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From Virtual to Reality: The European Commission’s Strategy for Web 4.0 and Metaverses

Tags: 'metaverse'


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The European Commission has recognised the potential of the virtual world, also known as the metaverse, as well as the challenges it poses, and on July 11, 2023 adopted a strategy on Web 4.0 and Metaverses to steer the technological transition and ensure an inclusive, secure, and innovative digital landscape for EU citizens, businesses, and public administrations. 


By 2030, metaverses are projected to generate €800 billion in global growth and create 860,000 new jobs within the EU by 2025. The metaverse could potentially impact different sectors including healthcare, education, architecture, and manufacturing, streamlining processes and saving time and costs.


However, alongside opportunities come challenges that must be addressed, including the need for trustworthy information, digital skills, user acceptance, and fundamental rights. The European Digital Rights and Principles will guide a human-centric vision for virtual worlds, reflecting EU values. 


To solidify this vision, the European Commission has already taken significant steps. They launched the Virtual and Augmented Reality Industrial coalition, uniting industry experts and policymakers to collaborate on this emerging technology on 14 September 2022. Additionally, the Commission held a citizen’s panel, gathering insights from 150 randomly selected EU citizens to guide their strategy for Web 4.0 and virtual worlds. 


The strategy for Web 4.0 and Metaverses is based on four pillars. Empowering citizens and reinforcing their skills will be achieved through an online pool of Virtual World specialists, ensuring access to safe and trustworthy information. Business: supporting a European Web 4.0 industrial ecosystem is crucial, fostering research and collaboration among stakeholders to create a technical roadmap. By utilizing virtual worlds, governments can enhance sectors like healthcare and public services, advancing societal progress. Lastly, the Commission advocates for openness and global governance of Web 4.0 and virtual worlds, endorsing fair standards to prevent undue domination by large organizations. 


To delve deeper into the ethical and social challenges posed by the future metaverse, explore our collection of interviews which has just been published. 


While it is difficult to accurately anticipate the future impact of something as incipient as the metaverse, we can look back and learn from the experience of the last twenty years with the expansion of the Internet, social media, artificial intelligence, the data economy and the attention economy. At the very least, looking back can help us ask the relevant questions that should be answered now, at the design stage of the future metaverse. One key question is: What lessons have we learned from the digital world in the 21st century and what should we take into account in designing the metaverse of the future? 


To answer this key question, in this series, we spoke with seven professional experts working in different fields: economics, technology, research into digital violence, environmental consulting, psychology, public regulation and business. Together they provide us with a variety of perspectives on the future metaverse. 


You can read the interviews here or watch the panel discussion we held with four of the experts, available in Spanish.