Forces of disruption Futures Futurism Metaverse Technology

What The Metaverse Could Become, the Risks Ahead, and How to Overcome Them

The Metaverse is not a thing. Yet. Today’s metaverse-precursors such as digital twins, holograms, avatars, exploratory digital apps, and immersive computer games pale in comparison to what is to come. Even scifi’s collected set of ideas fails to capture the opportunity ahead of us. It will be awesome, scary, and world-changing. But it will take time. 

Yet, on October 28 of 2021, as Facebook’s holding company became known as Meta and announced its metaverse strategy, the word “metaverse” suddenly was on everyone’s mind. That came as a surprise to me, who has known, researched, and lived with the opportunities and prospects of the term metaverse for decades. I guess that’s social media for you. Here’s my summary of where we stand, based on my analysis of conversations with ten entrepreneurs and thinkers on Futurized podcast over the past two years with my own take.

What happens now is not set in stone. It could go in many different ways. Risks are immense. A Metaverse with capital M may not happen at all. Somebody may also decide to shut it down, although given how slow policy is to react to technology, that would likely be too late. We better hope and plan for it to work out. After all, perhaps we will need a metaverse when we start intergalactic, intergenerational space travel (see The Future of Consciousness, Futurized podcast, episode 79)?

Resurrected from sci-fi, when you boil it down, a metaverse refers to an immersive environment that combines virtual and physical elements. A Hybrid reality. For now, I encounter it when my kids are playing the interactive computer games Fortnite, Roblox or NBA 2K as they are on the phone with friends, or online on Discord, discussing the action simultaneously. Those games have come a long way from my childhood–or have they really? With some imagination, one could get pretty deep into virtual worlds already back in the 1990s. That’s the crux–imagination. Many of these immersive elements require a leap of faith. That’s something we have to keep in mind before we dive too deeply into the idea that technological fixes will be what produces metaverses. 

Augmenting people is far more complex than developing a technology or even experimenting with form factors. Instead, there’s a whole process to exploring what humans are all about, discovering opportunities for augmentation and tweaking it in dialogue with users (see my interview with MIT Media Lab Professor Pattie Maes, Emerging Interfaces for Human Augmentation, Episode 24, Augmented podcast). As for what this means for business, I’m co-author (with Natan Linder) of a forthcoming book trying to deal with that (see Augmented Lean: A Human-Centric Framework for Managing Frontline Operations). That book is forthcoming from Wiley on Sept 7, ’22.

One would think many metaverse attempts should still be called augmented reality (AR). But ambitions have increased. Perhaps this is not just about (slightly) augmenting human reality. Could a new technology platform with capital “M” extend human reach so that life itself becomes a hybrid cyber-physical reality? Could this shake up our 300,000 year existence? If that is what this is about, the hype is justified. If it only is about my kids playing marginally better computer games than I did when I was young, I’m not that impressed. Which is it?

The economic, political, cultural, and technological effects of metaverse(s)

Aside from the immediate hype factor, the most interesting aspect with the metaverse is, of course, not what it is now but what it could become. Here, there are many viewpoints, but let’s just chart some options. 

Economically, this could clearly become a frontier market, maybe the biggest ever created. Bloomberg’s view is that the Metaverse may be $800 billion market, next tech platform, a figure they found by adding together the market for online game makers and gaming hardware to perceived opportunities in live entertainment events and social media. Those projections are speculative, but don’t include the industrial metaverse or civic or government applications. The Koreans are in the lead here (see Seoul wants to build a metaverse. A virtual New Year’s Eve ceremony will kick it off).

Politically, it could bring down superpowers and reshape alliances, and certainly represent a near immediate privacy and governance challenge (see Brookings’ Tom Wheeler on The metachallenges of the metaverse and VentureBeat’s Ashleigh Hollowell on Why the metaverse must be open but regulated). 

Culturally, it could bring us together or pull us further apart. “As immersion becomes an increasingly dominant cultural paradigm, it is important to pull off the headset, step outside, and resurface”, writes Adam Stoneman in What Will the “Metaverse” Do to Art and Culture?). What does it mean to use artificial intelligence to create one-of-a-kind artworks generated entirely by computer algorithms? Does it complement or change art? Does the fact that computers are entering the art sphere mean the metaverse is coming to us rather the we needing to enter it? (See The Future of Art and Tech, Futurized podcast, episode 107).

Either way, the prospect of meeting, trading, and undoubtedly, clashing, across and within geographical and cultural barriers, is bound to produce novelty and change. Most obviously, we will see an impact on art, learning, diversity, as well as new shared cultural practices. Although arguably, the automotive industry’s use of digital twins is a precursor, and the geospatial analytics market is real (see Geospatial Analytics Market Worth $256 Billion by 2028), the full business impact of a more developed state of metaverses is less clear. 

Technologically, metaverse development would seem to depend on what happens to a host of currently poorly connected strands of infrastructure and applications. The speed with which the aging internet platform deteriorates is important. If the internet is still attractive decades from now, many would say, the metaverse cannot succeed, although Bolter & Grusin’s (1998) good old “remediation thesis” would indicate they could co-exist for a long while (see Remediation: Understanding New Media). Extended reality (XR) immersive and wireless devices would be needed to complete the human-computer interface for the metaverse. Much more pervasive use of the decentralizing blockchain protocol n(or some other payment structure that is not fully dependent on banking institutions) would also seem to be a key ingredient of any financial infrastructure on the metaverse. Edge computing, facilitated by 5G, is another key ingredient because without at least that level of bandwidth, virtual life won’t be highly engaging. 5G isn’t just another generation wireless networks, it is a game changer for trust, reliability, and industrial performance at the edge, that last mile which fixed broadband has struggled with. What remains to be seen is how widespread the rollout will be and, of course, how innovative industry will be in making use of the new network (see How 5G Enables Manufacturing, Augmented podcast, episode 69).

The obvious one is machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), given the computational complexity required to create credible spatial immersion online. The ready availability of supercomputers (at least on the production side) would need to be there as well because current devices and infrastructure cannot support even individual virtual avatars of one human being, much less realistic digital twins of things like the natural world or even cityscapes. Not only would hardware form factors such as chips as well as advanced (and cheap) sensors need to advance, quite likely some aspects of a full-fledged metaverse would depend on quantum computing in some shape or form. 

All of that, unfortunately for those claiming the metaverse is imminent, will take time. For me, these are positives, because they give us just a little time to conceive of the opportunities and pitfalls along the way (see Adam Chiara’s video interview with me, Ready or Not, Governments, the Metaverse is Coming for CT News Junkie, as well as my interview with Fox40, What is the metaverse? A look at what Big Tech views as the next stage of the internet).

The Metaverse as a container of hopes and dreams

To me, the Metaverse concept is a container of hopes and dreams for the next stage of technological development, one where machines are serving humans. However, there is a big caveat. The Metaverse discussion is currently dominated by gaming (Disney, Epic Games, Niantic, Roblox, The Sandbox, Unity, Unreal), entertainment (Disney), virtual real estate (Decentraland), retail (Zara), big tech software companies (Alibaba, Apple, AWS, Microsoft), chip makers (Intel, Nvidia), and advertising-based organizations (Google, Meta), and not yet with enough engagement from startups, governments, non-profits, or citizens. Is that a problem? Not necessarily, although that is certainly not how the internet evolved, not that they necessarily need to go down the same path. We are in a different world now, right? Maybe. But if the Metaverse is going to change the world, I would want more stakeholders involved. 

To Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek, the metaverse is a “storytelling frontier” across theme parks and digital properties (see Disney has appointed a leader for its metaverse strategy) and might indeed be the brand through which most young people at some point truly would experience its narrative powers. 

At this early stage, multiple concepts have been launched as attempts to coin the core property of the Metaverse. Ori Inbar‘s term is “spatial computing”. He is the co-founder of Ogmento, the location-based, augmented reality games and apps fusing real and virtual worlds, Augmented World Expo (AWE), the leading AR/VR conference, and Super Ventures, its investment arm. Inbar points to 2020 as the year 1 billion users were engaged, quoting Michael Boland’s market insight firm ARtillery Intelligence, which “chronicles the evolution of augmented reality and virtual reality.” (see The Future of AR, Futurized podcast, episode 54).  

Google’s term is “ambient computing” a type of “helpful computing can be all around you” (see Google and Ambient Computing), allowing people to use a computer without realizing they’re doing it. Its mother company, Alphabet will definitely play a role, both in hardware and software (see Alphabet Metaverse Acquisitions). Having said that, Google’s “other” investments have had mixed success. Older terms for the same thing were ubiquitous computing, decentralized computing, or calm computing. I remember those terms from when I was writing my 2002 PhD on What the Net Can’t Do. The Everyday Practice of Internet, Globalization and Mobility. Yes, it’s true, I’ve been somewhat critical to the alleged “speed” of virtual transitions over the past twenty five years. That’s what it took for ubiquitous to become ambient or Edge. Edge computing itself originates with Akamai’s earliest experiments with content delivery networks back in the 1990s (see Cloud and edge computing for IoT: a short history). 

Mark Zuckerberg’s notion is “an embodied internet that you’re inside of rather than just looking at it.” (see his Founder’s Letter, 2021). Beyond that, I find it a bit pointless to speculate on what they have in mind. Mostly because I’m not sure they know yet. When a company founder outlines a drastically altered course (one would have to say), the scramble that occurs will create a new dynamic. If Meta wants a leading role in the metaverse, however, it would need more than a digital platform, and more than a concept of a book of faces with likes. I consider it a good thing that making futuristic investments is a risky activity in the sense that many things improve with a bit of uncertainty in the mix. With this new announcement, ironically, Facebook became a bit less of a sure thing. That seems healthy.

What I do know is that the current use cases of the metaverse (playing games, attending meetings) are not going to cut it no matter how much Meta’s technology improves, and if they keep their market share of billions of people into the next decade. They are not only going to need to develop more of the enabling interface (the cyber-physical aspects, not just the software), they are also going to have to hold onto our attention while doing so. I know I checked out of the platform mentally almost a decade ago. My kids consider me old school for even still maintaining a Facebook account. Ten years from now, online life will not be the same. Will it be unrecognizable? Probably. My best bet is that Meta will be among the players in an emerging (set of) metaverses but not the major player. Why? Because it takes a much bigger imaginary powers than the company has displayed so far. But, we should not underestimate the legacy of data, users, and privacy policies that now are part of the growing Meta empire (see Why you should care about Facebook’s big push into the metaverse). Even so, the biggest impact of the appearance of Meta is the near instant validation of decades of AR/VR/XR experiments as a valid, futuristic platform that, one day, will be the successor to the Internet. I’ll give Zuckerberg that much. He can have a coffee with me to discover how people who, arguably, “see” the future far before others, don’t necessarily end up being the ones to profit the most from it.

Nvidia’s CEO Jensen Huang speaks of the prospect of one day getting to a universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, and already offers the Nvidia Omniverse as an “easily extensible, open platform built for virtual collaboration and real-time physically accurate simulation” that enhances the workflow between end-users and content creators. Huang is already enabling a metaverse for engineers and designers. His hyped statement is that “we’re going to have billions of robots in the Omniverse worlds” and where those robots can run through millions of scenarios to learn (see Nvidia CEO: The metaverse will be ‘much, much bigger than the physical world’). I will admit to having bought into some of this hype myself, having recently purchased NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3090 graphics card to power the four monitors I use for my content creation, book writing, podcast production, and overall productivity in my attic studio. It does help to have that kind of computing power. I’m still far from the Metaverse! Perhaps because I’m less of a gamer than in the past?

Speaking about content, real-time content creator company Unity’s Tom Parisi has formulated his The Seven Rules of the Metaverse claiming there only can be one Metaverse, it is an open, hardware-independent network for everyone, which is itself the Internet, because “someday, a global network of spatially organized, predominantly 3D content will be available to all without restriction, for use in all human endeavors.” As much as I believe in many of the principles he pronounces, that assertion seems to be both overly optimistic, technology deterministic, and a bit totalitarian. I might be too optimistic to assume that everyone is going to embrace openness for a platform where so-called “walled gardens” would seem to be beneficial for those who have invested a lot in its emergence, at least at the outset. Meta certainly does not seem to embrace Parisi’s strategy and, knowing its former business model, will attempt to aggressively extract rents somehow. 

In The Metaverse: And How it Will Revolutionize Everything (2022), VC Matthew Ball claims the metaverse would (in a decade) become a “persistent, 3D, virtual world”. In his “Framework for the Metaverse” (2021), he writes “the Metaverse will revolutionize nearly every industry and function. From healthcare to payments, consumer products, entertainment, hourly labor, and even sex work. In addition, altogether new industries, marketplaces and resources will be created to enable this future, as will novel types of skills, professions, and certifications. The collective value of these changes will be in the trillions.” The question is, how persistent does it need to be? Is it enough to last for a few hours? Does it need to be more like a job, e.g. you can enter for 8 hours at a time? Questions abound.

As I discussed with visionary founder David Smith of Croquet (see How 5G+AR might revolutionize communication, Futurized podcast, episode 36), Augmented reality builds on insights that were present among the precursors of the internet, such as Douglas Engelbart and Alan Kay. Whether and how AR can evolve into a communication platform that is in some ways more real than co-presence, is an open question. Would it at least be able to support simultaneous digital collaboration in a way we have never seen before? How long might this take? What will the form factor be? Will computers as we know them become outdated within the next decade? AR has the potential to shift digital communication into a radically novel, transformative collaboration environment where simulation, multi-sensory stimulation and symbiosis between humans and computers can unlock innovative potential and provide the backbone of a platform that can help humanity confront its greatest challenges, such as climate change, pandemics, and other threats to our way of life, and ultimately to our existence. 

Futurist Cathy Hackl calls the metaverse a nascent space for shared virtual experiences that represents how our digital lifestyles are catching up to our physical lives (Reese 2021). That definition hedges a bit because it encompasses almost all the exploration going on in the consumer space, but it certainly misses a lot of the action happening on the industrial front or as regards governments, or infrastructure. 

Startups will also have a place in the metaverse, possibly dismounting existing tech giants. What the winning concepts will be is too early to tell, in my view, but in addition to new form factors (googles, headsets, wearables), 3D avatars, virtual real estate, various Web3 stack tools (blockchain for decentralization, cryptocurrency wallets as a form of identity, distributed storage solutions, peer-to-peer databases and algorithms), we can assume a lot will change when the provision of virtual worlds or its supporting platforms becomes a commonplace business model (see The Web3 Stack: What Web 2.0 Developers Need to Know). As creators attempt to join in on the fun building individual assets, games, systems, experiences, or entire “worlds”, the “creator economy” will also need direct support, so many of the tools will have to be low code and no code (see Creator Economy). If I was to mention some startups, how about  

I still don’t have my avatar? When should I get one? Let me know once something good comes along. I want it to be interoperable, superbly designed, and with many different skins and capabilities. And, I don’t just want to use it for games, but also for my video conference calls when I have a bad hair day. By the way, I’d love for metaverse builders to fix hybrid meetings before they get to the actual metaverse. 

Is there an industrial metaverse?

What would the industrial metaverse look like, you wonder? Well, as it turns out, it is emerging. It might be the most real thing about the metaverse right now. You need only look at the way digital twins have emerged. Over the past few years, advanced digital models built to represent physical objects–industrial installations, buildings, or cars–have become commonplace. With such models–digital twins–engineers can simulate what would happen when those objects are built, or even stress test existing facilities. While at MIT, I worked a lot with an MIT startup, Akselos, that has had such technology for many years now. Its engineering simulation software uses Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to design everything from airplanes, to oil rigs, bridges, and offshore wind turbines, protects critical multi-billion dollar assets for some of the largest energy operators, and extends the lifetime of expensive assets (see What Is Finite Element Analysis and How Does It Work?). 

But the industrial metaverse will be more than individual objects. The next frontier would be to digitally model the US utility grid, arguably one of the most complex phenomena ever built and still in operation. There is no way around it. If the grid is going to support distributed production and consumption, spikes due to pervasive charging of electric vehicles and other mobile units requiring massive power, and be able to take in intermittent renewables at any endpoint, we need an upgraded grid, and better visibility about its status. Professor Peter Palensky at TUDelft is attempting this feat for the Dutch grid as we speak (see Developing a digital twin for the electricity grid). 

The complexity of such an endeavor, and more importantly, the cost of doing it, will definitely mean it will not emerge overnight. Yet, without a metaverse-like utility grid, one could argue, there will be no overall metaverse. If we are to believe Vaclav Smil, energy is among the most core assets that civilization is built on. Modeling reality would have to start there.   

No-code for IoT in the Cloud has come a long way, as I discuss with guest Rob Rastovich, CTO of ThingLogix. There is strong the impact of connected devices and the subscription based economy on industries as distant from the initial IT waves as agriculture (see No-code for IoT in the Cloud, Augmented podcast, episode 44).

Today, extended reality is used in the space industry and in the automotive industry. The Finnish startup Varjo’s Urho Konttori has the International Space Station (ISS) and many automotives as clients already working with human-eye resolution mixed reality (MR) devices (see Futurized podcast, episode #66, Industrial-grade Mixed Reality). Imagine learning to dock at the ISS using MR–that’s one crack flight simulator. 

The metaverse will also be relevant to the organization of tomorrow, the increasing blending of online and offline worlds, reality and virtual reality, into a hybrid reality. In the metaverse, “we might find sovereign identities where people and bots work, play, learn and consume, operating in an increasingly virtually empowered world”. That’s what Mark van Rijmenam, PhD, Futurist, Founder of Datafloq and Mavin thinks (see The Metaverse Reality, Futurized podcast, episode 110). 

Microsoft is building a work-oriented metaverse product environment called Mesh (see more). Inside Mesh, a collaboration and communications platform, you’d be able to use Microsoft Teams, Windows, and other services in VR. You can project yourself “as your most lifelike, photorealistic self in mixed reality to interact as if you are there in person” – well, that’s the idea, anyway. “Customers can leverage Mesh to enhance virtual meetings, conduct virtual design sessions, assist remotely better, learn together virtually, host virtual social gatherings and meet-ups.” (Microsoft Mesh – A Technical Overview). Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality glasses cost about $3,500 and are meant for corporate use, not consumers, at this point.

However, I think anybody who has been in a hybrid work meeting these days is cheering for these efforts. I just came out of such a meeting where the in-person folks were lucky enough to see the various speaker’s faces and all of the online participants only saw one static camera of a group of people (with masks). Clearly, we have not fully mastered hybrid meetings, which seems to me perhaps even more fundamental than to create a 100% virtual work environment that works well. 

The future metaverses will fundamentally change us 

I am not among those futurists who think they can fully predict anything truly specific about the future. Show me a futurist who can. However, I do think we can see some patterns emerge. One pattern has to do with the intensified media use and the increasing blending of work, media, and reality. We are gradually becoming cyborgs, that is, more and more merging with our most advanced technology. Thousands of us have digital chip implants. Hundreds of thousands have pacemakers. As these devices evolve, so will their integration with our bodies. Synthetic biology will assure us near complete control with the organic-digital barrier. As more and more life experience will be available online, memory will start to merge between humans and machines. At some point, sentient machines will emerge. What form it will take is hard to say. How long it will take is even harder. What I know is that it will be a while. Which means we might have time to figure out if we should let this process of gradual integration continue. Also, for now, it is a gradual process, but it might also accelerate, who knows for certain?

I recently interviewed Chris Weaver, Distinguished Professor of Computational Media at Wesleyan University, Director of Smithsonian Videogame Pioneers Initiative and Research Scientist at MIT microphotonics center on my Futurized podcast (see The Future of Computational Media, Futurized podcast, episode 29). The video game holding company Chris founded, ZeniMax Media (owner of major franchises such as The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, DOOM, RAGE, Wolfenstein, Prey, Dishonored, The Evil Within, and QUAKE), was acquired by Microsoft last year, reportedly for $7.5 billion. “The complexity of computational media is still poorly understood in society”, says Chris. However, when it is, and it will be, great change can happen. Video games, for example, provide the potential for much more fundamental experiences than most of us think about. The lessons from the tech development, sensory exploration and the metacognition that ensues, are already influencing several generations of software engineers. 

Do I think computer games will change the human race? Not in and of themselves. But games can reveal something more serious. It can point to underlying experiences that are truly human. It can evoke our sense of history, purpose, and growth. Besides, the metaverses of tomorrow will not all be fun and games. Industry will be a dominant player in these metaverses, reshaping the way organizations, ecosystems, collaboration, and industrial production functions. 

What are the risks ahead with the metaverse?

The metaverse is clearly an exciting prospect, no doubt about it. However, no futuristic tech is without its risks. Commercially savvy futurists typically don’t focus on these negative messages, but I will do so anyway. I feel governments and citizens should know.

Risk 1: The Metaverse never materializes

There is a significant risk that the hype overruns reality. Why? Simply because the metaverse suddenly is the next big thing. That’s a lot of hype. I see two reasons why true metaverses might never materialize: we might forever lack advanced enough technological interfaces to compete favorably with face-to-face, physical reality, or we might (many of us) lack the imagination to use even advanced new tools in the way the technologists had hoped (we don’t follow the script). For more on such mismatches, see my book Future Tech

Risk 2: The Metaverse gets commercialized too early

The way commercial players are lined up right now, especially with the aggressive positioning (and capital spend) of Meta, could mean that the Metaverse gets locked into a specific commercial direction, perhaps one company. If that company (hypothetically, of course) does not build an open platform (an interoperable API, app platform, or don’t properly enable an ecosystem), this simply won’t become nearly as impactful as the Internet. To some of us, this is just as well, given the risks of an advanced Metaverse, but I don’t think we can gamble on this being a positive scenario.

Risk 3: The Metaverse splits the Internet into dozens of mini-metaverses

We simply cannot assume “one metaverse” will happen automatically. This will depend on decisions, support, collaboration, standardization, and commercial developments. My best bet is that over the next decade there will be multiple, perhaps dozens and dozens of metaverse candidates in various spheres (gaming, entertainment, industry, geospatial, retail, health). Whether that, in turn, leads to consolidation, is an open question. Metaverse capability is expensive to build, requires enormous artistic, creative ability in addition to technical prowess. From that perspective, it is unlikely that multiple metaverses survive for many years to come. However, if you look at many entrenched sectors–healthcare, big tech, traditional monopolistic industries with high upfront infrastructure investment costs that are hard to break up (energy, telecom, airlines, etc.), it is not inconceivable that metaverses will suffer the same fate. 

In fact, the worst situation we could find ourselves in would either be a duopoly of vertically integrated Metaverse providers that controlled our entire lives that we were beholden to or, alternatively, sector-based duopolies that mean we would have to share our digital identities with two players across each sector. 

I’m not even sure that it’s clear what the ideal scenario is. Perhaps a situation where the digital identity information is controlled by a set of regional (perhaps 5 across the globe) third party identity providers who are not allowed to take part in the rest of the ecosystem and not allowed to share data between themselves? I’ve written about such a prospect for the future of health in my book Health Tech

Risk 4: The Metaverse consumes us in virtual worlds so our bodies suffer

What is to stop a compulsive person from attempting to live near 100% virtually? The more real it feels, the greater the temptation. This is both a blessing and a curse. We may not like our everyday life and may need the escape. We may, some of us, come to hate any and all virtual worlds, but find that there is no turning back. It is hard to know which will happen to whom. 

Also, I don’t think we will get the choice of either/or. We will have to be “present” in three sets of realms–the physical, the virtual, and the cyber-physical (hybrid). If anything, the complexity inherent in accomplishing this well, will create new types of metaverse divides. 

I’m less worried about our bodies than I am worried about cyber-physical elites who master all realms, the emerging Metaverse saints and demons, if you like. Financial means will get you far and will enable access to the right platforms, but metaverse navigation ability will likely become its own competency, perhaps more important than language or coding skills are in today’s world.  

The idea that virtual property would start to compete for attention with physical property is not novel. It represents a way to grow the market, expand human experience, and consume ever more experiences, because the combinations of virtual, physical, and hybrid will be near endless. Will the competition mean that physical reality gets devalued? What will happen to our bodies as we, perhaps as a consequence, start to move around less frequently? 

These fears have been with us since the beginning of the Internet and haven’t truly panned out yet. Maybe they never will. Especially because there’s a pretty good case that hybrids will win out in the end, meaning we will still be using our bodies to navigate our spaces and places together in synchrony (if not necessarily in harmony). 

How to reduce metaverse risks

Say you all agree with these being negative risks, how to reduce these risks? First in my book, we have to model when we need to worry about which questions. That takes a combination of imagination, insight, and foresight. When will form factors improve? Who will lead? Which countries? What applications? 

More important than when is the how. This is not a question of how it may play out, but rather how we want it to play out. If we want a controlled transition to the Metaverse (from the Internet), we need to start planning now. Government standards bodies (ISO, CEN/CENELEC, and national bodies), industry consortia (Oasis, W3C) need to come together and bring together industry. We need scenario studies for how people will react if different versions play out. We need to model and imagine the new business models to account for. More than anything, we need to prepare for surprises. 

There are no easy fixes for the societal risks of an emerging Metaverse. However, one suggestion would be to keep building and safeguarding democratic governance both nationally and (aspirationally), globally. That is not going so well right now, but it could be a temporary thing?

If you have a research-based view on the Metaverse, and want to come on the Futurized podcast to talk about it, let me know. To check out 150 and counting episodes of Futurized, just go to or any podcast player of choice. 

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