The Challenge of Building a Decentralized Metaverse – Science et Avenir

This article is taken from the monthly journal Sciences et Avenir – La Recherche #907 of September 2022.

Régis Chatelier is responsible for advanced research at the National Commission for Computing and Liberties (CNIL).

Sciences et Avenir: What questions does the notion of a metaverse raise?

Régi Chatelier: Today, judging by what we perceive, the metaverse is responding to the same grid of analysis as virtual reality. Namely, that personal data corresponds to everything that is linked to your account, to your avatar, when you yourself are linked to this avatar: identification data, usage history, eye-tracking (monitoring eye movements in front of the screen, approx. ed.), capturing emotions and etc. If the metaverse allows people to collect data, it will be necessary to know how to determine who we are dealing with: an ordinary person, a company, an organization?

This leaves the question of who manages and controls access. With Metas Horizon Workrooms, Microsoft Mesh, or spaces like Decentraland or The Sandbox, context is nothing new: it’s the start of a new competition to capture the market.

Decentraland and The Sandbox are so-called decentralized platforms. Can this approach give the user some control?

When you start selling virtual spaces associated with property rights through NFTs (non-fungible tokens), a form of decentralization emerges. But if the platform as a whole closes overnight, that content no longer has any value, it no longer exists. Because deep down there is always infrastructure.

Of course, there are social networks where you can post your own instance, such as Mastodon. But these are fairly light infrastructures compared to the resources that will have to be mobilized for the metaverse. We can always represent local instances that communicate and communicate, but we are still far from it.

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