The metaverse is getting a lot of attention – both good and bad – at the moment. Therefore, in this second blog post, I’ll dive into aspects that organisations, businesses and society at large should be aware of, as the development of the metaverse marches on. Be sure to read the first part about the metaverse and sustainability, where I focus on the opportunities presented by the metaverse.
Fundamentally, the metaverse presents one major consideration that we, as a society and business’s going into the metaverse have to consider; will we get a wild west, or a walled garden? History has shown that global, and even national, regulation has difficulty keeping up with the technological advancements made every single day – and the metaverse is no different. Some make the argument that this is a concern for a later stage in development, as it is like arguing what the speed limit should be when flying to the moon – let us ensure that we will all land on the moon first.
However, the possibility for a shared secondary world, where we have lived experiences means there’s a need to transfer laws and regulations into the space of the metaverse as well. It is particularly important to consider the vulnerable – the young, elderly and the disabled. Those that will struggle even more than the everyman when entering such a space.
Right now, regulation of the metaverse is being left largely in the hands of the individual companies developing their various versions of the metaverse, and the demand placed on these is carried out by what could be argued to be uninformed consumers.
To me, two outcomes seem likely; either countries keen to protect the personal information and digital wellbeing of their citizens from foreign interest, will build walled gardens of regulation around their national jurisdictions. Alternatively, if big tech wants open and global metaverses, they will need to build and maintain guidelines for their own iterations, that will have to be strict enough to satisfy even the countries aiming for the tightest control of information.
Questions of regulation remain largely unanswered and will likely depend on the information provided to consumers by experts, NGO’s and politicians etc., on what they should demand from the metaverse creators before entering, to ensure personal- and proprietary safety.
How to add and not subtract value?
Overall, it is apparent that the metaverse will offer businesses interesting propositions in rethinking their entire business. In my previous blog post I have touched upon meeting facilities, R&D and inclusion as key areas with opportunities in the metaverse, but there are many other opportunities to use individual components or the metaverse in its entirety to drive sustainable development.
Overall, it appears unclear whether the metaverse will be an opportunity or challenge to the world’s sustainability efforts. There is the risk of it ending in a poor sub-optimum where it will be at its highest negative impact on the environment, without it displacing the physical world and current internet iterations, meaning it would be another element in an already straining global atmosphere. However, the hope is that it will truly be a great force for good and over time completely replace many of the causes for existing environmental issues. Only time will tell.
In the thought leadership ‘Shaping the metaverse towards sustainability’, six industry experts gave the author a clear picture of the considerations businesses should have when entering the metaverse: Find something that can add and not subtract value from society. The most important points are to jump on the wagon with a targeted solution towards a concrete problem, identify a case and focus your innovative efforts around this, leveraging data and analytics.
Otherwise, the metaverse can prove an expensive undertaking at its current developmental stage, where instead of innovating sustainably you
become another increasing polluter, and user of scarce resources.
If you want to avoid this trap, I urge you to read the full thought leadership to gain the complete understanding of how to take the first steps into the metaverse