If the metaverse lives up to its promises of becoming the “next big thing” in technology innovation, it will disrupt human computer interaction in ways both anticipated and unexpected. Now is the time to reflect and debate how we want the metaverse to be part of our lives and how we co-imagine a metaverse that serves the global public interest. Some of the questions we intend to explore as part of this project:
What are the challenges of creating a safe and inclusive virtual environment, and how can these challenges be addressed through research, design, and policy?
How can the metaverse be designed to be more inclusive and accessible for all communities?
How can the metaverse be used to promote the rights and interests of diverse communities, including those facing discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, age, or socio-economic status?
The metaverse has the potential to make some of technology’s most pernicious problems – data privacy and security, information quality and misinformation, power asymmetries, and safety and well-being – even more acute. It also has the potential to provide increased opportunities for learning, entrepreneurship and work more broadly, mobility and sense of space, relationship building, identity formation and self-actualization, play, and wonder.
As we are imagining and building the metaverse, we intend to (1) bring experts from different sectors together to discuss challenges and opportunities at different (technical, data, policy, and human) levels and translate learning into actionable outputs, (2) research emerging questions and translate observations for decision- and policy-makers in the public and private sector and the public more broadly (e.g., through educational efforts), and (3) contribute to the development of a metaverse with important underlying values (e.g., openness, trustworthiness, inclusion) and thoughtful governance structures.
“The metaverse: A massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds that can be experienced synchronously and persistently by an effectively unlimited number of users with an individual sense of presence, and with continuity of data, such as identity, history, entitlements, objects, communications, and payments.” Matthew Ball, author of “The Metaverse and How It Will Revolutionize Everything”