Facebook announced its XR Programs and Research Fund this week; a two-year $50 million investment in programs and external research into building the metaverse responsibly. Through this fund, the social media company aims to collaborate with industry partners, civil rights groups, governments, nonprofit organisations and academic institutions to determine how to build these technologies.
The plans were revealed in a blog post by Andrew Bosworth, VP, Facebook Reality Labs and Nick Clegg, VP, Global Affairs. The blog states, "The metaverse isn’t a single product one company can build alone", echoing a previous statement by CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The post goes on to say that, "Just like the internet, the metaverse exists whether Facebook is there or not… Its success depends on building robust interoperability across services, so different companies’ experiences can work together".
The next computing platform
Speaking about Facebook's work both as a social media platform and as parent company to Oculus, "We develop technology rooted in human connection that brings people together. As we focus on helping to build the next computing platform, our work across augmented and virtual reality and consumer hardware will deepen that human connection regardless of physical distance and without being tied to devices".
As well as technical research, the program will, "Also need to involve the human rights and civil rights communities from the start to ensure these technologies are built in a way that’s inclusive and empowering." Stated areas of study include economic opportunity, privacy, safety and integrity, and equity and inclusion.
Initial partners include:
- The Organization of American States (USA)
- Africa No Filter (Africa)
- Electric South (Africa)
- Imisi3D (Africa)
- Women In Immersive Tech (Europe)
First independent research institutions:
- Seoul National University (Korea)
- The University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
- National University of Singapore (Singapore)
- Howard University (USA)
This two-year research program is intended by Facebook as a starting point to building the metaverse responsibly. Even though it's a hot buzzword right now, the post cautions that the metaverse, "Won’t be built overnight. Many of these products will only be fully realised in the next 10-15 years. While that’s frustrating for those of us eager to dive right in, it gives us time to ask the difficult questions about how they should be built".