I had a look at the implications of the Facebook Metaverse on emissions from computing. It is scary.

For the ideal VR experience, you need a network bandwidth of 1.6Gbit/s. To watch an HD video at 4K currently, you need 25Mbits/s; 8K would be 100Mbits/s.

So VR requires 64x more bandwidth than 4K video!

Ignoring the infrastructure emissions, purely running this from a cloud data centre effectively means a 64x increase in energy consumption and therefore in carbon emissions.

When I researched my talk about Frugal Computing, I did not discuss VR, as none of the studies I referenced considered it. But with a giant like Facebook behind it, VR might become a very considerable part of our lives.

That would be a disaster: already, emissions from computing are dominated by video. VR will make this many, many times worse.

The only bright side is that with current technologies, there is not enough electricity in the world to power this ideal-experience VR revolution.

@wim_v12e In thinking through possible validations for the metaverse, an earlier realisation emerges again.

I've previously argued that large, bloated, slow websites requiring highly-provisioned systems and high bandwidth are a market-segmentation technique, adopted either intentionally or accidentally.

In a world in which anyone anywhere can access online services, and the Web and Internet are increasingly used for commercial activity and as a power- and wealth-signalling mechanism, such sites serve as high-value shopping and entertainment districts in the physical world.

There's also the fact that Facebook originated as a socially-appealing cohort of highly-selective university students, a cachet it's long since lost.

The Metaverse reimposes those costs on participants, requiring vastly greater end-user resources. It also creates a capabilities moat among system providers which only a very small set of present tech giants could possibly hope to meet.

In short: it's an attempt to re-create a highly-selective, highly-limited, members-only club of the well-heeled and powerful.

#facebook #metaverse #excusion #discrimination #VeblenGoods #VeblenClubs


@dredmorbius So the poor users will get crappy VR, the rich ones high-quality.
My concern is that even the poor quality VR will cause a considerable rise in emissions, something we really can't afford.

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@wim_v12e I hear you, but I think you're looking in the wrong places.

Think advertising, market segementation, data gathering, and chasing the upmarket cohort.

The fact that the initial rollout is apparently a virtual-office offering is ... all the more pathetic.

My sense is that this is an effort to break or disrupt the Facebook Files news cycle. So someone's weekend-project cartoon-workplace MVP is getting broadcast on NBC specials with exclusive interviews.

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