Virtual worlds, but real risks: navigating metaverses as a next generation of digital platforms – TOPIC 03 Sub 01 2023
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Immersive technologies, including extended reality, augmented reality and virtual reality, commonly referred to as the “metaverses”, have long history of uses in research, military training and gaming. However, the new phase of commercializing technologies in the “metaverse” poses new interesting opportunities and challenges, ranging from novel creative ways to connect with people across the world to potential adverse impacts on user wellbeing and safety. This session will explore the current state of affairs of these emerging technologies, focusing on their potential impacts.
Metaverses –immersive virtual worlds – gradually evolve into the next generation of digital platforms. And the history of development teaches us that the inherent companion to progress invites not only new opportunities but also new risks, potentially reshaping our societies, economies, and governments. With all the intriguing possibilities the metaverses create, they also open up space for the continuation and amplification of existing threats well-known from the digital platforms. Moreover, the specific technical nature of metaverses and extended/augmented reality means that other unfamiliar dangers may emerge and grow in unprecedented directions.
In this session, participants will have an opportunity to engage in the debate on how the landscape of risks is shaping up in metaverses. It will oscillate around several main areas:
- cybersecurity threats;
- lack of interoperability between different spaces;
- violations of human rights and freedoms, such as the right to privacy or freedom of speech;
- other risks of harm to users - harassment, bullying, discrimination hate speech, addictions etc.;
- challenges to introduce multi-governance models.
Participants of the session are welcomed to introduce other issues they find relevant to the topic.
If you are interested in learning more about metaverses and risks associeted with them, you can watch this explanatory video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7knf9beZDfg
To ensure an interactive format of the session, at the beginning, a poll will be used to ask online and onsite participants to share their opinion on what threats could be observed in metaverses. Then, based on their answers, key participants will share 3-minute insights on the topic from their fields of expertise. This would lead to a further, more informed debate between the audience and key participants, including an exchange of comments and Q&A.
Links to relevant websites, declarations, books, documents:
Please provide name and institution for all people you list here.
- Meri Baghdasaryan
The Subject Matter Experts (SME) support the programme planning process throughout the year and work closely with the Secretariat. They give advice on the topics that correspond to their expertise, cluster the proposals and assist session organisers in their work. They also ensure that session principles are followed and monitor the complete programme to avoid repetition.
- Emilia Zalewska - Czajczyńska - NASK PIB
- A lawyer, working for the National Research Institute NASK as a specialist for Strategic Analysis in Cybersecurity. Her main fields of interest are security in the area of digital platforms and emerging technologies like AI.
- Emilia is also a co-founder and coordinator of Youth IGF Poland – an initiative that aims to bring young Polish people closer to the topic of the Internet and digital technologies. Last year, she served the role of Eastern Europe Representative at the Youth Coalition on Internet Governance steering committee.
- She graduated from the University of Warsaw in two faculties: Law and Applied Animal Psychology.
Focal Points take over the responsibility and lead of the session organisation. They work in close cooperation with the respective Subject Matter Expert (SME) and the EuroDIG Secretariat.
Organising Team (Org Team) List Org Team members here as they sign up.
- Tapani Tarvainen
- Amali De Silva-Mitchell
- Hubert Romaniec
- Romy Mans
- Maria Lipinska
- Sarah Nicole
- Thomas Slätis
- Zhenye Pan
- Silvia Crocitta
- Simone Barszczak
- Xinyi Tu
The Org Team is a group of people shaping the session. Org Teams are open and every interested individual can become a member by subscribing to the mailing list.
- Fabrizia Benini - Head of Unit at DG CNECT - CNECT.E.3 - Next - Generation Internet
- A lawyer by training, Fabrizia BENINI joined the European Commission in 1995.
- Throughout her career, she worked on the intersection between regulatory frameworks and technological developments taking into account the users’ perspective notably as regards data privacy, data sharing and information exchanges between competitors in the internal market, competition, industry and digital departments of the European Commission.
- At present, she heads the Next Generation Internet Unit in the Commission’s Directorate-General for communications networks, content and technology. Her work focuses on the internet governance, European Blockchain Partnership and Next Generation Internet initiative.
- Sarah Nicole - Policy and Research Associate, McCourt Institute
- Sarah Nicole has expertise in emerging technologies and cybersecurity as well as in policy and technical governance. Previously, she worked for Huawei and Microsoft on these issues at the European level.
- As an emerging technologies analyst, she published reports on the future of cyberspace for the CyberPeace Institute, including one on the metaverse, and has written on the geopolitical race driven by quantum computing for France Digitale and Banque de France.
- She is a policy and research associate at the McCourt Institute, an interdisciplinary and action oriented institute advancing ethical governance for responsible technology. Through this role, Sarah is an active contributor to the ITU Focus Group on the Metaverse - Security, Data & Personally Identifiable Information (PII) Protection. She also takes part in the AFNOR Metaverse commission of standardization.
- Sarah has a strong international background, having worked in Paris, Washington D.C, Brussels, Geneva and studied in Shanghai. She speaks almost 4 languages. She holds a European Affairs, Digital New Technologies and Public Policy Master from SciencesPo.
- Fabien Benetou - European Parliament Innovation Lab WebXR Consultant, Independent
- Fabien Benetou is a prototypist, working on proof of concepts at the European Parliament Innovation team as an external consultant for nearly 5 years, formally UNICEF Innovation Fund WebXR technical advisor, startup technical co-founder and overall convinced that technological innovation, when done for equality, can be a positive societal force for change. Fabien's work focuses on answering questions like "What if..." or "Could we build..." thanks to actual software to realistically explore new possibilities, both in terms of technical feasability, user experience but also consequences. Fabien has built numerous virtual worlds, or metaverse, relying on open-source components over the least few years, in particular with a focus on knowledge management.
- Student of two MA faculties at University of Warsaw: Digital Sociology and Language & Society. She received many scholarships for her scientific and journalistic achievements, for instance Student's Nobel in Journalism and Literature, Google News Initiative Scholarship, INMA scholarship. She took part in many research projects connected with new technologies such as VR, social media and disinformation. She was a technical assistant from Poland on Global Deliberative Poll on the Metaverse that was hosted by Stanford University.
Trained remote moderators will be assigned on the spot by the EuroDIG secretariat to each session.
Reporters will be assigned by the EuroDIG secretariat in cooperation with the Geneva Internet Platform. The Reporter takes notes during the session and formulates 3 (max. 5) bullet points at the end of each session that:
- are summarised on a slide and presented to the audience at the end of each session
- relate to the particular session and to European Internet governance policy
- are forward looking and propose goals and activities that can be initiated after EuroDIG (recommendations)
- are in (rough) consensus with the audience
Current discussion, conference calls, schedules and minutes
See the discussion tab on the upper left side of this page. Please use this page to publish:
- dates for virtual meetings or coordination calls
- short summary of calls or email exchange
Please be as open and transparent as possible in order to allow others to get involved and contact you. Use the wiki not only as the place to publish results but also to summarize the discussion process.
Rapporteur: Boris Begović, Geneva Internet Platform
- Establishing robust governance for virtual worlds is crucial and should ensure inclusive and secure spaces accessible to all. Neglecting global governance could lead to exclusive communities controlled by a select few. By collaborating with global stakeholders and utilising existing structures like EuroDIG, ICANN, and the IGF, we should aim to build upon our shared interests and make progress together.
- The community must persist in engaging in the discussion about the metaverse, even as it loses its current trendiness and gives way to the prominence of AI. To foster a constructive trajectory, we must proactively contemplate the governance framework before widespread metaverse utilisation.
- Prioritising a collective agreement on guiding principles is crucial for effectively implementing and enforcing human rights in the metaverse. However, before addressing these matters, the key is to unite globally and acknowledge that state-centric, corporate-led governance of the metaverse is inadequate.
- It is vital to recognise that digital tools are meant to serve and support human beings. Our goal should be to ensure that the virtual world remains in service to the analogue world, harmonising both spheres for the benefit of humanity.
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This text, document, or file is based on live transcription. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), captioning, and/or live transcription are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. This text, document, or file is not to be distributed or used in any way that may violate copyright law.
>> NADIA TJAHJA: ... We’ll go straight into subtopic 1, navigating metaverse as a next generation of digital platforms. I welcome the moderator, Maria, a student from Warsaw.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: I’m the moderator of this special session, navigating Meta verses as next generation of digital platforms. ..
This is a short poll that contains two questions, can we get the link, please? I see only the question and the answers.
We need the GR code for the public to take part in it.
You can see now questions, you have to answer, in the mentimeter. U.
At the top of the slide, you see the link. Yeah. The questions will help us later to moderate the discussion.
We want to talk about metaverse because we believe that with high prop built platforms will evolve in virtual worlds and that’s why we have to discuss it.
Now I will introduce the speakers of the session who are Fabrizia Benini, head of unit of DG CNECT and Sarah Nicole and last but not least, Fabien Benetou working for the innovation team, give a warm applause to our key participants. .
People are voting. Thank you very much.
Each keynote will have 3 minutes to express their attitude and statement about metaverses.
The first one I invite, Fabrizia Benini, to give her speech.
Not online. No. What about Fabien Benetou?
>> Has not joined.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: We’ll wait for a second.
What’s your attitude to the subject of the meeting, Sarah?
>> SARAH NICOLE: Good morning. I wanted to take a step back bar getting in the metaverse, as we see with the mentimeter, many people think this won’t happen tomorrow but in ten years, talking about risk today. All the risk that we could think of in the metaverse, all of the risk that we know of today, we can talk about data privacy, disinformation, cyber harassment, all sorts of algorithmic bias. The problem with the metaverse, when you want to create immersiveness, you have to add a mix of technology that would amplify those risks. The pure essence of the metaverse is actually more risky than any two dimension platform. Privacy, for instance, if you want to have immersiveness, you need to gather a lot of geospatial data, if you want to create an avatar, you need biometric data and this collection by the digital serve service provider poses a question on the privacy.
In order to create this immersiveness, you need AI generated content. You need content to be constantly created at a speed in which information will go, making it even harder for content moderation and it is part of this information. Finally, the main point, the main risk that I see, the main technical risk, it is the user’s manipulation. The reason behind this, it is that the sole purpose of the metaverse is to blur the line between what is real and what is fake in order to create this immersiveness, you need the user to think that this fake digital platform is actually a real world.
This poses a lot of question about how the user will interact with it.
I also wanted to touch upon just the technical risk of the metaverse, we could be spending five hours talking about just the technical risk. I wanted to go on to the governance and standardization process risk that we see of today.
The problem is, the way that the merit verse is being talked about today and considered, it is mostly about certain use cases, you have one on education, one on gaming, one on industry, one on healthcare, and there is never the social components that are happening in the discussion at the governance, standardization level. This is very important.
Users will use the metaverse as well to connect and to socialize. We cannot really talk about a virtual world if we only considered siloed use cases. We need a holistic agile, interoperable approach to leave no one behind. I would just want to finish with this data, that 93% of the 5.16 billion users of the Internet currently are social media users.
So not considering social aspects of the metaverse when we start to govern it, this is going to be a real problem and we don’t want to exclude most of the world on it.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Not a lot of time. Thank you very much.
Now I see that Fabrizia Benini is with us. Can we hear from Fabrizia Benini?
>> FABRIZIA BENINI: Good morning, everyone. Can you hear me? Yes.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Yes. Yes. Great.
>> FABRIZIA BENINI: Excellent.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Can you give us your intervention, 3 minutes.
>> FABRIZIA BENINI: First of all, I thank you very much for the invitation. This is the first time for me as the head of unit of the next generation Internet at the DG Commission, the DGCNECT, the European Commission, I’m very happy for this opportunity.
Virtual worlds as you have been discussing are happening, are developing as we speak. The pace of innovation is such that – and the hard lessons that we have learned up to today, they’re such that it is impair serve to give ourselves the possibility to set up strong governance for virtual worlds so that they may become open, interoperable spaces, accessible to all and secure for all.
Now, if we fail to consider the governance aspects of the future virtual worlds at a global level it can result in a set of closed gate communities where a few control the many. Today we see two trends in Internet Governance, the private run by large corporations and the state-centric, both carry the risk of limiting openness, access and interoperability. We can work with the global stakeholder community and the existing governance structures such as EuroDIG and ICANN and IGF, we hope in Kyoto in October to build on the common ground we have with many significant force torse. I’m referring to the 2020 declaration on of the future of the Internet, where nations, many from the Global South have agreed to. It sets out a vision for an Internet that’s free, open, global, interoperable, accessible, reliable and secure as well as based on multistakeholder governance, firmly grounded in the respect of Human Rights.
This is important.
This declaration builds on the UN resolution on Human Rights Council of 2019 which affirms The Rights – affirms the notion, the principle that The Rights the people have offline must also be protected online. Now virtual worlds must not be an exception to this.
The European Commission is committed to understanding the challenges and opportunities of virtual world and has recently considered and consulted stakeholders extensively. It will frame its vision in a non-legislative communication by mid-July, very soon. The objective is to invite a collective reflection as to what steps are necessary to take the best advantage of the opportunities virtual worlds, for business and for citizens in a human-centric perspective.
Thank you very much.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you. That was an amazing intervention.
Next person is Fabien Benetou. Are you with us?
>> FABIEN BENETOU: Hello. Can you hear me all right?
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Yes. Perfectly. Can you start?
>> FABIEN BENETOU: Yes.
So thanks also for having me here. I think it is quite important to not just be able to witness how technology changes and evolves, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, depends how you look at it.
To be active on it.
This will be my call to action to everyone today.
Not just as regulators, in different professionals that can be here, just think for a second how you are online, how you behave online, do you have your own email address, or is it delegated to a third-party? Do you use server to share your CV, do you have your own website? Why do I ask you this? I’m going to make a wild guess and say most of us here use third-party services, commercial or not, to host let’s say not just the avatars but versions of ourselves, how we present ourselves to others and what I want to insist on is that it’s one way, a convenient way but not the only way, mainly you can post the one website with your own email server, yes, it is challenging, both difficult, it creates cybersecurity issues, et cetera, but in terms of governance, in terms of being able to administrate your own data and as was mentioned before in terms of interoperability, it is possible, what it means, it is that you remain in control, what I want to insist on today is that don’t look at the metaverse or virtual worlds as something external to yourself that you must always delegate to others, yes, it’s been the way and there are some let’s say tendency to standardization, again because it is going to continue, but it doesn’t have to be.
For example, I have here a tiny as Perry pi, a little computer that costs 10 euros, pretty affordable, and why do I show it? Because I use it for workshops with kids ten years old, 12 years old, kids to show them not just this, the crazy headset, how you can enter the metaverse with this, but to show them that if you programme this little computer, you can build your own metaverse, a server that you can eventually connect to others, recording of your model, if you want something federated, you want something completely distributed, but the point is, if you look at the metaverse as something that’s going to happen to you rather than something that you can shape both as an individual, as a professional, then I think it is going to be more challenging even.
If you look at something that we built together, the correct way as mentioned before with privacy and cybersecurity, then agency, how it can be better versioned, it is an exciting prospect.
Thank you very much.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you very much for this speech. It was really interesting.
Thank you for showing us this small device as a new maybe future computer.
It is time to show the results of the poll. Can we see them on the screen behind? Please display them. The results.
We’ll start the debate from key participants and ask questions from the audience.
We will talk more about metaverses. As you can see, there are different attitudes from our keynotes so can we see – now we can see the results. Okay.
So metaverse is most people told us in the poll that metaverse is going to develop not in five years but in about 10 years, a long time perspective.
Even some people say never.
So we will see.
The next question, yes.
It was an open question.
So there were probably more answers.
It was about the application of metaverses and how they can be used in everyday professional life.
Can we see the answers.
I see some answers coming to us. There are different attitudes.
Enterprising metaverse, dynamic meetings, assisted training, yes. Nothing really useful to be honest. So various attitudes in the public, so now it is time if you have any questions from the auditorium and we’ll discuss them.
Please come if you want to ask the question, you can ask them directly to the microphone.
Anyone who wants to ask a question may be – maybe about the results.
Maybe we’ll start the discussion. Any online questions? Not yet. Okay.
There is one person that wants to ask questions.
>> If nobody does it, then I’ll go. If you look at movies, it is always something dystopian when you talk about even 20 years ago, about this sort of discussions. How come that we all look at the bad side, not at the good side? That’s one question.
The other one, do we need to be afraid of this metaverse? I have no clue, I’m not a generation that’s going to use it extensively probably. So that’s another one. If you look at the opportunities in the poll, most people don’t see any but perhaps gaming, entertainment. So are there really no positive uses for society that we can think of at this moment? Just three questions. Thank you.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you very much.
The first was about positive aspects of the metaverse and icy Fabien Benetou raising his hand. The floor is yours.
>> FABIEN BENETOU: Thank you.
So we should still be worried for sure, because of the risk, but we should be in my opinion, experience, at least as excited as worried. I showed this, the tiny chip computer before, I mentioned the workshop with kids because in my opinion it is not just entertainment, it is not just professional work, it is education and training in general. It gives you a virtual place that you can without risk in terms of let’s say you can literally play with fire, virtual fire and we have a truck in front of it, we do this – we play with virtual fire in order to train for physical cybersecurity. We do the same, we had in the innovation week in November, we invited a French start-up where you do first aid training. So I did first aid as a scuba diver a couple of months ago, but I did it with – how do you say – you had to imagine the situation where you say you have the electricity card, the wire exposed to the water, et cetera, whereas if you do it in virtual reality then you are there. You do the first aid training while being there.
In my opinion, what is the most exciting prospect? Positive prospect for sure, education, both for kids and adults and I think – yeah. Honestly, I cannot imagine somebody that doesn’t need more education, no matter how much you know, there are so many things to discover, either professionally or just for the pleasure of it, then not using such tool for this, and again it doesn’t have to be – we mentioned metaverse, it could be social or not. You could do it let’s say at home on your own or with a teacher physically present or another, there are so many ways to do this.
Pretty much any topic, and to briefly finish on this, the workshop with kids, not to teach them something physical, but something maybe not physical, mainly programming, because it allows you to grab a piece of code, you literally have the code in your head, something tangible, something that you can play with, the same way you can play with a mathematical equation, you change the value, shape of the curves, things that are not only tangible, physics, mathematics, even in academy, you can run a virtual simulation of a world that would happen. This to me, yeah – I will stop otherwise I will never stop! There are prospects in how we can all learn better together, even if there are no other use case, it will be in my opinion worth it.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you very much. I see Fabrizia Benini wants to answer this question and then Sarah. Fabrizia Benini, first.
>> FABRIZIA BENINI: First to expand on what Fabien Benetou had eloquently explained.
The opportunities are what we make of them, of course, think of education, think about the opportunities about interacting, learning different languages, you know, on a one by one.
Think about the industrial opportunities, what would it be like to be able to develop your product on a digital twin basis? This would lower the carbon footprint significantly. It would accelerate the time to market, and these are just a few. Imagine thinking, training medical professions in this virtual world. Think about artists, you know, what they can do to explore.
Really, I think the possibilities are infinite. Again, it is interoperability, openness, access that we need to be worried about. For me, those are the risks and the opportunities are endless.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you very much.
>> SARAH NICOLE: It is really hard to see the positive aspect of the metaverse considering the first time we have heard about it was a science fiction novel, not saying good things about it. The second aspect is through Meta, basically making a business plan for the next years, pouring a lot of money into it and never showed the users the usefulness of such world. It was more imposed in a way to us as you’re going to have to be there, should you like it or not.
It is very complicated to see positive opportunities for the metaverse when it is presented to the world this way.
Now I think that it is very important that we keep having this discussion about the metaverse because as you notice, it is not trendy any more, this is now about AI, so nobody is talking about the metaverse anymore. I think it is particularly important that we keep on having this governance discussion because precisely, these are – I think the poll was saying, the majority said that it was in ten years that there will be the revolution, in order to make it positive we need to think about the governance ahead of the use of the metaverse. That’s what we didn’t do with AI. Now everybody is rushing about AI and only talking about AI. So that’s really great that we start talking, considering the positive, but as well the risk of the metaverse in order for us to go further.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you for the inspiring speech.
I see there is one question on site. Please, give us the question.
>> Thank you. Hello. Thank you, panelists.
I’m a Laurie searcher here at the University.
My question comes from a rights-based approach and maybe I would direct to Fabrizia Benini, I think it was her who mentioned that our rights, fundamental rights, Human Rights, they apply online and offline as well and I couldn’t agree more.
My question refers to the challenges that we will face with implementation monitoring and enforcement of rights in the metaverse. I think that’s one of the biggest challenges and that really I struggle with.
How can we make sure that we will update our current frameworks tools and processes in order to actually identify rights violation monitor and enforce fundamental rights in the metaverse.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you very much.
Mostly it is about monitoring and the harms and how we can approach this subject. Who wants to answer this question? Anyone from our panelists?
>> FABRIZIA BENINI: I can try to have a go. It is a difficult question but a very good question.
Before you think about implementation, enforcement, you need to have an agreement. That is the most important thing, to come together on a global basis and to say state-centric, corporate led governance is not good, this is something that belongs to all of us and collectively we need to set out the principles that will make sure that this remains so.
So first the agreement, then the monitoring, and I’m a great believer in crowns, I’m a great believer in masses, I’m a great believer in common participation.
That monitoring can be done by each and all of us.
As for implementation, that is perhaps a different story and enforcement.
It is possible in some cases, we have shown in the European Union that we have set out regulations that have a very strong impact, also from an enforcement point of view, talking about the digital single market, Digital Services Act in the Digital Markets Act, that regulates platforms and fights disinformation and assign responsibilities and obligations to those that put out that type of content.
I would go step by step.
First let’s have the agreement, and with the agreement, we’ll follow also the question, how is it that we can enforce it. We all must be together on this.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you very much.
Sarah, Fabien Benetou, you want to answer this question as well?
>> SARAH NICOLE: I’m not the regulator here. But I would echo what Fabrizia Benini had just said and add implementation, enforcement is really important, we have seen a tendency in corporate led platforms, especially by big tech that they tend to self-regulation and there is this video a few months ago by the Meta Vice President that was explaining how instead of regulating basically they would give users super power to push away harassment.
I think this is very dangerous. That kind of discourse. We can laugh about this, of course, but if it actually becomes true, then this has impact on I think the title of the session, the real world as well, because what if you start giving people super power in the virtual, how will they behave in the real world? That’s worrisome and I very much encourage the implementation of regulation on this.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: We have two questions on site. I will ask if we have any online questions now?
>> We do encourage the live audience to engage in the discussion and ask questions.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: First, we will ask this one question from the audience.
>> I’m from YOUthDIG Spain, and I feel like we talk a lot about opportunities and risks of the metaverse, but social changes are not usually mentioned, and how will the new reality effect the current structure of society? Are we walking through the world where everybody will live through the metaverse, is that too farfetched.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you very much. The question is about effecting the society and the structure of it.
Fabien Benetou, the floor is yours.
>> FABIEN BENETOU: Thank you. It is nice because it looks back also to some of the questions, the second question about rewet going to lose the real world, and it is provoking, it is something that I hear often, bullets have a real conversation, face-to-face, et cetera, and so first I have no idea how it will reshape us. Socially speaking as a society, but that’s again why I think that this kind of event discussion, it is important so that we’re mindful about what it is and what it does.
Just for a little, I think that I have – I don’t have – I have countless headsets around me, I work on this kind of stuff, I have gadgets, more than I dare to confess.
I really think that the technology itself is very interesting.
I also, like I said, I give workshops to kids about it, I want to understand how it work, I go scuba diving, I go around in Brussels with my roller blades, I love hiking, my point there, it is to say that the two are not exclusive, it is not because you have a virtual world or VR or any kind of such experiment where you’re teleported somewhere else and the real world is here, you then go back to it, that’s something that I think that’s – I don’t know how pervasive it will be, ten years or so in terms of timing, I don’t know. I don’t see a way – I don’t think this is productive. I think they what – I don’t have a TV, a physical TV. Screens, et cetera, they can be very powerful but we have to be mindful and also especially honest about it in the sense that most of us tend to have a conversation with a phone on the table, like the mobile phone. It is not as if mobile phones, which is old tech reshaping us, it will reshape us, extremely intimate, you can have a conversation with a loved one in front of you at the dinner table and still not be present mentally speaking, emotionally speaking although you’re physically present. I think we have to be honest today about how technology already changed ourselves and I will say projecting the future technology, the upcoming mistakes, we’re already in my opinion quite often acting improperly, next time you check your phone while trying to have a proper conversation with someone, then I think that’s when you start to rethink how society is going to be changed, has already been changed with past technology.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you very much.
We will now have another question. I see that there was one person behind us, do you want to ask a question? No. Okay.
So do you have something to add to Fabien?
>> FABRIZIA BENINI: Well, I don’t think we will live in a completely detached reality in the virtual world only. I think that as human beings we feel – we want to feel the heat on our skin, we want to feel the water, we want to go to the mountains. We need physical experiences. Although the metaverse can provide a lot, I believe it will provide a lot of opportunities for us to work differently.
To experience production differently, and in a way, can also contribute, of course, to lower the carbon footprint.
I believe that as humans we would like to remain free.
I think that’s first and foremost the instinct and we will remain in contact with nature and in contact with each other.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you very much. Sarah, you want to add something about the differences between online and offline or maybe –
>> SARAH NICOLE: Yeah. There is even a concept that was coined a few years ago, the online merge, offline merge online. I think we’re there already even without the metaverse. I think we need to see the metaverse as complementary use to our daily actions that we’re doing online as an enhancement of what we’re doing online. I don’t see any particular reason why we would be 20 hours plus in the metaverse and not on our computer. I see it as very complementary.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Most of our speakers are optimistic and believe we won’t be all the time in the metaverse.
Any questions from the audience, if you want to ask any question, just go to the mike fine ask as well as online if you want to ask any question, just write the question in the chat.
>> I’m Sarah, a YOUthDIGer, unfortunately, I don’t feel as optimistic as you feel. We had a session where we have been explained that for instance in 2040 I may be mistaken, but in 2040, the city here will be completely virtual. So I mean, there are projects that have been a work in progress and that are already Heading there. I raised my concern regarding the fact that, okay, it is amazing. I mean, we all love technology, we all love the opportunities that we can have and we can use technology to make a positive impact in our lives.
But, there is a concern regarding this project that if we all live in the virtual world, what about the people that will not have access to technology in the first place? And what about the people that maybe don’t want to be part of it.
Then it was raised, another interesting question, like in a future scenario, people may not be interested in the physical world, if these people that would be a minority, in the physical world, it will be hard to balance an inclusive society, and it is already hard as it is here.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you very much.
It is about the attractiveness of the physical and virtual world, maybe we will be more attracted to the virtual world.
I see that you want to answer that. Go ahead.
>> FABIEN BENETOU: Thank you. That also is the consultation from the European Commission a few weeks ago on the citizen panel on virtual worlds, mainly that it has to be really inclusive and also optional I would say if you have to, I don’t know, go to the community, town hall to do administrative work to get work done, whatever, the only way is through online, virtual world, an app to install on the phone, et cetera, it is not inclusive. Then regardless of why you – why citizens wouldn’t want to use such technology if it is the only way to interact with the government that it creates a problem.
There is a risk there, if the virtual is the only way.
It is – personally I can say I don’t want it, again, I want access to both. What I also want to say, so it has to be basically in all cases properly inclusive, properly responsive so that it is not a bottle next of communication and interaction, in particular for things that are as fundamental as interacting with the government.
What I want to say though in terms of using the virtual, it is just a coincidence, but yesterday I got this book, making with data, from the Library of The European Parliament and it is to show it is a feedback loop, mainly you’re going to virtual, for example, to learn as I mentioned before, but also to build, for example, you can design a 3D model, you get the 3D printed, you remove the headset, you have the 3D printed object there for the real world, and it is a way to – you do virtual cities, these kinds of things, as a way to improve them, the physical one, the real one, it is not to stay there, it can be on the context but the goal in my opinion, it is to have a positive feedback, namely you play, you learn, you improve on the virtual version, and let’s say a digital twin in order to improve the physical one.
It is not two separated systems or versions. It is things that you work on in order to improve both.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you very much.
I see that there are three more questions. I don’t know if we’ll manage to answer all. Maybe you will ask just one question.
>> Thank you very much. I’m from Portugal. I would like to say hello to Fabrizia Benini, we work closely and on digital competencies, not a question, a remark: We’re in this session about risks. I just would like to say that I’m working in this area other 30 years now, so first on the Information Society, now about digital, even if I don’t know very well what digital – the concept of digital means, but I would like only to say that we are analogic, I’m physical, you are physical, everybody is physical, so the tool – it is a tool that we use, the digital, virtual tools, they should serve and continue to serve the human being. We live in this analogic world so we really have to in a multistakeholder approach to have this dialogue and to adopt the right policies that virtual world should serve the analogical world.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you for this statement.
I think it was a very important voice. I see Sarah wants to answer that.
>> SARAH NICOLE: I wanted to react on what was just said. Absolutely, we should not be developing tools that are not helpful to humans or helping them enhance their ability in the real world. And we actually were together a few months ago at the European Commission for this consultation with the citizens and I think this is the right way to do things, to really take citizen, ask them how they want to use it, if they’re going to use it, the question was asked if they don’t want to use it, they need to always have an option, we cannot force people to use one technology, especially the current context where there is one big digital service provider that we don’t know what they’re doing with the data, we don’t know where it is stored.
Obviously, this is something that needs to be in the process, in the real world, with citizens in order to on board them more in the virtual world or not, the two need to be complementary, can’t be all in one, it is a Spectrum.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you.
>> FABRIZIA BENINI: Thank you. I just want to say that I’m encouraged in fact by Sarah’s concern. Only if you’re concerned, only if you have your rights and the Rights of others in your heart can you actually fight to make sure that we set up a structure, all structures that will defend and establish what we need to have here.
We have the need for non-discrimination for accessibility, for the right of express, just to mention a few.
This, we already have a basis as I mentioned in the declaration on the future of the Internet and we can do more, we can do more in Kyoto and we can do more thanks to you and to the many voices of EuroDIG.
It is difficult, it won’t be obvious, but it needs to be done.
It is overall encouraging, the concern.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Yes. A short intervention.
>> FABIEN BENETOU: I’m not a physicist, but as far as I know, knowing if we’re digital or not, it is not so obvious. Maybe we’re analytic, maybe the physics itself is not. Again, not a physicist, but I invite people to just open your mind and still we need to be mindful wherever we are about our self, our ecosystem, and just grabbing a book behind me, it is called beyond coding, how children learn human values through programming. Yeah. In the end, it is not just about digital cities, digital twin, whatnot, but about making ourselves better as human beings, about interacting, collaborating better. It is not about –
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you. I see there is one online question. That’s the last one we will answer.
>> How do we ensure that those who have a seat at the decision maker’s table take it seriously so that we can shape it, how do we increase education in this area? Are there examples of initiatives? This was in response to a youth intervention and from the framework of young people asking questions and making these interventions.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you. Anyone wanting to answer from the keynotes? It is about examples of initiatives and education and about the metaverse and how it will shape the education sector.
>> SARAH NICOLE: We talked about it, the European citizen panel is a good example as an initiative to on board citizens to make actually recommendations, that would be on the table of those that make the decision in the end and I think there are a lot of opportunities like this for youth, non-youth to engage.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: And the last one, please.
>> FABRIZIA BENINI: Yes. Just quickly, this year, it is the European year of skills.
European year of skills is also looking at forward looking at the skills that are needed for the metaverse.
We today 8% of the European population does not engage in the Internet. This is a digital divide that we need to fight, not in terms of forcing people to join the Internet, but in terms of offering new possibilities, easier ways of access.
But Europe is an advanced democracy.
We need to think about the Global South, we need to think about those who really cannot afford it, that have literacy problems. That’s where the information is key and there are many initiatives that are ongoing, some are targeted, you will see it each time with a partnership agreement with a specific country, the OECD has talent indicators on – indicators on talent attractiveness. There is, I think, an overall move towards the awareness about skills, the more skilled you are, the better literacy you have, the better comprehension of the message that’s given to you, and the options that you have, the safer you are.
>> MARIA LIPINSKA: Thank you very much.
Unfortunately, we have only one minute left.
Maybe we’ll talk about the subject furthermore.
Thank you very much for participating in our panel, from this panel, we can see that we have to talk about metaverse more, not only AI as the most important thing in the world now, but maybe such panels are needed even more now as you can see, we have more and more questions.
Thank you very much for participating. Thank you our brilliant keynote speakers. Give them a huge applause.
>> NADIA TJAHJA: Of course our moderator, Maria Lipinska, thank you for moderating this session.
We’ll with go to a quick break and please come back, this is an important discussion we’re having here.
The next session will start at 11:30, subtopic 2. We’ll see you back here at 11:30.