The article originally appeared in Block Tribune on September 20, 2021. It is republished here with permission.
The term Metaverse is used to describe the concept of a future version of the internet where physical environments are shared and fused into 3D virtual spaces into a perceived physical-digital universe. While it might sound like science fiction, our existence has arrived in the Metaverse, and tech giants are already heavily involved in building what the future of the Metaverse will look like.
The types of activities that could take place in the Metaverse are limitless – just think of all the events from school, office meetings and conferences to weddings, coffees and happy hours that we have attended virtually over the past two years. The Metaverse presents the opportunity to leverage remote life and work even further. Virtual conferences and a plethora of tools specifically designed to facilitate collaboration by distributed teams have already come into play.
The Metaverse will offer fully immersive gaming experiences, exceeding the current Virtual Reality product offerings by tenfold. The gaming space seems especially likely to play a role in propelling the Metaverse further, as video gamers already own some of the most robust computational processors available.
NFTs: we have all witnessed the cottage industry of value created for entertainment, sports, and media personalities, artists and teams through tokenization of non-fungible content. Today, the media is focused on entertainment and media content being tokenized in the Metaverse. Imagine when entire towns, cities, regions, countries, and superstates are created virtually, with the resulting explosion of content. In other words, we have only begun to see the Metaverse commercialized through NFTs. Are they securities? Are they currencies? Who regulates? Who can purchase? Who can trade? What is protecting us from hackers, terrorists and money-launderers?
Data protection and privacy: as humans spend more and more of their waking (and sometimes sleeping) hours in the Metaverse, who owns the resulting data? Who is protecting your identity? What happens if your information or identity is misappropriated? Who is responsible?These are just examples of the many conundra emanating from the question of who makes the rules and enforces them. Some say that every legal system modernized to consider the Metaverse. Others back the creation of a new legal system specially designed for the Metaverse. While the Metaverse holds great promise for merchants and investors alike, without a system for design, promulgation, and enforcement of rules, it could be dangerous. For now, the Metaverse has been growing in a virtual regulatory sandbox. How long will this last? Until the first Meta-tragedy that captures public attention? Or will someone or something lead the charge? The crypto world provides a valuable indicator of what happens when rulemaking remains fully decentralized.