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Episode 3: Web3 and the metaverse

Home Insights Episode 3: Web3 and the metaverse

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Published on: November 15, 2023


Please note, this is a script from Episode Three of our video series, the digital download: 2023 - Tech Year in Review, which you can access here.

In this episode, we're joined by Courtenay Whitford from Meta to talk about two often less-well understood tech trends, Web3 and the metaverse. While AI has dominated headlines in 2023, large organisations around the globe have continued to quietly invest in these two technologies, including Meta.

Overview of Web3

The terms "Web3" and the "metaverse" are often used interchangeably, but they are actually two very distinct concepts. Web3 has often been described as the next step in the evolution of the internet where users are connected via a decentralised network and are able to own and access their own data.

Web2, is largely centralised and controlled by a few large corporations. Web3 seeks to leverage blockchain and other forms of decentralised technologies to create a more peer-to-peer network. However, the adoption and development of Web3 is still at an early growth stage, so the full extent of how it will be used remains to be seen.

Overview of the metaverse

Web3 will underpin the development of the metaverse. The concept of the 'metaverse' is a fully immersive and interactive virtual world where users can interact with avatars and virtual objects in a 3D virtual space. It can be used for work, research, socialisation and gaming.

Many experts are of the view that because the metaverse is so new, it's too early to fully define what it will mean for society longer term. It's currently estimated that there are more than 400 million people worldwide who use metaverse applications and the metaverse is expected to generate up to US$5 trillion in value by 2030.

In 2023, we have seen companies using metaverse applications for a wide range of purposes, from designing digital twins to tesing and developing concepts in a virtual space before deploying them in a real world context.

Meta as a metaverse-first company

When the company rebranded from Facebook to Meta in 2021, this ushered in a new chapter for us as a metaverse-first company and what it meant for us was a long-term focus on building out the metaverse and bringing the metaverse to life.

It's important to bear in mind that the metaverse is a collective vision. It won't be built by a single company, but rather by a range of people, including developers and creators who are already working to build out brand new experiences that are interoperable and available around the world.

The future of the metaverse in New Zealand

We've seen a lot of investment and enthusiasm in the metaverse in this part of the world. Although Asia Pacific is incredibly diverse in terms of its culture and regulatory sophistication, we're very much seeing it come out in front as a leader in this space. And for Meta, what that's meant is an opportunity to collaborate with governments, academics, and industry on building out some responsible guardrails for how the metaverse should operate.

Legal implications

In a metaverse context, this means developing best practices to address issues such as data minimisation, data security, control and transparency when data processing, youth issues, and things like bystander privacy concerns.

Up next...

Next week, we'll be discussing key regulatory developments in the tech space in 2023, both in New Zealand and around the world. We look forward to you joining us.

This article is intended only to provide a summary of the subject covered. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. No person should act in reliance on any statement contained in this publication without first obtaining specific professional advice. If you require any advice or further information on the subject matter of this newsletter, please contact the partner/solicitor in the firm who normally advises you, or alternatively contact one of the partners listed below.

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