Facebook has announced a $50 million fund that it says will assist it develop the metaverse extra responsibly. It’s formally referred to as the XR Packages and Analysis Fund, and the corporate says it’ll be invested into “programs and external research” over the course of two years. Fb has previously funded educational analysis into the social impression of AR wearables and solicited VR {hardware} proposals. Fb’s announcement weblog calls the metaverse the “next computing platform” and says that the corporate might be working with policymakers, researchers, and trade companions whereas constructing it.

The announcement additionally provides us Fb’s definition of the typically nebulous phrase “metaverse.” The corporate describes it as “virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people” that you just’re not bodily with, unfold out over a wide range of services and products. Fb says the fund’s aim is to ensure it builds its a part of the metaverse with an eye fixed in direction of compatibility with different providers, in addition to inclusivity, privateness, security, and “economic opportunity.” Proper now, Fb’s metaverse largest metaverse program is a platform referred to as Horizon, which exists as a beta Oculus app that lets individuals have VR conferences.

The company says it’ll be partnering with organizations like Girls in Immersive Tech, Africa No Filter, Electrical South, and the Group of American States. It additionally says it’ll “facilitat[e] independent external research” with organizations just like the College of Hong Kong and the Nationwide College of Singapore. When requested for touch upon how the analysis will keep impartial if Fb is concerned with it, the corporate stated it might solely be offering funds to the researchers, not information.

Fb VP Nick Clegg additionally spoke about this system, calling it “a start” to analysis into the metaverse, and saying that he hoped it might assist present solutions when regulators begin asking questions in regards to the new tech.

Fb has not too long ago been making an attempt to color itself as a accountable platform proprietor. On Monday, it introduced that it was pausing work on a pre-teen-focused Instagram after the corporate strongly pushed again in opposition to a report that claimed the corporate knew Instagram was unhealthy for teenage ladies. The corporate has additionally stated it’s changing into extra clear about what varieties of posts its algorithms attempt to conceal and issued denials about one other report that stated the corporate tried to advertise itself utilizing the Information Feed. Regardless of its efforts, it’s nonetheless been mired in controversy: it needed to apologize to researchers after offering them inaccurate information, and its oversight board has referred to as for extra details about how the platform moderated its well-known customers in another way.

Whereas Fb pitches this fund as metaverse-focused, it seems to have a broader focus given its title. The corporate already does lots of research in the AR/VR space, and whereas $50 million is some huge cash, it’s a really small portion of what Fb makes in a single quarter (by no means thoughts the 2 years over which the fund might be invested). The quantity additionally doesn’t appear to match the significance Fb locations on AR/VR and the longer term impression of the metaverse.

Fb says it should proceed to share updates on this system’s progress, in addition to future companions it provides.

Replace September twenty seventh, 2:58PM ET: Added details about analysis grants, and Nick Clegg’s interview.

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