Interview with Neil Trevett
Vice President at Nvidia, President of the Metaverse Standards Forum, and President of the Khronos Group
Metaverse EU spoke with Neil Trevett, Vice President of Developer Ecosystems at Nvidia, a global tech company, President of the Khronos Group, a standards organisation, and President of the Metaverse Standards Forum. Trevett spoke about his experience at Nvidia, why he set up the Metaverse Standards Forum, and the importance of standards in developing the metaverse.
Patrick Grady: You've been with Nvidia for almost two decades. What has that experience been like, and what changes have you seen in that time?
Neil Trevett: It's been awesome. Nvidia is a unique company, and over the last ten years, it's transformed itself from being essentially a GPU vendor into a platform and one of the transformative companies driving the AI revolution. It's been quite the journey.
My role at Nvidia now is to promote the use of technologies that are easy for developers to use, and, in many cases, this involves open standards. Nvidia has a whole spectrum of technologies, some proprietary, but we are interested in promoting and helping develop open standards because of the opportunity for the entire industry.
Grady: As you say, Nvidia has become known as an AI superpower. What do you think it will be known for in 2030?
Trevett: We're going to use the “M” word. Nvidia will continue investing in AI, and there are many different applications. AI is one of the most fundamental revolutions in computing since the internet, and maybe even more fundamental than that. But my activities are mainly around what we call the “metaverse”.
The path to the metaverse will explore multiple disruptive technologies and AI is undoubtedly one of those. It may be the most important because it enables computing, rendering and simulating. Along with everything else we do, spatial computing and large-scale computing platforms like [Nvidia’s] Omniverse will be some of the critical paths toward the metaverse. There's also the suite of extended reality (XR) technologies and devices that are evolving. Then there’s web3, where there is something fundamental about decentralised storage that we need to have an open and networked metaverse.
We're heavily involved in almost all of those technologies. Bring all these things together, and something interesting will happen for the whole industry and us at Nvidia.
Grady: You are also the President of the Metaverse Standards Forum. What is this initiative, and why was it set up?
Trevett: Despite the name, the Metaverse Standards Forum is not a standards organisation. It's a place for the standards organisations to come and cooperate with the broader industry. We realised that the metaverse had to be based on open, interoperable standards if it would be interesting.
At its core, the metaverse is bringing together disparate technologies. So we're going to need a constellation of standards, hundreds and hundreds of standards, for all the different aspects of the metaverse, and that means we're going to need dozens, maybe even hundreds of standards organisations that will be creating these standards.
Cooperating here would be helpful, or else we will all be treading on each other's toes and fragmenting and duplicating. We thought it would be a good idea if we had just had a neutral forum where we could all come and talk and figure out how we could help each other. That was the genesis of the forum.
Grady: You once said a truly successful standard becomes so ubiquitous that you forget it's actually a standard at all. What did you mean by this?
Trevett: The most obvious example is plugging your PC into the wall. That whole electrical system—the size and shape of the deployment, that everyday users know you can get electricity outdoors—is the result of the work of standardisation heroes. A more up-to-date example is the web, which is entirely built on open standards. Now, if you're a web developer, you care about all the individual standards that make up the web stack. But for a regular user, you just click, and there it is. Now, you don't think how it's constructed. It's so ubiquitous.
The number one rule for the open standards community is to try to standardise stuff sparingly. If it's still in the R&D phase and changing every few months, it's too early to try to put standards stakes into the ground.
Grady: Where are standards most urgently needed to further the metaverse?
Trevett: The Metaverse Standards Forum now has many members, 2600 organisations. You know that there is a recipe for chaos. So, the first thing we did was poll the membership about the key issues they’re facing. We immediately got over 200 topics, and the number one topics upvoted by quite a large margin were privacy, cybersecurity, and identity. It was a long way ahead in the more technical and engineering aspects.
It was a surprise, but in hindsight, it shouldn't have been. It reflects that we're all still in the Web 2.0, social media mix, and everyone is acutely aware of some things we might have done better. If we take this kind of consideration from the engineering point of view and work with legislators to be more proactive, we can avoid some downfalls because the stakes will be much higher.
Interested in joining the Metaverse Standards Forum? Check out how to 👉 https://metaverse-standards.org/members/
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