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.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more information for all episodes at, and you can find Kara on Twitter @karaswisher.

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