Seven Predictions for the Metaverse from the World Economic Forum

You think things couldn’t get any crazier with the crypto crash, skyrocketing inflation, Russia invading Ukraine, and the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial? Guess what: There’ll be no snow in Davos during the annual meeting of global leaders at the World Economic Forum. WTF just happened to WEF? 

Don’t worry too much—this isn’t about climate change, just a change of schedule. Due to the pandemic, organizers moved the meeting from January to May 22-26. So the world’s top dogs will have to wear bulky shorts, showing off those hairy legs instead of fancy ski gear. 

What a bummer. Who wants to see heads of state and corporate CEOs in shorts? Not me. 

It’s not like the world’s top decision-makers have been able to decide anything lately — or save the planet. But they’re people too, that happen to be extraordinarily wealthy. And they also want to party. At the end of the day, that’s what the world’s most prestigious event is for. 

WEF is also setting new directions for the planet — while we still got one! 

This year, Davos is a real Snow Crash. This book by sci-fi novelist Neal Stephenson described a virtual world in which Hiro Protagonist socialized and defeated real-world enemies through avatars. Snow Crash coined the term Metaverse by combining “meta”, meaning “transcendent”, and “verse” from universe. Now, it looks like the Metaverse is high on the agenda of the world’s most powerful event. And a bunch of Web3, NFT, and crypto companies are heading to the forum. 

Web3 Foundation, together with the parachain teams of PureStake (Moonbeam), Enjin (Efinity), BOTLabs GmbH (KILT), Trace Labs (OriginTrail), Robonomics, and will join the Polkadot delegation. 

Check out the WEF predictions about the Metaverse. Let’s see if any come true.  

More lies, deep-fakes, and cyber crime. When the Metaverse emerges, governments, corporations, and individuals will be tightly intertwined. And cybercriminals will have more touchpoints, according to the WEF Global Risks Report 2022. There will be more opportunities for disinformation, fraud, and deep-fakes.  

Your colleagues will get out of the window — meaning the Zoom window, of course. They’ll be sitting beside you at virtual meetings in avatar form rather than staring at you from the screen of your laptop. You might never find out how they really look or who they really are. What a great opportunity for diversity and a challenge for HR.   

People will make a living with “play-to-earn” games. The Philippines is now a global leader in P2E gaming, accounting for 40% of over 8 million Axie Infinity users. This, too, opens the door to cybercriminals. In April, attackers stole $625 million in ETH and USDS from Axie Infinity players.

Sleep deprivation. WEF experts warn about health risks associated with immersing in virtual work. Potentially, people will be exposed to more sleep disruption–which significantly affected many remote workers during the pandemic.  

Esports will change. Races such as virtual cycling or marathons will take place in the Metaverse. By 2025, the global esports audience is projected to grow to 725 million from 557 million in 2021.   

NFTs protecting digital ownership. NFTs are expected to play a key role in authenticating the ownership of virtual goods in the Metaverse. However, counterfeit NFTs — created without the authorization of authors — could also flourish. 

There might be some place for harassment. The WEF report is referring to an incident in late 2021 when one of Meta’s Horizon World’s beta testers was groped by another avatar. In February, the company introduced a “Personal Boundary” feature, which prevents avatars from coming within a certain distance of one another. 

DAVOS, SWITZERLAND – Jan 21, 2016: Working moments. Participant of the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland)

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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