A research paper, which became available online as of July 16th, has been published by the International Journal of Information Management and is essential reading for anybody interested in where the Metaverse is headed and what a transformational impact it will have on this century and beyond.
The opinion paper, Metaverse beyond the hype: Multidisciplinary perspectives on emerging challenges, opportunities, and agenda for research, practice and policy, was authored by over forty experts in various fields and examines how the Metaverse is impacting such industries as education, marketing and healthcare. Yet, it goes beyond even that, investigating the effects the Metaverse will have on society — in terms of privacy and trust issues, networks of disinformation and how the decentralized Metaverse will be integrated into governments’ legal systems — as it becomes the de rigueur technology for tomorrow.
Free to read in your browser, the abstract begins:meta
The metaverse has the potential to extend the physical world using augmented and virtual reality technologies allowing users to seamlessly interact within real and simulated environments using avatars and holograms. Virtual environments and immersive games (such as Second Life, Fortnite, Roblox and VRChat) have been described as antecedents of the metaverse and offer some insight into the potential socio-economic impact of a fully functional persistent cross-platform metaverse. Separating the hype and “meta…” rebranding from current reality is difficult, as “big tech” paints a picture of the transformative nature of the metaverse and how it will positively impact people in their work, leisure, and social interaction. The potential impact on the way we conduct business, interact with brands and others, and develop shared experiences is likely to be transformational as the distinct lines between physical and digital are likely to be somewhat blurred from current perceptions. However, although the technology and infrastructure do not yet exist to allow the development of new immersive virtual worlds at scale — one that our avatars could transcend across platforms, researchers are increasingly examining the transformative impact of the metaverse. Impacted sectors include marketing, education, healthcare as well as societal effects relating to social interaction factors from widespread adoption, and issues relating to trust, privacy, bias, disinformation, application of law as well as psychological aspects linked to addiction and impact on vulnerable people. This study examines these topics in detail by combining the informed narrative and multi-perspective approach from experts with varied disciplinary backgrounds on many aspects of the metaverse and its transformational impact. The paper concludes by proposing a future research agenda that is valuable for researchers, professionals and policymakers alike.