As we learned in the previous article of this series, impact of the metaverse on disinformation, child security, its evolution and its potential to spread discrimination and inequalities will depend on how the technology is developed, regulated and used by individuals and organisations.
Many uncertainties remain: Will the metaverse produce misinformation, will children be safe from inappropriate content, will games and pornography drive its evolution, and will it increase discrimination and inequalities?
We don’t know, but it is important to address some issues proactively to ensure that the metaverse is a safe, inclusive and beneficial space for all:
- Disinformation can create new opportunities for the spread of information and fake news, especially in virtual social environments where people can interact and share information. However, it is also possible that the metaverse offers new tools and techniques for verifying information, checking facts, and combating disinformation.
- Child security presents new risks and challenges, especially in terms of inappropriate content, cyber-bullying, and online grooming. However, the metaverse is also likely to offer new tools and techniques to ensure children’s security, such as virtual security filters, parental controls, and moderation tools.
- As for the evolution of the metaverse, it is likely that gaming and pornography will continue to drive its development, given the popularity of these industries and their current presence in virtual environments. However, other industries and applications, such as education, healthcare and business, are also likely to emerge and could shape the metaverse in different ways.
- Discrimination and inequality may further exacerbate existing problems, especially if technology is not designed with diversity, equity and inclusion in mind. Nevertheless, it is also possible that the metaverse offers new opportunities for people to connect, collaborate and learn from each other, regardless of their background or identity.
Most significant potential impacts of the metaverse
The impact of technological and cyber risks in the metaverse can be significant and far-reaching. Here are some of the potential impacts:
- Loss of privacy and data security: If personal data is compromised, it could lead to identity theft, financial fraud, and other malicious activities. This could have serious consequences for both individuals and businesses.
- Financial losses: Cyber-attacks that result in the theft of assets or virtual currencies could lead to significant financial losses for individuals and businesses operating in the metaverse.
- Reputational damage: If a company’s or individual’s virtual presence is hacked or compromised, it could lead to reputational damage and loss of trust among its followers and customers.
- Health problems: Addiction to the metaverse and overuse of virtual reality technology could lead to physical and mental health problems, such as eyestrain, headaches, and social isolation.
- Limiting innovation and creativity: If the metaverse becomes centralised and controlled by a few powerful entities, it could limit innovation and creativity, stifling the potential of the virtual world.
The impacts of technological and cyber risks in the metaverse could be significant and require proactive measures to address and prevent these risks. As the metaverse becomes more pervasive, it will be essential to implement robust security protocols and regulations to ensure a safe and positive experience for all users.
Mitigating risks and minimising their impact
As experts highlight, these risks can affect not only individuals, but also businesses, governments, and society as a whole.
Among the potential impacts of technological and cyber risks in the metaverse are, in addition to those already mentioned, also identity theft, cyberbullying and exposure to harmful content.
These risks can also lead to a lack of trust in the metaverse and hinder its adoption and growth.
The interconnected nature of the metaverse can also amplify the impact of cyber-attacks, potentially affecting multiple users and platforms simultaneously. Also, the complexity of the technological infrastructure of the metaverse and the rapid pace of innovation and development may pose significant new challenges for Cyber Security.
Hence, to mitigate these risks and minimise their potential impact, organisations and individuals must take proactive steps to ensure the security and privacy of their data and interactions in the metaverse. This includes implementing robust cyber security measures, promoting digital literacy and awareness, and adopting ethical and responsible practices.
The impact of technological and cyber risks in the metaverse therefore highlights the importance of prioritising Cyber Security and privacy in the development and use of virtual environments.
Featured photo: Stem. T4L / Unsplash.