Designer Jony Ive and OpenAI’s Sam Altman Discuss AI Hardware ProjectRead more

A detailed city simulation made to promote the new "Matrix" film. Credit: Epic Games.

What a Veteran VR Philosopher Thinks of the Metaverse; Google’s Project Iris

By  |  Jan. 20, 2022 11:20 AM PST
Photo: A detailed city simulation made to promote the new "Matrix" film. Credit: Epic Games.

David Chalmers, a professor of philosophy and neural science at NYU, has been studying the potential of life in VR for years, long before Mark Zuckerberg promised to build virtual worlds that make people “feel present” and totally immersed. And in a new book, he says he believes that while it’s already possible to have good experiences in virtual reality, they’re still not that common.

Designers and engineers focused on building the metaverse will likely be cheered by the first part. But Chalmers also has a sharp sense of what today’s virtual worlds lack, and he’s far less inclined to paper over those gaps than your typical AR/VR optimists. People like Zuckerberg believe the metaverse could be mainstream in a decade’s time; in an interview with Reality Check, Chalmers said he fully believes it’s “going to be quite disappointing” for at least that long.

Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Former Apple design chief Jony Ive and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. Photos by Getty.
Designer Jony Ive and OpenAI’s Sam Altman Discuss AI Hardware Project
Jony Ive, the renowned designer of the iPhone, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman have been discussing building a new AI hardware device, according to two people familiar with the conversations.
From left to right: Blair Effron, Robert Pruzan and David Handler. Photos by Getty; Tidal Partners.
Exclusive Finance
Disputes, Employee Misconduct Rattle Centerview’s Silicon Valley Dreams
The San Francisco Bay Area–based bankers at Centerview Partners, the investment bank that advised Silicon Valley Bank’s owner and Credit Suisse through recent turmoil, got two doses of bad news last week.
Art by Clark Miller
Exclusive startups entertainment
MasterClass Takes a Crash Course in Frugality
MasterClass had a problem with the shoot featuring its latest star instructor, Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Photos via Getty
Exclusive microsoft ai
How Microsoft is Trying to Lessen Its Addiction to OpenAI as AI Costs Soar
Microsoft’s push to put artificial intelligence into its software has hinged almost entirely on OpenAI , the startup Microsoft funded in exchange for the right to use its cutting-edge technology.
Art by Clark Miller
The Big Read policy
Europe Has Figured Out How to Tame Big Tech. Can the U.S. Learn Its Tricks?
Late last month in Belgium, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had a pressing question for Paul Tang, a Dutch politician and member of the European Parliament.
If AI researchers can meet Nat Friedman's Vesuvius Challenge, “It’ll be the first time we’ve read handwriting that hasn’t been seen in 2,000 years.” Art by Clark Miller
The AI Age culture ai
Nat Versus the Volcano: Can an AI Investor Solve an Ancient Mystery from the Ashes of Vesuvius?
Long before men’s daily thoughts about ancient Rome became a TikTok meme , former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman’s mind was regularly turning toward the Roman Empire.