Forgotten Web3 and Metaversal Technologies in the Wake of AI

Digital Policy Hub Working Paper

June 27, 2024

Artificial intelligence (AI) has recently dominated attention in the media, academia and the tech industry, which has overshadowed previous attention paid to the metaverse and Web3, although these technologies are still operational. The use of competitive language in media and academic discourse, reminiscent of the space race era, contributes to the hype surrounding emerging technologies. The need for rapid innovation is rooted in the capitalist need to generate profits; this framing also reinforces socio-technical imaginaries, which can inflate the capabilities of technologies such as Web3 and metaversal tech. As a result, focusing solely on regulating specific technologies is inefficient because they fluctuate in popularity depending on their position in the hype cycle. Effective regulation requires analyzing the behaviour of entities controlling emerging tech, particularly their political and economic motives. Technology exists in an ecosystem, in which its different forms rely on one another in order to develop. A crucial point in understanding this ecosystem is that it exists within big tech ownership, which highlights the importance of regulating big tech monopoly power. Big tech corporations play a significant role in developing and maintaining emerging technologies, such as Web3 and metaversal tech, by providing cloud infrastructure services that enable developers to create and deploy these technologies. This working paper proposes two policy recommendations: fostering partnerships with experts in emerging technologies to ensure that information used in research and policy making is accurate and impartial, thereby minimizing dependence on sensationalized sources; and establishing an independent regulatory body to monitor big tech compliance with antitrust regulations, focusing specifically on analyzing rents being used as a means to evade current antitrust laws.

About the Author

Madison Lee is a doctoral fellow at the Digital Policy Hub and a Ph.D. student at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Ontario, specializing in the field of international political economy.