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Elon Musk pokes fun at metaverse, trashing idea that anyone wants to strap a screen to their face

Business Insider US
"I currently am unable to see a compelling metaverse situation," Elon Musk said.
MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images
  • Elon Musk has taken aim at metaverse hype, poking fun at the idea people will flock to virtual worlds.
  • The Tesla boss said he can't envisage anyone strapping a screen to their face all day and not wanting to ever leave.
  • Musk told The Babylon Bee he might face criticism for being cynical, but he doesn't see a compelling case yet.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Elon Musk has made it clear to metaverse fans he has no time for the idea of virtual worlds and living life as an avatar.

"I don't know if I necessarily buy into this metaverse stuff," the Tesla CEO said on Tuesday, in an interview with satirical site The Babylon Bee. "Although people talk to me a lot about it — Web3."

Hype has been building around the potential of the metaverse, where plots of land have sold for millions of dollars and big brands like Nike have jumped in.

Wall Street has got excited about opportunities in virtual worlds and Web3, the next generation of the internet that underpins the metaverse. Jefferies' analysts believe it has the potential to disrupt almost everything in humans' lives

Musk is not convinced, and he poked fun at the suggestion people would willingly wear virtual or augmented reality headsets for big chunks of their day, just to wander a futuristic virtual landscape.

"Sure, you can put a TV on your nose," he said, mocking the idea this would actually transport a person into a different world.

The billionaire noted he grew up being told not to sit too close to a television screen, as it was bad for his eyesight — and living in the metaverse means having to wear AR or VR goggles for long stretches.

"I'm like... uh, what? Is that good for you?" he said.

Musk added he couldn't envisage anyone strapping a screen to their face all day and not wanting to ever leave. "It gets uncomfortable to have this thing strapped to your head the whole time."

Crypto-focused gaming metaverses such as Axie Infinity and The Sandbox — where players can earn or create crypto assets as part of a game — have soared in popularity lately. But Musk believes the experience might be second-best.

"You could do a video game on your computer console, or whatever, and you can get a first-person game and move rapidly and not get motion sickness," he said. "But if you try to do that with VR goggles, you get motion sickness. It doesn't feel like that's the answer, necessarily."

"I think we're far from disappearing into the metaverse. This sounds just kind of buzzword-y."

While Musk's latest comments are somewhat playful, the Tesla boss has been on a tear recently about the metaverse. At the weekend, he argued Web3 is more marketing hype than reality right now.

And in response to bitcoin proponent Jack Dorsey, who this week criticised venture capital's influence in the space, Musk asked whether anyone's seen Web3, saying he "can't find it."

In the hourlong Babylon Bee interview, Musk acknowledged he might be seen as rejecting the metaverse in the same way many dismissed the internet in its early days of the 1990s.

"There's some danger that that's the case. But I currently am unable to see a compelling metaverse situation," he said. "I don't get it. Maybe I will, but I don't get it yet."

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