Is the metaverse an ecological disaster in the making?

The Metaverse is presented by technology companies as the future of the Internet. But doesn’t it go against ecological concerns?

The possible uses of the metaverse are not lacking and are constantly highlighted: collaborating on a professional project, making purchases, go to a concertplay or meet all kinds of people. The environmental impact of these virtual worlds, is discussed very little. And for good reason, the results are more than mixed.

Many resources to mobilize

To display 3D universes in real-time and in very high quality without problems, it will be necessary to have many data centers and high-powered computers that will do the calculations 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Moreover, the goal is usually to run them in virtual reality, which means that all users—hundreds of thousands of people—will to have to buy a helmet. The production of these helmets requires, like our computers and smartphones, rare metals, which contribute greatly to pollution from digital devices.

The metaverse is now connected on web3we also have to calculate environmental impact of cryptocurrencies and NFTs which has been creating controversy for several years. Although the metaverse is considered the future of the Internet, it is unlikely to completely replace it. Similarly, most people prefer going to a concert in person and actually going on vacation. This will not replace existing uses, but simply add to them, thereby increasing the pollution associated with digital technology.

Is it possible to compensate?

It would be delusional for companies in the metaverse to deny the environmental impact of the materials used and the servers needed to run it. Therefore, much of the discourse revolves around ways to compensate for this pollution. For example, occupational metaverses can replace certain trips and limit the impact of transportation, especially the use of aircraft for overseas travel. However, you can fall into the same pitfalls as telecommuting, that is, of course there are savings in transportation, but since people are all in different places, it takes longer. air conditioner.

Having an ad-filled metaverse instead can encourage overconsumption in both the virtual and real worlds.

On the cryptocurrency side, the environmental issue has been such a controversy – a real thorn in the side of NFTs – that they have been forced to question themselves and find solutions. Ethereum has made real progress recently with Union. It remains to be seen how this will play out if the metaverse becomes widespread and if cryptocurrencies have to manage tens of millions of additional transactions.

Another possible positive impact, according to metaverse advocates, is the replacement of some real items with virtual ones. For example, satisfying his desire for it fast fashion in virtual, while consuming in a more sober and virtuous way in reality. In theory, this could indeed reduce the pollution associated with the textile industry (production, transport, etc.), but there is no certainty, once again, that this will serve as a substitute. Having an ad-filled metaverse instead can encourage overconsumption in both the virtual and real worlds.

To comply with the Paris Agreements, we must move to more durable computing devices low technology, and social networks that consume fewer resources by displaying fewer images, videos and ads. The complete opposite of the metaverse. While these virtual worlds struggle to convince usersIsn’t it time to consider the future of the Internet from the angle of innovation? AND discretion?

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