The Multiple Realities of Meeting in the Metaverse

Drawing inspiration from the film that swept the Academy Awards. Or maybe just its title — ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once.’

Author: Michelle Russell       

Everything Everywhere All at Once Oscar winners

Some cast and crew members from the film the multiverse-filled “Everything Everywhere All at Once” show off the films seven Academy Awards on Oscar night. (ABC Entertainment)

Michelle Russell headshot

Michelle Russell
Editor in Chief

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is not a movie you can land on midway through while channel surfing and get your bearings. The film about the multiverse that scooped up the most Oscars this year is loosely based on the physics concept of quantum superposition — that an infinite number of parallel universes exists. (Insert emoji of mind blown.)

Where we are with the latest wave of tech is as confusing as finding yourself in the middle of this year’s Best Picture. I’m not talking about what to make of the latest layoffs in the tech sector or the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. It’s more about understanding our path forward. By way of example, here’s what came in my inbox just this morning.

Wired writes about a gathering of 100 leaders in finance, philanthropy, industry, government, and media, convened by the Center for Humane Technology in New York City in March, which discussed how AI could wipe out humanity. Speakers warned of a world where unchecked AI will cause chaos by enabling automated misinformation, “throwing people out of work, and giving vast power to virtually anyone who wants to abuse it,” wrote Steven Levy, who attended the meeting. “The sin of the companies developing AI pell-mell [according to the Center’s beliefs] is that they’re recklessly disseminating this mighty force.”

Meanwhile, one of those companies, OpenAI — which brought us the most advanced chatbot ever, ChatGPT — was just named the No. 1 Most Innovative Company in the World in Fast Company’s annual list. Despite naming OpenAI to the top spot, Fast Company acknowledges how “members of Congress, journalists, tech insiders, and early adopters” have mixed feelings about ChatGPT, including “awe, anxiety, and even existential dread about the potential of the service, which allows users to plug in keywords or phrases… and receive often mind-blowing results.” (See how ChatGPT answered a Convene query.)

“What’s most frustrating about this big AI moment,” Levy writes in Wired, “is that the most dangerous thing is also the most exciting thing. Setting reasonable guardrails sounds like a great idea, but doing that will be cosmically difficult, particularly when one side is going DEFCON and the other is going public, in the stock market sense.”

Creative agency Wunderman Thompson’s new report describes a cohort who may not be hitting the panic button, but is far from going all in. According to the report, “we’re seeing the emergence of a new movement of people, groups, and brands who are questioning technology’s unchecked impact on our lives, with many championing a return to tactile, physical, offline experiences.” Sounds like a plug for our industry.

Our sense of the multiverse in the world of events is that it shouldn’t be as confusing as “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” We can meet offline, online — and in a place that seeks to merge the two, the metaverse — how and when it suits our audiences. Have a look at how our industry is testing that out by reading our March/April CMP Series.

Criminal Investigation

In our January/February issue, we wrote about how high crime rates in cities came up as a concern for events at a recent PCMA roundtable. Deputy Editor Barbara Palmer followed up to learn whether the data supports that growing crime represents a risk for groups or if it’s more a matter of perception. Along the way, she found some creative ways DMOs
are proactively making their destinations safer
and more welcoming for events.

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