Building a Responsible Metaverse



The metaverse should welcome everyone, but that does not mean it will be for everyone. Previous iterations of virtual worlds were more or less an escape from reality. If we build it right, the metaverse will not be seen as a way to withdraw from life, but an additional layer that enriches it. The metaverse is already a place for consumers to try on clothes virtually before buying them and where colleagues can convene meetings and collaborate on projects. And it can and will be so much more. The metaverse can be a place where surgeons hone their craft, or infectious disease specialists diagnose and treat patients in remote places. A university student studying history could engage in conversations with everyone from Marie Curie to Julius Caesar. A middle-school student could meet with his or her math tutor across the country as if they are in the same room and, after cracking quadratic equations, explore the surface of the moon. On a tour of the Louvre in Paris, visitors could not only look at the Mona Lisa, but ask Leonardo, as he is painting, in which direction she is truly looking. Travelers might be able to wander a digital twin of Pompeii and get a sense of the culture before Vesuvius covered the city in ash. As individuals, we can even live the experience of those around us, to more deeply understand people from different backgrounds, communities and circumstances, and expand our real-world sense of empathy. If all these possibilities and others like them are to come to fruition, companies need to partner and invest, now, not only in preventing the bad, but in building incentives to create a trusted, safe, healthy and welcoming metaverse. Of course, even with a responsible metaverse framework, building safe spaces will be an iterative, agile development process, requiring a broad range of voices and philosophies. Yet everyone can agree that we stand, collectively, at a virtual doorway unlike any other in recent history. We have a rare opportunity to ensure that a new, life-changing and enriching technology does not outpace society’s best intentions, and instead helps us realize them.

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