In November 2022, CGI participated the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Egypt.
As part of our involvement at COP27, we had a physical presence at the conference and built a metaverse accessible to people in Egypt and around the world to show how emerging technologies can reduce the environmental impacts of travel. It also demonstrated how the technology industry can partner with organisations in all sectors on their transition to net zero through sustainable technologies and practices.
It’s been an interesting experience being part of CGI’s journey with the metaverse culminating in COP27. Through my role designing and developing our Meta Hub, a metaverse environment used to onboard new members to CGI, and the COP27 metaverse application, I’ve come to realise the possibilities and benefits that the metaverse and virtual experiences can offer in the short and long term.
In the longer term, a single unified metaverse platform is a complex and ambitious goal, but if achieved it could have a profound impact on how we interact and experience the digital world.
Benefits of the metaverse
It’s helpful to explore what the metaverse is, as many definitions currently exist. I find it helpful to bring it to life with some examples: In the metaverse people can interact with each other in a shared virtual space. More engaging and memorable experiences are created through enhanced immersion. Businesses can take advantage of new opportunities to create and monetise digital goods and services. Education and training can be done through virtual simulations or interactive classrooms. People with disabilities can participate in virtual experiences that would normally be inaccessible to them. The metaverse can be used for research purposes in many fields such as psychology, sociology, artificial intelligence, machine learning etc.
Impact on society
The future single joined up metaverse also has the potential to significantly impact our lives more widely, in several ways such as:
- Social impact: The metaverse could lead to a more connected and globalized society, as people from all over the world can interact with each other in a shared virtual space. This could help to break down cultural barriers and foster greater understanding and acceptance of different people and ways of life.
- Economic impact: The metaverse has the potential to create new business opportunities and jobs, as well as new ways for existing companies to monetise their services and products. For example, virtual real estate, digital goods and services, virtual events, and virtual tourism could become major industries.
- Psychological impact: Being able to interact with people and things in the metaverse in new ways that were not possible before, and the increase of social connection, could have a positive impact on mental well-being.
- Impact on physical environment: The metaverse could also have an impact on the physical environment. The ability to fully immerse oneself in a virtual world could reduce the need for travel, thus reducing carbon emissions, and would also minimise the need for some types of physical infrastructure, such as brick-and-mortar retail stores.
- Impact on education and training: The metaverse has the potential to revolutionize education and training by providing new opportunities for hands-on learning, simulation and training in tasks that would be difficult or dangerous to perform in the real world.
- Impact on research and experimentation: The metaverse offers a new realm for research, experiments, and testing in fields such as psychology, sociology, AI, machine learning and many more.
While I have noted the many potential benefits of this technology, it's also important to keep in mind that its impact will also depend on how it is designed, implemented, and regulated. It is essential to continue to address and build on the fundamentals of privacy, security and ethics to address potential data breaches, identity theft, and activities such as cyberbullying and harassment.
Utilising robust encryption, authentication protocols, strict data collection and usage policies are just some of the methods that can be implemented to ensure the Metaverse remains a safe environment for all.
Creating user awareness, educating users, as well as encouraging users to take responsibility for their own security and privacy can also play a crucial part in addressing these concerns.
As technology evolves, so do the solutions that we provide. Please do get in touch if you’d like to become part of this evolution and see how CGI could help your organisation become part of the metaverse.