Hedera's Contributions to the WEF Metaverse Identity Report
Nilmini Rubin
Apr 10, 2024
by Nilmini Rubin
Chief Policy Officer

The concept of the metaverse has offered promise and intrigue since bursting into everyday vernacular back in 2021. From the much-hyped days of Facebook rebranding itself to Meta, the metaverse has taken a detour into dormancy in the eyes of many. However, this needn’t be construed as a lack of interest or growth.

Start-ups, institutions, and governments have been diligently researching, creating, and honing products and use cases for the metaverse. The Gartner Hype Cycle explains that the metaverse has witnessed its ‘peak of inflated expectations’. Currently, it is in a stage with more realistic expectations and implementations of the product being developed for users across multiple scenarios.

This fascinating blend of virtual and physical realities is set to revolutionize how we interact with information, each other, and our surroundings. As a key player in this digital evolution, Hedera is pleased to contribute unique insights to the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) report: ‘Metaverse Identity: Defining the Self in a Blended Reality’.

This report posits that the metaverse represents the future of the internet, promising a spatial, social internet experience that seamlessly integrates the physical and digital worlds. This new realm also unlocks new avenues for expressing individual and collective identity in digital constructs, leading to novel forms of engagement and expression.

What Makes Digital Identity Different in The Metaverse

Identity is a multifaceted construct in the metaverse, encompassing representation, data, and identification. It connects and anchors an individual to both the physical and virtual worlds, forming the foundation that underpins privacy and security measures. As the metaverse evolves, the need for a robust and adaptable identity framework becomes more critical.

Metaverse identity, as explored in the WEF report, extends beyond traditional identity constructs. It captures an individual entity essence through a combination of digital expressions, credentials, and a complex web of information generated by metaverse-supporting hardware and software. These identity layers span human identities and digital entities, creating a rich tapestry of metaverse inhabitants.

The metaverse, which aims to blur the boundaries between physical and virtual worlds, necessitates a new approach to identity. This includes inferring identity from various data points, ranging from an individual's activities and preferences to their interactions and movements within the metaverse. This intricate web of knowledge, coupled with advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies, can provide profound insights into an individual's identity.

New Forms of ID in The Metaverse

Digital identification (ID) will be the cornerstone of metaverse identity, similar to how passports and driver's licenses validate real-world identities. However, the metaverse introduces new forms of digital ID, including unique avatar designs, body-based attestations, and unique virtual signatures. These new forms of ID could grant individuals access to unique experiences, services, and transactions in the metaverse.

Representation in the metaverse is not just about graphical depictions; it's a reflection of societal values, inclusivity, and the human desire for authenticity. Getting representation right in these digital realms is pivotal as it directly impacts how individuals perceive themselves and others in both real-world and digital environments.

Digital entities broaden the concept of identity beyond physical individuals. This encompasses everything from simple text-based chatbots to complex, human-like avatars and digital replicas. These entities represent humans, systems, objects, or abstract concepts and are capable of varying degrees of interaction, autonomy, and behavior within digital experiences.

As the metaverse identity evolves, it won’t just involve digital IDs, but also a complex array of data and new form factors of credentials. This makes the challenge of keeping individuals informed a monumental task. It will require multi-stakeholder investment and support. Clear guidelines and educational resources should be developed to help people understand the scope and limits of their digital rights, the technologies driving their virtual identities, and the responsibilities that come with participating in a digital society.

Hedera's Role in the Metaverse Identity Discourse

Hedera brings our expertise in digital innovation to the WEF's metaverse identity discourse. Hedera's contributions underline our commitment to driving positive change in the digital landscape and its determination to steer discussions with authority and expertise.

The exploration of metaverse identity underscores the need for a human-first approach prioritizing equality, inclusivity, accessibility, authenticity, and trust. Through our work with the World Economic Forum, Hedera continues to uphold its role in advocating for sustainable finance and responsible technology.