The European Commission (EC) on Tuesday unveiled a digital vision to navigate the transition towards Web 4.0 and virtual worlds, aiming to empower citizens, support businesses and shape global standards.
The EC said in a statement that through the strategy it adopted, it wanted to "steer the next technological transition" and ensure an open, secure, trustworthy, fair and inclusive digital environment for EU citizens, businesses and public administrations.
Web 4.0: whats is it and main characteristics
According to the statement, Web 3.0 has openness, decentralization and user full empowerment as its main features, and the next generation internet, or Web 4.0, will allow an integration between digital and real objects and environments, and enhanced interactions between humans and machines.
The outlook of the EU economy beyond 2030, published in March, highlights digitalization as one of its key drivers and Web 4.0 as a major technological transition. The global virtual worlds market size is estimated to grow from 27 billion euros (30 billion U.S. dollars) in 2022 to over 800 billion euros by 2030, it said.
"The new strategy aims for a Web 4.0 and virtual worlds reflecting EU values and principles, where people's rights fully apply and where European businesses can thrive," the statement said.
By the end of the year, it said it will promote guiding principles for virtual worlds and develop a "Citizen toolbox" by the first quarter of 2024. This toolbox aims to increase public awareness and foster a talent pool of virtual world specialists.
To scale up excellence and address fragmentation within the digital realm, the EC will back a European Web 4.0 industrial ecosystem. The Partnership on Virtual Worlds under Horizon Europe will bring developers and industrial users together.
In order to support societal progress and virtual public services to leverage the opportunities virtual worlds can offer, the EC launched two new public flagships: "CitiVerse," an immersive urban environment that can be used for city planning and management; and a European Virtual Human Twin, which will replicate the human body to support clinical decisions and personal treatment.
The EC said it will engage with internet governance stakeholders around the world and will promote Web 4.0 standards in line with the EU's vision and values.