There is plenty spoken about “the Metaverse”, but there is more than one alternate world currently “under construction”
out there. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen parallel worlds - remember Second Life? The big difference today is that the technology at our disposal is now more than up to the job of making credible - even beautiful - virtual worlds that are tempting
enough to attract people to hang out, create a community and build a whole life there. Virtual worlds have been launched by companies such as Nvidia (Omniverse) as well as non-profits (Decentraland), and
the race is now on to corner as many aspects as possible of this virtual “real-estate” - intellectual, creative,
commercial and social.
So, who is making this happen and how are they doing it? At #mthcon22, our DNA consists of the media
technologies that creators and visionaries from every industry are using to create these brave new virtual worlds. In our Stage 1 track
“Metaverses, Betaverses, Controversies?” our expert speakers include He Sun, formerly VFX head at Rebellion, whose deep understanding of the visual arts and how they
shape the convergent space between games and film uniquely informs his work. He will be sharing a stage with
our opening speaker in the track, Sofie Hvitved, and Yingzi Yuan, an ardent advocate of technology and
innovation in content creation for the Metaverse, especially as driven by women. This will be a real eye-opener of a session!
If you’re looking for a guide to the Metaverse, you can’t get much better than Jon Morris
– he went out and built his own! Spurred on by the gap he spotted during everyone’s enforced and protracted
online interaction caused by the pandemic, he designed his 3D platform, NOWHERE, as a space for face-to-face digital communication. As he saw it, there
was a real need for a healthier online environment, and what he felt was missing was a link between video
games, adventure, playful spaces and video chat platforms – so why not get people to interact within a game? When asked whether data was crucial in
achieving new forms of immersion in virtual spaces, Jon commented that creators create instinctively but data permits them to connect to mass audiences, although neither really has the upper hand. There is always a conflict between art and content, or
creator and data, which means that if data is the primary driver, the result may just turn out to be content! Jon dreams of three-dimensional
spaces where people will be able to move through data, having predictive storytelling experiences in real time as they
explore the environment. We can’t wait to hear more from Jon in our session “Now Here and NOWHERE - a journey in the Metaverse” on Stage 1, and find out where he’s
going to take us next!
Ethical AI is writ large in Cathrine’s agenda, and from the start, she took a firm
stance against the inherent imbalance of AI predominantly programmed by men as applied to the world in
general. It comes as no surprise that machine learning algorithms simply reinforced that gender bias, automatically discriminating against
women. Cathrine’s laser-sharp focus is on diversity, equality, inclusion and belonging, and these form the
ethical pillars of her consulting work. She is keen on busting the myths that surround AI, including the generally-held assumption that it can solve
any business problem. In her opinion, the short-term benefits of AI are over-hyped and the long-term damage
it can do is underestimated: “Just look at how the information bubbles of social media [are] ruining democracy!”. At #mthcon22 in our
Stage 2 session “AI-driven language in New
Virtual Worlds: Are You talking To Me?” Cathrine will be discussing the need for ethical programming of language interpretation in the Metaverse. After all, if avatars will be able to understand each other instantly, regardless of language,
imagine the chaos if the translation
programme “doesn’t get it”! (Think of idioms or sarcasm – an absolute minefield of misunderstanding!). Cathrine will show
how ethics, context, a broad understanding of nuance, social structures etc. are a programming must!