Why the metaverse must be open but regulated

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Metavers is not a new concept. In fact, the term was coined in a 1992 novel, Snow crash, By Neil Stephenson. As the novel defines it, Metavers is essentially a virtual universe controlled and owned by a “global information monopoly” that users can access through personal VR goggles.

In 2022, the new computing revolution brings us an interactive, virtual world to collaborate, work and play, industry observers are calling this new world metavors.

And of course, we want these metavers to be open.

As we benefit from the Internet, we want competition and open access to these evolving metavores. Similarly for regulation. Metavers need to be looked at more closely for security, privacy and anti-trust reasons, such as the Internet.


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“Metavers are a natural evolution of the Internet,” said Tuong Nguyen, Gartner’s senior chief analyst.

Nguyen and other MIT experts, EthicsNet for AI and Machine Learning, the Markculla Center for Applied Ethics and Open Source Initiative at the University of Santa Clara, agree that if the industry no longer pays attention, professional and civic developers, and metavers alike May be affected.

With the complex technology that can make the Internet a success, the contributions of citizens and professional developers alike can shape most metavars.

And, in some ways, metavars come as an opportunity time. The old days of relatively open Internet have been threatened by the increasingly powerful technology companies, including Google, Meta (formerly Facebook) and Microsoft. The U.S. government has just launched a no-confidence motion against these giants, and it has a long way to go.

Now that the machinery is set in motion, it’s a good time to make sure we get things right for Metawors. Indeed, the same three companies – Google, Meta and Facebook – all have the size and scale to tip the metavers in their favor. Making sure they are controlled, and free play, will be crucial if the main principle of the metavars is to support the movement between virtual worlds.

“As an ethicist, open source, [and open] Access is always best because it facilitates more people to create and do more for the common good and social justice, “said Don Header, executive director of the Markculla Center for Applied Ethics at the University of Santa Clara. “Technology in general should be as comprehensive and accessible as possible in human terms.”

“Ideally, the rule of metavars would also be open, such as a joint venture where you would have governing bodies working together with industry groups and citizens to form a collective that would agree on principles and standards,” Header said.

In parallel, or as an alternative reality, metavers cannot be bound by the same laws of physics as our real world. Because of this, metavers can provide meaningful improvements in accessibility and interactions for able-bodied individuals in a variety of ways, Eleanor ‘Nell’ Watts, president of Ethicsnet, told VentureBeat.

Watson said the open invitation to innovate new aspects of Metawors could be “wonderful for experiments and massive creative abilities.” Currently, 98% of the websites on the Internet are legally inaccessible to the disability community. In the 2020 Web Accessibility Annual Report. What would have made it easier to achieve Internet access from scratch would have been developed with accessibility in mind.

As Michelle Park, the marketing manager of cielo24 wrote in a blog post: [is a] Technology [that] Could very well be the successor to the internet. With it comes a huge responsibility to ensure accessibility for all users. However, this time, for the most part, all the necessary techniques and features are already in place. As such, developers should continue to innovate Metavers, prioritizing its accessibility. ”

Accessibility and open innovation within Metavers can provide relief for individuals who are disabled, but want to experience the world – allowing individuals access to varying degrees of freedom regardless of their abilities or disabilities.

Opening Metavers for Comprehensive Innovation could lead to technological upgrades for areas such as education, training potential doctors on how to perform surgery in a Metavers environment before doing so on a real person, or teaching individuals to drive a car before they actually fall behind. Wheel “hands-on” experience without risk, unless they sharpen enough to transfer their skills from the metavars to the real world.

However, there is a dark side.

Regulating space we can’t fully access or guess

Many laws exist in modern society because one event created its need. However, how can technical decision makers expect rules for the safety of metavers before a situation arises where their need arises? (We’re already behind. A week after the opening, Metana Horizon Worlds has already experienced the first case of sexual harassment of a female avatar.

It is inevitably impossible to stop those who are mostly strangers and who want to harm those who bring new tools and opportunities with them from doing so. However, the protocol can be put in place considering who can access the metavers and what effects the metavers may have on experiences.

If metavars are accessible to children and possibly individuals with mental health problems, experts point out that there needs to be fours in place for safety.

“If we are to prevent someone from engaging in ‘cyber sexual harassment’, for example, that can cause real trauma to certain individuals – or if people are exposed to content and experiences that are intended to be intentionally shocking – in a metavers setting, our brains It can be hard to get out of that kind of excitement and just pinch ourselves and tell us it’s not real, “Watson said.

“I think it’s important that we embed safety and ethical standards in these experiences, especially when we’re immersed in something that could affect us at a deeper and more distorted level than we’ve ever had before,” she said. Said.

Another concern about Metavers is how society can prevent such shocking things, or if the regulation of potential damage within Metavers is ultimately left to the companies that have thrown their hats into the ring.

“Metavers calls on us to rethink how to regulate things in a new environment for society as a whole,” said Stefano Maffuli, executive director of the Open Source Initiative. “Right now we’re still in the early stages of trying to find out, but one thing we can’t approve of as a society is [for] One to three corporations own the space and introduce new products and concepts that could have long-term effects. ”

It’s not yet a dystopian novel, and may soon be far from over. After all, there are businesses that still use pens and paper to track costs and use fax machines to send memos.

These are professionals who are already thinking about “what ifs” scenarios, and who feel that our world is capable of handling and regulating technology properly.

“A lot of organizations are technically capable of regulating metavars. I know some are already working on something similar and have been for a while,” Mepfuli said. “For what it’s worth, it would be a good idea for the working group of individuals to come together and discuss the implications and standards.”

“Something like this could be a place where nonprofits like the Open Source Initiative could be part of a conversation about how the principles apply to research, impacts and the openness and sharing of information. I know others like the Oasis Consortium. Organizations and others have a task force to focus on this and they are working and looking at metavers, AI and related technologies through an ethical lens, “he said.

As Meta and other companies push to advance their claims in Metawars, they have released information about how they plan to approach development responsibly.

A blog post by Andrew Bosworth, VP of Facebook Reality Labs and VP of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, addresses how he plans to prioritize collaborations with other companies working to develop Metavers.

And when Facebook launched its supercomputer for Metavers this week, it took pains to figure out how to explain how secure the data used to power it is.

However, other Metavers thinkers like Matthew Ball point out that tech giants like Apple can use their control over the Internet (through its significant smartphone market share and 30 percent App Store tax) to significantly slow things down and, basically, incoming Metavers. . He called Apple the “de facto regulator of the Internet.”

No one can predict what will happen when more companies start implementing versions of their “metavars”. But the evolution of the Internet can be used as a guide Forecast What can happen with the rise of metavars.

“The next five years will still be the Emergency Metawares and Pre-Metawares Stage,” said Gutner’s Gwen. “At this stage, there are no metavars, so there are no metavars companies, solutions, applications. This may seem counterintuitive, but it is a reality. Needless to say, during this period we will see the ‘Year of Metavers’. We will definitely see amazing growth, [though],

Mullani of the Open Source Initiative said that the widespread accessibility and development of technologies for Metavers is important for Metavers to reach its full potential, and will probably follow the same path of innovation and regulation as the Internet.

Mullani adds that “the most important thing for society is to work towards Metawars in a way that allows it to be a place where we can examine and balance our democratic working tools, our rights and the delegation of power.”

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