August 22, 2022

China’s Threat to Spy on the Metaverse.

When Mark Zuckerberg revealed Meta Platforms, the news sent shockwaves far beyond Silicon Valley. It quickly became the talk of the town in China, sparking heated disputes among entrepreneurs, investors, and corporations.

It’s no wonder that the concept of the #metaverse piqued the interest of the Chinese #IT community. Every few years, an overarching topic emerges that draws talent and capital together. The ability to ride such waves or influence and shape them correlates to the ability to seize #fortunes. The metaverse promises a whole #universe to explore and conquer beyond #smartphones, a chance to overtake today’s #mobile #computing titans.

Within #technology, #investment themes have shifted from #desktop-based social media and #games to mobile messaging, #online-to-offline services, and now the metaverse in a few years.

Pony Ma Huateng, the reclusive chair and creator of Tencent Holdings has always been one step ahead.

Pony Ma, who controls an #entertainment and #social #media empire that rivals #Meta in extent, publicly put forth a vision for something quite similar to the metaverse just a few months before #Zuckerberg announced his company’s name change. Pony Ma dubbed it the Quan Zhen internet, which translates as “#all-real” #online.

While the concept is ambiguous, it entails using the #web to integrate manufacturing and work, and it aligns with many aspects of the Facebook cofounder’s vision. However, because it will be born under the watchful eye of Beijing from the start, this version could turn out quite differently.

The term “metaveRse” initially debuted in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash, which envisioned a world engulfed in #hyperinflation.

Stephenson envisioned an #anarcho-capitalist world. Like all #cyberpunk literature, the story is marked by anti-authoritarian solid undertones. Assuming the Chinese government sees value in the #technology, the metaverse could be divided into two parts in the future: China and the rest of the world. Like the internet, the world’s second-largest economy will most certainly shield its netizens from the rest of the global metaverse.

China’s internet business has developed to its current extent partly due to the government’s decision to keep it on the loose while disguising it behind a firewall. The country was more concerned with controlling natural gas, oil, #telecommunications, #banking, and traditional #media. Western capital and local #businesses found a virtually unrestricted opportunity in Communist China to build a formula that combined global #capital and technology with the world’s largest population.

The metaverse will be a very different story. While local government officials in cities such as Shanghai appear to welcome the concept, declaring plans to boost its use in public services, social entertainment, games, and manufacturing, others are less optimistic.

Ren Zeping, a Chinese economist, warned of the perils of a metaverse, claiming that it may lead to lower marriage and birth rates—the logic being that if people are too busy entertaining themselves in the virtual world, they won’t need to seek relationships in the actual one.

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