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'This isn't dying and going to heaven': Facebook metaverse will still use face scan – Verdict

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Facebook said its commitment to scrap face scan technology will not apply to its “metaverse”, a virtual world that has been branded “dystopian” by the tech giant’s critics and which is described by the company as being its future.
Facebook, which recently rebranded as “Meta”, won positive comment from privacy advocates on Tuesday when it revealed it is shutting down its Face Recognition scan system. The technology was launched in 2010 and is used to automatically tag people in photos and videos on the platform. The company said it would also delete more than a billion people’s facial recognition templates.

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However, Facebook has since clarified that it is already looking at ways to use biometrics in its metaverse business. The company previously said it won’t delete “Deepface”, the AI engine behind the face scan technology, but now it seems that this technology may be repurposed almost immediately to serve its metaverse plans.

As Verdict previously pointed out, scrapping Facial Recognition as such comes at no financial cost to Facebook’s business model because it does not sell its technology or database to third parties. Automatically tagging pictures was a feature designed to give users convenience – albeit with the lurking concern that the database and technology could one day be misused.
Facebook said it believed some facial recognition use cases, such as verification and account recovery, had potential. Laura Petrone, principal analyst in the thematic research team at GlobalData, speculated that facial recognition could one day be a “key technology” in Facebook’s ambition to become a metaverse company.
When asked by Recode if facial recognition would be used in the metaverse, Facebook’s VP of AI Jason Grosse did not deny it. <!–

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“For any potential future applications of technologies like this, we’ll continue to be public about intended use, how people can have control over these systems and their personal data, and how we’re living up to our responsible innovation framework,” Grosse said, recycling comments made in the original announcement.

Not everyone is excited about Facebook’s metaverse plans. Roger McNamee, an early investor-turned vocal critic of Facebook, said the company “should not be allowed to create a dystopian metaverse”.
Speaking to the BBC at Web Summit in Lisbon, he said: “Facebook should have lost the right to make its own choices. A regulator should be there giving pre-approval for everything they do. The amount of harm they’ve done is incalculable.”

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The term metaverse stems from the 1992 dystopian science fiction novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, with the word used to describe a virtual reality-based successor to the internet.
However, Facebook sees the metaverse as a hugely positive idea. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg suggests that the metaverse will be a collection of multiple online worlds, not all of them run by Facebook. However, it’s not clear at this stage how these different worlds and the virtual items within them would interact, or if they would be interoperable.
Facebook is dedicating 10,000-20,000 engineers to develop its metaverse technology. The UK’s recently appointed secretary of state for digital, Nadine Dorries, this week took aim at Facebook’s metaverse plans by suggesting that the web giant should dedicate a similar level of resources to improving safety on its existing platform. She mentioned the UK’s incoming Online Harms Bill, intended in large part to deal with the various problems of social media. <!–

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“People like Mark Zuckerberg and Nick Clegg who are wanting to take off into the metaverse,” Dorries said. “My advice would be: ‘Stay in the real world’. Because this bill is going to be an act very, very soon and it’s the algorithms that do the harm, and this act will be there and you will be accountable to this act.”
Since Facebook’s announcement, Microsoft has revealed its own metaverse plans, which will see it add 3D virtual avatars and environments to its Teams messaging system – with or without a virtual reality headset.
However, Microsoft president Brad Smith has since downplayed the “hype” surrounding the metaverse.
“We’re all talking about the metaverse as if we’re entering some new dimension,” Smith told Reuters. “This is not like dying and going to heaven. We’re all going to be living in the real world with people.” <!–

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Metaverse Crypto Index Fund Launched by Matthew Ball, Multicoin, and Bitwise – Decrypt

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There's a wide array of crypto builders working to bring the metaverse to life, whether it's via platforms, tools, assets, or infrastructure. Now one of the leading voices around the metaverse has launched an index fund focused on crypto assets tied to the next-generation internet.
Today, writer and venture capitalist Matthew Ball announced a partnership with Multicoin Capital and Bitwise Asset Management to launch the Ball Multicoin Bitwise Metaverse Index. Bitwise has also made an associated fund available to qualified purchasers.
"We developed the Ball Multicoin Bitwise Metaverse Index Fund because, prior to today, there was no easy, expert, and methodologically diversified way for investors to have broad-based exposure to bona fide metaverse-focused crypto assets," Ball told Decrypt.
"To this end, the Index doesn't exist to time Event A or Market Conditions B. It exists so that investors can participate in what we believe is a multi-trillion dollar transformation, which will unfold over the coming decade," he continued. "If blockchain is relevant to the future of the metaverse, and our approach is sound, we believe the opportunity is significant—today, tomorrow, next month, and so forth."
The index will feature up to 40 crypto assets chosen by the partners, but a list of included assets was not provided to Decrypt by the time of publication. Bitwise's associated fund is available to qualified purchasers with a $100,000 minimum investment.
Ball described the Ball Multicoin Bitwise Metaverse Index as a "rules-driven index that combines the best of institutional indexing approaches with special adaptations to the crypto and metaverse spaces. That includes various risk screens, such as analyzing liquidity, developer activity, tech and regulatory risk, and "relevancy to the metaverse," said Ball.
"The ultimate goal is to curate the crypto assets that will be outsized contributors to the creation and success of an open metaverse," he added.
The metaverse refers to a future version of the internet that many believe will be built on blockchain technology. It's expected to be a more immersive and interactive experience that people navigate via 3D avatars and use for work, play, shopping, and socializing. It may also use NFT assets for user-owned items like avatars, apparel, and virtual land.
Ethereum-based games like Decentraland and The Sandbox are seen as early examples of the metaverse.
Facebook also showcased its own vision for the space and even rebranded its parent company to Meta last fall. However, it's not entirely clear whether Facebook's plan is for an open platform that is interoperable with others.
Ball is a leading writer on the metaverse whose work has been published in The New York Times, The Economist, and Bloomberg. His book, "The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything," is due out from W.W. Norton in July.
He's also a managing partner at EpyllionCo, which has invested in crypto startups such as Dapper Labs and Mirror, as well as a venture partner at Makers Fund. Ball is also behind the Roundhill Ball Metaverse ETF, which focuses on metaverse-centric stocks and trades on the New York Stock Exchange.
"Our objective was the creation of a diversified, balanced, and expertly-designed crypto Metaverse Index," explained Multicoin Capital co-founder and managing partner, Kyle Samani.
"This required a similarly capable team," he continued. "Matthew Ball is the definitive thought-leader in metaverse strategy and investing. We specialize in crypto assets and are one of the preeminent crypto investment firms. And Bitwise Asset Management is the proven leader in crypto indexes and index funds."

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Meta's losses show the metaverse's costly risk – Insider Intelligence

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Facebook parent Meta launches startup accelerator with India’s IT ministry in metaverse push – TechCrunch

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Meta Platforms is looking at India’s burgeoning startup ecosystem as it bolsters its bet on the metaverse. The social juggernaut has partnered with the Indian IT Ministry’s startup hub to launch an accelerator in the country to broaden innovation in emerging technologies, including augmented reality and virtual reality, officials said Tuesday.
MeitY Startup Hub and Meta’s effort, called XR Startup Program, will work with 40 early-stage startups and help them in research and development and developing workable products and services. Each startup will also receive a grant of over $25,000, the American giant said.
The program, supported by Meta’s $50 million XR Programs and Research Fund, will initially hand pick 80 startups to attend a bootcamp. It will also help startups with finding customers, inking relationships and raising funds, Meta said.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, said the program is especially aimed at helping encourage technology innovation in smaller cities and towns.
The XR Startup Program is the latest of Meta’s growing participation in the South Asian market’s upskilling efforts. The firm, whose Facebook and WhatsApp services identify India as their largest market by users, partnered with Central Board of Secondary Education, a government body that oversees education in private and public schools in the country, to launch a certified curriculum on digital safety and online well-being, and augmented reality for students and educators in the country.
The program — to be implemented by four Indian institutions, including IIT Delhi — will also host a “grand challenge” for innovation in categories including education, healthcare, entertainment, agritech, climate action, sustainability and tourism, the American giant said.
“India will play a pivotal role in defining future technologies. Decisions and investments made here in India now shape global discussions on how technology can deliver more economic opportunity and better outcomes for people. It is critical that we help to create an ecosystem that will enable India’s tech startups and innovators to build the foundations of the metaverse,” said Joel Kaplan, VP of Global Policy at Meta, in a statement.
Meta’s interest with working with startups in India is also not newly found. The company has backed three startups in the country, including social commerce platform Meesho and online education group Unacademy.
3 views: Is the metaverse for work or play?

“India’s rapid tech adoption combined with a vast pool of tech talent puts the country in a vantage position for shaping the future of the internet,” said Ajit Mohan, VP and MD of Facebook India, in a statement.
“For this future to be equitable, it will require active participation from all stakeholders, including developers, businesses, creators, policymakers, and entrepreneurs. We are excited to collaborate with MeitY Startup Hub and hope that the XR Startup Program will act as a catalyst to unlock the use of immersive technology across sectors like education, healthcare, agritech and tourism, not only in India but across the globe.”

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