Nick Clegg speaking at a 2018 conference. | Jack Taylor/Getty Images
Welcome back to our regular Friday feature, The Future in Five Questions. Today we’ve got Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs and former Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Read on to hear his thoughts on — you guessed it — the potential of the metaverse, the open internet and the war in Ukraine.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
What’s one underrated big idea?
You’d expect me to say this, but I really do think the social and economic potential of the metaverse is huge. Imagine for a moment what the next generation of internet technologies — things like virtual reality or augmented reality — could mean for education and training. We will be able to learn by doing, from just about anywhere. A student in Singapore could attend a seminar hosted by a professor in London. A school class in Omaha could take a field trip to Stonehenge or the Pyramids. Med students could practice surgeries without risk to patients. First responders could train without being put in dangerous situations. To say we’ve barely scratched the surface of the opportunities these technologies create is an understatement of epic proportions.
What’s a technology you think is overhyped?
Space tourism. I’m not against space exploration at all, but when I read some of the hyperbole about our future lives beyond planet Earth, I just worry it’s a form of techno-escapism. It’s the here and now on terra firma we should be focusing on.
What book most shaped your conception of the future?
I don’t know about most shaping my conception of the future, but I recently read The Wake Up Call by John Mickelthwaite and Adrian Wooldridge. It’s a really insightful essay about the decline of the West versus the East, how it was exposed during the pandemic and some of the ways it could be reversed. It has lots of food for thought for policymakers, and they propose a number of very sensible reforms — housing, pensions, R&D investment, political reform, a more entrepreneurial approach to education, etc. But it’s very much a snapshot in time that captures the global landscape during the early stages of the pandemic. It looks like they may have overstated how well things were likely to pan out for China.
What could government be doing regarding tech that it isn’t?
Defending the open internet. The borderless and largely free internet that you and I use every day is under threat in a way it never has been before. The rise of China’s authoritarian internet model — with citizens segregated from the rest of the global internet and subject to extensive surveillance — is taking hold elsewhere. Russia was already moving in this direction before the internet clampdown that accompanied its invasion of Ukraine. Others, like Turkey, have made moves to build digital walls at their national boundaries. And a worrying strain of digital nationalism has crept into the debate in democratic societies too. But we can’t just sit and watch as the character of the internet changes to one which is fragmented, heavily censored and weaponized towards cyber-warfare. Democracies must do much more to actively promote and defend the idea of the open internet.
What has surprised you most this year?
The unity of the Western response to Russian aggression in Ukraine. I’ve been a huge champion of European and transatlantic cooperation throughout my career — not always a popular stance in British politics — but I was surprised by just how forceful the response has been and how quickly leaders rallied together behind Ukraine. I just hope that momentum and unity survive in the crucial months and years ahead.
Whether or not he makes it to the Senate, the Masters campaign represents the aspirations of a new generation of the young right that looks decidedly different from what came before. | POLITICO illustration / Getty Images, iStock
Today in POLITICO Magazine I wrote about Blake Masters, the pro-Bitcoin, NFT-slinging Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Arizona, and a notable Peter Thiel protégé. Masters’ particular brand of politics and aesthetic approach are a direct hit with the kind of extremely online, not-necessarily-attached-to-democracy right-wing voter at the cultural vanguard of the Trump movement, with one crucial difference:
Trump, a septuagenarian reality TV star with an endless arsenal of meme-able personal tics and a total unwillingness (or inability) to experience shame, was a source of fun and an ironic avatar for those young voters. Masters, a millennial message-board addict with an awkward personal affect that sharply contrasts with his macho posturing, is those voters.
The New York Times reported last month on his long track record of message board posting, including a brand of incoherent, quasi-libertarian edgelord-ism (conspiracies about the Rothschilds, anyone?) that will be familiar to anyone who’s spent even a modest amount of time in the forum trenches. His campaign materials feature the new-right’s trademark aesthetic mash-up of garish neon retro-futurism and moody, backward-looking pastoral imagery… his website adds some variety to the usual menu of promises to end “wokeness” and abortion with a pro-Bitcoin plank, which asserts “Bitcoin is the hardest money around — and hard money keeps government honest.” It’s all part of the year-zero, root-and-branch upheaval of American civic life that excites serious proponents of the movement and terrifies wary liberals.
Read the full article here.
David Baszucki, founder and CEO of Roblox. | Getty Images for Roblox
We don’t normally function as a job-matching service here at DFD, but this is a notable exception: If you’re a Web3 developer looking to break into the gaming world, Roblox has the job for you, as the metaverse-like game is looking to hire a Web3 software engineer.
Why do we care? Well, we’ve been tracking the debate over the role of crypto and Web3 in the metaverse as it evolves, and this is a sign that two of the biggest virtual platforms are going quite different directions.
Last month, Minecraft decided that “blockchain technologies are not permitted to be integrated inside our Minecraft client and server applications nor may they be utilized to create NFTs associated with any in-game content.”
The companies behind the two games now seem to have adopted very different views of the blockchain as a technological foundation. Minecraft characterizes at least the NFT side of the equation as creating “digital ownership based on scarcity and exclusion.”
Roblox hasn’t staked out an official position, but In an email, a representative said the company believes “the economic opportunity for immersive co-experience is vast, and are creating value through a virtual economy mirroring real life” — and that they’ll be hiring for more as-yet-unannounced Web3 roles to come.
- “The metaverse isn’t here yet, but it already has a long history.”
- …And one of its biggest cheerleaders is making the case to Wall Street that it won’t create a dystopian future.
- What will be the street-level impact of the Biden administration’s big chips bill?
- Investors are already betting on an end to the Ethereum rally.
- Law enforcement in the Netherlands has made an arrest in the Tornado Cash crypto-mixer case.
Stay in touch with the whole team: Ben Schreckinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson ([email protected]); Konstantin Kakaes ([email protected]); and Heidi Vogt ([email protected]). Follow us @DigitalFuture on Twitter.
If you’ve had this newsletter forwarded to you, you can sign up and read our mission statement at the links provided.
READ NEWS SOURCE
The post 5 questions for Nick Clegg appeared first on thewashingtondigest.com.