The metaverse, a “wild west” that needs to be regulated

This is the “turfu” of the world of work. On May 18, Carrefour CEO Alexandre Bompard was pleased to conduct job interviews in the metaverse, this virtual universe should be revolutionary. A symbol of the enthusiasm of companies for this innovation that is progressing now without regulation. Abuses, such as “virtual” rapes, have already been observed. Brussels, which has seen the rise of this trend, wants to address the issue.

This is the new toy of the business. The metaverse, a parallel universe allows “creating a new world”, in the words of anthropologist Fanny Parise, has pleased the professional world. A concrete illustration of this event, the last tweet of Carrefour CEO, Alexandre Bompard, was delighted to make his “First steps in the Metaverse, in the form of a funny avatar, with young candidate data analyst or data scientist …”. Teaching a “extraordinary event”, the CEO was primarily the target of criticism from Internet users, mocking a failed metaverse similar to Second Life, a 3D video game released nearly 20 years ago.

If the metaverse is currently in the embryonic stage, it is attracting more brands like Nike, JP Morgan, Adidas, Warner Music who are paying millions to buy virtual land. The interest? “Our strategy is to be at the center of emerging trends to understand them and not have to react to them later”, Carrefour’s innovation department explained to Le Figaro. Understand: brands don’t want to miss the boat when the metaverse is, tomorrow, the revolution the technology titans are proud of. Because they have the art of arousing enthusiasm.

Rape in the metaverse

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is sure that in two or three years, most job meetings will take place in the metaverse. The giant also launched Mesh for teams, a corporate metaverse that competes with Facebook, recently replaced by Meta, to address this virtual universe. A study by American firm Gartner even predicts that one in four people in 2026 will spend at least an hour a day in the metaverse for shopping, education or work. If so, it is better to regulate these areas. In addition to this is the will of Brussels. “The metaverse is already there. So of course we’re starting to analyze what the role of the regulator is, what the role of our legislature is,” said EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. For the drifts are already visible.

During a beta test of Facebook’s virtual reality platform, Horizon Worlds, a user explained that a minute after logging in, several men were having sex with her. “They practically raped my avatar and took pictures while I tried to run away”. Drifts are already available on the 2D Internet but have increased tenfold here. The augmented reality headset is used to feel the same sensations as in reality. “We need to adapt our legal arsenal to these new practices, extend European rules against cyberbullying so that the metaverse is not included in it”, explained Julien Pillot, professor-researcher of economics at Inseec and specialist in digital economics.

“We have to set the rules of the game”

For the expert, legislators have increased in power in recent years, thus making it possible to unveil an arsenal. “not perfect but muscular”, which is the GDPR, the Digital Services Act or the Gafam tax. “We have to set the rules of the game to avoid the wild west. Right now, we have to be clear, without the metaverse, it’s sketches. It will still take decades to access the oasis we sold us, but really? I don’t think so “, by Julien Pillot.

Because behind this virtual world, pollution is very real. As we know, these are the terminals, that is the equipment, with the strongest carbon footprint in the digital sector. However, the metaverse relies on many technological supports. Virtual helmets, suits, gloves, shoes, bracelets… the equipment opens up a new market where technology giants are looking to bet.

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