Science fiction has envisioned all kinds of futures, but there’s one thing in common between the most exciting technologies in these stories: reliable connectivity. Take the novel and recent hit movie Ready Player One. In most circumstances, Wade Watts can enter the metaverse-like Oasis at any time and reliably stay connected for as long as he wants. If he could only connect sporadically or encountered a lag every few minutes, it would be a much less captivating story.
Modern pundits spend a lot of time discussing the metaverse and its many immersive possibilities, but as technologists, this isn’t where we should focus our energy. We need to think less about what the future will look like and more about how to make it work. If the metaverse evolves beyond exploring virtual malls and wearing VR helmets, we must look at the technology underlying digital culture and make it as robust as possible. That way, no matter what future connected experiences look like, our infrastructure can support them.