Being intentional about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the metaverse
The metaverse — the next generation of digital experiences — will transform the way we connect. With today’s internet, we connect with people mostly by looking at screens. But in the metaverse, we’ll be able to share the same spaces three-dimensionally.
In the next decade, more than a billion people may be in the metaverse. And because companies like Meta are starting to think about this future now, we have the opportunity to help build the metaverse with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) from its inception. There’s no doubt that it’s an enormous responsibility. And it definitely isn’t easy to resolve the complicated issues of DEI in technology, especially at a global scale. But working on these issues is one of the things that excites people most about Meta, and our role in using technology to have a positive impact on society.
1) Asking the right questions
To work toward an inclusive metaverse, we need to ask the right questions about what inclusivity must look like in immersive experiences. Meta is doing that through a two-year, $50 million investment in partnerships with U.S. civil rights groups, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and other organizations globally to explore issues related to the metaverse from different perspectives.
2) Building networks of diverse talent
Diverse people shouldn’t just participate in the metaverse as consumers; they should be its architects and builders as well. To make that happen, we need to increase the diversity of people working in the tech industry, particularly in areas like artificial intelligence (AI), gaming, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR).
3) Breaking down language barriers
Today’s translation tools typically use English as an intermediary when translating between two different languages, which can be less accurate than direct translation. They also aren’t capable of translating speech in one language to speech or writing in another. That’s why using new technology to break down language barriers is so important. People will feel more connected to others if they can communicate, work, or produce art in their chosen languages. They’ll also have the potential to immediately reach billions of others across the world regardless of their preferred language.
4) Broadening access to the metaverse for users and creators
Participation in the metaverse will not depend on having access to a headset. There will be many entry points through which people can participate using any device, including mobile phones. For those who do want the experience that a VR headset allows, they are working to make them as affordable as possible. It’s also important to remember that, as an industry, the process is still at the very early stages of building devices with VR and AR capabilities.
5) Creating myriad options for self-expression
Representations in the metaverse should reflect the diversity of the real world. Recently, was announced improvements to the Meta avatars, including new facial shapes and assistive devices such as cochlear implants, over-the-ear hearing aids, and wheelchairs for people with disabilities. When you create your avatar, you can choose the facial features, body type, clothing styles, and more that are right for you.
Here’s the “ting”
It’s important to remember that an inclusive metaverse benefits everyone, including people from traditionally underrepresented groups. What inclusivity in the metaverse will look like is a difficult question with no easy answers. As with any transformative technology, it will take a while for everything to come together, and even when the metaverse is realized, it will continue to evolve with time.