Fast Company: Five Things Businesses and Consumers Must Demand from the Metaverse
September 28, 2022
We are syndicating this article from Fast Company.
Just as we saw in the platform economy of Web 2.0, Web 3.0 can have sweeping consequences on the human collective.
By Leigh Dow
Jobs in the metaverse are evaporating, and maybe that’s a good thing. A technology ecosystem that creates new human-to-machine interfaces, sensory experiences, social dynamics, and market constructs should not be rushed to reality.
The metaverse is part of Web 3.0, or the third iteration of the internet, where data is communicated in a decentralized manner to provide a faster, more tailored user experience. Web 3.0 is constructed using AI, machine learning, and the semantic web, and it utilizes the blockchain security system to maintain the safety of data.
Just as we saw in the platform economy of Web 2.0, Web 3.0 can have sweeping consequences on the human collective. Before it becomes a significant revenue-driver for companies, deeper consideration should be given to how the metaverse will shift our collective human experience.
As we build toward blending our physical and digital identities and experiences, here’s five things business leaders should install and instill in their metaverse ventures:
Today, major tech firms are just some of the businesses leveraging our user data to make huge profits. Web 3.0 users will expect to be paid for their time and data. This is especially important for content creators.
According to experts, tech giants have been exploiting users by deceiving them into giving away their valuable information with little or no compensation. With Web 3.0, consumers will demand to be compensated by a brand for the information they create and share while retaining data privacy and ownership. A key to profitability will be partnering with the right creators who draw consumers in and inspire them to make a purchase, engage, and share.
Working with content creators, brands can find new ways to innovate. An auto manufacturer can provide unlimited customizations and configurations and glean new insights for the features customers want. Apparel brands can do the same to find new colorway trends, and the resulting products can be sold as NFTs.
Growth of technologies like storage on blockchain and distributed ledgers allow data decentralization and can create transparent, safe environments. This is intended to overtake Web 2.0’s surveillance, centralization, and manipulative advertising. Bots, click farms, hidden ads, and more lack visibility in the chain. The blockchain combats these threats in many ways, one of them being decentralization.
Decentralized infrastructure and application platforms are geared to end the centralized internet, but tech giants probably won’t make the path to a democratized internet, where users own their information, an easy transition. Web 3.0 can change our lives for the better, but consumers will want us to develop positive change.
Tech leaders interested in investing in the metaverse can give consumers more transparency via blockchain, which Toyota found to deliver a 21% lift in ad performance. Consumers want transparency, and marketers can provide it while getting better tracing of visitors to sales and reducing ad spend.
Security is equally important in both the physical and cyber worlds, especially as these worlds continue to blend. Your digital twin deserves the same right to privacy and protection as your physical self. We have already seen virtual assaults, identity fraud, and bullying in the metaverse.
As Web 3.0 becomes a larger venue, data will be shared across multiple channels. That includes healthcare information, payment information, personal conversations, and more. We have to design the metaverse to be a safe and secure environment, not open to exploitation by malicious actors. To solve these challenges, Trend Micro examined nine different categories of threats with the metaverse, and tech leaders should consider this list when building a metaverse security model.
Today, sensor fusion collects data from devices. In the metaverse, that information comes from our bodies and actions. Our identities deserve privacy, including the information gathered that can identify us. When biometric data and contextually relevant AI is included in sensor fusion, it becomes easier to create a digital identity that models your actions, behaviors, and physiology. Specifications for how brands use data to create unique and personalized experiences in the metaverse, without creating a surveillance state, must be implemented.
Researchers from UC Berkeley and the Technical University of Munich conducted an experiment that tested the data gathered in a virtual reality escape room game. In a paper distributed via ArXiv, titled “Exploring the Unprecedented Privacy Risks of the Metaverse,” they shared the type and amount of data that could be gathered and exploited. They identified more than 25 examples of private data attributes available to potential attackers, some of which would be difficult or impossible to obtain from traditional mobile or web applications.
Business leaders operating in the metaverse should work with security professionals to truly understand logical access scenarios and give careful consideration to their privacy policies, as most privacy statements were written for Web 2.0 and mobile tracking, not Web 3.0.
ETHICS AND RESPONSIBILITY
All new technology needs an ethics review. In the metaverse, the ethics around diversity, equality, and inclusion need deep thinking. The tech community made many ethical mistakes in the platform and social network economy. Consumers and tech leaders alike must demand that anyone involved in creating metaverse experiences and ecosystems are versed in how their decisions can increase or decrease harm for participants.
Involving anthropologists, ethics professionals, and DEI experts is imperative to creating virtual worlds. Intel, for example, has a User Experience Innovation lab, where designers, researchers, and technologists explore new technologies and examine the social, economic, and cultural implications. Creating cross-functional working groups that examine these important questions is a great way to create a responsible environment to enable customers with data ownership and personal sovereignty over their identity.
I’m always excited about emerging technology and the possibilities created. The social scientist in me is equally interested in how people use technology, and the effect on the human experience as a whole. We have an opportunity here to significantly improve how people use Web 3.0 and how they are treated. As Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “Without ethical culture, there is no salvation for humanity.”
Vice President, Global Marketing at Identiv. Focused on tech transformations and the impact on the human experience.