Experts discuss metaverse at QatarDebate event
May 27 2022 09:28 PM
Experts discuss metaverse at QatarDebate event
Experts discuss metaverse at QatarDebate event


The question of whether the metaverse accelerates opportunities or instils bad habits, instincts, and addictions in humans has been put to audience members at a debate on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, hosted by Qatar Foundation’s QatarDebate.
The event, in collaboration with the New York Times, saw three experts each argue for and against the motion of ‘The Metaverse is an ‘Opium of the People’ in the Making’ – with the metaverse being described by panelists as an extension of the internet that allows users to have a much more immersive experience.
Shep Ogden, co-founder and CEO, Offbeat Media Group, who argued against the motion, said: “Our argument is that the metaverse is a neutral medium. We have the option of how we use it, when we use it, and what we do with it.
“Think of it like the internet today. The internet is an incredibly powerful tool that helps us get access to information in order to better communicate with our friends and family. And it also helps us rethink how we work within the world.”
According to Ogden, while there may be negative effects of using the internet, the medium itself is neutral, as is the metaverse. He said it has pros and cons, and its benefits can empower and “level the playing field” for billions of people across the world.
However, Daniela Braga, founder and CEO of, responded: “It’s neutral at what cost? The cost of us escaping reality?
“The point I want to make is that humans are never happy with their reality – we are always looking for something else.”
Nicole Büttner, co-founder and CEO, Merantix Labs, who also argued for the motion, referenced The Matrix movie as she asked the audience: “Remember the red pill and the blue pill? You take the blue pill, the story ends – you wake up in your bed, you believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in the wonderland.”
She claimed that taking the “blue pill” can lead to “abandoning” the pursuit of truth, adding: “I’m even more worried that, once we enter the metaverse, we will not even have the choice of whether we take the red pill or the blue pill.”
Philip Rosedale, co-founder and CEO, High Fidelity, explained how some virtual worlds demonstrate “tremendous potential for good”, such as addressing disabilities, reducing inequities, and providing income opportunities.
“We’ve already seen these things happening, so why then would I say that it’s the opium of masses?” he said.
“But most people have not gone to these virtual worlds. They prefer entertainment rather than challenge, they prefer relaxation and escape to learning and progress. Both platforms and people will fall prey to the temptation to offer up not the red but the blue pill, drowning us in a sea of negative opportunities as the true metaverse.”
The experts then delivered their final remarks to the jury, which included Peggy Johnson, CEO, Magic Leap, and Kai-Fu Lee, Chairman and CEO, Sinovation Ventures, and president, Sinovation Ventures Artificial Intelligence Institute.
Abdulrahman I al-Subaie, manager of Outreach Programme at QatarDebate. “I’d like to emphasis how much we value our collaboration with the New York Times – this is our third event together. We promise to continue enriching dialogue and empowering minds.”

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