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There’s little doubt that discussion about a future built on Web3 and the emergence of the metaverse will intensify over the coming years. With it, so too will the urgency surrounding the development of sustainable initiatives.
The metaverse’s potential is vast. Experts talk of a whole new reality that exists in a purely digital space. This Web3 construct will pave the way for collaboration, communication and socializing in ways that are still difficult to fully imagine.
At the heart of this new technological revolution will be big data. The sheer volume of data that users will produce in the age of Web3 means that intelligent insights won’t be far away. Crucially, the growth of big data may also help to solve some of the world’s biggest sustainability issues.
Before we look at how Web3 can help to deliver sustainability, it’s worth taking a speculative glance at how the environment may be impacted by the metaverse. With huge volumes of people around the world opting to spend much of their time connected to a digital world, we may see fuel usage fall as fewer individuals have the need to travel. However, the sheer computational power required to fully immerse a user in the metaverse will be immense, with Intel claiming that computers will need to be 1,000 times more powerful than they are today to cope with the added requirements.
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This will inevitably put environmental matters front and center as the metaverse emerges. But can Web3 and the rise of big data help to ease sustainability concerns — and even contribute to improving the world’s green credentials? Let’s take a deeper look into how big data may pave the way for a more eco-friendly future in the age of Web3:
Fine-tuned product lifecycle assessments
One way in which businesses are already utilizing big data analytics as a means of improving their green credentials is through the development of product lifecycle assessments that can evaluate the overall environmental impact of their production lines, product usage and subsequent disposal.
These assessments help illuminate a product’s timeline in a transparent manner, which ensures accountability. Factors like the extraction of materials from the environment, the production process, use phase and what happens to the product once it comes to the conclusion of its lifecycle can all exact a burden on the environment, but big data can provide clarity throughout each stage.
In a Web3 landscape, such deep data analytics may seem burdensome in terms of the processing power that would be used to run these comprehensive assessments. But cloud-based data storage can help alleviate this issue as businesses move away from local disk usage.
According to EY data, although internet traffic and the volume of data centers increased by 16.9 times and 9.4 times respectively between 2010 and 2020, data center energy efficiency increased by only 1.1x over the same time frame.
This provides the data center industry with the opportunity to become more environmentally friendly, with cloud computing offering lower costs-per-gigabyte and higher data redundancy — pushing further expansion of the cloud to accommodate data in the age of Web3.
With businesses moving to innovate with more focus on sustainability, advanced lifecycle impact assessments can help to create balanced strategies that are fully functional within the cloud.
Corporate sustainability in the age of the metaverse
One of the biggest challenges facing corporate sustainability is the wider impact of a company’s carbon footprint. For instance, in the case of multinational pharmaceutical firm GSK’s carbon footprint, just 20% falls within the company’s own boundaries, with 80% coming from indirect emissions such as the use of its products.
Big data will help to illuminate this more translucent aspect of sustainability by revealing the more nuanced aspects of the corporate world’s relationship with the environment.
As Web3 transformation takes center stage, we’re likely to see big data platforms provide insight into how existing physical products can be replicated in the digital world, and the wealth of usage data from customers as they live, work and socialize online will help provide much needed clarity on how businesses are really helping to care for the environment.
The natural world is an extremely complex place, and big data in the age of Web3 will produce scores of insights into how ESG-conscious companies can adapt their existing goods and services into an immersive digital environment as a means of bolstering their environmental credentials.
Big data can also help generate a more sustainability-focused user base among the billions of users who are ultimately expected to embrace the metaverse.
This can be a significant step in the battle against climate change, as a recent study of 2 billion social media posts found that one of the biggest barriers to a sustainable future is behavioral. With users becoming more willing to normalize climate conditions, these conditions can become easier to ignore.
Big data can remedy this mindset by helping to develop immersive Web3 experiences that can anticipate our behavioral drawbacks and create virtual-reality learning opportunities that take audiences on a sustainability journey that can result in greater awareness, more environmentally-focused purchasing habits and a stronger desire to avoid bad habits when it comes to matters of recycling and energy consumption.
Gaming will be a central focus of the metaverse, and we’re already seeing gamified sustainability solutions being developed with the aim of helping the environment.
There’s perhaps no stronger example of gamified sustainability in action than Alóki, an NFT-based blockchain game in which users can build their own virtual paradise based on 3D LIDAR scans of real Costa Rican jungle. Alóki’s founders, Maurycy Krzastek and Bartek Lechowski, bought the plot of real-world land that would become the Alóki Sanctuary in Costa Rica for $30 million, and now users’ actions in the game can help to plant trees and nurture wildlife within the 750-acre stretch of jungle.
With big data helping companies understand user sentiment towards sustainability based on their actions in the metaverse, it can become far easier to help users learn in an immersive and gamified manner.
Although the transition towards life within the metaverse is set to be a long one, the laying of the foundations is taking place now. For the sake of a prosperous future, big data and sustainability must be central to the development of this brave new digital frontier.
Dmytro Spilka is the head wizard at Solvid.
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