China is adopting a different tack as it competes with Western countries to develop virtual worlds for customers in the metaverse. Competitors like Meta and other Western internet titans are working on this.
The Chinese government is supporting the development of technologies that it considers to be strategic, and it is also establishing regulations to regulate the activities that can take place in cyberspace.
China’s interpretation of the metaverse is focused on putting technology to use in order to boost the country’s growing economy rather than developing a virtual environment for socializing.
An example of this would be the company HiAR, which uses augmented reality to assist local governments in China in locating mosquito breeding grounds by analyzing drone footage.
HiAR was established in the year 2012, a full year before Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the term “metaverse” widely known.
In 2021, after Facebook renamed itself Meta, in a high-level push toward the metaverse, Chinese businesses and tech investors began following suit, attempting to develop their own metaverse technologies or integrate mixed reality aspects into consumer products. This occurred after Facebook rebranded itself as part of the effort.
The government of China is also showing a significant amount of interest in the metaverse by lending support to developing technologies that it believes to be essential and developing regulatory frameworks.
During an interview with Wired, Brady Wang, an associate director at the technology market research firm Counterpoint, stated that “The Metaverse is a vague concept,” adding that “every [company] is interpreting it in its own way.”
“The Chinese government plays a significant role in the development of this idea.”
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of China established the definition of the metaverse as consisting of three components in December 2021. These components were digital twins, mixed reality, and the blockchain.
However, in September 2021, the authorities took the step of effectively banning cryptocurrencies, which was one factor that contributed to the decoupling of virtual spaces and digital assets.
The Chinese government is willing to encourage components that could assist the economy, despite the fact that gaming, a crucial pillar of the metaverse in the West, has come under criticism from the Chinese government due to concerns over the addiction of young people.
The 14th Five-Year Plan, which outlines Beijing’s economic policy from 2021 to 2025, places emphasis on digital twins as a primary area of focus.
In addition, an action plan that was released by five ministries, one of which was the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, has the goal of expanding the virtual reality industry to $51 billion, and it cites new fields such as near-eye display and rendering processing as potential growth areas.
It is important to note that the government’s vision has not shifted, despite the fact that the focus in the business sector has shifted to generative AI.
“The government is rather focused on the long-term with policymaking,” Jingshu Chen, co-founder of the virtual reality (VR) business VeeR, said.
The recent buzz around artificial intelligence has not had an effect on how different levels of government continue to carry out their metaverse policies.
In a similar vein, Meta has only lately reaffirmed its dedication to the metaverse, putting an end to rumours that the tech giant has shifted its focus away from the virtual world and toward artificial intelligence.
“A narrative has developed that we’re somehow moving away from focusing on the metaverse vision, so I just want to say upfront that that’s not accurate,” Zuckerberg said. “I just want to say that that’s not accurate.”
The announcement comes after the company’s metaverse department posted a loss of about $4 billion during the most recent quarter and a total loss of $13.7 billion during the prior year, with the assumption that those losses will continue to grow in 2023.
As Zuckerberg came to a conclusion he stated, “Building the metaverse is a long-term project; however, the rationale for it remains the same, and we remain committed to it.”
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