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Supercomputers, AI, and the Metaverse

by
World Economic Forum
February 10, 2022
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Summary

What does the development of supercomputers mean for virtual reality, and more specifically, the Metaverse? Supercomputers are developing at a rapid pace, but do most people even know what they do?

What does the development of supercomputers mean for virtual reality, and more specifically, the Metaverse? Supercomputers are developing at a rapid pace, but do most people even know what they do? These computers can compute complex operations and vast amounts of data at blazing speeds. The supercomputer market is expected to grow by nearly 10% from 2021 to 2026. In late January, Meta announced they are developing an AI supercomputer, and could potentially be the world’s fastest supercomputer. Some uses of this supercomputer could be ultrafast gaming, seamless translations of language in real-time, and more. It could also be used to scan and sensor large amounts of information, good or bad. This leads to ethical issues that need to be ironed out.

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Supercomputers, AI, and the Metaverse

Since the beginning of this year, there has been a lot of hype, skepticism, cynicism, and confusion surrounding the concept of the metaverse.

For some, it has added to the confusion of an already elusive world of augmented reality and mixed reality. But for the well-initiated, the metaverse is a landmark moment in the extended reality world; a world approaching the ‘second life’ that many have long predicted.

News that some of the world’s top tech firms are rapidly developing AI supercomputers has further fueled that anticipation.

But what will the entry of supercomputers mean for the metaverse and virtual reality — and how can we manage it responsibly?

What is a supercomputer?

Simply put, a supercomputer is a computer with a very high level of performance. That performance, which far outclasses any consumer laptop or desktop PC available on the shelves, can, among other things, be used to process vast quantities of data and draw key insights from it. These computers are massive parallel arrangements of computers — or processing units — which can perform the most complex computing operations.

Whenever you hear about supercomputers, you’re likely to hear the term FLOPS — “floating point operations per second.” FLOPS is a key measure of performance for these top-end processors.

Floating numbers, in essence, are those with decimal points, including very long ones. These decimal numbers are key when processing large quantities of data or carrying out complex operations on a computer, and this is where FLOPS comes in as a measurement. It tells us how a computer will perform when managing these complicated calculations.

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World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests. The Forum strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance. Moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does.

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