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According to many, the Metaverse is the next big thing that deserves full attention. The integration of virtual space into real life seems to be a new emerging wave that should provide many benefits. And while this all may be true, the reality is that every coin has two sides. The same applies to the Metaverse. This new emerging technology will without any doubt come with risks, limitations or disadvantages, which are rarely talked about. Thus, to provide for a complex and unbiased analysis, we have prepared for you this article, where we look more closely at the “seven possible sins” of the Metaverse.
It is definitely not a surprise that the first set of possible problems will be connected to the safety of the users, players, avatars or anyone using the Metaverse. These can range from cyberbullying, through data collection to identity theft, which are all already flaws of the current Internet, but can be unwillingly enhanced by Metaverse.
One of the first concerns, and probably one of the biggest ones, is the fear of cybercrime. Cybercrime is still a real threat in today’s world and many view it as one of the biggest threats of the coming years.
With the Metaverse, which will be building on the previous iteration of the web (on Web 2.0), where cybercrime is far from being addressed and solved, the space for more malicious activity may arise with a sudden shift to barely explored and new worlds of the Metaverse. The fact that, as of now, the Metaverse is vastly unexplored, the possibilities of cyber crimes can be hardly solved or even addressed.
Moreover, in the past or even recent days this was possible to be done by governments due to the centralisation of the Internet. However, with more decentralised nature of Web 3.0 and Metaverses as such, lack of funding or safety development can become a real threat in combination with cybercrime.
Hand-in-hand with the first possible flaw of the Metaverse is also the next one. With a sudden shift to the more digital and virtual world than we see now, many of the prevailing and unsolved dangers of the Internet might be enhanced.
These can be anything from cyber bullying, harassment or more personal and direct attacks. The Internet is without any doubt far from being all positive or full of support and gratitude. On the contrary, it seems that the digital space is ever more negative, full of hatred and bullying. It, thus, cannot be ruled out that the Metaverse will exacerbate these flaws alongside with the flaws of misinformation, misleading information or propaganda, which all seem to be more pressing issues now than ever before.
With all this in mind, there are also issues connected to individual privacy and security that one must think of when looking at the Metaverse. More precisely, Metaverses from centralised companies such as Meta/Facebook, which on many occasions failed to provide satisfactory security of its users, might be prone to the same flaws in the Metaverse.
An alternative might be provided through more decentralised projects such as Decentraland or The Sandbox, two of the most popular Metaverses as of now. But these would need to prove their safety once millions of users start to occupy their digital spaces. Thus, the safety issue as well as possible data collection from the more centralised entities would need to be addressed also in the Metaverse space.
Looking at the overall safety and the concerns the Metaverse might bring is not the aspect in which everyone needs to stay cautious. There are other spheres where the Metaverse has its disadvantages or limitations with technological problems being one of them.
It is expected that for the full development of the Metaverse, technology would still need to progress more. This can bring problems with the utility of such technology or its successful development and implementation, which can postpone the integration of the Metaverse into reality.
The progress of the Metaverse would thus not only need to be swift, but also correct, which is hard to predict. The technological side of the overall Metaverse craze might either bring much slower development to try to diminish the possible negative effects of the Metaverse, or faster, but can lead to less reliable and unsafe virtual space.
Another problem with the technology is that the Metaverse will likely need to rely on technology that is far from having an infrastructure developed and implemented all around the world. This can include anything from fast fibre-based Internet connection or fifth generation of wireless network technology, through blockchain technology or artificial intelligence.
Since many experts in this field believe that fast Internet connectivity is one of the main requirements for participation in the Metaverse, it can highlight the inequality problem even more. This type of Internet speed or connectivity is not accessed by the majority of people all over the world, which means that their participation in the Metaverse would be limited or even impossible. This would mean that the gap between those, who can afford to live in regions with sufficient speed of the Internet and those, who cannot, would only increase.
With the above-mentioned issue of advanced technologies, we have also started to point out some negative externalities that the Metaverse can have on society as such. There are however few more issues or problems that can arise from incorrect usage of the Metaverse that might have a rather unpleasant effect on the society as such.
The Metaverse can also bring issues more on the societal level. With more time being spent in the online world already, a tool that brings people directly into a digital space and creates a life-like experience can help with even bigger erosion between the reality and the virtual space. This can have several negative impacts on society.
For instance, since people will be able to meet people from all around the world instantly from their homes, they might lose the need to interact with those close to them. This can lead to losing connections with the regional traditions or cultural dependence. While this definitely has its benefits, the risk of losing the connection with the real world by being ever-more present in the virtual world cannot be underestimated.
Last but definitely not least, the Metaverse can highlight several serious issues with mental health. The Metaverse, just like the gaming space, can easily become very addictive. Especially for the children, the excessive exposure to the Metaverse in their early lives can have a significant effect on their development.
As we all know already, it is very easy to lose track of time, when people are in the online world. With the Metaverse, this will be so much easier, since with tools such as VR glasses you will be “actually present in the virtual world.” Thus, losing track of time will be easier than ever before and can help with the erosion of the difference between the reality and virtual world.
Additionally, some people have already suggested that social media and gaming as such can have a severe effect on mental health issues. This can lead to problems with self-esteem, bullying, or even psychosis, all of which cannot be underestimated. In a way, the Metaverse is a combination of a gaming world and a social media platform, which can make these addiction problems so much worse.
With all these negative effects, limitations or just general risks that the Metaverse can bring, one might wonder, whether it is really necessary to try to develop these virtual spaces. This is however not a question for any of us, but rather for huge technological conglomerates such as Meta, Google, Samsung or Microsoft. These companies have already clearly stated their interest in the Metaverse and they will be at the forefront of the development of this technology.
And just like with almost any other technological advancement, once the Metaverse is developed, it is mostly upon each and every one of us to decide whether we want to participate in it. Thus the question of whether this is all necessary or whether it is worth it even with all these risks, can only be answered by you.
While these all might have sounded awful, it is important to note that this article presented only the limitations, risks or disadvantages of the Metaverse. There are without any doubt just as many advantages to this technological advancement.
It is however important to keep in mind that every evolutionary or technological step and switch in trends just like moving from Web 2.0 and social media to Web 3.0 and the Metaverse needs to be well balanced and people need to be aware of the good as well as the bad.