protocol explains, these designs “include a ‘magnetic sensor system’ worn around the torso, for example, and a photo analyzer that can recreate skin textures.” Other systems tracking our eye movements could let Meta know what ads and images we linger on the most and subsequently customize our experiences accordingly. Sounds like a meta-good time.
Patents are just possibilities — It’s important to remember here that Meta won’t inevitably roll out certain new products and technologies just because it patented them. There are lots of steps between now and an official green-light to production, so many of these recently revealed ideas could easily never see the light of day.
But, unfortunately, many of them likely will. Zuckerberg can sell Meta as the digital world’s future all he wants, but what he really cares about here is how it can generate the most lucrative consumer datasets and sell the most products. It’s easy to envision (get it?) some kind of eye-monitoring tech rollout in the years ahead, although the ethical and legal ramifications of something like that are pretty rough. Many wouldn’t blink an eye (alright, we’ll stop) when it comes to letting Meta that kind of access into their lives... but quite a few of us will. It’s just a question of whether or not companies like Meta will respect those wishes.
That’s a question we already know the answer to, of course, but we can hope for the best until then.