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How to Build a Responsible Metaverse

According to Jeremy Jurgens, a responsible metaverse is an essential medium for social and economic interconnectivity built in an inclusive, ethical and transformative manner. It is a value-driven platform that is also governed appropriately.  

Jeremy Jurgens is the Managing Director of World Economic Forum, a non-governmental organization that aims to sustain and improve the state of the world. In May 2022, the organization launched Defining and Building the Metaverse initiative.

Why is the World Economic Forum interested in how companies build the metaverse? What does it take to build a responsible metaverse? What benefits does a responsible metaverse present? This article will answer these questions about the proposed future of the internet.

Why a responsible metaverse is essential

The metaverse is predicted to provide humans with entirely virtual lives. Agreeably, such technology will have limitless possibilities. People around the world will have the liberty to improve connections to themselves. Likewise, they can alter their relationships with other people and even businesses.

In like manner, business organizations will have a feedback loop for gathering people’s data on the metaverse. Today, search engines and social media platforms can use your browsing activity to determine what adverts suit you.

Imagine how easy it will be to gather people’s data when:

  • They have an extension of their personality in the metaverse.
  • There are digital Identities detailing people’s personal information.
  • People coexist and have interpersonal relationships in virtual worlds.
  • People of different races and cultures have to relate virtually.

The above scenarios are only some of the possible ways businesses can gather people’s data from the metaverse. So, there have to be some regulatory measures for data gathering.

What about human life in the metaverse?

People will have so many activities to do in the metaverse. Working, playing, exercising, shopping, tourism, and even education. While we may do things like eating in the metaverse, some structures must be in place to regulate the activities humans perform virtually.

The government has agencies that maintain law and order in the real world. However, these agents and officers don’t poke into people’s lives. Similarly, the regulatory framework of the metaverse will not be privacy-invasive. Instead, there will be simple principles for everyone to follow and possible consequences of breaking the regulations.

For instance, Cryptovoxels, a blockchain-based metaverse, has specific community guidelines to help maintain a responsible metaverse environment. The procedure states that wearables must not suggest racism, discrimination, or violence.  

People and businesses have a shared responsibility to make the metaverse an ethical virtual world. So, how do you build a responsible metaverse?

Way to build a responsible metaverse

Regulations on data collection

Most websites and search engines on the internet are free and only charge users for particular products. Similarly, some metaverses are free-to-play. Players only pay to buy virtual land or wearables and these items even belong to them.

Consequently, metaverse platforms are coming up with new ways to generate revenue. While there are no reports of unwarranted data collection by virtual worlds, this might be a problem in the future. Virtual worlds might begin collecting metaverse players’ data just like search engines.

Although data collection is essential for metaverse builders to make vital decisions, it sometimes leads to the compromise of user privacy. Hence, regulations should control the kind of player information metaverses can store or even collect.

Data use

A metaverse platform may gather its user’s data to improve its product or even offer some services to players in a specific location. Also, businesses can use such information to enhance the effectiveness of adverts.

Nevertheless, virtual worlds should be mindful of the data they will use. Using or revealing player information that may be offensive to others will not encourage a responsible metaverse. Moreover, players should consent before their data is used to direct products to them.

Children’s safety and privacy

Parents recognize that a metaverse is an open place and that most people in virtual worlds are adults. Thus, metaverse builders are helping out by building platforms specifically for children.

Such platforms will ensure they follow all regulations regarding children’s safety. Additionally, responsible metaverse platforms can use software programs that prevent the circulation of adult content in a space meant for kids.

NSFW and NSFL content

Not Safe for Work (NSFW) is slang that describes content unsuitable for public display. NSFW contents include pornography, extreme nudity, profanity, and graphic violence. While there might be separate virtual worlds for sexual content, open metaverse platforms cannot feature public sexuality.

Consequently, building a responsible metaverse requires that feedback systems are in place to remove contents that are not fit for public display. These systems should also allow users to report virtual harassment and abusive speech.

Since people of different cultures and colors will be a part of the metaverse, racist content should also be flagged as NSFW.

Meanwhile, Not Safe for Life (NSFL) content contains expressions that might be scary or emotionally damaging. These are links, videos, images, and even words that suggest murder or fetish practices. None of these contents can be allowed in a responsible metaverse.

Gambling in the metaverse

Bet responsibly! We often see or hear such words on a betting site or after a betting advert. Virtual worlds will also not be short of gambling arenas.

Today, virtual arcades, casinos, racing tournaments, and games are core businesses in most decentralized virtual worlds. It is vital that people who bet control how much they spend.

Meanwhile, virtual worlds can also set regulations to limit how much money people can spend on virtual gambling.

Hardware safety

Hardware devices must be safe and convenient so users can use the metaverse responsibly. When designing haptic feedback systems, producers should avoid using technologies that might be damaging to the body.

For example, haptic feedback systems in VR gloves should not feature pain receptors or intense pressure and kickback. Both pain and severe pressure feedback can injure a VR glove wearer. Also, excluding these designs will completely prevent violence in the metaverse.

Ten months ago, Meta launched a $50 million investment to fund research programs on how to build reliable metaverse products. Likewise, the World Economic Forum is collaborating with over 60 metaverse companies to encourage an ethical metaverse framework.  

When tech companies build the metaverse responsibly, everyone will live their virtual lives happily.

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