The metaverse is coming, but Big Tech’s latest obsession needs safeguards

The metaverse is a persistent and virtual world accessible through augmented reality, virtual reality, or even smartphones, and has the support of CEOs like Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Nvidia’s Jensen Huang. While online life simulators have been explored in the past, these augmented reality apps linked with the metaverse strive to create a shared virtual space while incorporating factors of life that may not be possible in the real world.

As good as this digital reality sounds, all concepts can have their downfalls. “As the 3D digital world becomes more interactive, people will need to be held accountable for their behavior in that universe,” says NYU Tandon School of Engineering professor Carla Gannis. Gannis acknowledges that the “ills of human culture and society can be persistent, unless we're actually thinking ethically about these things.” 

In a virtual recreation of our world, harassment could be far more powerful than what’s found on social networks. Gannis also brings up the fact that for a metaverse to truly take off, “we need digital money.” Metaverse operators will need to address how users purchase items in their worlds, create and sell goods, and turn their virtual cash into fiat currency.

While the metaverse will need rules to safeguard users, a new virtual world could also bring users unique experiences in unique ways.