The metaverse is an emerging technological concept centred around virtual and augmented reality. Lurking beneath this alluring veneer is a dark underbelly – it has the ominous capability to become a breeding ground for censorship, unbridled surveillance, and an insidious form of digital enslavement, surpassing anything humanity has ever encountered. And, the World Economic Forum is taking steps to have control over it.
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A Feel-Good Space Where Your Freedom Takes a Virtual Vacation – Permanently.
By A Lily Bit
The metaverse is an emerging technological concept centred around virtual and augmented reality. It tantalisingly offers humans the prospect of an unprecedented digital escapade – one that boasts greater expanse, interactivity, and intensity than any prior experience.
However, lurking beneath this alluring veneer is a dark underbelly. The metaverse has the ominous capability to become a breeding ground for censorship, unbridled surveillance, and an insidious form of digital enslavement, surpassing anything humanity has ever encountered.
If people increasingly immerse themselves in the metaverse, integrating it into every facet of their lives, they inadvertently open themselves up to manipulation by those who wield technological control. This potential dependency raises the spectre of a dystopian scenario where the very virtual realm designed to liberate morphs into a digital prison, with its inhabitants confined and subjugated.
This technology is still in its early stages of development, and its potential to either enhance digital opportunities or devolve into a digital catastrophe remains uncertain.
Interestingly, the World Economic Forum (“WEF”), a prominent international organisation known for its advocacy of digital censorship and surveillance, is already taking steps to assert its control over this emerging digital frontier.
Klaus Schwab, the founder and chairman of the WEF, succinctly conveyed the organisation’s ambitions for the metaverse during a speech in February 2023 at the appropriately titled World Government Summit. In his address, Schwab proclaimed that those who gain mastery over new technologies, including the metaverse, will wield a significant degree of influence over the world’s affairs.
“We are at the beginning, when you look at it, at technology transformation, it usually takes place in the terms of an S-curve. And we are just now where we move into the exponential phase. And I agree, artificial intelligence, but not only artificial intelligence, but also the metaverse, new space technologies, and I could go on and on, synthetic biology. Our life in 10 years from now will be completely different, very much affected, and who masters those technologies, in some way, will be the master of the world.”—Klaus Schwab.
Schwab and his organisation are employing a recognisable strategy to assert their dominance over the metaverse.
They engage in collaborative efforts with both the public and private sectors, orchestrating initiatives that further the WEF’s agenda. This subtle manoeuvring enables them to progressively amass control and wield influence.
At the forefront of the WEF’s metaverse endeavours lies their primary initiative, aptly named ‘Defining and Building the Metaverse’. Initially, the organisation made no attempt to conceal its intentions of leveraging these partnerships to establish a form of governance over the metaverse.
A previous iteration of the initiative’s webpage stated its mission as, “to formulate and disseminate actionable strategies for the creation and governance of the metaverse.”
This language has subsequently been substituted with a more subdued mission, which now aims to “facilitate the progress of a secure, interoperable, and economically feasible metaverse.”
The initiative has already forged partnerships with over 150 prominent entities, encompassing corporate giants, government bodies, and international organisations.
Among these partners are Meta, Microsoft, Sony, HTC, and Magic Leap, which stand as key manufacturers of virtual and augmented reality hardware essential for metaverse interaction. Notably, both Meta and Microsoft staunchly advocate for online censorship.
Furthermore, a number of private sector factions and government representatives associated with censorship have also become involved.
This includes the Australian government’s e-safety commissioner, a figure advocating for a recalibration of fundamental rights such as free speech, and GLAAD, an advocacy group that has called for government intervention to combat what it labels as “hate speech.”
Moreover, a number of influential financial institutions hold membership in this initiative.
Among these notable entities is Mastercard, an advocate of digital identification systems, which has actively participated in the New York Fed’s pilot program for central bank digital currency. The company has also imposed blacklists on various alternative tech platforms.
Another participant is PayPal, a corporation that has de-platformed numerous users and lent its assistance to the Bank of England’s endeavours concerning central bank digital currency.
The colossal financial institution JP Morgan, recognised for its involvement in Singapore’s CBDC and its enthusiasm for biometric payment methods, has similarly engaged in this initiative. JP Morgan has also undertaken de-platforming actions against its customers.
Deutsche Bank, foreseeing the inevitability of central bank digital currencies, has also aligned itself as a partner within the WEF Metaverse initiative.
In alignment with the WEF’s customary approach, governmental agencies and international organisations form an integral part of the collaborative landscape.
This particular category of partners encompasses the United Nations Office of Counterterrorism, the United States National Institutes of Health National Human Genome Research Institute, and Interpol.
It’s pertinent to note that the United Nations has consistently issued calls for censorship, displaying a stance contrary to the principles of free speech.
The National Institute of Health has faced allegations of attempting to stifle dissent during the covid pandemic, and Interpol’s global arrest warrant mechanism has been misused to target journalists.
While these affiliations serve as telling indicators of the WEF’s intentions for the Metaverse, the revelations within the reports published by the Defining and Building the Metaverse initiative are even more illuminating.
Within these reports, the WEF openly acknowledges its aspirations to exercise control and impose restrictions on broad domains of legal conduct and speech within the Metaverse. It aims to introduce digital identification systems and advance the notions of diversity, equity, and inclusion, a term often used to coerce users into complying with various mandates and speech regulations, while simultaneously censoring dissenting voices.
A particular report, titled ‘Privacy and Safety in the Metaverse’, meticulously outlines the WEF’s strategy for overseeing what it terms as “harms” – instances of perceived wrongs that may not necessarily amount to criminal activity but are deemed objectionable by others.
The report advocates for Metaverse stakeholders to proactively combat cyberbullying, harassment, misinformation, and disinformation – four terms frequently invoked to rationalise the censorship practices of major tech companies.
The suggested approach for this crackdown involves the establishment of a mechanism for “recourse and redress,” enabling users to promptly report instances of harassment, discrimination, or abuse in real time. This framework also incorporates robust investigation and enforcement procedures capable of holding both individuals and organisations accountable for their conduct, along with a tiered system of sanctions.
The report distinctly indicates that within the framework of recourse and redress, the protection of free speech will be accorded a lower priority. It goes so far as to quote a source expressing difficulty in countering perceived toxic elements due to, in their words, “freedom of speech concerns” and a scarcity of legally chargeable offences.
Alongside proposing extensive measures to clamp down on expressions and behaviours within the Metaverse, the report delves into the notion of safeguarding children – a recurring argument often employed to rationalise the curtailment of both free speech and privacy for all individuals.
These legislations encompass the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which has negatively impacted numerous independent creators; the California Age-Appropriate Design Code, which seeks to compel apps and websites to verify visitors’ identities; the European Union’s Digital Services Act, a comprehensive censorship law; and the UK’s online safety bill, replete with provisions that pose threats to free speech and privacy.
Another report emanating from the WEF’s Metaverse Initiative, titled ‘Social Implications of the Metaverse’, unveils the organisation’s desire for significantly more stringent controls over avatar customisation within the Metaverse compared to the prevailing gaming domain.
While several popular video games permit players to opt for or craft avatars possessing different genders or races, this report asserts potential repercussions arising from users adopting avatars that differ from their own race or culture. These potential repercussions, as outlined in the report, encompass “cultural appropriation,” “identity tourism,” “digital blackface,” harmful stereotypes, and misrepresentations.
The report employs these instances of perceived avatar misuse as the rationale for enforcing constraints on avatar customisation and advocates for the implementation of moderation policies.
Furthermore, the report emphasises the importance of regulators giving careful consideration to “the provision of digital identities in the Metaverse,” while advocating for the establishment of “an ecosystem of trusted digital identity issuers.”
Despite recommending privacy-centric digital IDs, the mandatory adoption of digital IDs within the Metaverse introduces a range of inherent drawbacks for users. Digital IDs can foster exclusion, rendering individuals without one unable to access specific Metaverse experiences.
Although the concept of “privacy-preserving” holds appeal in theory, many systems claiming such attributes still inadvertently disclose certain personal information.
At the very least, a network of trusted digital identity providers suggests that these entities will hold personal user data.
Furthermore, the ‘Social Implications of the Metaverse’ report asserts the imperative of prioritising diversity, equity, and inclusion at multiple levels while constructing Metaverse teams and crafting Metaverse hardware, software, and encounters.
While diversity, equity, and inclusion are often framed as principles promoting fairness and openness, such initiatives frequently devolve into situations where corporations impose arbitrary quotas across their operations and vehemently silence any dissenting voices criticising these mandates.
Not only is the WEF promoting a bleak vision of the Metaverse characterised by stringent control over speech and behaviour, mandatory digital identification, and the enforcement of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) mandates, but it has also birthed its own Metaverse known as the ‘Global Collaboration Village’. This endeavour is a collaborative venture involving Accenture and Microsoft.
The Global Collaboration Village is framed as an “inclusive and responsible” initiative, with its primary goal being the enhancement of sustained public-private cooperation and the reinforcement of global collaboration.
Partners contributing to this initiative include Infosys, a company co-founded by the architect behind India’s digital ID system, and closely tied to the puppet that currently serves as the UK’s prime minister; the International Monetary Fund, actively engaged in developing a global Central Bank Digital Currency (“CBDC”) platform and supporting CBDCs’ potential to control people’s purchasing habits; the United Nations Development Program; non-governmental organisations; academic institutions; various countries; and even Interpol.
While the notion of the WEF assuming control over the Metaverse is unsettling, the situation becomes even more disconcerting when one realises that the organisation envisions the Metaverse permeating numerous crucial sectors of society.
The WEF’s outlook encompasses a plethora of domains in which the Metaverse is projected to intersect, including banking and capital markets, corporate governance, financial and monetary systems, the future of consumption, global governance, health and healthcare, internet governance, justice and law, mental health, pandemic preparedness and response, and the digital transformation of business.
Despite its aspirations to govern the Metaverse, the WEF fundamentally diverges from democratically elected governments. Schwab, along with his benefactors and the constituents of the WEF, hold positions that are not subject to election or the possibility of being voted out by the public.
Read more: The WEF – A Marketplace for Ideas that You Have no Say in, A Lily Bit, 15 September 2022
Furthermore, ordinary citizens find themselves devoid of influence over the regulations that the WEF intends to impose upon the Metaverse, resulting in the suppression of voices advocating for freedom.
Instead, the influential entities and individuals within the WEF’s membership sphere are advocating for a digital future rife with authoritarianism, where unwelcome speech is silenced and a universal digital identification system is imposed.
Should the WEF’s vision materialise – an extensively controlled Metaverse permeating nearly every facet of society – the unelected WEF would bring to fruition the prophecy outlined by Schwab in his 2022 discourse on world governance: the WEF, in some manner, would wield mastery over the world through its role in governing the Metaverse.
About the Author
A Lily Bit is a Substack page authored by Lily who is dedicated to providing her readers with valuable insights into The Great Reset and the World Economic Forum. She is committed to providing accurate and thought-provoking content on this topic and believes that understanding The Great Reset and the World Economic Forum is essential to making informed decisions about our future. You can subscribe to and follow her Substack page HERE.
Featured image: Klaus Schwab (left). WEF Sets up Its Own Metaverse Global Collaboration Village (right)
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