Last month, a report from the European Commission outlined the potential of virtual worlds and what the European Union (EU) should do to establish the continent as a major player in this new evolution of the internet. The suggested strategy and proposed actions are based on consultations with academia, civil society, businesses, and individuals from the European Citizens’ Panel on Virtual Worlds.
’An EU initiative on Web 4.0 and virtual worlds: a head start in the next technologic transition’ is available to download at the bottom of this page.
A summary of the report
The report describes the concept of virtual worlds, created based on technologies including XR, as a crucial part of the transition to Web 4.0. There are unprecedented opportunities in many societal areas – from health and education to cultural experiences. However, this development will pose challenges to fundamental rights and important objectives of general public interest in a democratic society. Additionally, its environmentally-friendly credentials will be scrutinised.
Web 4.0 can enable faster, safer and easier interaction between humans and machines, with the automotive, advanced manufacturing and logistics industries already implementing this technology in their work processes. There will also be a wealth of opportunities for companies in Europe to develop solutions that take advantage of new business models as the size of the global market of virtual worlds grows from €27bn in 2022 to over €800bn by 2030.
The Commission aims for a Web 4.0 and virtual worlds that reflect EU values, principles and fundamental rights,. There are a range of actions that can be taken to build the foundations for a long-term transition that achieves this. These include:
- Building a talent pool of virtual world specialists that can construct the various layers of Web 4.0;
- Boosting the EU’s technological capabilities to support a European Web 4.0 industrial ecosystem;
- Supporting societal progress (health, climate change, etc.) and improving public services;
- Create strong governance on this topic that is built on EU member states working together.
- ICTOulu published a explainer on virtual worlds enabled by the metaverse, including how the city is well-placed to be a central go-to destination for products and solutions, last autumn.
- In June, we hosted the Metaverse Monday event, with a series of speakers sharing the latest insights on this topic.