3 things you need to know about the metaverse this month
- This regular roundup brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the development of the metaverse.
- Below you'll find insights and opinions on how this emerging technology could transform the way we work, make purchases and spend our leisure time.
1. AI could speed up construction of the metaverse
New AI tools such as image generator DALL-E and text generator ChatGPT could help speed up development of the metaverse, according to metaverse industry insiders who spoke to TIME magazine.
Future iterations of these technologies could make it possible to write a paragraph about a virtual space and then have it appear and become accessible almost immediately – much like DALL-E does now with images, the magazine says.
This could help make virtual spaces far more rich in detail and customizable, and this could in turn help draw users in. “If we are going to create a 3D internet, then you absolutely have to have the people who are participating in it creating content as well – and the only hope we have of making that happen is if AI can help us," chipmaker Nvidia's Vice-President for Omniverse and Simulation Technology, Rev Lebaredian, told TIME.
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Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations (AIOps) could also be crucial, according to technology and design company Exarta. It says that platforms looking to support metaverses will have to be highly scalable, and will only be able to achieve this with AI that can automate IT processes, running operations and detecting anomalies in real time.
2. Hermès handbag court case sets precedent on digital asset rights
A dispute over digital versions of Hermès handbags could change the way intellectual property rights are applied to digital assets. That's because an artist who made and sold NFTs of the fashion house's fur-covered Birkin bag is deemed to have broken trademark rules.
Hermès sued Mason Rothschild for creating the NFTs without the fashion brand's permission, saying that people would think the products were affiliated with the brand. Rothschild claimed the "MetaBirkins" were artworks in the same vein as Andy Warhol's reproductions of Campbell's soup cans. Rothschild has now been ordered to pay $133,000 in damages.
“I’m not creating or selling fake Birkin bags. I’m creating art works that depict imaginary, fur-covered Birkin bags,” he said. “The fact that I sell the art using NFTs doesn’t change the fact that it’s art.”
The case sets a precedent for other trials related to NFTs and how trademark law is applied to digital assets. Many fashion brands are showing interest in the metaverse, where they could sell digital clothing and accessories for avatars. Having the ability to control their designs and brands, and to enforce their intellectual property, will be critical to how profitable the metaverse could prove for them.
3. INTERPOL steps up metaverse policing efforts
The International Criminal Police Organization, better known as INTERPOL, is looking into how it can enforce law and order in the metaverse.
"Criminals are sophisticated and professional in very quickly adapting to any new technological tool that is available to commit crime," INTERPOL Secretary-General Jürgen Stock told the BBC, adding that it is important the organization is not left behind.
INTERPOL launched its own metaverse space in October, to offer immersive training courses in forensic investigation, as well as other policing skills. This area is now also being used to give officers a sense of the crimes that could take place in the virtual world, and how they might be able to tackle them, Stock told the BBC.
What is the World Economic Forum doing about the metaverse?
Experts believe that the metaverse will come to represent the next major computing platform, transforming consumer experience and business models across industries.
Fashion brands are one example. Over years, apparel companies have perfected the design, manufacture, and distribution of clothing to anticipate consumers’ wants and needs in line with seasonal changes. But today, most of their revenue is surpassed by the $3bn worth of sales of digital cosmetic items in Fortnite, which have a cultural significance that extends far into the physical world.
This is one of the economic opportunities of the metaverse - the possibility to “assetize” digital content, creating a framework of digital ownership for users. If it is replicated at scale and across sectors, then entire industries will be reshaped by changes to their traditional value chains.
However, the promise relies on the advancement of several key technologies, including augmented, virtual and mixed reality (collectively known as XR), as well as blockchain, connected devices and artificial intelligence. How should these be governed in a way that promotes their economic upsides while protecting individuals’ safety, security and privacy?
The World Economic Forum is bringing together leading voices from the private sector, civil society, academia and government to address this precise question. Over the next year, it will curate a multistakeholder community focusing on metaverse governance and economic and social value creation.
It will recommend regulatory frameworks for good governance of the metaverse and study how innovation and value creation can be strengthened for the benefit of society. Updates will be published on the World Economic Forum website on a regular basis.
Cybercrimes are one of the world's leading crime threats, and are projected to increase more than other crimes in future, INTERPOL's recent Global Crime Trend report says. Crime has increasingly moved online as the pace of digitalization has increased, it adds.
More on the metaverse from Agenda
Most of the underlying technologies needed to enable the industrial metaverse already exist, according to this article co-written by experts from the World Economic Forum and the University of Cambridge. This means decision-makers need to consider how their organizations will deal with the new opportunities and challenges.
How exactly does the metaverse work, and how could it change our lives? The World Economic Forum's Anna Bruce-Lockhart explores these areas with Stanford University VR expert Jeremy Bailenson, who says the metaverse can only be "driven by use cases that make sense".
Statista insights suggest 15% of the digital economy has already shifted to the metaverse. What are the possible scenarios for market growth through to 2030?