European Commission’s Plan for Web 4.0 & Virtual Worlds
Introducing a Visionary Strategy for Web 4.0 and Virtual Worlds
The European Commission has unveiled a groundbreaking strategy, designed to navigate the forthcoming technological revolution and establish a secure, inclusive, and welcoming online sphere for individuals, organizations, and government agencies across the European Union (EU).
Web 4.0, the eagerly anticipated next iteration of the internet, is set to revolutionize the way we interact with digital and real-world elements. By seamlessly merging humans and machines, this transformative technology promises to create an interconnected, intelligent, and immersive world. Recognizing the pivotal role of digitalization as a driving force beyond 2030, the EU is gearing up to embrace this significant technological transition. It comes as no surprise that the global virtual worlds market is projected to skyrocket from €27 billion in 2022 to a staggering €800 billion by 2030.
The primary objective of this new strategy is to establish a Web 4.0 and virtual worlds ecosystem that reflects the core values and principles of the EU. Within this framework, individuals’ rights will be upheld, and European businesses will be given the opportunity to flourish. Aligned with the Digital Decade policy program’s 2030 objectives, the strategy focuses on three key pillars: digitalization of skills, fostering business growth, and improving public services. Furthermore, it addresses the crucial aspects of openness and global governance within the realms of virtual worlds and Web 4.0.
Let’s take a closer look at the fundamental pillars of this visionary strategy:
Empowering People and Nurturing Skills: The Commission is committed to promoting guiding principles that will govern virtual worlds and intends to develop a ‘Citizen toolbox’ by the first quarter of 2024. In addition, it will collaborate with Member States to establish a talent pipeline and bolster skills development through various projects funded by the Digital Europe Programme and the Creative Europe program.
Supporting a Flourishing European Web 4.0 Industrial Ecosystem: Recognizing the significance of research excellence and technological advancement, the Commission proposes the establishment of a candidate Partnership on Virtual Worlds under Horizon Europe. This partnership, potentially commencing in 2025, will foster cutting-edge research and create a robust industrial roadmap for virtual worlds.
Advancing Societal Progress and Virtual Public Services: To bolster progress in society, the Commission is launching two flagship initiatives. The first is “CitiVerse,” an immersive urban environment designed for city planning and management. The second is the European Virtual Human Twin, a digital representation of the human body that will support clinical decision-making and personalized treatment.
Shaping Global Standards for Open and Interoperable Virtual Worlds and Web 4.0: The Commission aims to engage with internet governance stakeholders worldwide and actively promote Web 4.0 standards that align with the EU’s vision and values. By championing openness and interoperability, the EU seeks to shape a global framework that fosters collaboration and inclusivity.
This strategy builds upon the extensive work conducted by the European Commission on virtual worlds, with valuable input from citizens, academia, and businesses. Notably, the European Citizens’ Panel on Virtual Worlds, which took place from February to April 2023, played a crucial role in shaping the specific actions outlined in the Web 4.0 and virtual worlds strategy.
The Commission’s groundbreaking initiative marks a significant milestone in ensuring that the future of the internet and virtual worlds is shaped by a diverse range of stakeholders. This inclusive approach embraces diverse perspectives and interests, showcasing the EU’s commitment to leading the way in the next technological transition. By fostering innovation and safeguarding an open, secure, and inclusive digital environment, the EU continues to champion a future that benefits all.
This visionary strategy represents a crucial step towards shaping the future of the internet and virtual worlds. By involving a wide range of stakeholders and considering diverse perspectives, the European Commission is setting the stage for an inclusive and prosperous digital landscape. The strategy’s emphasis on empowering individuals, supporting business growth, and advancing public services showcases the EU’s commitment to harnessing the potential of Web 4.0. Moreover, the focus on global standards and collaboration highlights the EU’s dedication to ensuring an open and interoperable virtual world. With this strategy, the European Commission is leading the way towards a transformative digital era that prioritizes innovation, security, and inclusivity.