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Why the metaverse must be open but regulated



The metaverse isn’t a new concept. In fact, the term was coined in a 1992 novel, Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. As the novel defines it, the metaverse is essentially a virtual universe controlled and owned by a “global information monopoly that users can access via personal VR goggles.

In 2022, as a new computing revolution brings about an, interactive, virtual world for us to collaborate, work and play in, industry watchers are calling this new world the metaverse.

And of course, we want this metaverse to be open.

Just as we benefited from internet, we want competition and open access in this evolving metaverse. Likewise for regulation. The metaverse needs close watching for safety, privacy and anti-trust reasons, just like the internet did.


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“The metaverse is the natural evolution of the internet,” said Tuong Nguyen, senior principal analyst at Gartner. 

Nguyen and other experts from MIT, the EthicsNet for AI and machine learning, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, and the Open Source Initiative, agree that if the industry doesn’t pay attention now, professional and citizen developers, and users of the metaverse alike could be negatively impacted.  

With a technology as complex as something that may succeed the internet, contributions from citizen and professional developers alike may similarly shape much of the metaverse.

And, in some ways, the metaverse comes as an opportune time. The older days of a relatively open internet have been threatened of late, by increasingly powerful technology companies, including Google, Meta (formerly Facebook) and Microsoft. The U.S. government has only just started antitrust proceedings against these giants, and has a long way to go.

Now that the machinery has been set in motion, it’s a good time to make sure we get things right for the metaverse. Indeed, those same three companies – Google, Meta, and Facebook, all have the size and scale to tip the metaverse in their favor. Making sure they are regulated, and that there is free play, will be critical if a core principle of the metaverse – movement between virtual worlds – is to be upheld.

 “As an ethicist, open source, [and open] access is always best because it facilitates more people creating, and doing so largely for the common good and social justice,” said Don Heider the executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. “Technology should generally be as widespread and accessible as humanly possible.” 

“Ideally, even the governance of the metaverse would be open, such as a joint collective where you’d have governing bodies joining alongside industry groups and citizens to form a collective that would agree upon principles and standards,” Heider said.

As a parallel, or alternative reality, the metaverse may not be bound by the same laws of physics that our real world is. Because of that, in theory, the metaverse could provide meaningful improvements to accessibility and interactions for individuals who are differently abled, Elenor ‘Nell’ Watson, the chair of EthicsNet, told VentureBeat. 

The open invitation to innovate aspects of the metaverse could prove to be “…fantastic for experimentation and wildly creative capabilities,” Watson said.As of now, 98% of websites on the internet are inaccessible to the disability community from a legal perspective, according to the 2020 Web Accessibility Annual Report. What would have made achieving internet accessibility from the beginning easier would have been developing it with accessibility in mind.

As Mitchell Park, the marketing manager at cielo24 wrote in a blog post: when eyeing “the introduction of the metaverse space, this [is a] technology [that] may very well be the successor to the internet. With that comes an immense responsibility to ensure accessibility for all users. However, this time around, all of the necessary technology and features already exist, for the most part. Thus, developers must continue to innovate in the metaverse while prioritizing its accessibility.”

Accessibility and open innovation within the metaverse could provide an escape for individuals who are impaired, but want to experience the world — allowing all to access different degrees of freedom to individuals regardless of their abilities or disabilities. 

Opening the metaverse up to widespread innovation could also lead to technological upgrades for sectors like education, training prospective doctors how to perform surgeries in a metaverse environment before doing so on a real person, or teaching individuals to drive a car before they actually get behind the wheel.”hands-on” experience without the risk, until they have sharpened their skills enough to transition their practice from the metaverse into the real world.

However, there is a dark side.

Regulating a space we can’t fully access or predict

Many laws in modern society are in place because an incident caused a need for it. However, how can technical decision-makers anticipate regulations for the safety of the metaverse before there is a situation creating a need for them? (We are already behind. A week after opening, ​​Meta’s Horizon Worlds already experienced its first case of a woman’s avatar being sexually harrassed.

It’s essentially impossible to prevent those intending to do harm from doing it in a space that is largely unknown and that brings new tools and opportunities along with it. However,  protocols can be put  in place when considering who can access the metaverse and what impact experiences in the metaverse could have.

If the metaverse is accessible to children, and perhaps individuals with mental health issues, experts point out  that there will need to be guardrails in place for protection.

“If we are to prevent somebody from being ‘cyber sexually molested’, for example, which may cause genuine trauma to certain individuals — or if people are exposed to content and experiences that are perhaps designed to be traumatic purposefully — in a metaverse setting, our minds may find it quite difficult to step out of that kind of stimulus and just pinch ourselves and tell us that it isn’t real,” Watson said.  

“I think it will be important that we embed safety and ethical standards into these experiences, particularly when we are immersed in something that can affect us on such a deeper and more vicarious level than has ever been possible before,” she said. 

Another concern about the metaverse is how society can prevent such traumatic things, or if regulation of potential harm within the metaverse is ultimately left up to the companies that have thrown their hats in the ring. 

“The metaverse calls us to rethink how to regulate things in a new environment for society as a whole,” said Stefano Maffulli, executive director of the Open Source Initiative. “Right now we’re still in an early stage trying to figure that out, but the one thing we cannot allow as a society is [for] one to three corporations owning the space and introducing new products and concepts, which could introduce implications in the long run.”  

It isn’t a dystopian novel quite yet, and likely could be far off from happening soon. After all, there are businesses that still use pen and paper to track expenses and fax machines to send memos. 

There are professionals thinking about these “what if” scenarios  already, and who feel our world is capable of handling the technology and regulating it appropriately.

“A lot of organizations are technically capable of regulating the metaverse. I know some are working on something similar already and have been for a while,” said Maffulli. “For what it’s worth, it would be a good idea for a working group of individuals to come together and discuss implications and standards.” 

“Something like that could be a space that nonprofits like the Open Source Initiative could be part of to talk about research, implications, and how principles apply to openness and sharing of information. I know other organizations like the Oasis Consortium and others have task forces focused on this and are working and looking at the metaverse, AI and related technologies from an ethical lens,” he said. 

Meta and other companies pushing to stake their claim in the metaverse have released information about how they plan to approach the development responsibly. 

A blog post by Andrew Bosworth, VP of Facebook Reality Labs, and Nick Clegg, VP of Global Affairs, addresses how Meta plans to prioritize collaboration with the other companies that are working to develop the metaverse as well.

And when Facebook launched its supercomputer for the metaverse this week, it took pains to explain how  explain how secure it was making the data that it was using to power it.

Still, other metaverse thinkers, like Matthew Ball, have pointed out that tech giants like Apple can slow things down considerably by using their control over the internet (through its significant smartphone market share and 30 percent app store tax), and by default, the coming metaverse. He has called Apple the “de facto regulator of the Internet.”

No one can predict what will come as more companies begin to implement their versions of a “metaverse.” But the evolution of the internet can be used as a guide predict what can take place with the rise of the metaverse

“The next five years will still be the emergent metaverse and pre-metaverse stage,” said Gartner’s Nguyen. “In this stage, there’s no metaverse, therefore no metaverse companies, solutions, applications. This may sound anti-climactic, but it’s the reality. It is disingenuous to say that during this time frame we’ll see ‘the year of the metaverse.’ We’ll certainly see exciting developments, [though].” 

Mullani of the Open Source Initiative said widespread accessibility for the metaverse and the technologies that develop it is vital for the metaverse to reach its full potential, and will likely follow a similar path of innovation and regulation as the internet did. 

Mullani adds that it is “most important is for society to work toward the metaverse in a way that allows it to become a space where we can keep our democratic functioning tools, our rights, and a check and balance of the delegation of powers in place.”

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These are the 12 big bets of future disruptive technologies



The 12 big bets on future technologies as per Nasscom report

The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) and Boston Consultancy Group (BCG) have identified 12 big bet technologies that can potentially disrupt markets in the next 3-5 years.

A report titled “Sandboxing into the Future: Decoding Technology’s Biggest Bets”, has identified these technologies of the future: autonomous analytics, Artificial Reality and Virtual Reality, autonomous driving, computer vision, deep learning, distributed ledger, edge computing, sensortech, smart robots, spacetech, sustainability tech, and 5G/6G.

AR VR concept image

The report noted that these 12 technologies will unravel in diverse ways, giving way to regional and vertical-specific big bets. While buyers in North America and Europe are betting on technologies such as autonomous analytics, APAC is likely to focus more on 5G/6G technologies, sensortech and smart robotics. Overall, technology buyers anticipate that investments in emerging technologies will account for 70%- 80% of tech spending by 2030.

“Going forward, it will be interesting to see how businesses will put their bets on emerging technologies and how they would be taking ahead the tech revolution for the larger good of the society,” said NASSCOM President Debjani Ghosh.

Cognizant acquires Utegration

Leading technology services company Cognizant has said it bought Houston-based Utegration LLC, a full-service consulting and solutions provider specializing in SAP  technology and SAP-certified products for the energy and utilities sectors.

Cognizant will gain approximately 350 employees in North America and India upon the close of this acquisition.

“We believe Utegration’s rich industry expertise and differentiated portfolio of energy and utilities-focused products and accelerators is a perfect complement to our SAP practice,” said Rob Vatter, Executive Vice President of Cognizant’s Enterprise Platform Services.

Utegration serves over 50 North America-based clients in the energy and utilities sector with solutions across four domains aligned to market needs: customer experience, billing and advanced metering infrastructure, managed services, data science and analytics, and finance and asset performance management.

HCLTech partners with Intel and Mavenir for 5G solutions

HCLTech, a leading Indian technology services company revealed a new collaboration with Intel Corporation and Mavenir to develop and provide scalable private 5G network solutions for communication service providers (CSP) and broader cross-vertical enterprises.

Through this new collaboration, the companies will work closely on a range of projects and activities across enablement, go-to-market and sales acceleration, with the goal of delivering more 5G solutions to CSPs, Internet of Things (IoT) and enterprise verticals, a statement said.


The three companies will work cross-functionally to add new offerings and help generate greater value for enterprises. The companies will develop a cloud-native enterprise-to-enterprise (E2E) architecture of an Intel Xeon processor-based 5G solution leveraging Mavenir RAN, Intel SmartEdge and HCLTech’s management, orchestration and automation services.

“There is currently a great need for scalable, reliable 5G solutions across nearly every enterprise and industry,” said Kalyan Kumar, Chief Technology Officer, HCLTech. “This need represents a major opportunity to innovate and deliver solutions that will have a major impact on business operations and outcomes.”

Collins Aerospace to expand operations in India

Collins Aerospace, which is part of Raytheon Technologies has announced that it will be expanding its operations in India. The company inaugurated its Global Engineering & Tech Centre and a new India Operations Centre to mark its 25th year in Bengaluru.

Collins Aerospace has also pledged significant capital and manpower investments over the next five years given that the Indian aerospace & defence (A&D) market is projected to reach $70 billion by 2030.

The team at Collins India is actively collaborating with Indian R&D organisations like NAL, CMTI, DRDO for study into materials, additive manufacturing, pre-qualification tests and other important projects.

Wipro bags top honour for workplace inclusion

Wipro Limited, a leading Indian technology services and consulting company, has been recognised as a ‘Gold’ employer by the India Workplace Equality Index (IWEI) 2022.

Awarded to the top employers by IWEI, the gold employer is the highest of 3 levels, where an organisation is credited with ‘embedding inclusion in the workplace.’ Highlights of Wipro’s efforts in this journey include recognition of Wipro’s leadership in India to advance LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace, from organisational policies to external communications.


It also demonstrates a long-term and in-depth commitment towards LGBTQ+ inclusion, where Wipro has implemented several initiatives enabling its employees to become active allies for the community.

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Corraling Kafka: New ecosystem simplifies, democratizes event-streaming data for enterprises



Aiven, a cloud-data platform based in Helsinki, has fleshed out an open-source ecosystem for Apache Kafka, a popular event-streaming platform. The new offerings promise to help enterprises consolidate their Kafka infrastructure using open-source components. 

“Event streaming is transitioning toward the main stack of the IT infrastructure,” Filip Yonov, director of data streaming product management at Aiven, told VentureBeat. “At Aiven, we have witnessed the fastest growth in the event-streaming domain compared to all other products.”

Apache Kafka provides the infrastructure for wiring streams of data together from databases, apps, IoT devices, and third-party sources. Kafka helps organize raw data into event streams that reduce data size and are easier to integrate into event-driven apps and analytics. Enterprises use it to improve customer experiences, build the industrial metaverse and monitor patients. 

However, building out a Kafka infrastructure involves a lot of moving parts. Aiven has consolidated all the necessary tooling into one place to simplify this process. Key new enhancements include support for Apache Flink and data governance. These complement existing tools for connecting services, replicating data and managing schemas for Kafka deployments.


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The need for simplicity

LinkedIn originally developed Kafka to integrate data across its large microservices infrastructure and open-sourced it in 2011. Over the intervening years, large enterprises have customized the tooling for their own needs, and several vendors have rolled out proprietary enhancements to fill in gaps around governance and integration. Many organizations use Kafka for various data pipeline scenarios, such as transferring data between applications in real-time or moving data from a database to a data warehouse.

Yonov told VentureBeat that as Kafka clusters become larger and more complex, they require additional tooling and governance to ensure proper operation and management. “Unlike existing Kafka solutions, Aiven’s offering does not require organizations to choose between proprietary tools and vendor lock-in or open-source technologies without support,” he said.

Improving the developer experience with event streaming

One essential aspect has been to democratize the experience for working with event-streaming data. The open-source tool, Klaw, provides a self-service interface for managing Kafka clusters. Kafkawize, which develops Klaw, recently joined Aiven’s open-source development office in September to help integrate their tools together. Now they are working together to improve self-service, simplify user management and enforce data governance. 

Another significant development was to connect streaming data to SQL queries familiar to data engineers. The new Aiven for Apache Flink tools allows teams to process larger volumes of events and run real-time analytics using SQL. Aiven provides this as a fully managed service that reduces the complexity of deploying a Flink cluster. It also simplifies the integration with Aiven for Apache Kafka to filter, enrich and aggregate events on the fly. 

Aiven hopes to replicate the success of other open-source frameworks like PostgreSQL, Kubernetes and Linux, built by a healthy mix of contributions from various communities. 

“We truly believe that fostering an open-source, community-driven and inclusive ecosystem of technologies around Apache Kafka can drive further innovations and new developments in the data-streaming domain, ensuring the long sustainment of the technology in the future,” Yonov said.

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How do tech layoffs impact PERM and the green card process? • TechCrunch



Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

TechCrunch+ members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.

Dear Sophie,

I handle HR and immigration at our tech company. We filed a PERM for one of our team members about five months ago for her EB-2 green card, and we’re awaiting certification from the Labor Department. We’ve been gearing up to start PERM for another employee.

Will the layoffs in the tech industry affect the PERM process for EB-2 and EB-3 green cards? What will happen to my team members’ green cards if our company has to do layoffs?

— Pondering in People Ops

Dear Pondering,

It’s wonderful that you’re steadfastly supporting your team with green card sponsorship. This can provide unfathomable peace of mind for people still on non-immigrant status in the U.S. through the green card process. We’re here to help ease the holiday season with education on the options for both companies and individuals.

Let’s dive into the winter wonderland of PERM and employment-sponsored green cards.

Will tech layoffs impact the PERM process?

For the permanent labor certification application — or PERM — your company is currently working on, the short answer is yes, the layoffs may have several different effects depending on where your company is in the process.

The PERM green card process is a multistep and time-intensive one involving a labor market recruitment test requiring employers to demonstrate to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that there are no qualified U.S. workers (U.S. citizens and green card holders) who are qualified, willing and able to fill the EB-2 or EB-3 PERM position. PERM also aims to ensure that the opportunities, wages and working conditions of U.S. citizens and green card holders are protected.

A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

If you are in or will soon start the PERM recruiting phase, you may receive a larger number of job applicants for your job posting due to the recent layoffs in the tech sector. With an uptick in potentially qualified applicants, it could prove more difficult to demonstrate that there is no qualified U.S. worker to fill the PERM role. If a qualified U.S. worker is ready, willing and able to fill the PERM role, the labor market test fails and the DOL will not grant the company’s PERM labor certification.

Keep in mind that unemployment is a big concern for the DOL. During the last recession, when millions of jobs were lost, DOL increased its scrutiny of the adjudication of PERMs, particularly within the financial sector, to ensure displaced U.S. workers were considered for positions before international talent.

At the moment, the U.S. unemployment rate is under 4%, so we have a ways to go before we match the 10.6% unemployment rate in 2010. Although there have been many layoffs in tech, I remain optimistic, as there are other indicators that the economy is still strong and there are many job requirements in and beyond the tech sector.

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