The metaverse is an immersive digital world that virtually connects the entire internet. One of the innovators of this virtual world is Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram.
At the 2022 IV CEO Summit of the Americas, Meta President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg talked about how this emerging technology is changing the digital landscape and how it will impact the global economy.
What Is the Metaverse?
Some people see the metaverse as a form of virtual reality; others believe it’s an extension of social media. Clegg explained that it is actually a “new chapter” to further existing technologies.
“The metaverse is all about connecting people,” said Clegg. “The internet is evolving to allow people to communicate with each other, to connect with each other in an even more direct and immersive way. If you think about the evolution of the internet, we moved from desktops to laptops, and now we all carry phones around constantly. “We don’t think that carrying phones in your hand is necessarily going to be the way that we interact with the digital world forever.”
The Metaverse Will Be Built Collaboratively
When Facebook changed the name of its parent company from “Facebook” to “Meta” in 2021, many people saw it as the company attempting to monopolize the metaverse. However, as Clegg explained, to successfully reach the potential of the metaverse, tech companies need to collaborate with one another.
“Thankfully, no one company is going to [solely] build a metaverse,” said Clegg. “It’s much more like the internet … no one company owns the internet.”
“In the future, [the key thing] is to avoid the balkanization of the metaverse,” he continued. “I think the [tech] companies either need to voluntarily, or perhaps need to be pressed by decision-makers, to ensure that the whole web of interoperable standards function.”
As the Technology Develops, so Should Policies
Because the metaverse is still being developed and the cost of hardware is so high, it will likely be years until the metaverse is mainstream. Clegg hopes that during this development period, governments can work together to create “guard rails” for this technology. He said he hoped to avoid what happened with social media when the technology exploded, and governments had to work retroactively to oversee it.
“I think this time we can do it very differently,” said Clegg. “The metaverse is going to take really quite a long time before it properly materializes. This technology is going to take 10 to 15 years to really fully mature. My view is we need to take that time to put those guard rails in place at the same time as the technology itself is evolving.”
Latin America Is an Emerging Environment for the Metaverse
When asked how the metaverse is being deployed in Latin America, Clegg referenced a study in which the metaverse could bring in 5% of Latin America’s GDP over the next 10 years. Even though Meta Quest hardware isn’t available yet, the metaverse and augmented reality (AR) have blossomed in these regions, he said.
” It’s amazing how many people are using AR effects [in Latin America] already,” said Clegg. “Around a hundred million people in Latin America – that’s roughly equivalent to the size of the combined populations of Italy and Spain – are using AR effects. Brazil and Mexico alone are amongst the top 10 countries [with people] creating these.”