A collection of interviews: Ethical and social challenges posed by the future metaverse


The term ‘metaverse’ was coined by author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel, Snow Crash. Fast forward three decades, and big tech companies are racing to lead the metaverse market. Despite its potential, it is still at an incipient stage of development, and with so much media and commercial clamour surrounding it, it can be a challenge to separate the hype from the reality.

In this document we go beyond the technological narrative, put the issue into historical context and expand its focus by examining the potential ethical and social challenges. 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 question, 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.

  • The series opens with an interview with Cecilia Castaño, Professor of Economics at the Complutense University of Madrid. From her perspective, it helps to put the development of the metaverse in the historical context of major technological advances.

  • The second interview is with technologist Pedro Lozano, co-founder of Imascono, a company specialising in the development of virtual and augmented reality technologies. We discuss the metaverse with him from a technical perspective, as well as the ethical and social challenges it entails.

  • The third interview is with Eleonora Espósito, a researcher and a leading national expert at the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). We discuss the violence present in the online world and how to address the major challenge of gender violence in new immersive virtual spaces.

  • We ask Lluis Torrent, an environmental expert and consultant for international organisations, about the environmental impact of the construction of the metaverse and how to address this issue.

  • Charo Sádaba, professor and researcher in communications at the University of Navarra, discusses the impact the future metaverse could have on younger generations.

  • The sixth interview is with Liliana Arroyo, sociologist and managing director of Sociedad Digital de la Generalitat, in which we review the main regulatory challenges of these technologies and some of the possible solutions.

  • And finally, in the interview with Eduardo Canelles, chief metaverse officer at Adigital, the Spanish association of digital companies, we discuss the business opportunities and the conditions necessary for the entire Spanish economic fabric to take advantage of the future metaverse and the technologies that support it.

To see the round table that we organized at the Mobile World Congress 2023 entitled "The future metaverse: an interdisciplinary perspective" visit this link