How The Metaverse Will Change Civilisation And What This Means To The Legal Sector

How the Metaverse will change civilisation and what this means to the legal sector?

The Growth of Meta

Facebook parent company Meta is building the world's most powerful AI supercomputer to develop better speech recognition tools, automatically translate data from one language to another, and help create a virtual 3D metaverse. The Facebook owner has already designed and built what he calls the AI Research SuperCluster, or RSC, which he says is one of the fastest artificial intelligence supercomputers in the world.

The company hopes to reach the top of the rankings by mid-2022, which will be an essential step towards expanding artificial intelligence capabilities, he said. It is partly focused on the metaverse on which the Meta has staked its future. With this new technology, "AI-based applications and products will play an important role," he said in a statement.

According to Meta, RSC is used to create models used for natural language processing and computer vision. He says he hopes to use it for speech recognition and other technologies in the future. RSC currently has 760 Nvidia DGX A100 systems with 6080 GPUs. Meta believes that the current version is already among the fastest AI supercomputers on the planet.

Based on early tests, RSC is said to run computer vision workflows 20 times faster than the company's previous configuration, and NVIDIA's collective communication library is more than nine times faster. Meta claims that RSC can triple the speed of training large-scale natural language processing models. As a result, AI models that determine "whether an action, sound, or image is harmful or not" (for example, eliminating hate speech) can be trained faster. The company says the research will help protect existing services like Facebook and Instagram and people in the metaverse. In addition to building the physical infrastructure and systems to run RSC, Meta says it needs to ensure security and privacy controls to protect the accurate learning data it uses.

It says that using accurate data from its production systems instead of publicly available datasets can use its research more effectively, for example, to identify malicious content. This year, Meta plans to increase the number of GPUs in RSC to 16,000. It says that this will improve AI training performance by more than 2.5x. The company, which began work on the project in early 2020, wanted RSC to train AI models on datasets as small as one exabyte (the equivalent of 36,000 years of high-quality video). "We anticipate that this shift in computing power will allow us not only to create more accurate AI models for our existing services but also provide an entirely new user experience, especially in the metaverse," Lee and Sengupta wrote.

Facebook's recent announcement that it is investing heavily in what it calls the metaverse, a virtual environment where people can meet, play and collaborate, is fueling debate about protecting fundamental rights as more and more companies move online. "What Facebook and frankly all companies want is to keep (people) on the platform for as long as possible so they can learn about you," said Sandra Wachter, associate professor at Oxford University's Oxford Internet Institute. Last month, Facebook and its parent company Meta unveiled plans to create 10,000 jobs to build the metaverse, saying the plan includes spending $50 million to ensure the virtual world includes safeguards for user privacy, diversity, and safety. The term "metaverse" has been used to describe a range of shared spaces accessible via the Internet, from fully immersive virtual reality (VR) spaces to augmented reality accessed through devices such as smart glasses.

Leary, a 23-year-old Israeli student, said she was intrigued when she learned she could sell the rights to her image to a Tel Aviv company that uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to create digital characters or avatars. Characters can be "rented" to companies and programmed to voice scripts. "It's a little weird to think that my face could appear in videos or ads from different companies," Leary, identified only by name, said in a statement provided by avatar company AI Hour One. "But it's also exhilarating," he said.

The emerging virtual economy already has a population of about 2.5 billion and generates billions of dollars annually, according to a report by research firm L'Atelier. This includes virtual accessories such as digital clothing and avatar hairstyles, advanced AI chatbots, and social media lifestyle bloggers who make a living from the ad revenue generated by their clicks. "We're going to see the world become more and more virtual (we will live) more and more in virtual worlds," said Natalie Monbiot, head of the strategy at Hour One. Fredrik Hellberg, the co-founder of the digital architecture firm Space Popular, says virtual reality spaces can "bring people closer together" even when they are physically far apart.

But he added that the potential pitfalls of the metaverse include risks to user privacy and the energy cost of processing ever-increasing amounts of data. "That's why the audience needs to be part of the conversation and have a voice… otherwise, technology will become part of your life, and you won't even make that choice," he said. Jobs also face questions about the opportunities and risks associated with the metaverse, says Khurshid Anis, a New York-based human resources consultant. "We will have to rewrite entire contracts and employment policies from the bottom up, rather than trying to change the existing rules, because these are completely different worlds," he said.

The Legal Point

The rise of the metaverse also presents a tangle of legal and regulatory issues that need to be resolved, such as whether people should be informed when they are dealing with a bot and which agencies should be entrusted with regulating the virtual space. With the explosion in the number of cryptocurrencies and other virtual assets being traded with NFTs, there are also questions about ownership. NFTs were presented as easily tradable assets backed by permanent proof of ownership of blockchain digital records.

But buyers may be getting less than they think, says Sophie Goossens, partner at media and technology law firm Reed Smith. In most cases, NFT does not transfer all intellectual property rights to the digital creation, he said, but instead offers some form of SLA or license to use it, minus ownership of the equivalent physical object. It's also unclear, he said, whether digital creations created using artificial intelligence should receive the same property rights as those created by humans, as companies seek to create entire proprietary virtual worlds that can be exploited for profit. "You will always be on borrowed earth," he said of the metaverse.

"If you can create an entirely virtual environment with AI, should it be owned by everyone? However, some of the more complex issues associated with the metaverse involve user identities and privacy rights. New data that can be obtained, registered and traded. Determining which national laws apply in digital spaces can be difficult. As users navigate complex worlds that span multiple organizations, confirmed Reed Smith lawyers, managing data consents can quickly become unwieldy.

The data can also be aggregated and analyzed to infer and sell personal data that users never agreed to share, from their sexual orientation to politics or health, Wachter added. "Your data is an extension of your personality, your soul, who you are," he said.

Wachter said that while the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) recognizes data rights — with a substantial European market meaning it effectively acts as a global standard — it's unclear whether the law covers such data. He urged courts and lawmakers to ensure that perceived data is protected, asking regulators to limit the extent to which companies interpret user data for commercial purposes, which many people are unaware of.

"They think it's convenient for them to be able to talk to their friends and families for free," he said. "Data collection is happening in the background. And you don't know that you're revealing your diary to the world."

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