As its new company name would imply, Meta’s making a big deal about the metaverse. The company formerly known as Facebook just announced a new VR headset, the $1,500 Meta Quest Pro. It’s an expensive hunk of face hardware meant to entice users into the metaverse—an ambitious virtual realm that Mark Zuckerberg so desperately wants to make A Thing. But the supposed VR revolution still feels like it’s a long way off.
This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED editor at large Steven Levy joins the show to talk about Meta’s latest VR ambitions and whether Zuckerberg’s metaverse gamble will pay off.
Steven Levy can be found on Twitter @StevenLevy. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.
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Lauren Goode: Steven Levy.
Steven Levy: Hi Lauren.
Lauren Goode: What are you doing here, hosting the Gadget Lab?
Steven Levy: I'm in here because you're in New York and I'm in New York.
Lauren Goode: Yeah, I guess I'm more in your space this week. Well, I came here to see you and the rest of the Wired folks obviously. I mean—
Steven Levy: So what do you think of our pad here at One World Trade Center?
Lauren Goode: It's a very fancy building. It's very hard to get into, which we'll talk about later.
Steven Levy: Well, they were suspicious of you, I'm sure.
Lauren Goode: Yes. I was very suspect, and I had a hard time getting into the building this morning, but we're in a very nice podcast studio, so I appreciate that.
Steven Levy: Yeah, yeah. This is state of the art here.
Lauren Goode: Steven, do you think that we could just be doing this in the metaverse?
Steven Levy: Whose metaverse?
Lauren Goode: I think that's something we should probably talk about. Let's get to it.
[Gadget Lab intro theme music plays]
Lauren Goode: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Gadget Lab. I'm Lauren Goode. I'm a senior writer at WIRED, and this week, the Gadget Lab is coming to you from New York. My usual cohost, Mike Calore, is not with us this week. He is trapped in a photo studio in Los Angeles, getting some fun stuff ready for WIRED that you're going to see later this year. But I am here with WIRED editor at large and friend of the pod, Steven Levy. Hey, Steven.
Steven Levy: Hi, Lauren. It's always wonderful to do the Gadget Lab.
Lauren Goode: It's really great to have you, and Mike better stop taking time off, or I shouldn't say time off, but time away from the pod, because eventually I'm just going to replace him. But, I guess we need to talk about Meta again. It seems like we talk about Meta so much on this podcast, but this week, the company formerly known as Facebook held its annual Connect conference, which is supposed to get app makers and Meta enthusiasts, and just the general public up to speed on what the company has been building. Mark Zuckerberg used the keynote address to talk all about his vision for the metaverse, the supposed next level of internet-connected experiences. It's interesting, because Zuckerberg has really been front and center talking about all of this, and reportedly some of Meta's own employees aren't quite as enthused about his vision of the metaverse. We're going to get to that, but first, we should talk about an important part of actually making the metaverse happen, the computing devices, and the infrastructure, and the software that we might all be using in the future. We finally have seen the new Meta Quest Pro headset. Steven, what do you make of this?
Steven Levy: Well, they all said all along that they're going to keep improving on the headsets they make, and they improved on the Quest 1 with the Quest 2. It only cost twice as much, was it? And now, they improved significantly with the new headset, the Pro, and it costs a multiple of maybe four times what the first one cost, right?
Lauren Goode: At least three. Yeah, it's $1,500.
Steven Levy: Yeah, almost four. Almost four.
Lauren Goode: And the Meta Quest 2 is now 400, and the Meta Quest Pro—
Steven Levy: Yeah, if it had been $1,600, it would be four times, but it's only $1,500.
Lauren Goode: Yeah, could have made it easy for us, Facebook.
Steven Levy: I'm doing a rounding error here.
Lauren Goode: OK.
Steven Levy: So it is expensive, and it's interesting, the terminology they use. I'd love to break down the terminology they do in these events, and they talked a lot about adventurers who are going to use it, and people who even want to get ahead of early adopters. It's just sort of like the people who always want to be first with something, right? Or really what it is is developers who want to get in the game of building stuff for the company that's spending the most to make the metaverse, and they made a big deal out of how some of the property, some of the software for the metaverse is actually making money. This product made a million dollars in the first day, and they didn't mention what it cost to make and how much the eventual payout for a product, a new metaverse experience, might be front-loaded to be the first buyers, and then maybe not much afterwards. So, there's a lot of verbal manipulation to show that OK, this costs a lot of money, but there's this audience for it, which may not be a big audience.
Lauren Goode: Have you tried the headset?
Steven Levy: Yes, I have.
Lauren Goode: What did you think?
Steven Levy: Well, again, improved. One thing they did was they sort of split the hardware, so I think the battery goes in the back of your head instead of the front of your head. It's not like you have like a weight in the front of your head kind of pulling you down to the ground of the metaverse. And it looks better. It's sharper. The images are better. It's a little more comfortable. I don't imagine spending hours with it on my head, and it … Again, one step toward where we want to go, but where we really want to go is have it in glasses, right? Which they talked about, too, during the keynotes. But sort of an interesting sidestep toward their vision, to show that, "We could make a better headset," but you want the delta to be better and cheaper, so for mass popularization, it's going in the wrong direction.
Lauren Goode: Mm-hmm. I was surprised by the price, I have to say. And maybe I shouldn't have been, because I've been getting briefings, or reading reports or leaks over the past several months, around what they were building, and just considering some of the optics that they were putting into this, it did seem like it was going to be like a prosumer-level product, and that therefore would be expensive. We're also hearing reports that companies like Apple, as they work toward whatever their heads-up display might be, the first iteration might be very expensive. We've seen things like HoloLens be incredibly expensive, first run, second run out the door. So on that level, it's not super surprising, but to your point, in Meta's broader strategy of getting more people into the metaverse, this does feel like a sidestep. It feels like not the thing that's going to make it mainstream.
Steven Levy: And what's super interesting about it in the demos I got—they gave us a demo—they gave us a little speech with some of the materials that were eventually revealed in the keynote. And then they gave several demos of different things. We went room to room in—
Lauren Goode: Yes. I did the same.
Steven Levy: Yeah, but this was—
Lauren Goode: What demos did you have?
Steven Levy: None of the demos that I got, I didn't get it with games. Which is interesting, because it's the best game headset you could imagine. But there was one where we made art, and there was one … I think the key one was the workplace one, which they want people to use. So they emphasized the social experience, but if you want a social experience, you want to get it in the hands of many, many people, right? So if you have a work group, then you've got to get this headset for every person in the work group to get the full experience, right? And who's going to spend for their whole group to get a $1,500 headset that's going to be obsolete in two years?
Lauren Goode: Yeah, and at the keynote yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg did invite Satya Nadella to join him, virtually of course, because this was a virtual event, and they talked about a new partnership between Meta and Microsoft to offer 365 in this Meta Quest Pro. So it's not just Facebook's own software, which is called Workrooms. It's also 365 that presumably you'll be able to use. I did find when I went through those six stations that you mentioned, to try different apps, I found the Workrooms one to be the most awkward. Like, I enjoyed doing the virtual painting, and I enjoyed … There was one called Wooorld, with like, three Os, so I have to say it like that, that I really enjoyed, that uses Google Maps to place you in a virtual world, and then you have to—
Steven Levy: That was cool.
Lauren Goode: … like, guess where you are.
Steven Levy: I liked that one.
Lauren Goode: Did you play the game, where you guess what city they dropped you in?
Steven Levy: Yeah, yeah, yeah. They just dropped you somewhere.
Lauren Goode: Yes.
Steven Levy: It's like the TV show Quantum Leap, right?
Lauren Goode: Yes, and then you have to look at the little signs, and the street signs, and flags, and figure out what country you're in, and then figure out … I actually got one of them right. I was like very close to Warsaw, and I felt very proud. I was like, "That looks like Polish." Yeah, and so that was cool. But then yeah, the final experience … And maybe it was just I was fatigued at that point, because I was going on two hours wearing some version of a headset. Workrooms felt forced. It felt like, "Look, you're in a virtual office, and you're talking to some guy named Jordan, and he's not actually here. He's in another office, but here's his cartoon avatar, and you guys are going to put stickies on a whiteboard and discuss the stickies.
And then also, here's like a big conference room and a little conference room, and also, here's an Apple keyboard that's virtual, that's laid over a real Apple keyboard on the desk in front of you, that you can sort of poke at. And I was like, "This is so …" and then I just couldn't really … They didn't align. It was misaligned, so I was having a hard time typing, and then they said, "Well, you could just peek down the bottom of the headset to see the keyboard," because one of the differences between this Quest headset and the less expensive one is this one actually does have some light coming in the sides. You have visibility on the sides of the goggles and below, so it's not fully enveloping your face. So they were like, "You could just like peek around," and I'm like, "This is not how I want to work."
Steven Levy: Yeah. It's interesting. One of the people showing me it told me when they use it, you could kind of carve out an area of your desk where the VR isn't on. So if your coffee cup is there, you could say, "OK, I'm going to do this so I don't knock over the coffee cup," right? But it seems to me the big benefit is, if you want to have, like, these massive displays in front of you, right? You could access them in VR. But to me, displays are relatively inexpensive. You could buy three big displays, and that's cheaper than buying the headset. And also, I think you're going to interact with those displays much better if they're in person there on your desk.
I think that's a nonstarter at this point. You know, the idea of getting rid of all your hardware, and having it in a headset, even if they develop the glasses to do that. To me, that's OK if you're in an airport or something like that, and you want to duplicate your workspace sitting there at one of those tables while you're waiting for your flight to be called. Your flight's delayed, of course. That could be useful. But generally, for your main workplace, I don't see that happening for quite a long time.
Lauren Goode: I will say this, though. It's really easy to be hypercritical of these devices when they are not mass market or mainstream devices, or just when they're not ready yet. And we're going to talk about the software in the second half of the show. I do think sometimes about the fact that this is … It's an attempt at a new era of computing. But we have a foundation now for what pretty amazing personal computing can look like, and I think back to the time that maybe Walt Mossberg, who's a mutual friend of ours, you know, when he was starting his column in the 1990s, and the idea of personal computing was still very nascent, it felt like it was kind of a binary then.
There was like the “before personal computer” time and then there were these new, emerging personal computers. And yeah, they were too hard to use, and difficult, and they were really for, like, tinkerers and hackers and computer nerds, and stuff like that. But there wasn't this basis for comparison. And now, this shift is happening, supposedly, toward heads-up displays, but we already have … I have this laptop right in front of me that's pretty darn good. I have a mobile phone that I literally carry with me everywhere, like into the bathroom. I'm never without it. I sleep next to it. And it's pretty darn functional, and does a lot of great things, and lets me connect with people around the world when I need to. So like, I think we're harsher critics toward these new things now.
Steven Levy: Right. Well, you know, I blame Clay Christensen for this.
Lauren Goode: Why?
Steven Levy: Because he was this great figure. He passed recently, who came up with the innovator's—
Lauren Goode: The innovator's dilemma, yep.
Steven Levy: Innovator's dilemma, right. And the idea is that when the new paradigm comes, the masters of the previous paradigm are at a disadvantage, because they're invested in what they're doing now, and that's all their profits, and so they're going to be doomed by the next wave of technology that comes over. So the last wave of that was mobile, and the places that were in the PC world, right? Got overwhelmed by mobile. It's a reset where the companies that dominate, like Microsoft, in the old paradigm, sort of get shifted to the back. For a long time, Apple was kind of just breathing Microsoft's fumes in terms of, they didn't have a lead, they were way behind. But then mobile comes, and that flips, right?
So, Mark Zuckerberg is from the web world, and mobile comes along. It's a near-death experience for Facebook. So he's paranoid about the next paradigm. He doesn't want to be a victim of the innovator's dilemma. So he gets obsessed with virtual reality. He sees this Oculus headset. he talks to his buddy, Marc Andreessen, about it. This is the next paradigm. He's fixed on that. He buys the company, 2014. It's almost 10 years. He thought, "In 10 years, this is going to be the next paradigm." Well, guess what. It's almost 10 years, and it's still 10 years away? I don't know how long. But he makes this giant bet on a company thinking, "This is the only way I could save Facebook, and I'll call it Meta now, in 2028." Right?
So he's operating on a 2028 timeframe, to think of how he could be the master of the universe in 2028, while he's the master of the universe in 2016, 2017, 2018. And now, in 2022, he's losing his grip on being the master of this universe while chasing the next universe.
Lauren Goode: Steven, hold that thought, because it's an important one. We're going to take a quick break, and we're going to come back with more VR talk, but here in real life.
Lauren Goode: Steven, as we were going to break, you started to touch on something really interesting, which is Mark Zuckerberg's obsession that this is our future. It was reported by both The Verge and The New York Times earlier this week, that some of the employees working at Meta don't necessarily share that vision. Seems like there's maybe some skepticism there. What do you make of this, and what does this mean for the future of what is known as Reality Labs at the company?
Steven Levy: Sure. Well, Reality Labs is this research laboratory in the tradition of Xerox Park and other places, that's focused on solving the problems, or moving the obstacles between us and acceptable mixed reality, right? The one which will be so great that we're all going to adopt it, right? Right now, there's some scientific hurdles to this, you know? Just the way we see things, the way we have to embed the electronics to make it lightweight. There's just these hurdles. Some of them are biological, right? That you have to do these fixes, and the technology isn't there yet, and they've paid for the best scientists to try to fix them. It's a long-term project. And they kept saying that. When you talk about the language of the keynote. You know, they said it again when they gave us a little glimpse of what was going on in Redmond, where the Reality Labs are, and saying, like, you know, "Here's this cool technology. It's not ready yet," right? But they did one thing sort of amazing, where they were able to get an avatar that actually looked like, in this case Mark Zuckerberg, right? And—
Lauren Goode: And we should quickly recount just some of the things we did see out of that Reality Labs demo, which is run by Michael Abrash, right?
Steven Levy: Correct, yeah.
Lauren Goode: So we saw an electromyography device, which is this wrist device that would potentially allow you to ditch the hand controllers in VR and just gesture. We saw the realistic avatars. They have legs in the future. What were some of the other things that they showed off?
Steven Levy: Well, I think to me, the impressive thing was the wrist control, which is basically something that, if Facebook or Meta wanted to do this now, they couldn't. They spend almost a billion dollars for a company called CTRL-labs, which devised this technology, right? So one thing they're doing besides hiring scientists to invent the technology is that traditionally, they just bought the technology. They bought a company. But I think the point is, while they're building this in the future, they're also making a play for now. And they literally renamed the company. And what they've been doing is funneling some of the best minds of the company to say, "Hey, work on this now." Which is sort of like a wild, risky thing to do when you're the leading company in social media, with a lot of challenges there, right? You've got competition in TikTok, and you would think that they might want to innovate their way to cement their leadership, or regain their leadership one might even argue, in social media.
But no, you're going to get rewarded much more handily to work in the Meta part of Meta rather than the Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram part of Meta. And I think people in those areas probably aren't feeling appreciated, and the people in the areas are worried that they're building things that aren't going to come to fruition for quite a while. And people move around in Silicon Valley, right? You don't want to be working on something that doesn't happen while you're there.
Lauren Goode: Renaming the company does seem like it was a brilliant marketing tool for recruitment at least, though. There's a certain cachet now.
Steven Levy: Well, if you want to work on that stuff.
Lauren Goode: Right, if you want to work on that.
Steven Levy: You know, it's interesting. A few years ago, I wrote stories about the AI efforts of all the big companies, and all of them were retraining their engineers to learn about machine learning, to be AI scientists rather than just plain engineers and scientists, right? And I think that made sense for all of them. That worked for Google. It worked for Amazon. It worked for Apple. And it worked for Meta, because AI's built into everything, and they made a big deal talking about how AI was going to be built into the metaverse. I actually feel that the big driving technology in the next decade is not going to be virtual reality. It's going to be more AI, that we're at a pivot point in AI to get better and better, and scarier and scarier, and I think if I'm hiring engineers, I don't want them to be Meta engineers first. I want them to be AI people. I want to make the next breakthrough in AI rather than AR.
Lauren Goode: It's fascinating. Just this morning, someone at a breakfast asked me, "What are your thoughts generally on AI?" And I said I think that there need to be better guidelines and policies in place, like yesterday, around AI. Because we're already seeing how powerful AI is in our computing experiences now, that's affecting our lives.
Steven Levy: Yeah. Well, those guidelines aren't going to work. It's too widespread. If you put guidelines and the big companies have to follow them, there's going to be upstart companies that come up, and I think there's a really interesting company called OpenAI, which started out as this great open source, responsible company, which is operating now, like, not as open, and has a deal with Microsoft, right? So if it isn't them, it could be a research lab anywhere. That's going to be a big, big concern that is tough to constrain. The White House came up with AI guidelines, but put no teeth in it. They just said, "We're just suggesting this is a good idea to do, and we're going to do this maybe in our Social Security agency," but they're certainly not going to do it in the intelligence agencies and the military, right? You know, the military isn't going to say, "Our AI isn't going to be harmful or weaponized." That's what they're going to use it for.
Lauren Goode: That's the point of the military, yeah. To bring it back to Meta, if you were Mark Zuckerberg at this point, and you have some employees who are skeptical about this tech, and you're wholly convinced that this is the future, or this is at least the way the company needs to sort of pivot toward, at what point do you … Do you weed out those employees, right? As he has suggested, like, "Hey, if you're not on board, you should leave the company." I'm paraphrasing. Or at some point, do you actually heed that skepticism, and say like, "This might not be the thing. This might not be the next big thing."
Steven Levy: Right. Well, the most telling thing in those stories, The New York Times and The Verge, was that some people, they sort of force you to do meetings in VR in some of these areas of Meta, and some people were saying, "We don't want to do it." And they say, "No, you have to do it," which is kind of wild, because they expect people to run and embrace this as better technology, and if you don't get your own employees believing that, that's trouble. I think Mark, from what I know of him, and I've spent time with him, he's pretty set in his ways. You know, he could have a lot of people around him saying, "Mark, don't do this. We don't think it's a good idea," and he'll listen to them, and then sometimes just blow past it, ignore it.
But, he's smart enough to know when something is totally untenable, and to switch direction. In this kind of case, he's dug himself into a hole that the evidence is going to have to be super, super strong for him to say, "You know what? Maybe we shouldn't have acted so fast on virtual reality," you know? I mean, it's going to take quite a lot for him to jar him out of that mindset. It's possible, but he's really dug himself in on this one, that, "This is our giant bet," and that's the thing about a bet—that you could lose.
Lauren Goode: And I'm sure that Mark Zuckerberg does not like to lose.
Steven Levy: Of course not.
Lauren Goode: I don't know him super well, but that is my guess.
Steven Levy: No, he does not like to lose. And if you're an employee there, and you're getting the message saying, "If you're not on board with this, go somewhere else," if you're a desirable employee, you'll go somewhere else.
Lauren Goode: Right. Steven, this has been super interesting. It's a real privilege to be able to tape a podcast about Meta with the person who wrote the book about Meta, although it was called Facebook then.
Steven Levy: Yes, it was. Yes, it was.
Lauren Goode: Yes.
Steven Levy: They tried to tank my book. They changed the name of the company, right?
Lauren Goode: That's actually why Mark Zuckerberg changed the company name.
Steven Levy: Yeah, yeah. But also, I wrote a story about virtual reality for Rolling Stone in 1990.
Lauren Goode: What?
Steven Levy: It was the next big thing.
Lauren Goode: What headset were you using?
Steven Levy: I used Gyrolinear headset, and then I went to NASA. They had a thing set up there, with … They called it the Sword of Damocles, because the wire came from the ceiling.
Lauren Goode: And at the time, what sort of prediction, what sort of timeline were people giving for when that was going to become the next big thing?
Steven Levy: Fewer than 30 years.
Lauren Goode: And you said that was in the '90s?
Steven Levy: 1990.
Lauren Goode: Oh, all right. Well, we've surpassed that.
Steven Levy: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, no. It was fascinating, because everyone thought it's the next big thing. However, I chose not to write a book about it. I thought that was a good thing. Instead, I wrote a book called Artificial Life, right? Which, that hasn't happened yet either, but it might.
Lauren Goode: Also, you wrote a book about crypto.
Steven Levy: Yeah, I did. Yeah.
Lauren Goode: Yeah. I guess that's happened, but—
Steven Levy: That's happened.
Lauren Goode: It's happened.
Steven Levy: The stuff I wrote in that book, there it is, right?
Lauren Goode: Yeah, yeah. The market's a little volatile, but it is in fact here. All right, so this has basically just become a podcast where we talk about Steven Levy's books.
Steven Levy: I love it.
Lauren Goode: Thank you so much for joining us. We're going to take another quick break, and when we come back, we're going to offer our recommendations for the other Steven Levy books that you haven't read yet. We'll be right back.
Lauren Goode: Steven, what is your recommendation this week?
Steven Levy: I'm going to recommend a play.
Lauren Goode: Oh, OK.
Steven Levy: It's called Leopoldstadt. It's by Tom Stoppard, who is one of my favorite playwrights. It was supposed to debut on Broadway in the spring of 2020. Circumstances led it to a later debut, but it's a fascinating play. Prime Stoppard. Maybe not quite as good as Arcadia, but it follows the fortunes, and particularly the tragic misfortunes, of a Jewish family assimilated in Vienna beginning in 1899 and continuing through the rise of Nazism and the Holocaust.
Lauren Goode: And where can people see this?
Steven Levy: They can see it on Broadway in New York City, and if you're in town, like you are now, I suggest you make it over to the theater to watch this really affecting play, with all the wordplay and fun. You know, there is a little fun in there, weirdly. But mostly tragedy, of Tom Stoppard, and what might be his last great play.
Lauren Goode: What stood out to you most about this story?
Steven Levy: How relevant it is now. You know, you've seen over the past few years. I've read a few magazine articles saying, "I'm Jewish. I live in France. Are we reliving this time?" And look at Kanye West, what he's saying there, and people are saying, "Are people reacting to anti-Semitism?" So you would think that a play with those themes just would not be as searingly relevant as it is now, but it's a little scary in that sense.
Lauren Goode: Mm-hmm. I think you're the first person to ever come on the Gadget Lab and recommend a play.
Steven Levy: Well.
Lauren Goode: I think. Is that true?
Steven Levy: Do you regret having me on now?
Lauren Goode: No, I think it's wonderful. I think we need to have more people who like plays come on the show. That also makes me think, like, wow, maybe we're a rather uncultured bunch. Like, we're like, "You should listen to this Spotify playlist."
Steven Levy: Could a play work in the metaverse? I mean, if you're sitting there. I actually watched some of the keynote, the Connect keynote, in virtual reality.
Lauren Goode: Oh, you did?
Steven Levy: Yeah.
Lauren Goode: I think a play could work. I think that's actually a great use case for it, because it's a set amount of time. It's not some kind of game or work application that could theoretically be endless. It's a narrative. You could design certain elements of either visual elements or audio elements, since it has spatial audio, to provoke a different emotion or experience based on where it's coming from in the virtual world. I think that's a great use case for it.
Steven Levy: You know, I feel you'd have to rethink plays to do something you could only do in virtual reality. Because otherwise, to me, the defining aspect of a play is you're physically in the room with the actors, and they're giving it to you new each time, and their sweat and spit is there with you, right? So that's what makes theater super real. If you—
Lauren Goode: It's a synchronous experience.
Steven Levy: Yeah, if you were going to do a VR thing, you would kind of have to totally break that fourth wall and have them sitting next to you, or other kinds of things.
Lauren Goode: Yeah. Right, and there would have to be absolutely no latency, because if you had multiple players coming in in different headsets and varying connections … That's interesting. Well, Steven, I guess when you eventually leave us at WIRED, we know what you're going to do. You're going to go write plays for Meta. The Mark Zuckerberg play, only in VR.
Steven Levy: When I leave you, I'll leave my avatar behind. You'll never miss me.
Lauren Goode: We will definitely miss you, but let's not talk about that. OK, the next step is, you ask me my recommendation.
Steven Levy: And Lauren, what is your recommendation?
Lauren Goode: My recommendation is also New York City-centric, which is Tap to Pay on the subway. Wow, game changer. I haven't been able to spend as much time in New York City over the past few years, once again for obvious reasons. The pandemic prevented some travel, and just the ability to socialize and be around other humans for a while. But now I'm back visiting at a somewhat regular cadence, and this time, I've noticed that all the subway stations I've been going to have Tap to Pay, so there's no more fumbling with your wallet to purchase a card, and then swipe the card through multiple times, and then just missed your train. You just tap to pay with your phone, and it's incredible. And it's just made me realize how reliant I have become on tap to pay in general. I mean, a lot of times, I walk out of my apartment or where I'm staying without my wallet these days.
Steven Levy: And when you got on the subway, how were things?
Lauren Goode: It was OK.
Steven Levy: Good.
Lauren Goode: Yeah, it was OK. I was traveling around. I was in downtown Manhattan, where I'm staying, and it was … It's been OK so far. It made me think that here in our building, in Condé Nast, which is like Fort Knox—it's crazy hard to get into, for good reason. Like, we should just have our identities on our phones. We should be able to just walk in and tap our phones, and have everything there, and be able to get in that way. We have keycards, but then if you forget your keycard, like maybe I did this morning, it's really complicated. I know it's a fine line these days between how much technology do you want in place to expedite entry, or … because of surveillance, the threat of surveillance with everything that we do. To me, there's no difference between tapping a keycard that your company theoretically knows you're coming in and out versus using your phone, and I would just like to be able to use my phone to tap in to everywhere.
Steven Levy: Well, there it is. It's the old convenience versus losing control of your data argument there. And convenience always wins.
Lauren Goode: Yes. Well, tapping on the subway, tapping to pay, I'm definitely in favor of it.
Steven Levy: Well, visit us more often, then.
Lauren Goode: I am going to do that. Steven, thank you. This was super fun.
Steven Levy: Yep. I loved it. Thank you.
Lauren Goode: Great to have you on. And thanks to all of you for listening. If you have feedback, you can find all of us in the metaverse. Just kidding. You can find both of us on Twitter. Just check the show notes. We'll put our handles there. Our producer is the excellent Boone Ashworth, and my trusty cohost, Michael Calore, will be back next week. Goodbye for now, and we'll see you in the metaverse.
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