European Commission looks to the metaverse – EURACTIV.com
The EU executive will present an initiative on the metaverse next year, the latest virtual reality space allowing users to interact, he announced on Wednesday, September 14.
Currently, several metaverses are being developed beyond the one promoted by Meta, Facebook’s parent company, where digital platforms promise to offer new possibilities for people to interact in real time and remotely with a more immersive experience.
“We will continue to investigate new digital opportunities and trends, such as the metaverse,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement. Letter of Intent that accompanied his annual State of the Union address.
One of the key new initiatives for 2023 as part of a Europe fit for the digital age is an initiative on virtual worlds, such as the metaverse. VSThe creation of such virtual spaces raises questions that regulators and legislators are struggling to answer, as this future development of a three-dimensional version of the Internet is still in its infancy.
Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, highlighted three crucial aspects to promote such virtual worlds in a LinkedIn position.
Above all, he emphasized the human component, the metaverse having to be centered on the values and rules of Europe.
“This new virtual environment must incorporate European values from the outset. People should feel as safe in virtual worlds as they do in the real world,” Breton wrote.
Although Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse comes to mind first, no private actor should hold the key to public space or set the terms for it, Breton said. There should also be interoperable standards developed by private metaverses.
An organization working on standards that would ensure metaverse interoperability has already been established. However, concerns remain that mainstream players will continue to replicate the so-called “walled gardens” they use on their platforms to keep users locked in.
Breton also referenced the EU’s Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, saying the bloc already has “strong and future-proof regulatory tools for the digital space.”
Rather than entering a world of unregulated chaos, metaverses will become safe spaces and standards will be developed through a collaborative effort, he stressed.
“We will launch a creative and interdisciplinary movement, aiming to develop standards, increase interoperability, maximize impact with the help of IT experts, regulatory experts, citizen organizations and young people”, Breton wrote.
Second, Europe’s ability to impact virtual worlds will also depend on its ability to develop cutting-edge technologies and build a sustainable ecosystem, said Breton, considered a key driver of technological sovereignty. of the EU.
With industry stakeholders regularly raising concerns about the skills gap and Europe’s inability to attract skilled IT workers, Breton sees skilled workers and researchers as the trump card. major in Europe.
“An ecosystem is already developing all over Europe: in Italy, Latvia, France, Germany, Finland and elsewhere, made up of major players as well as innovative SMEs,” says Breton.
On Wednesday, the Commissioner launched the Virtual and Augmented Reality Industry Coalition with 40 companies to connect stakeholders of crucial metaverse technologies.
With a roadmap and investments in photonics, semiconductors or new materials, the Commission aims to lay the foundations of this ecosystem. Breton acknowledged that a mix of private, national and European funding would be needed.
Third, metaverses will add pressure on the connectivity infrastructure needed to enable new developments, such as new payment systems or new forms of identification.
“The amount of data exchanged – and harvested – through these technologies will be greater than ever,” said Breton.
As greater volumes of data are exchanged, the commissioner observed that there could be “a decline in revenues and the appetite to invest in strengthening [the infrastructures] and make them resilient.
In the interest of all Europeans, the Commissioner calls on market players benefiting from the digital transformation to contribute fairly to public goods, services and infrastructure, thus making the link for the first time with his initiative to make platforms contribute by line to the cost of digital infrastructure.
With the support of European telecommunications providers, Breton is pushing to introduce the “shippers-pays” principle. The proposal was originally announced for the end of the year, but the public consultation was pushed back to early 2023, the former CEO of France Telecom said in an interview with the world September 9.
[Edited by Luca Bertuzzi/Zoran Radosavljevic]