Congress stimulates the metaverse… kind- POLITICO

Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act on Thursday, exciting scientists and wonks in advanced fields such as quantum computing, AI and robotics, which could bring in billions of dollars in new research funding.

One of the bill’s more unexpected additions is a guideline for the National Science Foundation to conduct research into “immersive technology” — the umbrella term for the kind of virtual and augmented reality expected to underlie the metaverse. Its inclusion is a win for the XR Association, a trade group for virtual and augmented reality technology companies founded by giants like Google, Microsoft and Oculus, who have lobbied heavily for Congress to add it.

Exactly what this particular account actually is is doing to encourage such things is currently undefined. “Immersive technology” is one of 10 items listed in the bill as “key technology focus areas,” in which the NSF will invest a portion of the $200 billion the bill authorizes (once it’s allocated, of course).

To see where that money could flow into the VR research ecosystem, it’s helpful to look at past government investments and experimentation with the technology.

In 2018 Deloitte published a memo describing how government agencies that are constantly strapped for cash can take advantage of virtual reality technology, including training emergency responders for hazardous situations, infrastructure maintenance and analysis, and the introduction of VR in public classrooms. (The Department of Defense is also involved in the action, with the military giving Microsoft a nearly $22 Billion Contract for using its HoloLens AR headsets.)

As exciting as all those applications may sound, there are a not insignificant number of hurdles to their widespread adoption – the first of which is that the actual technology in question is still quite in its infancy and there is not yet the kind of data about user experience. which would normally justify such a huge investment.

Even giants like Meta, with seemingly unlimited money to pump into their VR headsets, still struggle with issues surrounding motion sickness and ease of use; the military has pushed back the deployment of Microsoft’s HoloLens, and in April, the Department of Defense inspector general released a report say it’s not yet clear whether there is enough individual buy-in among soldiers to justify the investment.

The NSF’s research boost can help with that, said Nick Maynard, co-founder and CEO of the public-private technology organization US Ignite and former program director at the NSF. In recent years, the foundation has taken a major step towards applied research, intended to turn VR from a castle in the air into a widely usable tool.

“They’re going to focus more on how, now that we have this technology, we can use it to solve the challenges the country faces,” Maynard said. “It’s less about the technology itself, but about thinking about how to create a path to implement it.”

While VR and XR are all the rage right now for the lavish promises of metaverse entrepreneurs, the CHIPS act isn’t calling the metaverse by name. And Joan O’Harathe vice president of public policy of the XRA, caused her to distance herself organization’s funding arguments of the consumer promises of companies like Meta.

“If it’s something that’s mainly going to be used for virtually hanging out with your friends or running errands, that’s not what the US should be spending its dollars on,” she said. “You want to think about the future of technology as a whole, and we believe that immersive technology is an important part of that ecosystem.”

The passage of the CHIPS and Science Act may be a rare two-pronged warm and fuzzy win on the hill, but do government interventions in the industry actually work?

Perhaps. Sometimes. In today’s POLITICO Magazine, well-known corporate journalism veteran Bob Davis takes a hard look at some previous interventions by the US governmentincluding notable failures such as “decades of efforts to create ‘clean coal’, nuclear reactors using recycled plutonium, nuclear fusion, synthetic fuels and supersonic commercial jets.”

However, when it comes to chips, Davis is a bit more optimistic. There is existing capacity and momentum of previous efforts began during the Trump administration, Davis emphasizes. And Biden administration officials are harking back to a public-private partnership launched under George HW Bush called SEMATECHwho “paid significant dividends” by making the US competitive on chips earlier in the PC era.

Pornography has enabled technological progress for decades, even centuriesand now a company is betting it can do the same for Web3 – “AdultDAO”, a token-driven “adult production company” that promises, in addition to old-fashioned 2D porn, at some point to “provide full immersion Metaverse AR”/VR- based content.”

Like most other DAOs, or decentralized autonomous organizations, one earns a stake in AdultDAO by purchasing the “$ADULT” cryptocurrency, giving them both its value and a say in how the company operates. (Yes, you can read them) white paper here.)

The benefits the company cites for conducting its particular activities on the blockchain are reminiscent of the early days of Bitcoin, when it was mainly used for transactions that people, regardless of their legal status, preferred to keep off the official books: increased anonymity and independence including the Visa/Mastercard system with all its annoying regulations.

There are still plenty of US Laws and regulations around adult content, of course. And when someone “on a chain” almost inevitably walks all over them, it will be another milestone in the ongoing stress test between Web3’s alternative institutions and those who still rule the world the rest of us live in.

Stay in touch with the whole team: Ben Schreckinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson ([email protected]); Konstantin Kakaes ([email protected]); and Heidi Vogt ([email protected]). follow us on twitter @DigitalFuture.

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