Tech Giants across the world are either thinking, talking or already working on the shiny new version of the internet, “Metaverse.” You can be a critic or fan, but you can’t be ignorant to this next big tech revolution anymore.
What exactly is Metaverse?
The Metaverse can be thought of as the digital counterpart of the real world.
In the Metaverse, you will be able to:
- Feel the presence of other people through subtle facial expressions and body language.
- Interact with other users as avatars through your 3D representations.
- Create a home space that will digitally represent your living space.
- Teleport to your favourite digital space (think virtual Starbucks or your favourite gaming arena).
- Order virtual goods.
- Using augmented reality (AR), interplay the real world with a digital one.
- You will also be able to choose — when you want to be present, in what spaces and with whom.
One thing that sets Metaverse apart from the virtual reality (VR) experience is interoperability; you will be able to use the digital assets you own.
Now think of the behemoth of data generated when Metaverse gets mass adoption. To put things into perspective, in 2018, the world generated 33 zettabytes of data and is predicted to reach 181 zettabytes by 2025.
Source: Statista Digital Economy Compass
The New Age of Data.
With the tech giants entering the arena of Metaverse, they will do what they do best, harvest personal information. Though in Metaverse, they will not only track what products you buy or talk about with friends in private spaces. Through sophisticated AI, they will be able to track when, where, and for how long you stopped to look at something. Heck, even suggest products based on your needs and wants, E.g., A.I. will be able to observe your surroundings and give you options based on what will go along with your furniture.
With newer and more sophisticated equipment, they will be able to monitor your biometrically inferred data. Your eye movements, change in your gate or walking pace, a mild spike in heart rate due to the excitement you felt when exposed to a product while traversing Metaverse will become part of the data captured by AI and form data sets.
Once analyzed, this raw data can infer a lot of information and give companies a more remarkable ability to understand individual traits, market trends, buyer behaviour, and more.
“If You’re not paying for the product, you are the product.”
A phrase made famous by Tim O’Reilly will continue to be very apt in the great halls of Metaverse as well. With the new frontier of Metaverse just around the corner, people will join by millions as the world will begin transitioning from present reality to a hybrid mix of on-ground reality and Metaverse. As more people enter the Metaverse, more data will be generated and analyzed to further sell to advertisers.
Parallelly as Metaverse begins to expand, it will eventually see mushrooming of tech companies just like the internet boom. First, the Metaverse will be controlled by a handful of big tech corporations. These companies will use the wealth of this analyzed ‘big data’ for further targeting by creating an infinite feedback loop for Metaverse users.
Consequently, it will leave people susceptible to unethical practices by advertisers, such as placing products in the line of sight or hiring people to have a casual conversation mentioning the product. The data can also inform these companies on ways to keep you on the platform, thus letting them generate further data points from you — about you.
From Data Predators to Privacy.
The Metaverse will see considerably more user interaction than cell phones or present social media due to the sheer convenience it will bring to life. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that it will generate much more data.
On one end, while we will see monolithic data pirates, a.k.a., big tech companies such as Alphabet, Meta, Amazon and the likes, increase their hold in Metaverse. By further developing centralized data warehouses, continuing to harvest new, uncharted, personal information.
On the other end, Metaverse will also see the advent of decentralized organizations, which will bring about a paradigm shift by giving power back to the people, allowing them to decide what data they want to share and with whom. At the same time, these decentralized entities will also monetize data so that you transition from being the product to being the owner of your data.
While everyone understands why providing information to make businesses readjust their sails to changing trade winds is essential. But what many people do not understand is how much data sharing will create a healthy ecosystem rather than a reality rife with predators waiting to grab the next opportunity to entice its users into buying their products.
The most responsive way to avoid the Metaverse from turning into a nightmare will be to invest in decentralized data centres which do not let power sit in one significant entity to govern its future.