While public actors are trying to outline a strategy for the French, or even European, Web 3.0 industry (imperfect term designating a generation of innovations that give users back control of their data via distributed ledgers, i.e. blockchain, cryptocurrencies/tokens and in some cases metaverse), the metaverse was probably the last part of this technological paradigm shift not yet covered by a report…
It is now done, even if it is necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff within this opulent work which suffers from its too great theoretical ambition but has the immense merit of being the only starting working document on this topic for our public decision- creators. While this first step, under the aegis of Camille François of Niantic, is to be welcomed, we must now propose a more comprehensive and practical vision for public authorities. The report plays down vague political slogans – such as the promise of a European metaverse – and recommends – a classic after observing the mixed results of French tech that has buoyed start-ups but failed on infrastructure – to support brick-and-mortar technologies (future) metaverse.
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I fully agree with him when he warns us of the visions and imaginations conceived by others (in this case the GAFAM), which should not shape our view of the subject. On the other hand, failing to grasp the full complexity of the phenomenon, this report gets lost in over-expected projections common to all government reports: orchestrate regulation (even before developing use cases, at the risk of subjecting the sector to the same pangs that MICA and other texts will lead to cryptocurrencies), structure the sector with metaverses launched by public initiative (a very French metaverse Colbertism), show a political-cultural ambition. This last aspect illustrates both the positive and negative sides of the relationship: positive, because the cultural angle in the French case is a good approach to the metaverse, capitalizing on our strengths, but also negative, because requiring a counterproductive direct intervention of the french been…
Metavers: how the virtual world will change our daily lives
Reacting in a joint press release to the publication of this report, the associations France Meta (Emmanuel Moyrand and Pierre Scrooge) and Controv3rse, think tanks of European metaverses, then specified that a more strategic and entrepreneurial vision should be defined as a result of this work exploratory. Today, the great risk for the French ecosystem is that we focus only on the risks, on cultural, social or sovereignty issues, and not on the economic and entrepreneurial challenge. We would thus find the flaw that has slowed us down on the Internet, 3D printing, artificial intelligence (failure of the Villani report), then cryptos: we tend to reason while Silicon Valley launches products and initiatives, massively supported by venture capital and the US administration . Therefore, at no time does the report mention ecosystem financing…
Soon a French institute for the metaverse?
France Meta reminds that public procurement, rather than aid, must be an incentive lever, but that innovations must spread from the entrepreneurs themselves: yet another top-down approach will not work for the metaverse. We regret, for example, the invitation to participate in the Metaverse Standard Forum, hacked by GAFAM, which seems contradictory to the sovereign slogans that inform the report.
Conversely, public research, INRIA, must provide French entrepreneurs with open technology bricks, on which French companies can capitalize to develop real industrial solutions (digital twins, simulations) or the general public. If we had to define a major project in the field (which France 2030 should support, while today the metaverse is the poor relative of this investment plan in innovation led by Bruno Bonnell), it would be the creation of an engine for the generation of virtual universes (a example of an essential technology building block): This technology layer is currently provided by Nvidia, Microsoft or Epic Games.
Are metaverses of interest to the general public?
It is undoubtedly necessary to experiment and calibrate the growth of the ecosystem before claiming to regulate, supervise behaviour, direct technologies. This first requires asking the right questions about business models, value chain control (to be defined), financing/monetization. It therefore remains for us, entrepreneurs and economists, to write the report that our public decision-makers will need to really get the sector off the ground in France.
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