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The Metaverse comes to Davos! Part 2!

On Monday we marked the start of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, or WEF23, in Davos, Switzerland, and discussed the forum’s “Defining and Building the Metaverse” initiative to “develop and share actionable strategies for creating and governing the metaverse”.

The theme for this year’s gathering in the Swiss mountain resort is “Cooperation in a Fragmented World”. In this follow-up post we take a look at Metaverse-related news coming out of this year’s gathering, as well as the Forum’s moves to shape global, regional and industrial Metaverse agendas – the World Economic Forum’s aim is to “tackle the imponderable and interlinked challenges the world is facing and find solutions through public-private cooperation.”

The big news yesterday was the unveiling of the World Economic Forum’s Global Collaboration Village. Built using Microsoft Mesh, the Global Collaboration Village comprises a set of initial immersive spaces that can be accessed by a virtual reality (VR) headset or laptop device. World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab described the Global Collaboration Village as “the first public purpose-oriented application of the metaverse technology”, adding that it will be a “true global village in the virtual space” , and that it will be “will use the frontier capabilities of the metaverse to find solutions for addressing the big issues of our time in a more open, inclusive and sustained way”.

Today’s key Metaverse-related events include “How to Build a Metaverse for All”, and “A New Reality: Building the Metaverse”. “How to Build a Metaverse for All” was presented by the World Economic Forum’s Head of Editorial Strategy and Thought Leadership and Head of Head of Media, Entertainment and Sport, Kirsten Salyer and Cathy Li. Kirsten and Cathy were joined by the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Hong Kong-based blockchain gaming developer Animoca Brands, Siu Yat, and the United Arab Emirates Deputy Minister of Cabinet Affairs for Strategic Affairs, Huda Al Hashimi. Animoca Brands is currently invested in more than 380 companies including blockchain-based Metaverse Axie Infinity and NFT marketplace OpenSea.

“How to Build a Metaverse for All” announced the first outputs of the “Defining and Building the Metaverse” initiative, including briefing papers from the initiative’s two core areas Metaverse Governance, and Generating Economic and Social Value. These included briefing papers on Interoperability in the Metaverse from the Metaverse Governance track, and Demystifying the Consumer Metaverse from the Generating Economic and Social Value track.

We have previously looked at the challenges of interoperability in “Part 2” to our “Barriers to the Metaverse” series. Interoperability is defined as a characteristic of a product or system to work with other products or systems. For example, any web browser, be it Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Apple Safari, can open any web page, that’s interoperability.

Interoperability is built on the concept of open standards, agreed ways of doing things that are accessible and usable by anyone. The internet is built on open standards, because they allow devices, services, and applications to work together. Take the Internet protocol suite, commonly known as TCP/IP, which describes how devices using the internet should communicate with one another. TCP/IP protocols are available to everyone and are developed and changed by consensus.

In the Metaverse, interoperability means that anyone, anywhere, can use any device, such as VR googles, haptic gloves, a haptic suit, or a brain-computer interface, to enter different environments owned by different organisations. Today, this means the myriad of disparate ecosystems operated by large technology companies and communities, like Horizon Worlds, Horizon Venues, Decentraland, Minecraft, and Roblox.

We’ll be taking an in-depth look at the Forum’s Interoperability in the Metaverse and Demystifying the Consumer Metaverse briefing papers and report back in “Part 3” of our World Economic Forum reporting.

“A New Reality: Building the Metaverse” was presented by Chief Executive Officer of The Atlantic Nicholas Thompson, who was joined by Meta’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, American multinational information technology company, HP Inc’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Enrique Lores, Rwanda’s Minister of Information Communication Technology and Innovation Paula Ingabire, the author of the novel that coined the term Metaverse, Neal Stephenson, and the World Economic Forum’s Head of Media, Entertainment and Sport Cathy Li. The panel discussed the challenges of a safe, accessible and economically viable metaverse and how it could be operationalised.

Tomorrow’s events include “Deployment in the Industrial Metaverse”, where Editor-in-Chief at the Insider Matt Turner, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Abdullah AlSwaha, Chief Executive Officer of Magic Leap, Peggy Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of Siemens Healthineers, Bernd Montag, Ericsson’s Head of Business Area Technologies and New Businesses, Asa Tamsons, and the World Economic Forum’s Managing Director Jeremy Jurgens, will be discussing how industrial leaders can maximize the benefits of the metaverse, while avoiding potential disruption.

The four-day-long event concludes this Friday, the 20th of January. Don’t forget to leave a comment below!

Damian Markutt/Unsplash

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