Unlocking opportunity for all in the metaverse
Ewan Bennie, Director of Communications and Influence at social mobility charity EY Foundation, shares why now is the time to address inclusion in the AI-infused future of work.
At home or at work, we’ve come to expect constant technological change. So, when the latest innovation comes along, we’re hard to impress. It’s become second nature to dismiss a new device or app heralded as the ‘next big thing’. But occasionally a technology comes along that transforms forever the way we live. This happened with the internet, and it might be about to happen again, with the rapid emergence of AI and a longer-term move toward virtual and augmented reality within the metaverse.
Metaverse, AI, and the Future of work
What the metaverse becomes in the coming years is uncertain. Described as a 3D version of the internet, promising a transformation in the way we live. It can be experienced as augmented reality, connecting the physical and the digital to virtual reality to facilitate full immersion in an interactive 3D virtual environment. Computer games such as Fortnite and Roblox provide a glimpse into the future, creating virtual places where millions play together every day. In the future, it is expected that a significant percentage of people will work in the metaverse, and many companies are already building their virtual presence. Predictions of five billion unique metaverse users and an economic value of $8-13 trillion by 2030 are impossible to verify. It may have dropped out of the headlines with the explosion of new tech like ChatGPT, but Harvard Business Review provided a recent reminder that ‘it is still happening’ and Apple looks like they are about to move into the world of the metaverse.
What will it mean for social mobility?
We are working with award-winning artist, Alina Akbar, and young people from low-income backgrounds from across Greater Manchester, to generate fresh insight into the action needed to ensure the metaverse is fully inclusive, no matter your background.
Concluding later this summer, this new approach to understanding the impact of the metaverse on social inclusion will result in a set of recommended actions for government and technology companies. Sitting alongside these proposals will be original digital artwork from Alina to bring a visual interpretation to the issues identified. Alina is also documenting her journey of discovery.
The project extends the work of the EY Metaverse Lab team in the US, with the School of Digital Arts (SODA) at Manchester Metropolitan University helping to harness the power of art to provide an alternative perspective to a fast-emerging issue.
The collaboration is completed by the lead partner, Ofcom. The UK’s communication regulator will be responsible for implementing new online safety regulations after laws have been passed in Parliament, so they need to understand the action that may be required as the web rapidly evolves.
We recognise the potential for the metaverse, AI, and other emerging tech to positively impact how we live is huge, but there is an urgent need to ensure new opportunities are available to everyone. We hope the ideas that emerge from this project make an important contribution towards ensuring the future of work is fully inclusive, irrespective of your background or circumstances.
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In the meantime, why not check out techUK's miniseries on the technologies underpinning the metaverse?
Digestible webinars for on-the-go or listening at home: this series will help give the wider tech sector insight as to why – and how – the metaverse ecosystem has developed in the UK, and what this may mean for this businesses in years to come.
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