Pushing the gas pedal on the Metaverse

For some people, this will be their only escape, if not the only existence hence why it is crucial to work on shaping society even before the Metaverse emerges


Everybody’s talking about the Metaverse, but there is a technological barrier today since the hardware available is not mature enough, and we still require good lightweight headsets. However, these temporary limitations should not fool you since various organisations are already laying the foundations. So the issue is not whether we will live in the Metaverse but when.

Large companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple are all investing heavily in these technologies. They want to be the first to launch their Metaverse. For Facebook, it’s a natural evolutionary step since they know they need to reinvent social media and expand it further. Microsoft aims at a workplace Metaverse that greatly enhances individuals’ work capabilities. These corporations are looking at it from different angles, but ultimately, it is all about the money. Bloomberg Intelligence claims that the Metaverse is the next big technology platform, so everyone is eager to capture a slice of the nearly $800 billion market opportunity. Governments are no different, and there has been a rather massive push from some countries to create a Governmental Metaverse.

The Caribbean Island of Barbados will be opening the first virtual embassy. Their idea is to support all those organisations currently setting shop in the virtual land. They plan to use technology for cultural diplomacy, thus boosting the trade of art, music and their civilisation in general.

Dubai, too, aims to become a world leader in the virtual world. Their Virtual Assets Regulator became the first authority to enter the Metaverse. It aligns with their idea to set up a decentralised regulator model, which offers real-world services. These include the initial application process, welcoming new licensees, and sharing global expertise. Furthermore, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched a higher committee to develop the Dubai Metaverse strategy since the country aims to position itself as a global centre for new metaverse technologies. They see it as part of an extensive restructuring plan whereby the Dubai Municipality will create a futuristic but human-centred version of the city in the Metaverse called One Human Reality. The fulfilment of this strategy shined through the Future Innovation Summit held in 2022, where high profile individuals from around the world showcased their vision of the Metaverse and other emerging topics.

Santa Monica is one of the first towns in the United States to migrate to the Metaverse. Interestingly, they aim for a mixed reality approach whereby citizens can use augmented reality technologies to unlock collectables and rewards spread around the physical city.

South Korea just launched a $3.3 million project to establish Metaverse Seoul. This virtual location will feature a city hall, touristic landmarks and social centres. In 2023, the city also plans to organise a live event called the Seoul Lantern Festival, where users just need a headset to attend. These activities are all part of the Seoul Vision 2030, which includes a five-year plan based on three stages, the “introduction” stage in 2022, “expansion” in 2023 and “settlement” by 2026.

There is a lot of excitement going on, and we expect that developments will accelerate in the coming years. However, the big question is whether we can manage to engineer a good Metaverse.

With the Internet, social media (and most technologies), it was the other way around – first, we create the technologies, we start experiencing problems, and countries start legislating (where possible and before it is too late). The Metaverse will lead to more significant issues, so we should tackle them from now. Of course, it won’t be easy, but we should be cautious and not just let the big companies dictate. That is why the involvement of governments at such an early stage is crucial.

Let’s not forget that our sedentary life is causing many deaths, which can only increase once the Metaverse becomes a reality. On the other hand, as the virtual world becomes increasingly indistinguishable from real life (with technologies such as NeuroLink), migration into the virtual world will become inevitable.

For some people, this will be their only escape, if not the only existence hence why it is crucial to work on shaping society even before the Metaverse emerges. Of course, we shouldn’t be pessimistic about such a technology, but a balanced discussion must ensue. In the end, the Metaverse will become a reality, and it will offer a lot of advantages. It is essential to take a cautious approach whereby governments and big companies engineer together, the world of tomorrow, so that we avoid the mistakes of the past. It should be a technology which increases opportunities for everyone, not just for the few and only by working on it from now can we manage to reduce its adverse side effects.

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