The metaverse needs to overcome safeguarding, skills and regulation challenges, if it hopes to become part of everyday life, according to research by the professional body for computing.

A majority (77%) of tech professionals are concerned about safety issues in the metaverse, according to the survey by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

And 81% of experts think the virtual environment will create new regulatory challenges

The BCS research will be discussed in Westminster on Monday 15 May, at an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) session on the metaverse and also Web 3.0 — a term describing the next version of the internet, based on technology like blockchain.

The BCS poll also found that:

  • Only one-quarter of IT professionals believe the metaverse and immersive technologies will benefit society.
  • Only 38% think that Web 3.0 will improve society.
  • There is a relatively low level of confidence that the UK has the digital skills to benefit economically from metaverse and Web 3.0 - only 19% are confident about metaverse and 26% for Web 3.0.
  • Most agree that the metaverse (81%) and Web 3.0 (77%) will create new regulatory challenges.
  • Half of IT experts surveyed think the metaverse will have a negative effect on the Earth's climate. 32% say it will have no effect and 18% indicated the effect would be positive. The results are similar for Web 3.0.

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The metaverse can be described as a 3D digital space that uses virtual reality to allow people to have lifelike experiences online.

Web 3.0 has been explained as an idea for a new version of the World Wide Web which incorporates concepts such as decentralisation and blockchain technologies.

However, both the Metaverse and Web 3.0 lack clear, accepted definitions that will make sense to both professionals and the public, BCS found.

Public education, transparency and trust

Rashik Parmar MBE, Chief Executive of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT said: “We won’t all be living and working in the metaverse anytime soon. But we may spend more time in virtual environments, and so being able to trust the world we’re stepping into is vital.

“Tech professionals think the safety of potential metaverse users, especially children, is a big concern, as the boundaries between the real and the digital world become blurred. They tell us that regulation, safeguarding issues and depth of available skills all need to be resolved before the metaverse can become part of everyday life. The impact on the environment is also a huge challenge.

“Immersive technology, just like AI, should be built and maintained by teams of ethical, highly competent, inclusive professionals to give us a better chance of avoiding the mistakes still seen with social media. Ideally, we should be able to hold individuals and organisations ‘running’ the metaverse to some agreed standards of professional accountability.

“The same is true of the idea of Web 3.0 – to take advantage of possible opportunities of de-centralised technology like blockchain, it needs to be built on a basis of public education, transparency and trust.”

About the survey

Overall, 1,036 BCS members completed this questionnaire between 24 April and 9 May 2023. The survey was conducted online by BCS.