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Oculus' John Carmack skeptical about efforts to build the metaverse

Veteran developer calls it "a honeypot trap for architecture astronauts" during Facebook Connect keynote address

The company formerly known as Facebook is all in on building a metaverse with its VR and AR products, but the consulting chief technology officer of its VR division doesn't think that's the way to go about it.

In a keynote address at yesterday's Facebook Connect event (as posted to VR Upload's YouTube channel), Oculus consulting CTO John Carmack prefaced his metaverse remarks by saying he really does care about the idea and buys into the vision behind it.

"But that leaves many people pretty surprised to find out that I have been pretty actively arguing against every single metaverse effort that we have tried to spin up internally in the company, from even pre-acquisition times," Carmack says.

"I want it to exist, but I have pretty good reasons to believe that setting out to build the metaverse is not actually the best way to wind up with the metaverse."

Carmack then called the metaverse "a honeypot trap for architecture astronauts," explaining that architecture astronauts is his "chidingly pejorative term for a class of programmers or designers who only want to talk about things from the highest level."

Architecture astronauts only want to talk about things in the broadest of concepts, Carmack said, with no concern for the logistical nuts and bolts details about how those broad ideas would actually be executed.

"I just want to tear my hair out at that because that's so not the things that are actually important when you're building something," Carmack said.

"But here we are. Mark Zuckerberg has decided that now's the time to build the metaverse. So enormous wheels are turning and resources are flowing. The efforts definitely going to be made, so the big challenge now is to try to take all of this energy and make sure it goes to something positive and we're able to build something that has real near-term user value.

"Because my worry is that we could spend years and thousands of people possibly, and wind up with things that didn't contribute all that much to the ways people are actually using the devices and hardware today."

Carmack joined Oculus in 2013 as CTO but moved to the consulting role in 2019 saying that he wanted to devote more time to working in the field of general artificial intelligence.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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