Community Blog Digital Intelligence Insight | Metaverse Going Viral: Opportunity or Risk?

Digital Intelligence Insight | Metaverse Going Viral: Opportunity or Risk?

This article discusses the Metaverse and a few interesting questions.

By Gao Hongbing, Vice President of Alibaba Group and Director of AliResearch

Editor: Zhao Ziqian, in charge of Content Operations in Alibaba Cloud Research Center

The Metaverse

Gao Hongbing, Vice President of Alibaba Group and Director of AliResearch, believes the industry needs to think soberly about the hot topic and discuss how the technology can be more inclusive and responsible through multiple perspectives.

How Should We Discuss the Metaverse?

Technology is changing business, life, and governance. In the contemporary era technologies are popularized on a large scale. We are required to consider issues between technology and people and society, especially those issues about how to prevent the negative impacts of technology on people and society in advance and how to transform the power of technology into more useful value for people. Only by fully considering the negative impacts of science and technology, even catastrophic effects, can we guide ourselves to find solutions and ideas to deal with these negative impacts.


Is the Metaverse Secure? How Can You Realize Fairness and Justice in the Virtual Network World?

The security of the virtual network world includes three aspects.

  1. It is called the Metaverse, but it forms a new existence of people and things after virtualizing them in the real world through information technology. Platforms and regulatory departments of public service can map virtual identities and real people behind the virtual network world through a set of systems of user authentication and accounts. No matter how many virtual images are generated by an account, grasping the account means obtaining the key to governance in the digital world.
  2. The digital infrastructure can be managed by classification in a hierarchical manner. The system can be disassembled into various structural systems managed hierarchically by different weights.
  3. It is necessary to establish new legislation to protect data assets. The construction of the legislation should be carried out on the basis of new species and new applications generated by the application of new technologies.

The biggest challenge is whether the existing legal system is suitable for the virtual world since the virtual network world and the real world are misplaced twins. Does it require a specific legal system? In the face of new challenges, we should advocate morality, ethics, education, norms, and behavioral conventions first and use the law to solidify those ideas after gaining some governance experience. The cost of law is very high, so we can use softer means first and then enact laws to confirm related regulations after the development trend is clear. In addition, developers and technology providers need to take responsibility. Technology providers and system operators are supposed to maintain ethics and take responsibility for creating a positive virtual world.


Which Interesting Thoughts Will the Metaverse Bring?

Technology is neutral, but this round of technological revolution is different from the changes brought about by the power technology of the industrial revolution.

Human labor is liberated through the transformation of power or machinery in the industrial revolution, and the physical structure of human society was changed. People used steam engines and mechanical systems to amplify ideas and actions in the system. When an external system can achieve all the features that one's physical ability can achieve, the overall physical strength of human beings will decline. In other words, people's physical ability is reduced through the division of labor brought about by industrial technology, and they work more with the brain.

The biggest difference between the industrial revolution and the information revolution is that the latter digitizes people and things. A parallel world of atoms and bits was built in the information revolution, operating on the human brain to enhance the perception of human senses and forming a consciousness network of human society.

Regardless of whether the future is based on the Metaverse or virtual reality technologies, after the large-scale popularization of various applications, a large amount of accumulated data will be generated and evolve into powerful intelligent systems or data systems. These systems add up human intelligence to form powerful intelligence. Will the overall level of human intelligence decrease because there is no need to use our brains most of the time?


The Metaverse transcends the existing world, time and space, and creates new digital identities. This system of digital identities may not be important in the existing world, but it can create virtual characters in virtual reality. These virtual characters will get eternal life through the system. Behind these characters with eternal life are various agents and agent machines. Therefore, digital identities and images will be the most important issue discussed about the Metaverse for discussion.

Other interesting phenomena include, “Which virtualized gender will people choose in the Metaverse? How will people deal with legal issues involved with the Metaverse? How many virtual images can people have? Since avatars in the Metaverse can exist for a hundred or a thousand years, what will happen to the accumulated data at the end of the intellectual property protection period? These issues related to ethics and privacy need to be discussed in the future.

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