[INTERVIEW] Metaverse expert advocates self-regulation and follow-up management

By Lim Chang-won Posted : November 3, 2021, 09:58 Updated : November 3, 2021, 17:42

[Photo by Lee Sang-woo]

SEOUL -- South Korea connected with super-fast communication networks is an ideal place for the commercialization of metaverse services that require stable and fast internet connection. An expert advocates self-regulation and follow-up management instead of comprehensive regulations that could lead to policy errors as common standards, interfaces, and communication protocols between and among virtual environment systems are still in development.

The metaverse is a digital world that offers firsthand experiences, created by the convergence of physical reality and virtual spaces. It describes a future internet of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe. Using avatars, users can freely communicate and interact with each other or engage in activities together.

Hyun Dae-won, an expert in ICT and digital content who heads Sogang University's special metaverse graduate school, defined metaverse as a world of massively multiplayer online cyber-physical integration (MMOCPI) which has a culture of its own and cannot be formalized into a single form, with each ecosystem having a different appearance.

"The essence of metaverse lies in a new culture. It is necessary to think about how to use the positive energy of metaverse and blockchain as the driving force for economic revitalization. Otherwise, regulations may result in turning off important growth engines for future industries," Hyun said in an interview with Aju Business Daily. He said that corporate projects are evolving from publicity or marketing to the implementation of their main business directly on the metaverse world.

Companies use metaverse in various forms, but a common factor is a connection between real and virtual worlds, Hyun said. "It is a very narrow definition to simply describe metaverse as a three-dimensional virtual world. The kernel of the metaverse is the connection with the real world, not the virtual world, and is distinguished from virtual or augmented reality."

A creative ecosystem is another essential requirement, and platforms should provide tools for users to directly act as content creators, the dean said, stressing that platforms without creative ecosystems and freedom are nothing but social media. In particular, he said that blockchain is a foundation technology because it allows users to prove goods, record transactions with others, and link them with other platforms.

South Korea is actively pushing for the early adoption and diffusion of metaverse services in various sectors. An alliance involving 12 private companies, research organizations and state bodies was launched in May to cultivate a metaverse ecosystem, based on media and extended reality. The alliance was part of a government campaign to an open platform that would help companies utilize data and develop new services.

"There is a growing demand for high-quality talent in the industry, but training programs are insufficient. Entry-level education through undergraduate studies makes it difficult to lead projects required by companies," Hyun said, pointing to "Metavercity," a metaverse platform promoted by his school.

It is difficult for creative ideas presented by students at class and data to be recognized as assets, but they can be protected by using non-fungible tokens, Hyun said. "If someone tries to use this data in the future, transactions through blockchain can also occur. In the end, students strive to create valuable presentation materials or assignments as assets, and a virtual cycle structure takes place." A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unit of data stored on a blockchain network of interlinked virtual ledgers. Each NFT is certified by a blockchain as a unique digital asset that is not interchangeable.

(This story was based on an interview conducted by Aju Business Daily reporter Lee Sang-woo) 
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