Calculating the future environmental impacts of the metaverse

he metaverse looks likely to reach into every corner of our lives. Apple, Disney, Nvidia, Microsoft, and Meta (formerly Facebook) have all stated their intentions to get involved, but the environmental costs from AI workloads that will arise from running the metaverse on a large scale will be huge. However, recent technological innovations in data centers will help. Furthermore, the metaverse may offset emissions by changing the very ways we interact with each other.

The metaverse and its environmental impact

The metaverse is a virtual world where users can share experiences and interact in real time within simulated scenarios. It has been described by Microsoft as “a new version—or a new vision—of the internet”. The volume, variety, and speed of data that will be generated by users will require AI applications for analysis. The metaverse will also likely rely on virtual reality (VR) technologies, which already use AI technologies, such as deep neural networks for accurate hand tracking and deep learning for eye tracking.

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