“The next age of the Internet is coming” – Virtual Review

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Davos 2023 tackles Metaverse: “The next era of the Internet is coming”

Dubbed Davos 2023 for its location in the resort region of Switzerland, a new report from the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) says that “the next age of the Internet is coming.”

The World Economic Forum brings together leaders from government, business and other “civil society” organizations to address the state of the world and discuss priorities for the year ahead. The group says the meeting provides a platform to engage in constructive and forward-looking dialogues and to help find solutions through collaboration between the public and private sectors. It is widely seen as an important gathering of leaders from all walks of life – technology, politics, entertainment, journalism, economics, academics and more – coming together to articulate future initiatives.

Cutting-edge technology figured at this year’s meeting, which ends tomorrow (January 20). After viewing predictions for Web3 and the cryptocurrency recovery, the forum engaged with the metaverse, described as “an immersive, interoperable, and synchronized digital world that will transform the way we interact, work, and play.”

That description comes in the January 18th report, “Interoperability in the Metaverse,” which was published with a companion report, “Demystifying the Consumer Metaverse.”

Both reports constitute the preliminary findings of the Define and Build Metaverse initiative launched by the World Economic Forum in May last year. At the time, the WEF said it was “bringing together leading voices from the private sector, civil society, academia, and politics to define the benchmarks for an economically viable, interoperable, safe, and inclusive metaverse, focusing on two core areas: governance, economics, and social value creation.”

Metaverse Interoperability
The Interoperability Report emerges from the Governance Path, which was written in collaboration with Accenture and focused on providing topical guidance to enable multiple stakeholders to lead responsibly while mitigating potential social and economic harm. The report said interoperability concerns:

  • Trade data across interoperable infrastructures
  • Participants communicate themselves, their origins and their creativity across platforms and experiences
  • Experiences that are protected through collaboration and barriers such as content moderation

Moreover, the report said, interoperability in the metaverse can provide enormous opportunities and value for frictionless experiences, development, and economies. On the flip side, “potential social and economic harms” include such nasty things as identity fraud and transaction fraud.

As shown in the graphic below, interoperability is one of the metaverse’s four levers of value.

Metaverse Value Layers
[Click on image for larger view.] Metaverse Value Layers (Source: WEF).

The report said the lever of interoperability value can be used by stakeholders to:

  • Improving access to engage, work and play in digital experiences and digital marketplaces
  • Activate the effects of social, privacy, security, and financial networks
  • Extend (real) experiences in new ways to provide value to end users

“Interoperability design choices must be balanced to create resilient systems that also consider privacy, security, safety and identity needs,” the report said. “Interoperability may not always be the desired state. While not inherently conflicting, an action that only maximizes one value—such as interoperability—may do so at the expense of achieving other goals. For example Over-indexing interoperability without balancing safety as a value may expose children to unwanted content resulting in an imbalance between desired levels of security and privacy.

“Given the delicate interplay of design choices and the levers of value that must be pulled – standards, guidance, best practices and other means must be timely and not independently generated. It is essential that stakeholders – providers, creators, civil society and participants alike – collaborate formally and informally. both to co-develop human-first interoperability best practices and standards to maximize the potential of the metaverse at scale.”

As another graph shows, interoperability is also a key core concept of the metaverse, with equal billing along with Web3, Extended Reality (XR) and others:

Metaverse Key Concepts
[Click on image for larger view.] Metaverse Key Concepts (Source: WEF).

Regarding the overall governance path that produced the report, the WEF said these elements would be useful to consider when forming a future governance framework:

  • An interoperable metaverse must be human first to prioritize the well-being of all stakeholders
  • Interoperability design must consider existing privacy, security, and child safety frameworks to strike the necessary balance
  • Metaverse literacy is indispensable for enabling secure and interoperable experiences
  • Interoperability design choices must be meaningful and timely
  • Sharing technical data, engaging participants and managing across expertise depends on multi-stakeholder collaboration
  • Social contracts and expectations for participants vary with experience
  • Interoperability is subtle and multi-dimensional and is a spectrum to be respected

The WEF said the report is not intended to be a comprehensive look at the metaverse, but rather will be combined with other briefing papers to help form a white paper on metaverse governance.

“While harmonization of existing regulations and development of new policy may be necessary to adapt to new and unforeseen challenges, continued collaboration between engaging stakeholders – including providers, creators, civil society and participants – and further research into policies, standards and other forms of guidance It is the first major step toward progress in building a metaverse that is human first,” the report concluded. “Businesses, governments, academia and civil society must collaborate to build appropriate standards that support passive interoperability, encourage innovation and take a people-first approach. More work needs to be done, but understanding the foundation that will drive interoperability, and the possibilities it can unlock, is an important first step.” .

Demystifying the Consumer Metaverse
This report, also co-written with Accenture, focuses on consumer applications, presenting different use cases for enterprise and consumer-facing applications in the metaverse.

This report decodes the metaverse—specifically the confusing “web3” and “Web 3.0” components—and discusses value creation, economic models, and future value prospects.

“Metaverses are expected to have a widespread impact on consumer attitudes and behaviors, influencing how, where and when they want to play, learn, earn and socialize in their existing reality or newly created augmented and virtual reality,” the report said. Thus, organizations will need to redefine their brand image, transform their relationship model with consumers, and change the way they monetize products and services in order to create real value for the consumer. They are likely to move from offering products and services to metaverse participants and providers, delivering engaging experiences and building communities from In order to create meaning and fulfillment for its customers.”

Regarding those confusing terms for Web 3 and Web 3.0, the report said that Web 3.0 describes the third phase of the Internet, being an evolution focused on distributed systems to create a safer, more transparent and open Internet experience that allows direct interactions between users and their peers without intermediaries.

Web 3.0
[Click on image for larger view.] Web 3.0 (Source: WEF).

Meanwhile, Web 3 is how to decentralize in this context, which is described as an emerging set of decentralized technologies – including: blockchain and its applications – that work together with protocols and standards to determine the source, validity and value of data.

Key insights from the report as presented by the World Economic Forum include:

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