The “Metaverse” – an immersive online space where we socialise, trade and exist digitally – has become the new buzz-phrase for big tech.
Initially a Gen-Z avatar playground, this fully realised digital world that exists beyond the physical one in which we live is now emerging as the next big reality for digital growth. Hailed as the next iteration of the internet or Web 3.0, the metaverse sits at the intersection of the web, augmented reality and the blockchain and allows access through a multitude of devices and technologies.
The internet in its current form functions as a multiverse where different platforms have built their own user experiences and economies but have limited ways in which to interoperate. In a metaverse, these entities are called to allow us to move between them without losing our digital personalities or assets and somehow work together in a decentralised way with no single authority.
While this presents an imposing challenge from a technical, economic and political perspective, it also seems inevitable.
Everyday applications are already apparent and gradually we are becoming more familiar with crypto-currencies, embedded finance, augmented reality and artificial intelligence which we encounter through shopping, workspaces, gaming, entertainment and a variety of utility apps. More alarming than this technology creep is perhaps the implications for privacy, inclusion and security to which we will also be exposed. And like any fast-evolving and unprecedented movement or technology leap, the Metaverse will certainly present immense complications from a legal and regulatory perspective.
The Metaverse aims to fundamentally change the way we interact with the digital world, but may also alter how we interact with our physical environment and experience life in its totality.
Von Seidels is an intellectual property law firm specialising in patents, trade marks, copyright, designs, trade secrets, licensing, and related areas of IP throughout Africa. Based in South Africa, Von Seidels also has offices in ARIPO (Namibia), OAPI (Cameroon) and Nigeria.