How AI is working to enhance the metaverse

With technology continuing to evolve and virtual worlds expanding in unfathomable ways, AI could play a crucial part in the metaverse's construction

The metaverse is fast becoming the future of the digital world. 

With businesses increasingly adopting metaverse technology like virtual reality platforms, it is clear that governments and leading organisations will need to have responsible use conversations moving forward.

Visual and augmented reality (VR/AR) adoption, as well as virtual 3D for shopping, events and social media, could cause the industry to swell to US$615bn by 2030. With this in mind, it is easy to see how digital systems like generative AI can work to create a more immersive virtual world for users worldwide.

The power of generative AI: Leveraging technology for a virtual world

As Mark Zuckerberg told The Guardian earlier in 2023: “The metaverse is a logical evolution. It’s the next generation of the internet – a more immersive, 3D experience. Its defining quality will be a feeling of presence, like you are right there with another person or in another place.”

Generative AI could work to enhance user experience in the metaverse by offering users human interactions within a virtual backdrop. The metaverse is all about being ‘within’ the walls of the internet itself, with shared virtual worlds operating immersive digital locations to work, play, socialise, shop and exercise in.

This is just the beginning.

GPT systems in particular have the ability to leverage large language models (LLMs) and provide distinct responses to text, voice and gestures. The technology could also improve how users work virtually and even possibly boost enterprise use by improving the way employees work.

According to an article by Forbes, the future will see social media companies, brands, education institutions and employers operating their own virtual worlds where people can come and enjoy a more engaging online experience.

With online experiences becoming more immersive, VR/AR systems are depended on to mimic reality. Currently, developments are focusing on the limitations of VR headsets and how immersion into the metaverse can be increased with haptic technology.

Increased adoption of digital twins also has the potential to grow even larger than reality. With Web3 and increasing decentralised services, there really is no limit to what these systems can do in capable hands.

A positive use case of digital twins is that they can offer a wealth of analogue data that can be modelled and used to draw additional value. These insights can ultimately work to improve businesses and their services as a result. Technology of this scale enables business owners to create more immersive experiences to increase customer engagement - which can also work to serve the metaverse.

The decentralised web: Ethics and implications

Recent interest in metaverse development is influenced by Web3, a concept for a decentralised iteration of the internet. Whilst these types of technologies are leading towards a democratisation of AI access, a decentralised web could cause debates surrounding data privacy. With this in mind, enterprises will need to ensure safe and responsible use of these systems as the virtual world develops.

The need for responsible AI in conjunction with the evolution of the metaverse is vital. Working to mitigate, or even remove, bias, privacy concerns and ensure safe practice within will ensure continued successes and inclusive development.

Santa Clara University argues that the creators of virtual reality worlds must construct strong codes of ethics in order to maintain safe environments and protect communities who are more vulnerable. 

Don Heider, Chief Executive of the Markkula Centre for Applied Ethics, says: “Take no actions in the metaverse you know or suspect might harm another person or group of people … in your actions and words in the metaverse, consistently show care and concern for other people.”

Initiatives like The Frontier Model Forum could also work to ensure safe and responsible development of the metaverse moving forward, as it has already proposed to do so with AI models.

With increasing numbers of workers using generative AI, the forum’s current objectives are to advance AI safety research to minimise risk and enable independent, standardised evaluations of capabilities and safety. It is interesting to consider how this could extend to the metaverse in the near future as new systems are developed.

AI continually enhancing business transformation

AI systems are already transforming businesses in ways never seen before.

As the metaverse seemingly holds endless possibilities, businesses continue to explore how to tap into its new potential. Although mostly focused on social media and connectivity, the metaverse arguably holds other possibilities for different services.

AI Magazine reported in 2022 that less than one percent of the world’s four billion buildings and 20 billion spaces are digitised – leaving a huge growth capacity of around 99%. With the global value of real estate estimated around US$230tn (as of 2022), it is clear that there is an area of growth in connection with the metaverse. 

AI could also work as a part of the 3D reconstruction process and fully automated to enable businesses to scale with precision. Businesses that capitalise on these developments could help shape the future of what the metaverse could become.

However, it is understandable that some will have reservations about this technology and how quickly it is evolving: 61% of workforces already believe that AI will replace their jobs, or at least most of their job roles, by 2033. The AI takeover is not all too far removed from our reality, but rather, it is already happening.

With human workforces already citing issues such as insufficient knowledge or training on AI systems, a lack of support in the workplace and limited access, it is crucial that companies are able to collaborate successfully and harness AI to its full potential in order to stay ahead in digital transformation.

After all, the metaverse will continue to evolve regardless.

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