Metaverse, The Promise of Virtual Worlds

Metaverse, connections globe in the universe
Metaverse, connections globe in the universe

“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”

 J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

The metaverse is a concept that is shaping and changing. It promises a virtual universe model that might have important social and economic implications. The intention behind the metaverse is to create different asymmetric virtual worlds.

But, there is no agreement on metaverse definitions at this moment. The entire ecosystem, products, and services will be created through code and technological infrastructure. The complexity of this endeavour and the technical resources involved in mimicking our real world might seem like a utopia. However, big tech companies are working on it and other organisations are aiming to get involved. They promise to create marketplaces that enhance our experiences with their services and products using immersive technologies.

Metaverse seems more like a valuable ideal to be chased and a good investment in the future. Different organizations use this concept and present their products, services, games, stories visions. All of these real items are to be transposed into a digital virtual environment. Similarly, they should follow the physicality laws and regulations of our real world and offer us an enhanced immersive experience.

Transcend Boundaries and get comfortable with AR

In the near future, we will need to get familiarized with the tools and technologies used by multiverses. The question is what would be the skills we will need to interact and properly use with the multiverses? In order to adapt to such a dynamic and interactive environment, we need an open mind and a lifelong learning mindset.

So, anyone who enjoys playing video games, and immerses themselves in video game fantasies, virtual lands and simulated environments will easily adapt this technology. Video gamers, 3D or 4D environment enthusiasts, and e-sports players have already the inclinations and skills to do well within the multiverses and to immerse themselves in these complex simulated ecosystems. And not only they will do better with web3 tech, but new career paths are already available to them.

Even if most of us are not familiar or comfortable with using AR glasses and haptic feedback devices, the number of mobile augmented reality (AR) is gradually increasing. According to Statista the number of mobile augmented reality active user devices worldwide will be 1.7 billion in 2024.

the digital environment and enhanced learning experiences

However, building fictional virtual worlds requires a diverse and complex set of skills. Cross-industries technical and soft skills like design, gaming, social interaction, animation, and blockchain are to develop this new interactive digital world. Envisioning how different components combine to create a harmonious digital environment with a solid infrastructure is a real endeavour.

Probably the most useful application of the metaverse will be in our education. Learning and training will benefit from creating virtual classrooms, complex training simulations, and immersive learning experiences. We will probably be able to transcend physical boundaries and make learning more interactive and attractive. Language learning, history contexts, and science laboratory projects will be easier to customize and understand. Using blended learning might enhance the learning experience and facilitate a detailed context for better retention and learning.

Avatars and virtual social interactions

Multiverses revolve around the idea of opening new doorways to a second world within the digital realm. In this multilayer interlinked virtual environment, we are to experience a second life. We can interact with people through avatars that will allow us to communicate, connect and engage in different activities. Furthermore, the avatar we choose holds a virtual identity tied to us, the real person. It is like a close representation of our personality traits, gender, and ethnicity. We can think of them as an artificial extension of ourselves we can use for work, entertainment, digital art, or creative activities.

After all, human nature is unpredictable and how people will behave within the metaverse it’s up to their free will. What side of their personality will prevail in a virtual dispute depends on their circumstances and personal choices. Just like real social interactions, the avatars’ social interactions need to follow rules and moral principles and avoid offensive, aggressive, or ill-intended behaviours. But, we should not forget that behind an avatar is a real person who can choose certain personality traits and hide others as it happens with social media profiles.

The Challenge of Data Privacy and Safety of Users

Metaverse futuristic worlds, reality, and interconnectivity are simulated by blending the rules of our earthly existence with digital technology. As with everything newly created by technology and involving social interactions, the metaverse has long-term consequences for users’ privacy.

Consequently, personal privacy and user safety are raising another dilemma. To educate and protect ourselves we need to stay informed about at least two of the regulations created to protect us in the EU: the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and The Digital Markets Act (DMA). The Digital Markets Act (DMA) aims to apply procedural rights and obligations to digital platforms and qualify them as gatekeepers and the consent for the processing of personal data is handled by GDPR.

However, to benefit the functionalities across digital platforms we need to agree on different sets of rules for each platform. Metaverse providers need to verify the user’s accounts to track their activities and avoid bots and fake accounts. Using technical cookies that are part of data collection and processing could render mandatory consent useless and large amounts of personal data could get processed without us having control over it.

Personal Safety Boundaries in Metaverse

Applying rules to avatars that represent the user’s real identity is complicated. The owner of the avatar has to take responsibility for its behaviour. Still, is difficult to imagine how a virtual identity can be punished by law and not see this issue as a distant dystopia. But, no matter how many rules are implemented by public authorities, metaverse providers will control the data generated by users.

With the new coming of multiverses, we might get a virtual version of the rule of law. Ultimately, legislators will pass laws to prevent negative attitudes or abusive behaviour toward each other, as they always do. An example that illustrates the adaptation of rules is Meta’s 4-foot rule related to personal safety boundaries.

Nevertheless, humanity’s history is a good teacher and it shows us that laws will change to make room for innovations, especially if financial opportunities are involved. Let’s stay informed and make educated decisions about how to use the metaverse.