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Opinion | The Metaverse: Expectations vs. Reality

Mark Zuckerberg might be trying to stake his claim on the metaverse, but he’s far from the first person to envision a more virtual world. Take it from Jaron Lanier.

He’s often called the “godfather of virtual reality,” and his company, VPL Research, developed V.R. goggles and gloves in the 1980s. He says he always imagined a metaverse with “a hundred million micro entrepreneurs doing their little thing here and there — there wouldn’t be some overlord.” Now, as big companies like Roblox and Epic build virtual worlds, he describes how these technologies will continue to shape our lives.

[You can listen to this episode of “Sway” on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

In this conversation, Kara Swisher talks to Lanier about Facebook’s pivot to Meta, which he says sounded “like some megalomaniac took my stuff and filtered it through some weird self-aggrandizement filter.” They also discuss why Lanier viewed technologies like automation and V.R. as “a little technological token of that hope of eternal creativity” back in the ’80s. And Lanier, the author of “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now,” makes the case for why Facebook should be paying users for their data.

This episode contains strong language.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

Thoughts? Email us at sway@nytimes.com.

“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Blakeney Schick, Matt Kwong, Daphne Chen, Caitlin O’Keefe, Elisa Gutierrez and Wyatt Orme, and edited by Nayeema Raza, Blakeney Schick and Alison Bruzek; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair, Michelle Harris and Kristin Lin; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; mixing by Carole Sabouraud and Sonia Herrero; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Mahima Chablani.

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