- Offering a fundamentally transformative model of engagement in virtual and augmented spaces, Metaverse promises to transform the way we interact with each other and the world around us.
- While much has been said about the commercial opportunities offered by the Metaverse, the broader benefits of the platform have yet to be fully uncovered.
- The metaverse could have a positive force in areas such as healthcare, education and training – but only if its risks are mitigated and it is securely regulated.
Metaverse has the potential to play a broader role in society as it can expand our horizons, interact with those we couldn’t have met in the real world, learn about new places, access public services and healthcare, and an overall expansion the real world we live in to help us find ways to make it better.
Over the past six months, we’ve seen an exponential growth in interest in the Metaverse as companies of all stripes rushed to the platform. Businesses have started using the Metaverse to host meetings, collaborate and conduct brainstorming sessions, and host employee training and events. Nike created Nikeland for its “fans to connect, create, share experiences and compete”. JP Morgan became the first major bank to open a lounge in the metaverse.
But we’re still in the early stages, and the full potential of the metaverse has yet to be realized. Over the next few years, we will see the emergence of unique use cases that combine the digital and physical worlds, enabling seamless interactions and transitions between physical and virtual worlds.
How the Metaverse can transform industries for the better
The Metaverse will make ecommerce experiences more realistic and immersive. Through 3D holograms or avatars, we can have conversations in a fully immersive, reality-like environment. It will be possible for someone to go to a restaurant, choose their food –or in the case of Chipotleroll their own burritos – at the Metaverse and receive the order at home.
Metaverse will also transform education and training and make recruiting essentially location-independent. As avatar interviews become commonplace and the ability to collaborate, interact, and work in the metaverse becomes more available, organizations will be able to push new boundaries of diversity. Metaverse will help strengthen workplace education. Employers will be able to provide ongoing training and education programs in simulated real-world environments without jeopardizing their reputation or the safety of their employees. Education in the metaverse has the potential to produce a better educated, better skilled workforce that is more likely to be successful in the real world.
Metaverse will offer unlimited possibilities deliver health care– efficient, cheap and more widespread – through telemedicine, remote therapy or remote treatments on the metaverse. Medics will be able to use Digital twins as “test dummies” to predict how a person will recover from surgery, how they will respond to a particular treatment, etc. to identify problems before they occur.
New travel experiences is endured as the acceptance of the metaverse increases. Those unable to travel due to health, financial or other reasons can experience their favorite destinations, visit relatives or places of worship, all through fully immersive and interactive experiences.
Similarly, Metaverse will level the playing field between urban and rural, developed and developing parts of the world by enabling this access to public services in the most remote places.
We will also have a unique opportunity to tackle climate change with metaverse. Through digital twins, Metaverse will enable the replication of buildings, cities, and even the Earth to better understand our impact on the environment and advance climate science. As a matter of fact, NVIDIA has already announced plans to create a digital twin of Earth for this purpose.
Disadvantages and risks of the metaverse outweigh
With all these tremendous benefits, however, Metaverse also comes with some significant risks.
First of all, we take the risk of creating a platform exclusive to a specific section of society – those who have access to technology and the skills to use it – encouraging more homogeneity rather than diversity. In fact, we’re already seeing imbalances in terms of geographic distribution of VR sets. In 2019, North America and Western Europe caught up nearly 90% of all VR set salesand 38% of expected Metaverse growth over the next four years is expected to come North America. We must do our best to ensure more fair distribution of technologies that enable the Metaverse around the world. Globally active companies in particular play a major role in this.
Second, over-reliance on and over-use of the metaverse can have significant societal implications – creating two parallel realities that lead to more division and resentment instead of more cohesion, inclusion and collaboration. We need to establish governance processes to ensure that Metaverse augments, not replaces, the real world.
Third, 3D environments can collect a lot wider range of data about individuals than the two-dimensional Internet. In addition, Metaverse will allow for the creation of multiple personalities, making data protection significantly more difficult and creating a number of challenges in terms of identity validation and authentication. As an irreversible, traceable, and secure transaction network, blockchains will be critical to managing identities, authentication, data ownership, and governance.
In addition, metaverse can be beneficial when flattening bias, if the artificial intelligence (AI) powering the platform is biased, it may be just the opposite. It will be imperative for organizations to create oversight processes that ensure ethical AI standards and build a diverse and inclusive engineering workforce to eliminate any bias in the algorithm during the development phase.
Unleash the power of Metaverse
Finally, realizing the full potential of the Metaverse will require technological advances ranging from core infrastructure to experimental capabilities. Like the Internet’s globally accepted Domain Name System and Internet protocol standards that catalyzed user adoption, the Metaverse will require similar standards for graphics, transactional, computing, and networking capabilities. For an open, interoperable, and secure metaverse, it will be crucial for consortia of different companies, from startups to internet giants, to collaborate on protocol standards.
We are at a crucial juncture where we have yet to determine the direction of this nascent platform. It is entirely up to us—those building the founding blocks and governance models—to take the actions necessary to unleash the power of the metaverse as a source of good, while also establishing processes that help mitigate its risks.