During the Global Standards Symposium (GSS) in early March 2022, a prize competition was launched, aimed at young people and aimed at creating new virtual experiences to raise awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
However, the prize competition, called “Metaverse 2030”, also turned the spotlight on a question that more and more people are asking themselves right now.
Will we really all move to the Metaverse by 2030? To try to answer this question, we asked the opinion of Cristiana Falcone, who headed the Media, Entertainment, Information and Sport section of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2004.
Cristiana Falcone: “The pandemic has accelerated digital evolution”
Cristiana Falcone, while not making a clear statement on the issue, stated that the pandemic has accelerated digital evolution, so a life lived within a virtual environment is no longer a utopia.
No sector, in fact, has escaped the processes induced by what is turning out to be a true fourth industrial evolution, even if it is based on sustainable technologies.
Not only the life of each of us, but also the business of companies in moving more and more into the Metaverse, so much so that epochal changes are required, starting with the move towards more empathetic and ethical leadership.
Ethics, from the contemporary to the virtual world
Ethics: a word that has existed since the time of Aristotle, but which, at least until the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, many seemed to have forgotten.
But what does this word mean when applied to the world of business and, above all, to the virtual sphere?
This is what Cristiana Falcone tried to explain with her workshop on ethical leadership, organized in collaboration with the Faculty of Philosophy of the Pontifical Lateran University, and attended by numerous guests and participants.
During the workshop, those presents, starting from the main values inspired by philosophy, discussed real situations, experiences, failures and successes, thus also considering the current challenges that companies and individual professionals are called upon to face.
Challenges that, as Falcone pointed out, are essentially two: the one concerning the fourth industrial revolution, stimulated by the digital evolution further accelerated by the pandemic, and the second concerning an all-round sustainability.
A new approach, which concerns how a company operates and moves in a specific context with an eye to profit, the planet and people, which more and more companies will be called upon to tackle in the future.
The Metaverse: What are the legal implications?
In recent times we hear more and more about the metaverse, this virtual space where users can live, work and play in alternative worlds. But from a legal perspective, what are the implications related to data security and privacy, IP, copyright and antitrust? Let’s look at it
What is the Metaverse?
As Cristiana Falcone said we do not have a universally accepted definition of the metaverse, but we could define it as a space that includes the use of virtual reality, augmented reality and avatars, all connected in a huge network. Certainly, what is certain is that there are growing concerns about privacy, security and data protection in these metaverses, of whatever kind they are. This is because, nowadays, we mainly talk about interoperable metaverses, i.e., interconnected metaverses in which avatars, digital resources and other data can be transferred, regardless of whether such data are jointly owned or jointly operated.
Areas of practical application of the metaverse
Video games: the practical application that everyone immediately thinks of is definitely video games. Games including Epic Games’ Fortnite, Microsoft’s Minecraft, and Roblox already offer the ability to use VR viewers to interact with other users online, or other games to use augmented reality. Other examples of practical use include in-app payments, already widely used in many services.
Workplace: just as in a real office, virtual workplaces will be created in the metaverse where avatars meet and interact in a deeper way than a simple two-dimensional video call.
Events: already many events have been organized in the multiverse, such as musical performances, concerts by world-renowned artists, and video game buying events. Other companies are investing in creating virtual private events as well, such as graduations, weddings, and other celebrations.
Healthcare and medicine: this is perhaps one of the most interesting fields of application. AR has often already been used for physical care, such as architects designing operating rooms or operating on real-life patients. The metaverse may also be useful for psychological health: it could in fact become an alternative space to traditional therapy rooms, where therapists can simulate particular experiences in the virtual world and deal with them psychologically, for example, to overcome certain traumas.
Virtual real estate and digital resources: many companies have already invested and made millions to invest in virtual furniture and virtual plots of land.
Legal consequences of the metaverseEven with the advent of the Internet, issues of digital security and privacy have been the focus of attention all these years. Indeed, existing laws, as they had to do during the establishment of the Internet, must also readjust to this new metaverse technology. We checked out on the Cristiana Falcone Blog that user information will be particularly at risk of exploitation, given the vulnerabilities involved in singular metaverses, and even more so in interoperable metaverses. Issues of intellectual priopriety are also highly relevant: for example, the identity of the creators of a given work in the metaverse may be difficult when the work results in a collaborative project performed by users made anonymous behind avatars. In addition, more and more companies are offering digital resources and services for sale, often using cryptocurrencies and other digital resources supported by blockchain technologies. The success of the metaverse, in any form, will require massive capital investment in digital content, digital assets, and hardware to generate virtual spaces (e.g., GPUs), as well as the digital infrastructure (e.g., fiber networks and 5G ) to connect them. Finally, interconnected spaces have drawbacks along with advantages. With connectedness comes a degree of homogenization, and some users may not want to give up the ability to customize their online environments in ways that are possible in contained, fragmented spaces but not in an open, universal metaverse. Competing visions for the metaverse could result in competing metaverses that are never fully interoperable.