Build a responsible and empowered Metaverse

A lot of tech companies have been talking about the metaverse lately. This raised questions about what it is and how we can ensure that these new innovations are developed responsibly.

The metaverse is set to succeed the mobile internet.credit:iStock

The first thing to know about the Metaverse is that it doesn’t exist yet. Metaverse is a vision and will be a set of virtual spaces that allow people to create and explore with other people who are not in the same physical space as you. It would seem like a mixture of social experiences online today, sometimes expanded into three dimensions or projected into the physical world. At Meta, we believe the metaverse will be the next evolution of digital platforms – and the successor to the mobile internet.

Realistically, the Metaverse is at least five to 10 years away, but that doesn’t mean we have to wait for real safeguards to be put in place to ensure the security, privacy and luxury of the Metaverse. This is part of our responsible innovation approach. But it is also important to understand that the metaverse will not be created by a single company. It will likely consist of many different components and the Meta will not build, own or operate the metaverse on its own.

To help make this happen, we are working with industry partners, civil rights groups, governments, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions around the world and in Australia to think about all the issues and opportunities related to the metaverse.

We have already begun to take concrete steps to address some of these critical issues. For example, our Quest devices are designed for ages 13 and up, and some experiences are for ages 18 and up only. We will be making parental supervision tools available on Quest in the coming months, allowing parents and guardians to get more involved in their teen’s virtual reality experiences.

In Meta apps like Horizon Worlds and Venues, users can mute, block, and report others, and we recently introduced a personal limit to prevent unwanted interactions. We’ll continue to make improvements as we learn more about how people interact in these places. And as we work with others to build the metaverse, we also need to make sure it’s fair and inclusive so that everyone can access it. Finally, we need to consider economic opportunities, how we can give people more choices, encourage competition, and how we can support the next iterations of the digital economy.

Last year, Meta announced the XR Software and Research Fund, a two-year investment of US$50 million (about A$65 million) in various research programs to help educate us on how to responsibly build the metaverse. We are pleased to announce this year that our first Australian partner, the School of Automation of the Australian National University (ANU), will be awarded the Electronic Systems and Metaverse Research Grant.

As the Metaverse will have the greatest impact on future generations, we also wanted to expand our partnership with PROJECT ROCKIT, who sit on our Global Security Advisory Board, to ensure there was appropriate and wide-ranging consultation with Australian youth. As part of this, we are providing new funding to PROJECT ROCKIT to consult with a wide range of young people across Australia so we can take their ideas and opinions into account when building the metaverse.

While security and education are key, we also want the metaverse to allow online communities to thrive, and we’re already seeing glimpses of what can be achieved with creators through technologies like augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR).

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