In a significant move towards embracing the future of digital technologies, the European Commission has recently unveiled its comprehensive strategy for addressing the metaverse, which it refers to as Web 4.0. The Commission aims to ensure that virtual worlds are open, safe, and trustworthy, while also promoting inclusivity for all EU citizens.
Web 4.0, as coined by the Commission, goes beyond the concept of Web 3.0, which primarily focused on decentralization. Instead, Web 4.0 will integrate virtual worlds with increased interaction between digital and physical objects, thereby creating interconnected virtual environments.
The strategy outlined by the European Commission revolves around four key pillars, each with a specific focus:
- Increasing skills and empowering people: The Commission recognizes the importance of providing individuals with the necessary skills to navigate and thrive in the metaverse. By investing in education and training programs, the aim is to empower EU citizens to actively participate in virtual worlds and take advantage of the opportunities they offer.
- Supporting EU businesses industrially using the metaverse: The Commission acknowledges the potential of the metaverse as a new economic frontier. By providing support and fostering innovation within EU businesses, the Commission aims to ensure that European companies are at the forefront of metaverse development and can capitalize on the associated economic benefits.
- Supporting virtual public services and societal progress: The European Commission emphasizes the importance of utilizing metaverse technologies, such as digital twins, to enhance public services and drive societal progress. By leveraging virtual environments, governments can provide efficient and accessible services to their citizens while improving overall governance.
- Pioneering industry standards for open and interoperable virtual worlds: The Commission aims to establish pioneering standards within the metaverse industry to ensure that virtual worlds are open, interoperable, and free from dominance by a few companies. By promoting fair competition and interoperability, the Commission seeks to create a diverse and dynamic metaverse ecosystem.
This strategic move by the European Commission comes at a time when governments worldwide are slowly adopting metaverse strategies, with a particular emphasis on the Middle East. The EU’s proactive approach demonstrates its commitment to embracing the metaverse and exploring its potential. While other countries like the UK have yet to take a significant step in this direction, it is expected that more governments and international organizations will follow suit in the near future.
The European Commission’s strategy for tackling the metaverse from a regulatory standpoint marks an important milestone in shaping the future of digital technologies. By focusing on openness, safety, inclusivity, and industrial support, the Commission aims to ensure that the metaverse becomes a transformative force for EU citizens and businesses. As the metaverse continues to evolve, it is vital for regulatory frameworks to adapt and provide a solid foundation for its growth while safeguarding the interests of individuals and society as a whole.