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Last month, during the second-quarter earnings call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke about transforming the social network - along with the Internet itself - to create the ‘metaverse’.

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“I wanted to discuss this now so that you can see the future we’re working toward and how our major initiatives across the company are going to map that,” Zuckerberg said.

According to him, metaverse is the successor of mobile Internet where people can do more than what they do now on the Internet. People can dance and hang out with friends almost like in real-time. His company is planning to create products that will enable users to access the metaverse from apps, phones, and PCs to high-end mixed reality gadgets.

At the other end of the spectrum is Microsoft. CEO Satya Nadella mentioned in the quarterly earnings call in July about the potential of creating ‘enterprise metaverse’ using the software maker's cloud computing services.

According to venture capitalist and former Amazon Studios chief strategist Matthew Ball, this digital space can never be paused or reset, but will continue indefinitely. Ball writes extensively on metaverse, and Zuckerberg, in an interview to The Verge, recommended Ball's nine-part piece to anyone trying to learn about the metaverse.

The metaverse is a form of mixed reality that is fast becoming commonplace in everyday tech products. The combination of augmented and virtual reality will not only introduce digital elements in the real world, but it will also merge Internet with the virtual world.

In some ways, it will make the user experience reality like the character Neo in the popular science fiction film The Matrix.

The digital world could potentially generate trillions of dollars in earnings for new computing and content platforms, Ball wrote in a blog post in January. But the mixed reality space will represent an entire ecosystem of various virtual realities that cannot be built by just one company. And building one is likely to take decades and require thousands of companies to chip in resources, including hardware, software, and content.

Ball reckons that the metaverse requires infrastructure that currently does not exist, and the current form of Internet is limited in its design to hold the digital space. The space will need a broader and more complex set of standards and protocols than traditional Internet. This means large technology companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook will need to prepare for cross integrating their systems.

However, the interoperable metaverse could also raise questions of data protection since industry-wide consensus on data security and persistence will be harder to establish. “The metaverse will need altogether new rules for censorship, control of communications, regulatory enforcement, tax reporting, the prevention of online radicalisation, and many more challenges that we’re still struggling with today,” he noted in the blog post.

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