Guangming Daily: Accurately understand the metaverse, and deal with risks and challenges in the deve

Since 2021, technology applications and industrial investment around the Metaverse have increasingly become the focus of social attention. Microsoft, Nvidia, Facebook and other foreign technology companies have already launched the deployment of Metaverse ecological related technology products. The topic of the metaverse has become a new hot spot in the development of the digital economy and the forefront of digital government applications. The metaverse has changed from a sci-fi concept to a real application, and will form a virtual world that maps and interacts with the real world. At the same time, some criminals will also take the opportunity to use, bind, and even make up the concept of "metaverse" to engage in illegal and criminal activities. To this end, while correctly understanding the development of the Metaverse, it is necessary to carefully study and judge the various risks it brings, and lay out governance plans in advance.




Accurate understanding of the Metaverse



The Metaverse is an audio-visual enhanced version of cyberspace, and an upgraded version of the evolution of the digital world from two-dimensional to three-dimensional. In the virtual world of the metaverse, users can produce, use, and trade items that are difficult to obtain or even not available offline, and can enjoy experiences that are difficult or impossible to enjoy offline, which may promote the creation of a new social structure and social order.


A metaverse run by Internet companies can become an autonomous network society separated from traditional countries in the real world. Compared with the existing network, Metaverse has made new breakthroughs in interactive mode, content production, property rights identification and interaction, etc., and can realize an independent economic system, social system, and identity system. Each user is immersed in the metaverse, producing and editing content, and experiencing work and life. In the long run, they may be "decoupled" from the real world and become a "citizen" of the metaverse.


The Metaverse has yet to bring completely independent new technologies, and it still relies on the convergence and integration of various existing technologies such as big data, cloud computing, blockchain, virtual reality, augmented reality, and digital twins. On the one hand, driven by the application of scenarios, in the process of combination and integration of different technologies, it is likely to change from quantitative to qualitative, and promote new technological changes. On the other hand, the inherent risks of various technologies will also be superimposed, giving rise to new risks.




Possible Risks in Metaverse Development



The virtual world of the Metaverse runs parallel to the real world and provides users with a twin mirror image and immersive experience similar to the real world. There will be new problems of technological integration and order reconstruction, as well as old problems of the real world. During the development of the Metaverse, if governance measures are not in place, the following risks may arise:


Overhead sovereign authority and endanger the risk of network data security. The rules of the Metaverse platform cross offline physical borders and actually affect users in multiple countries, which may overshadow the authority of countries and governments. In addition, in the metaverse ecology, violations of citizens' personal information and hacker attacks in general cyberspace may still occur. Considering the richer production and life scenarios in the Metaverse and the digitization of the entire process of user activity trajectories, the destructive events may be more sudden, wider and more harmful. The transnational operation characteristics of Metaverse itself will also bring about frequent security issues of user data going abroad. As new digital properties such as NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and virtual currencies have a wider investment and trading space, it is easy to provide channels for new forms of money laundering, gambling, fraud, pyramid schemes and other illegal and criminal activities.


Risks endangering the physical and mental health and social order of users. The application of the Metaverse is inseparable from various smart wearable devices. Long-term device wearing and interface access will cause physical and mental harm to users, and it is necessary to pay attention to the adverse consequences such as digital addiction of minors. Looking further, in the metaverse ecology, the trend of socialization, intelligence, personalization and fragmentation of content production is more significant, and the difficulty of order management is increasing. On the other hand, the discourse system and value orientation of the specific application of the Metaverse are still affected by the community rules, business models and algorithms formulated by the platform operators, and the behavior patterns of early users. effect” and the risk of “filter bubbles” developing to a deeper level.


Risks of infringing on personal rights, affecting ecology and energy security. Compared with the existing network platforms, the metaverse ecology is easier to form a closed loop, and the interconnection between different metaverses is more difficult. The rights and interests of workers, consumers, and operators in the Metaverse ecology may all be violated. Speculation and speculation with the help of the metaverse concept will also disrupt the normal economic order. The Metaverse requires a lot of computing resources, and consumes a lot of energy and carbon emissions. If it is allowed to develop blindly and disorderly, it will also have an adverse impact on the high-quality economic and social development and energy conservation and emission reduction.




Promote the development of metaverse norms



As an emerging business format, the Metaverse contains the vigorous vitality of technological innovation and the rich potential of application innovation. It will also bring potential huge impact and impact on the economy and society. Therefore, it is necessary to recognize that the metaverse is a new competitive field with potential strategic significance, and to take measures in advance against possible security risks to strictly prevent various "gray rhino" and "black swan" events.


First, strengthen legal governance, risk governance and comprehensive governance. By clarifying the extension and application of laws in the field of network governance such as the Cybersecurity Law, the Data Security Law, and the Personal Information Protection Law, it has drawn a red line and pointed out the direction for the development of the Metaverse. In-depth, dynamic and comprehensive assessment of the specific risks of Metaverse in main application scenarios, investigation of the development and trends of Metaverse-related industries, research, formulation and storage of targeted, inclusive, and forward-looking legal policies, and strive to master future Metaverse technology competition The right to formulate the rules of the arena and the dominance of international discourse. Strengthen technical governance, and promote compliance technology and regulatory technology that adapt to the development of Metaverse.


Second, strengthen overall planning and coordination, establish leading departments, form a cross-departmental coordination mechanism, actively respond to cross-industry, cross-regional, and cross-border issues of Metaverse governance, and ensure the stability of relevant industrial chains and supply chains. At the stage when the development model and path are immature and the international competitive advantage has not yet been established, pay attention to the spillover effects of regulatory measures, while resolutely crack down on illegal and criminal acts, prudently introduce policies that have a shrinking effect, and focus on making full use of filing, publicity, and publication. Best practices and other flexible regulatory means. By issuing policy guidelines, ensure the correct development direction of the innovation chain development chain; do a good job in risk warning and legal education, educate and guide the general public to improve their self-discipline in dealing with Metaverse addiction and the ability to identify fraudulent behaviors in the name of Metaverse speculation.


Third, grasp the general trend and make good moves. Make full use of global resources, deploy key links with high certainty in advance, and increase the layout of key technologies such as chips and GPUs. Deploy a metaverse-oriented green energy system in advance, and speed up the construction of related facilities and capabilities. Adhere to what to do and what not to do, focus on choosing beneficial fields represented by commerce, tourism, culture, education, pension, etc., and actively implement the application scenarios of virtual reality and augmented reality. Through the application of the Metaverse, the culture is brought to life, and the deep integration and development of the real economy and the digital economy are promoted.


(Author: Zhou Hui, a researcher at the Research Center of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Deputy Director of the Network and Information Law Research Office, Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)


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