“My life history in 1 picture” by Ian Hughes, licensed under CC BY 2.0
Metaverse is one of the hottest topics in the 21st century and as a new technology, it is infiltrating into people’s daily life gradually. According to Keane (2022), the metaverse can be referred to as “digitally networked 3D technology”, which enables to create a realistic virtual world for users. The emergence of the metaverse changes the communication methods used by the public and businesses, which causes great impacts on almost every aspect of society (Li, 2022). While the metaverse offers society innovation opportunities, it also brings hidden dangers. For instance, Pokémon Go, a famous VR game, has already caused 256 deaths in the US and cost millions in traffic accidents (Asia, 2021).
The governance of the metaverse is a serious, multifaceted problem that needs to be solved in recent years. Safety and privacy should be put first, and other elements such as effectiveness and legality are also important. To confront the governance issue of the metaverse, a new governance triangle consisting of governments, firms, and DAO can be a possible solution, which resembles the platform governance triangle (Gorwa, 2019) for Web 2.0 and uses corporate governance to avoid any fraud or loss.
Governments can be one main regulation power for the metaverse and related laws made by them will be effective to govern this new area. With the development of the metaverse, governments are paying greater attention to it, and some governments have already attempted to utilize this new invention in public services. As Zakir (2022) reported, the world’s first metaverse service centre was launched in Dubai, and it would be used to offer citizens health services in the virtual world. Besides this project, the United Arab Emirates also invested greatly in other projects to create a special government metaverse for this country (Raskin, 2022). Other countries, such as South Korea and the United States, start building out their own governmental metaverse as well (Raskin, 2022). In the future, an increasing number of governments will realize the significance of the metaverse and join the team.
Since the metaverse is connected with governments closely, they will be able to influence each other. The metaverse may hold the public service back and bring risks to government operations, but simultaneously, the governmental metaverse built by governments will have a great influence in the virtual world, and related laws or regulations of the metaverse that are made by governments can easily be conducted in the virtual world. On the other hand, although there is no special law for the metaverse, there are some existing laws that can be employed in this area. Because contents in the metaverse are mainly audio-visual, current regulations about audio or visual products, for example, the Audio-Visual Media Services Directive in the European Union, can be used (Osborne Clarke, 2022). Therefore, the power of governments is important in governing the metaverse, and more laws or regulations for the metaverse should be formulated to better regulate it.
Firms create the metaverse and thus they have the responsibility to govern it and lead this invention through the right path. The metaverse industry is seen as a booming industry and many tech companies are passionate about it. According to Strategic Market Research (2022), the global value of metaverse in 2022 is $47.48 billion and by 2030, the value will grow to $678.80 billion. The tremendous potential of the metaverse is attractive for businesses and they will further expand the market.
Among all firms, Facebook is the pioneer of the metaverse. Mark Zuckerberg founded Meta as the main business that focuses on the metaverse. The main mission of Meta is shown on its official website, pointing out that Meta aims to “build technologies that help people connect, find communities and grow businesses.” Zuckerberg (2021) said that he thought the metaverse would bring numerous opportunities to the public and with the metaverse, the society would be better improved.
While Facebook is drawing the blueprint for the metaverse, proper metaverse governance is becoming a difficult challenge for them. When Facebook builds the original vision of the metaverse and attempts to improve it, the power it has in the metaverse grows immensely and this process is unstoppable. The major position of Facebook in this new market enables it to have enough power to make policies and conduct them, but too much power can be abused. In 2021, Facebook banned Australian news for months because Facebook thought Australian news broke the content laws (Morrison, 2021). Through this case, it is clear that actions done by the firms like Facebook will have an enormous impact on society and a profound impact on the industry, which should be decided cautiously and thoughtfully. In summary, firms like Facebook have the ability and have to take responsibility to regulate the metaverse and themselves simultaneously.
A Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) is “a blockchain-based system” that enables the members collectively own it and set self-executing rules to govern themselves (Hassan and De Filippi, 2021). The governance of DAO is decentralized. A DAO allows people to coordinate and self-govern through code that is deployed in the blockchain, and smart contracts are utilized to define rules made by members (Hassan and De Filippi, 2021).
Unlike the former collective, centralized governance, DAO’s decentralized governance focuses on the users’ self-governing and it is operated independently, which may be one of the most suitable methods to regulate the metaverse since blockchain is significant and indispensable for the operation of the metaverse. Bitcoin and NFTs are two famous products of the metaverse, and they greatly depend on blockchain to maintain their interoperability, which makes the governance of DAOs effective in these areas. The independent governance of DAOs avoids interference from other parties or organizations.
Notwithstanding the several advantages of DAOs, they have disadvantages and still need to be improved. Since the operations of DAOs are mainly based on the internet and codes, hacking and cyber-attacks will be a disaster for DAOs. The DAO is the first DAO that was brought to the public’s notice, which was launched in 2016 and based on the Ethereum blockchain (Cryptopedia, 2022). In 2016, hackers found that The DAO was vulnerable and drained about one-third of Ether The DAO had (Cryptopedia, 2022). Except for the disadvantage, DAOs provide users with an innovative way of governance and enable people who use the metaverse to regulate themselves.
Government, firm and DAO are three different forms of governance, and they all have their own advantages and disadvantages. Government can formulate legal laws and regulations about the metaverse in the global market, but its power cannot regulate the businesses effectively. The firm has enough power to set the rules and make others follow but the expanding power will also push it to break the rules. DAO has decentralized governance and is blockchain-based, which enables the users to self-govern themselves but is not stable enough. In order to govern the metaverse, corporate governance between these three forms will be the most useful and effective method. The mutual supervision between these three types of governance will be useful to avoid abuse of power, vulnerable operation and lack of power. As a newly emerged concept and industry, the metaverse is unprecedented, unpredictable and unpreventable. For now, the metaverse governance triangle can be served as the main method to govern the metaverse and in the future, with the quick development of the metaverse and technology, the governance method should be improved at the same pace. Only with proper regulation, can the new industry develop continuously.
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