Former Google CEO says Facebook’s metaverse is ‘not necessarily the best thing for human society’ and expresses concerns about safety of artificial intelligence technology

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook

© Facebook
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook

  • Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the metaverse is “not necessarily the best thing for human society.”
  • Schmidt spoke with the New York Times about his concerns about the future of artificial intelligence technology.
  • The former executive said he believes AI technology like the metaverse will eventually replace human relationships.

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is joining the sea of voices weighing in on Facebook’s metaverse and expressing concern about the future of artificial intelligence technology.


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Schmidt, who served as Google’s top executive from 2001 to 2011 and as executive chairman until his departure in May 2020, told the New York Times that while he believes the technology will soon “be everywhere,” he warns it is “not necessarily the best thing for human society.”

“All of the people who talk about metaverses are talking about worlds that are more satisfying than the current world – you’re richer, more handsome, more beautiful, more powerful, faster,” Schmidt told the Times. “So, in some years, people will choose to spend more time with their goggles on in the metaverse. And who gets to set the rules? The world will become more digital than physical. And that’s not necessarily the best thing for human society.”

Schmidt said he views AI technology, which Meta uses to run a majority of its platforms’ algorithms, as a “giant, false god” that can create unhealthy and parasocial relationships.

“It will be everywhere,” he told New York Times opinion columnist Maureen Dowd. “What does an A.I.-enabled best friend look like, especially to a child? What does A.I.-enabled war look like? Does A.I. perceive aspects of reality that we don’t? Is it possible that A.I. will see things that humans cannot comprehend?”

Gallery: A brief history of social media (StarsInsider)

Today, many people’s lives revolve around social media, for better or worse. Indeed, social media is arguably the most monumental technological advancement of the past 50 years. Its ability to allow the movement of information so easily couldn’t have been dreamt of several decades ago.In some cases, the tech companies and the public felt that certain information was being shared a little too easily. Former U.S. President Donald Trump was famously banned from several of the main social media platforms for sharing false information about the covid-19 pandemic, US presidential elections, and his role in inciting the Capitol Riots in January of 2021. He has recently announced the creation of his new company, the Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG). TMTG will be launching the BETA version of their first app in November: TRUTH Social. In his statement, Trump said “I created TRUTH Social and TMTG to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech. We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced." He stated that their mission was to be “a rival to the liberal media consortium and fight back against the Big Tech companies.” Trump's activity on social media during his presidency and subsequent bans raised many questions about freedom of speech and the untamed power of these platforms. Technology is evolving so quickly that society as a whole is struggling to keep up and foresee the impact of these advances. Click through to discover how we came to live in the “age of social media.”

The former Google executive isn’t alone in his concerns about AI. The technology has been increasingly criticized by business leaders in recent months, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who said his confidence is “not high”in the transparency and safety of AI within his own company. Meanwhile, some analysts say augmented reality poses even more risks of abuse than social media.

Schmidt’s comments come after Facebook announced Thursday it was changing its corporate name to Meta, and creating the metaverse as a virtual space where people can interact digitally using avatars. The company has been at the center of significant criticism in recent weeks after leaked documents exposed the company’s controversial business practices and technology.

Among the findings in the documents include including Facebook’s ability to counter misinformation, Instagram’s link to eating disorders in young girls and teenagers, and the treatment of politicians and celebrities on its platforms.

Since then, Facebook has increasingly emphasized its metaverse mission in an attempt to distance itself from the controversy. The company has since pushed back against the reports, calling them mischaracterizations. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told The Verge it was “ridiculous” for people to think that he changed Facebook’s name to Meta because of the backlash surrounding the leaked documents.

“From now on, we’ll be metaverse first, not Facebook first,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during the company’s Oculus Connect event. “Over time, you won’t need to use Facebook to use our other services.”

Facebook and Instagram usage among younger populations is already dwindling, as the platforms are increasingly being replaced by apps like TikTok and Snapchat. According to Piper Sandler’s “Taking Stock With Teens”, 81% of teens surveyed said they used Instagram, the highest percentage out of all the platforms. 77% said they use Snapchat and 73% said they use TikTok. Only 27% of respondents said they use Facebook, the least of all the platforms.

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