The metaverse’s main trade group, the XR Association, warns in a report today that the United States is at dangerous risk of falling behind the rest of the world in promoting the growth of this technology.
But the metaverse and extended network of “XR” (industry term for “extended reality”) technologies provide a particularly interesting lens through which to view global technology competition, as they are still very early in their development and deployment timeline. adoption. This is why XRA says the US is at a “significant disadvantage” when it comes to metaverse policy, despite being home to almost all of the industry’s major companies.
“The best possible scenario, if the United States does not engage on this subject, is for Europe to set all the standards and guidelines for this technology,” said Joan O’Hara, president of the XRA, at DFD. “There’s a good chance they’ll be stricter than what we could put in place in the United States, and in any case we’d be a regulatory taker, so to speak, rather than a leader.”
As for the worst case, guess: “(It) would be China getting ahead of everyone and sort of taking over the domain…It would probably raise concerns about privacy and what is done with the information that might be collected.”
The report, authored by O’Hara, Miranda Lutz, XRA’s director of public policy, and two researchers from George Washington University, is an in-depth analysis of how other countries have explored the politics of the metaverse, since the ‘European Union. citizen advice to Seoul’s efforts to integrate VR into city government. In comparison, they note that “the United States has done little to specifically target support for XR research and development,” despite some isolated research efforts and a mention of the technology in the CHIPS and Science Act. last year as a “key technology focus area” for federal agencies.
O’Hara said she has since become disillusioned with Washington’s metaverse policy, pointing to the absence of regional VR-focused tech hubs among the 31 announced by the Biden administration last month.
“I haven’t given up hope yet, but I haven’t seen anything very exciting at this point,” she said.
Part of the delay in policy could be due to A A funding gap of $7 billion which Congress has not yet fulfilled to implement the CHIPS and Science Act. Still, XRA said there are incremental measures that lawmakers could incorporate into the National Defense Authorization Act or an appropriations bill. The group said a particularly achievable “win,” through appropriations or the National Defense Authorization Act, would be the development of virtual systems. “digital twins” for government use.
The report’s concrete recommendations mirror those that have emerged in other emerging technology areas like quantum and AI, including authorizing a Metaverse Advisory Council at the Department of Commerce or hosting a global summit . XRA also calls for a comprehensive data protection law – which is remarkable given the massive volumes and novel nature of data that VR devices need to function properly.
The XRA calls for more oversight in language that regulatory-friendly technology frameworks as Brad Smith of Microsoft – an XRA member organization – has used in previous cases: “Businesses and individuals will benefit from the certainty of a mandatory federal data protection law, as opposed to the current patchwork of municipal and state legislation,” the report’s authors. to write.
This is a big ask given how previous efforts to pass comprehensive privacy legislation have failed take off. Yet as remote as these risks may be in the metaverse, the big companies like Meta, Microsoft, and Google that sit on XRA’s board are treating it as a here-and-now problem — which makes this report a boost for the next round of large-scale political debates.
“This isn’t a new gaming technology, it’s something that’s going to change the way we operate,” O’Hara said. “For the United States, it’s really important that people start recognizing that and stepping in early on before we lose that first-mover advantage.”
His argument: Most driverless cars roaming the roads (especially in California) are supported by a mix of on-board human drivers taking over in emergencies and remote human drivers helping from a distance. At this point, Marcus suggests, truly autonomous cars are vastly overrated and the industry “will probably be seen in a few years as an epic failure.”
“This is not true autonomy, but semi-autonomy,” Marcus writes. “If all efforts towards autonomous driving rely heavily (e.g. hourly) on call centers, true autonomous driving is still a long way off.” — Gian Volpicelli
Slightly lost in the whirlwind of last week’s AI wave was a maximalist statement of opposition to America’s largest effort to regulate technology, from a veteran developer and entrepreneur.
Steven Sinofsky, former chairman of Microsoft and now a board partner at Andreessen Horowitz, wrote in a recent blog post that the Biden administration’s executive order on AI is “less a document about what should be done with the technology’s potential than a document pushing the boundaries of what can be done legally to slow innovation.”
Sinofsky says he doesn’t like what’s happening In the document, but its primary concern is what it represents: an effort by the federal government to rein in private industry via executive order, without the democratic accountability (and statutory force) of the legislative process.
“We saw President Trump reverse a series of executive orders from President Obama on his first day. Many people applauded. Then we saw President Biden reverse a series of orders from President Trump on his first day. Many different people applauded,” he wrote. “It may be fun politically, but when it comes to innovation, it’s a disaster… EOs are not a way to govern effectively in general, and they are not a way to govern effectively in particular.” govern » innovation. » — Derek Robertson
Stay in touch with the whole team: Ben Schreckinger ((email protected)); Derek Robertson ((email protected)); Mohar Chatterjee ((email protected)); Steve Heuser ((email protected)); Nate Robson ((email protected)) and Daniella Cheslow ((email protected)).