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What is the Metaverse?…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts from BBC Radio 4 week for Facebook on Monday the world's biggest newsbrands published a coordinated series of stories all based on Whistleblower Francis haugen and her Trove of leaked documents, so how did Elgin a former Facebook product manager come to have such strong media and PR support and has anything new been revealed this week and whilst Facebook might be facing difficulties in the world that hasn't stopped them investing heavily in an alternative reality future so what exactly is the metaverse and how soon before we're all living in it? Will do you need to discuss all of that is my panel of guests Nicola Millard is a presenter writer and principal innovation partner at BT phone Nicola what is a principal innovation partner.

Does BT have one futurologist and it doesn't work for our customers very good very good loving good is senior writer at wired Lohan you host the get wired podcast what song does that cover most impactful stories and we can explore the intersection of technology and you will hear a bit more from you and Nicola flight later on in the show also with us today is madhumita murgia European tech correspondent at the Financial Times but I guess Maddie you spending a lot of your time following following Silicon Valley at the moment.

We've been looking at level 100 document.

Leaked but you know from Facebook and so we kind of it's been a team effort and we will be looking at them and analysing them together as a group and last but not least is Emily birnbaum tech lobbying reporter athletico, so Emily let's start with you because as manager said Facebook has been doing a lot of lobbying and PR this past week heard Whistleblower former former Facebook employees Francis haugen has been in the headlines for several weeks now over her leaked documents.

She's had a series of Media partnerships starting with the Wall Street Journal what did she do with them and has she been working with since he was no trace of documents.

Which essentially social farms and has will stop it, it's just kind of been a whirlwind 13.

/ it was time to get my documents out there to a broader audience when she wanted to raise more attention around them, so where are in the US created this sort of ad hoc ME17 us publication more in Europe that were all given support over these thousands of documents and this past week was win most of them published.

Yes Facebook onto the program, but they couldn't make it on the Wall Street Journal is a murder cone paper and he's long been an outspoken critic of Facebook mad at your paper the Financial Times was also part of The Consortium publishing stories this week as well.

Good wired all work on the brand.

How did it all come together? So you know kind of an almost unprecedented a collaboration and kind of working together various Media organisation.

I wasn't involved from the very start but the colleagues of mine were and then I came in and I think that's true all the different report is coming in because there's so many different aspects to the stories that have been pouring out of these documents and you know we here at the ft as we see yourself as a global education reported in the Middle East and south Asian all over the world kind of looking at these documents to get give some political context as well and you had obviously in the US so and then we had all of the other reporters from other places on the ground has been you know join calls and we've all been trying to understand what you know what these documents.

As a group then trying to go in figure out what our and stories are and which bits we want to highlight so of big big global movement, but my who was someone reading it surely from the UEFA group with a cold apparently where I can push him now and you know there was a lot of cremation around branding of the documents around be in when also obviously there has been awhile coronation with her PR firm and working with PR firm on your can we get back with her.

So it has been really notably sprawling and quite well manicured 2.

Esprit huge project, so that's The Consortium and how it worked as he said there was a PR firm behind it but what were the big headline that came out this week because we did learn some new stuff.

Oh, yeah, I think you know we we try to look at it as kind of bands of all kind of areas of things that came out and I think one of the big things is what it major language problem Facebook has globally in this is an interesting as again as a global news organisation you know they are the languages spoken by majority of the world Arabic Hindi Urdu meaning in Afghanistan visa.

You know huge numbers of Facebook users and they just don't have enough moderators and so much much of the missing formation hate speech.

You know and other types of harmful content.

I just falling through the

I'm in most of the world outside of the us and in fact.

It was a number and one of the documents that said the company allocated 87% of the budget for developing its misinformation detection to the US in 2020 vs.

13% to the entire rest of the world and so I think that was one of the big takeaway is another was the fact that understand how their own algorithms work their Word documents in there that showed that women was shown less political content compared to men but they didn't really know why they also said that certainly there were major systemic bias is based on the race of different uses and they felt that people who share frequently are often showing more and the new speed ranking to correlate with race races are prioritised over other than terms of their speech been amplified but again they don't really know what that buys.

Look like or how to fix it.

We weren't able to get Facebook onto the program, but they have released statements this week in relation to the crystal gems coming their way and you know they did say that they've built teams with expertise on human rights hate speech miss information polarization and that they do have industry-leading processes for reviewing and prioritising countries with the highest risk of offline harm and violence if we go back to the cannock's of how this order or work.

Emily has been a very slick operation in terms of how it's come together who's backing Francis haugen, so I did some reporting this past week, which behind her to be cleared.

There's no indication anything about the inorganic.

You know she was working at Facebook she she has been cleared that she spent a long time preparing to bring documents out of the car.

But as soon as she came with public she identity on a 60-minute timer that was one of the most widely watched in the shows history that when a lot of people came out of the woodwork to help and support worker.

They have is going forward with her.

They have got new and there now able to pay for a while for expenses and hero mediocrity is the founder of eBay has come out and offered a lot of support, so he is a billionaire and he has spent a lot of research bankrolling Empire bigtech leopards, and he has given millions of Dollars overall two groups in digital rights group so basically.

Is running her government relations in Europe and he previously said give some money to Whistleblower aid and he has pledged that he is way to continue in many different ways travel expenses including you know message through a lot of his big.

He is one of many clarify a media has not said publicly that he or his organisations are back in haugen.

I think a blog post from one of these organisations commented on supporting tech whistleblowers, but don't specifically comment on on this case but Emily what what have Facebook said in response to the slowest stories because they keep coming and coming and coming so difficult taking a very expensive pasta in response to a lot of this.

I've spoken to a lot of people this week.

So you don't companies in Crisis

They can either they can extract rotary change they can apologise Facebook has chosen that will not be their approach beise.

You know we're proud of what we try to do good.

We have invested more interesting safety than our rivals and you were being call week saying that he said account of research in the future and this continues maybe they're not going to apologize when they're now.

I'm aware that you just three of my panel.

I will all come from papers that were part of this concert Consortium but surely Facebook do you have a point here and it isn't this a case of the old Media

Are you the newspapers going after new media Facebook is still another New Kid On The Block they're not even 20 years old yet, when you look at the scale of the scale of impacts the game that we see in terms of who they touchglobal even that even at the consultant was 17 years old, but I would say that you know we've discussed earlier reported it in our peace today as well, which I know they were good faith effort from Facebook researchers to try and Rangel with ways to solve some of these extremely phone issues like ethnic violence and you know Civil War gender issues religious inflammatory material and in each context and in each country.

This is so complex and so different and unique and you know the companies based in Silicon Valley in the US as they don't have that sense.

Contacts in every single country and so they were to try and understand this better, but I think it was clear from the document says that these efforts have been stymied internally that you know that even when we such as was done about it.

You know I've spoken to Sophie Zhang who's another Whistleblower who come out of few months ago.

She'd uncovered several instances of political manipulation on the Platform in places for example and she found that was really difficult to get anybody to take any action and it just unless she did something about 10.

So there is an internal internal even though they have been good faith efforts from researchers within the company to understand what's going on better.



I mean Facebook would say that their technology is having a big impact on reducing.

How much people see on their platform.

I mean they said that they use their technology to proactively detective route to review.

They do remove it when it violates their policies good senior writer at wired your Twitter profile says you are a lover of plot twists.

So what have you of this drama? I mean can it get any worse for Facebook to see the part was from there.

I mean I don't believe this book 12 for Facebook but I don't know how everything right away for a couple of days ago.

The company is shockingly money concerns.

I think revenue came from the side of a targeted advertising because of some changes that Apple recently made us operating system on phones were delivering some of the targeted advertising that people see on a platform of doubt that we also know that real concerns.

I should have some concerns about whether or not you are going onto.

The way that have done that there are other concerns that Facebook may have when it comes to the Facebook files of the Facebook papers one of the employees that was out of the documents that they don't believe that history is going to look back on Facebook I do believe that history is starting to happen now and history is now but I think it's still going to be a while before we still wanting impact of the reaction to his papers.

So we'll just have to sit back in and what how this plot unfolds but whilst that Facebook's problems in the real world, but they also making big moves into an alternative world the metaverse now.

This is a concept that it keeps coughing up big tech keep telling us about the future Facebook of 10000 new jobs working just on this, but what is the meta verse listening at home metal what?

Question of the day what is the matter first and it depends greatly I believe on who you ask think about think about the word universe meaning like a single universe the murderer vs.

Somehow transcend that the most consistent description.

I've heard from different people is that is a kind of successor to the mobile internet so very much in the way that you know 20-something years ago.

We experience meeting tonight primarily to the web now.

We all have mobile phones smartphones in in our hands at the nurses going to be some next level or next layer of that.

There is the kind of pervasive connectivity in our wives which makes I'm feeling to some people but maybe a warning to others where we feel a sense of presence with the people around us to right now as we are doing this radio in video presentation for on zoom or looking at each other on 2D flat screen in some kind of nervous world perhaps.

Feel a bit more present with each other as we interact Andrew from space the space Nicolas principal innovation partner BT I mean this it does all sound just a bit dystopian doesn't actually did come from which they can science fiction science fiction social scientists as well, so I think the origin of intersection with the real world that we need to think about as well, but but typically people do you think of them as well, but it's all the science geeks that are pushing us towards this new future that 2D kind of stuff.

I guess because we have been a little bit more exciting bit actually is it could be the new internet technologies like virtual reality technologies as well some of which involve wearing glasses from could be one of the people just probably get a lot better.

Headset you can actually start to merge reality and the digital world as well and there's lots of applications using that kind of application so we can start quite exciting things that we could do without technology and then type thing where you start to bring physical and digital digital to start up a pencil in the digital world respond probably together.

Let's try and pin down exactly what the meta verse will be Lauren some of our listeners me know.

They may remember the Sims that was a video game in which in which you have little digital then you can decide what they wear what they ate.

What kind of house I lived in with an even had a shower right.

I remember playing that is the metaverse similar to that you're touching and something which is important which is that can be expressed through a virtual store SimCity where people were building virtual cities back in life is something that would be considered part of the nervous, but it doesn't necessarily have to be something that is enough space as and also said it could be something partly in your physical world around you and importantly in the digital world and I also think what you're describing a rear asking you that I actually silos.

Prognosticate right now about the members and say it's going to be this vast expanse of virtual experiences were people connect there will be interrupted ability it will be open but actually what were saying is now a lot of these company is techland, please shut their way into the nurse and then stick their cleaning Facebook of course is wine the tab.

I wouldn't be surprised if we start Google make an apple that because of things but certainly is working on our solution is Microsoft there's niantic which makes Pokémon go there is Epic which makes fortnite and saying actually are these companies that already existed in there so present their lives their Technology Services interoperable many of them have container is a Walled Garden we're supposed to enjoy your work and your

And so I think the Promise right now the universe is that it is very opened and people just cannot believe in this next layer of the internet, but in reality you can please want to make money off of this they want to build applications on top of this and they're going to do.

I think what they can to make you use their services over others will you mentioned for example and that video game company and they have hosted real events inside their virtual well, so recently Ariana Grande has has performed inside a game.

I mean is close to the metal vs.

We're coming to at the moment.

We're having a second Life

it was difficult to navigate it was hardware power wasn't there was quite a jerky experience games like fortnite and Roblox and help entertain me or hate me how to be productive help me to do my job and that something much much larger than potentially just coming from the gaming and entertainment industry into other Industries

So this this maybe it's time now.

You may see a flourishing of this but line if I might you have some doubts about this right the meta verse primarily.

I think there is the real barrier to just people while the adopting it.

It's so long as there is a component of it that relies on his of displays and whatever 2BR headset or I just think about it's going to take a lot and there's just gonna have to be for people to adopt it going to be in join from 33 in the matter first, but I think technology push right now or are really has been totally immersive experiences.

I like to say that they are still in her teenage phase little space forever and much is 1 GHz out and explain your identity.

Is it may be considering changing her name's vs.

Kind of this.

Pushing already for decades at this point just about the conversation.

We've heard so far some of the prominent voices around the murderous this panel.

Not included happy to be people who identify as men without science fiction writers or analyst or Dr Berg and your password from Facebook or John hagee from niantic for the banter of second life and and I think that when you have this sort of homogeneous body of people creating an x-ray of the internet you're setting yourself up for having an experience that doesn't necessarily apply to everyone at work consider everyone and I think right now the answer to that is well.

Don't worry we're designing is that reflect real people look like really consider the harms or potential harms or the Justice social exist for people who come from underrepresented.

Deserve to have the same experience on the internet as the people who are creating madhumita your European tech correspondence from the Financial Times what do you think of them and actually? I was having a I'm in the office today for the first time in a while.

I was crawling opinions from my desk.

I was talking to my mind about this and we were saying you know we futuristic thing but we are actually already on the park to this.

I know the message was supposed to be three-dimensional and mentored but really what it is is interconnected and a world in which we do all things online right and I think over the last year and a half we experience as we are doing all things online already.

We are living to virtually you know we not just for entertainment but and all communication but for work as well and really we are we are already at that stage where behaviorally.

Standard it would mean I'm so I think the jump is a bit smaller for me then it then it would have looked like you know two years ago and really the next step is making it all interoperable even if that's not 3D can I take all of my social graph data from Facebook and take it with me somewhere else rather than having will be separate kind of unit and I just live one life online going to be the first step will kind of go onto the issues around glasses and headsets and pains, but I think we closer than we think Nicola and Lauren I saw you know so it looks like the metaverse is coming our way why people technologies are so horrible psychology behind.

Thank you very much.

Are we could talk about?

All day, but that's all all the time.

We have now.

Thank you so much to all my guests madhumita.

Nicola Lauren Emily don't forget you can catch up the pass stations of the Show by the BBC Sounds app back next week.

Thanks for.

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