In the 1990s, I was working as a glorified pack mule. My load consisted of video monitors, trans-pushable computers, laserdisc players and a heavy case of twelve-inch laserdiscs. I would travel between the academies, colleges, and universities to demonstrate what curriculum designers of that day described as “interactive video.” Back then it was seen as supporting the pedagogy of full immersion instruction although, in light of the way things have evolved, that was a bit of a stretch in those days.
Still, the people I worked with were excited about the promise implicit to such technology and it had attracted the interest of such luminaries as Andrew Lloyd Weber and Paul McCartney’s former business manager. I represented their London based Interactive Instructional Systems product in the Eastern states of the USA. The offering included the most beautifully produced instructional videos I have ever seen, before or since. It was in this context and through this lens that I considered Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement of Facebook’s name change to Meta. I wasn’t buying.
Among the earliest flight simulators was the Link Trainer. Edwin Link’s Binghamton, New York company offered it for sale in 1929. Ever since the feasibility of such immersive simulations became known to educators and trainers, it has been perceived as both a curse and a blessing. Some teachers saw it as a potential threat to their jobs. Others saw the technology as a way to liberate them from the most repetitive tasks, so they could instead focus on the highlights and hurdles as experienced by individual learners.
To think that Facebook is to dominate, in a world of artificial intelligence, largely depends upon our willingness to accept a filtered reality. There are lots of players. And, if Aaron Sorkin’s Social Media docudrama is to be believed, Facebook started out as a data-scraping project that had, as its aim, objectifying college women and their physical attributes; rating them on a scale of one to ten. To vest any confidence in that particular company’s good behavior, or its arbitrarily assumed authority to regulate proper social discourse, would constitute a serious failure to learn from history.
Evan Greer, an activist with Fight for the Future, told the Associated Press “This is Mark Zuckerberg revealing his end game, which is not just to dominate the internet of today but to control and define the internet that we leave to our children and our children’s children.” Amie Stepanovich, executive director of Silicon Flatirons at the University of Colorado, said “Picture an online troll campaign — but one in which the barrage of nasty words you might see on social media is instead a group of angry avatars yelling at you, with your only escape being to switch off the machine.”
Our broadcast news media has long operated in accordance with the profit-motivated doctrine “If it bleeds it leads.” And today we are constantly bombarded with the bullying tone of self-serving politicians and cult followers who never quite understood what most of us learned, through experience, as toddlers. The fact, that diminishing external restraints are always contingent upon augmenting internal restraints, is a tough lesson. And, some seem destined to learn it the hard way, by wearing an ankle bracelet. Or, perhaps not at all, even as they sit in solitary confinement.
A more service motivated approach to building meta-verse experiences that take us onward and upward is informed by what is arguably the high mission of true art. To be true it must be aligned with something and if it is to serve as a prelude to something better, something higher; it will be born in a culture of benevolence. If true art is at the heart of the artificial, it must somehow take us from one level of attainment to the next. Rather than indulging the voyeuristic tendencies of those binge watching a Truman Show, we could be designing the next steps in societal evolution.
What would happen if we were to borrow the best from our universe of universes, to become strategically proactive in all the decision processes related to the architecture of a meta-verse? What if it were to have equality in structure to the highest reality we can envision? Why then we could bring people in, rehearse them, and then send them back into the real world as emissaries of social uplift. We could advance an appreciation for the enduring value of individual advancement, a culture of benevolence that will accept nothing less than truly authentic democracies and republics.
If you have been following this series, you’ve probably heard this commentator harp on the promise of a 21st Century enterprise architecture. If so, you know that there is a way to express our preferences for what we call Employee Owned Benefit Corporations or EOBCs. Consider the possibility that the best meta-verse could be built by such a service-motivated group. For it is people, working in company with one another and acting corporately, that are building the most authentic corporations. And, such a benefit corporation could be guided by an unambiguous mission statement to serve a greater humanity.