Before your eyes, multicolored fish weave their way through splendid corals. In reality, you are not immersed in a reef with turquoise waters, but in your living room, virtual reality headset on your head. And in reality, the corals are dying. Welcome to the future, metaverse version.
With his metaverse, Mark Zuckerberg opened the financial manna to realize an old science fiction project. Beyond the technical, economic and ethical questions that it raises, the virtual universe will have an environmental cost hitherto overlooked by the gurus of new technologies.
Main source of pollution, for a future metaverse as for current digital, far ahead of the power consumption of data centers: user equipment. ” Three quarters of the environmental impact of digital technology lies in the manufacture of equipment, far ahead of data storage, points out Frédéric Bordage, creator of Green IT and specialist in digital sobriety. Tomorrow, virtual reality and equipment that we do not yet imagine will accentuate the pollution linked to the extraction and processing of rare materials. However, these components are also used in the medical sector. Is it really reasonable to use these limited resources for virtual reality headsets rather than MRIs? »
Especially since the frequent changes of devices, linked to fads and technical developments, should not stop with a future metaverse. ” This digital universe does not yet exist, but we can for example imagine that each graphic improvement encourages the purchase of new equipment. », Admits Raphaël Guastavi to Ademe, the public environment agency.
But maybe seeing the barrier reef in pixels will save tons of CO2 rejected by plane to see it in person? Here again, the experts are rather pessimistic. ” It has been said for a good decade that online possibilities should reduce physical travel. In reality, there is addition and not substitution ”, sweeps Hugues Ferreboeuf, digital project manager at The shift project ideas laboratory. ” We have never traveled so much as since the arrival of the means of remote communication », Adds Frédéric Bordage. In his eyes, Facebook’s metaverse ads just before COP26 seem “ anachronistic To put it politely.
And Hugues Ferreboeuf to add: ” This metaverse will affect 10 to 15% of the world’s population, and I’m not sure it’s them that will stop traveling in parallel. Basically, the question is not the use of the metaverse, but what type of society do we want? »