The metaverse is a virtual world where users can interact with each other as avatars, buy real estate and assets and make purchases using cryptocurrencies. It can also include augmented reality that combines aspects of the digital and physical worlds.
“Metaverse – I don’t really like that name … I just don’t think one company should own the name 'meta'," will.i.am told an audience in a session hosted by Mina Al-Oraibi, Editor-in-Chief of The National.
He said Zuckerberg's Meta already "own everything else" and suggested they should not, in effect, have naming rights for the metaverse.
The metaverse market is expected to reach $800 billion in value by 2024.
Other companies also trying to build virtual worlds include the online gaming platform Roblox and entertainment giant Disney.
These digital worlds can be accessed using virtual reality headsets. Some set-ups support Meta’s Oculus headsets but others can be engaged through equipment made by other companies such as Microsoft and HTC.
However, it is not necessarily required that these worlds be exclusively entered through virtual reality or augmented reality.
“Roblox is awesome, Disney is great, and they work great with children’s privacy,” will.i.am said.
"We really have to be careful with what we call this thing as it's growing and business practices that undermine people's civil liberties and privacy, especially the children."
Brent Harris, vice president of governance at Meta Platforms, said that the company was not building the metaverse alone.
“Meta is not the only player in the building. We are building it alongside other players in the industry. You're seeing that we are building with Microsoft and we're going to start to see what Apple is going to do in the metaverse,” he said.
“So Meta is going to be one part of the metaverse that is going to get built. Through that, from a governance side, we're building with industry partners and setting standards.
“What I think you're going to find is this isn't like a single application. This is much more like a new era ... that will be built with multiple partners together.”