Anyone old enough to remember will agree that the advent of the World Wide Web felt like the Wild West.
Now, the metaverse could face the same issues if those leading its creation do not focus on regulation. Since many of these companies are technology firms that thrive off of data mining, the future could be grim.
“As an ethicist, open source, [and open] access is always best because it facilitates more people creating, and doing so largely for the common good and social justice,” said Don Heider executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. “Technology should generally be as widespread and accessible as humanly possible.”
The openness of the Internet has already been threatened by the likes of Google and Meta (formerly Facebook), and these companies already have a leg up in the metaverse competition.
However, there is time to ensure that the metaverse stays open, competitive, accessible, and prevents Big Tech from monopolizing.
Heider says that not only should the participation of the metaverse be open, but the governance should be a democratic process that allows the voices of various groups and participants to be heard.
The brightside to this future is that since the metaverse is not bound by the regulations and physics of the real world, it could actually improve issues that have historically plagued the Internet, especially in terms of accessibility and inclusivity.
For instance, having an open metaverse could provide those with disabilities to experience the world and participate in the workforce that they normally would be unable to do due to their impairments.
Still, the lack of laws related to the Internet and, by proxy, the metaverse may make it difficult to create a totally safe environment. Since most legislation is passed as a result of an incident, leaders and decision-makers have a responsibility to foresee issues and create rules that address such problems.