Discover Metaverse’s advantages, and drawbacks to ensure the responsible application of technology in pursuit of sustainable development.
The Metaverse is undoubtedly a hot topic right now, yet it remains in its early stages of development. Nevertheless, its potential is immense. Many companies are leading the charge in embracing the Metaverse to shape the future of human civilization.
For instance, NVIDIA is concentrating on the business-to-business market, while Meta (formerly Facebook) is focusing on the business-to-customer market.
So, what exactly is the Metaverse?
It can be described as a 3D internet that is interconnected, persistent, virtual, and involves not just hyperlinking but ‘hyper jumping’ between different worlds. Other definitions also encompass the convergence of virtual, augmented, and digital realms.
Undoubtedly, the Metaverse will revolve around Universal Scene Description (USD), enabling coordinated simulated experiences, virtual workspaces, homes, and social gathering venues. However, an intriguing aspect to monitor is how Metaverse industries will contribute to combating climate change. Amitabh Kant, India’s G-20 sherpa, recently emphasized the need to combine green initiatives with emerging technologies for a sustainable future.
In June of this year, Cornell University published a paper suggesting that the Metaverse could have environmental benefits, potentially reducing global surface temperatures by up to 0.02 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. The study also intriguingly projected a 90 percent adoption rate of Metaverse usage worldwide. It’s essential to acknowledge that this is theoretical, with no real-world adoption yet. However, the possibility of leveraging Metaverse industries to combat climate change cannot be entirely discounted.
Can the Metaverse aid in the fight against climate change?
Several nascent but significant initiatives are underway to leverage Metaverse technology for climate change mitigation:
- The onset of COVID-19 demonstrated how people swiftly embraced virtual meetings, potentially reducing carbon footprints by eliminating the need for travel. With advanced 3D environments, similar meeting spaces can be created in the Metaverse, preserving the meeting’s ambiance. Meta’s Horizon Workrooms is one such initiative.
- NVIDIA’s Omniverse aims to create a digital Earth (E2) and predict climate change impacts over the next 30 years. Paraview Connect, a part of Omniverse, allows climate scientists to interactively analyze 3D climate data from various sources, exploring ‘what if’ scenarios. Digital twin technology can also reduce a building’s carbon emissions significantly.
- Behavioral change is another avenue where the Metaverse can contribute to fighting climate change. Virtual and augmented reality platforms can encourage cleaner, greener lifestyles. Initiatives like India’s LiFE (Lifestyle for the Environment) and the UN’s Digital Art for Climate Initiative harness the Metaverse to promote behavioral change.
Kate Crawford, the Principal Researcher at Microsoft, delves into the human toll involved in the development of artificial intelligence in her thought-provoking book, ‘The Atlas of AI.’ In her work, she highlights the challenges faced by mine workers in resource-rich countries and sheds light on the working conditions of laborers in technology companies.
However, in the pursuit of sustainability, it becomes imperative to assess the potential benefits that the Metaverse industry can bring as part of climate-focused initiatives. It’s worth noting that our adaptation to smartphones happened swiftly. Looking ahead, the Metaverse is poised to become a necessity in the not-so-distant future. Therefore, it is crucial to comprehend its applications, advantages, and disadvantages to ensure the responsible use of technology for sustainable development.