Just before we finished this newsletter, The FTC is suing Meta in an attempt to block the acquisition of Within, the developers of the VR fitness app. This is Lena Khan’s first lawsuit against a major tech company as head of the FTC, and a significant setback – and a possible omen – for the metaverse’s plans at a time when economic conditions make them more vulnerable than ever.
POLITICS Josh Sisko reported that the FTC said the acquisition “would be another step on the road to dominance”, removing Meta’s incentive to develop its own competing products, while the company responded that the lawsuit was “based on ideology and assumptions”.
The creation of the metaverse is a massive undertaking — too large for one company to handle on its own.
This explains why a group of big players including Meta, Microsoft, Epic Games and Sony announced the creation of Metaverse Standards Forum last month, designed to “promote the development of open standards” for the future of the 3D Internet. “Interoperability,” or the idea that digital identity and ownership will be portable and usable across different private platforms, is more than just a buzzword—it is a fundamental principle that distinguishes the metaverse from a set of glorified virtual chats.
This warm and fluffy feeling, of course, runs into a common truth of American industry: there is only one master dog, and everyone wants to be one. However, at least for now, the companies building the metaverse see collaboration in developing rough outlines of building a virtual world as the best way to guarantee a fair chance of achieving this status.
The Internet as we know it didn’t start like that. The technologies behind it were created largely through public-private partnerships and the government itself, from the Department of Defense’s role in developing TCP/IP protocols to the invention of the Internet by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in the late 1980s. Today, the mature tech industry is largely writing its own rules, moving too fast for US lawmakers to keep up.
This means that whatever the process of setting standards for the metaverse, it must be profitable for the companies that create it with big pockets.
“In order to do what we do, for an open or closed metaverse, the technology investment is going to be huge anyway,” said Tony Parisi, who helped found the Metaverse Standards Forum and is a co-founder. or numerous 3D graphics standards. “You could have a nice little closed system economy, but history has taught us that they are limited in how they can scale compared to open markets where there is more inflow and diversity.” (When I spoke with Matthew Ball, co-founder of the Metaverse ETF last week, he sounded basically the same note.)
Even competitors like Meta and Microsoft find it easy to get along when they talk about core technology tools. But what about worlds built with this technology? When a president threatens another head of state via a tweet, or a teenager radicalizes on a forum before launching a rampage, no one is berating TCP/IP. Who will set the standards that will directly affect how real users interact with the metaverse?
“The problem with the metaverse is that we are developing the technical standards for how it will be built on the Internet without having solved the problems on the real Internet,” said Tom Wheeler, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
That’s why regulators like Wheeler, who actively campaigned for new federal agency who would set the standard for technology, believe that the government should be directly involved in this process.
“The agency will say we’re bringing this group together because there needs to be interoperability, you guys understand how to do that, and we’re going to sit down with you and be part of that process,” Wheeler said. . “And we’re going to decide if you’re giving us something meaningful or something bullshit.”
But for now, this fantastic scenario is, well…that’s right – and the Metaverse standards forum provides another platform to keep the industry ahead of it.
Today Cathy O’Donnell of POLITICO interviewed CFPB Director Rohit Chopra, a fist-fighting protégé of Elizabeth Warren who increasingly turns his agency’s skeptical eye on the crypto world.
While Chopra did not explicitly discuss crypto, the conversation provides a direct look into the mind of one of Washington’s leading technology watchers, as politicians demand regulation of sensitive topics such as stablecoins, AI, and security in the metaverse.
Describing how his tenure differs from his predecessor Richard Corddry’s tenure, Chopra said, “The biggest issue we have to deal with is what we’re going to do with big tech coming in.” into financial services? (BUT Congressional report published in May detailed regulatory concerns about big tech financial products when it comes to privacy, fraud protection, and even algorithmic bias.)
“Increasingly, big tech companies have even richer data than even credit reporting companies,” Chopra continued. “…especially when it comes to payments and those firms that integrate their technology into their mobile devices and mobile operating systems, being able to collect and monetize our transaction data in great detail.”
Chopra also said that one of his top priorities for the agency is to develop rules on personal financial data rights, which could become extremely important in the metaverse as companies compete for dominate pay methods that will link different virtual worlds.
Minecraft’s decision to ban NFTs on its platform last week was met with mostly applause from gamers looking to prevent the open monetization of their favorite platform.
With one notable disagreement: NFT Worlds, a “play to earn metaverse gaming platform” that used Minecraft as the basis for its planned multiplayer role-playing games, music venues and more, all linked by virtual tokens. NFT Worlds said this week that the move shows “disrespect for creators, builders, and players” and that it runs on a new platform with “many core Minecraft mechanics” (which they say will avoid any potential copyright infringement).
While the anguish of NFT Worlds is specific to this single platform, it is causing serious tension in the gaming and tech community over blockchain and NFT technology: freedom and independence versus freedom and independence. speculation.
Proponents of this technology promote it as a key to “openness” in the digital world, allowing users to authenticate themselves independently of any company, such as Minecraft owner Microsoft, which can regulate or revoke their accounts or digital goods.
Opponents, such as Minecraft’s leaders, see it as a vehicle for fraud and predatory financialization. If NFT Worlds wants to prove them wrong, they will have to do so on their own platform from the ground up.
Stay in touch with the entire team: Ben Schrekinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson[email protected]); Konstantin Kakaes (ur.[email protected]); and Heidi Vogt ([email protected]). Follow us on Twitter @DigitalFuture.