The metaverse is taking shape and the concept has emerged quickly. The speed is down to the fact that it is being built on technologies that already exist in some form. And because the opportunity is so enormous that every big company on Earth is taking an interest.
Gaming is driving the metaverse and the gaming industry is now so big (bigger than the film and music industries combined) that it is drawing the biggest of companies in.
Big tech, big brands are all heading to the metaverse in what looks like another early internet gold rush.
While the metaverse is taking shape, the usual questions begin to emerge.
One is ‘what exactly is the metaverse?’ Already, a report suggests that ‘2.5 billion people are trading and interacting in metaverses’.
What these people are actually doing is meeting and trading and buying and selling in virtual environments. Much of this is replacing the ‘water cooler’ moments and already businessmen are reporting that conversations in virtual corridors are leading to ideas and, in some cases, leading to new initiatives and new revenue streams.
You can also bet anything you like that as the metaverse is taking shape, hackers and other bad guys are also looking at the opportunity (that could boost global GDP by many trillions of dollars by 2030) with greedy, glittering eyes.
Let us hope that enough focus will be put on security and privacy issues to prevent unforeseen misery, heartbreak and bankruptcy.
Security, those in the ‘know’ say, is built in. 5G is, by nature, secure they say. 6G will be more so. Yet every technology we have ever produced has proved to be flawed and if an industry says something is ultra-secure, then all that does is throw down a challenge to the black belt hackers, whether they are state funded or simply big businesses in their own dark worlds.
Privacy, too, is a major issue while the metaverse is taking shape and should be addressed now. Using your avatar to disguise your true identity is only half an answer (and being bombarded by offers and adverts based on your avatar’s behaviour is going to be as irritating as being bombarded as we are at present).
Again, every attempt at protecting users’ privacy has been flawed. GDPR and other data protection measures have proved flimsy. Instead of robustly curbing companies’ use of customers’ data, nothing changed.
We go to a site, a notice pops up saying ‘manage your options’ or ‘accept all cookies’ and it is the same as before (unless you can be bothered/have the time to read the mind bogglingly complex Ts & Cs) – the deal is click accept and come in or don’t click and stay out.
From the amount of interest, money and recent big company pronouncements, it is clear that the metaverse is taking shape – whether it arrives in five, ten or 20 years.
It would be refreshing if the ‘boring bits’ such as security and privacy are properly planned this time, otherwise the horror stories of data breaches and ransomware attacks will only get worse.