The future of computing for Facebook is a so-called ‘metaverse’ or “a new phase of interconnected virtual experiences using technologies like virtual [reality] and augmented reality” (VR and AR).
According to a blogpost by former UK deputy prime minister and now Facebook vice-president of global affairs Nick Clegg, “at its heart is the idea that by creating a greater sense of ‘virtual presence’, interacting online can become much closer to the experience of interacting in person. The metaverse has the potential to help unlock access to new creative, social and economic opportunities.”
Facebook is planning to achieve this by working closely with partners so that, like the internet, it is founded on the principles of openness and accessibility.
But to help it to supercharge its effort Facebook has announced it is creating 10,000 new jobs at Facebook in the European Union (EU) in the next five years.
This announcement comes hot on the heels of Facebook launching a VR meeting room capability called Horizon Workrooms.
It allows remote and hybrid workers to enter a VR office and meeting room with their personal designed avatars.
According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, “It basically gives you the opportunity to, you know, sit around a table with people and work, and brainstorm and whiteboard ideas.
“For people who can’t be there through virtual reality, they could just video conference in. So you can include everyone.”
EU talent and the metaverse
According to Clegg, the metaverse hiring spree is a “vote of confidence” in the potential of the European tech talent.
Central to Facebook’s decision to focus this hiring spree in the EU is because of its “large consumer market, first-class universities and, crucially, top-quality talent.” It is also clear that Europe is an innovation hub – just look at the COVID-19 vaccine m-RNA technology that came out of BioNTech in Germany.
Another reason that Clegg cited is that “the EU also has an important role to play in shaping the new rules of the internet”.
He noted: “European policymakers are leading the way in helping to embed European values like free expression, privacy, transparency and the rights of individuals into the day-to-day workings of the internet. Facebook shares these values and we have taken considerable action over the years to uphold them.”
This comes as Facebook is at loggerheads with the EU about data and privacy regulations. Most recently, following her testimony to US Congress, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, spoke to EU commissioner Thierry Breton, who is leading the EU’s draft legislation to curtail the power of tech giants.
According to the New York Times, Breton noted in an interview that Haugen “confirmed the importance and urgency of why we are pushing to rein in the big platforms”. “There is now a strong will to finalize this as soon as possible.”
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