Sight Magazine – Metaverse to crypto: Five tech trends to watch in 2022

London, United Kingdom
Thomson Reuters Foundation

From the fight against the coronavirus pandemic to working remotely and communicating with our loved ones, digital tools, platforms and policies are increasingly affecting our way of life.

Here are five tech trends to watch in 2022.

Cryptocurrencies are moving from the financial fringes to the mainstream, with major investors, businesses and even countries moving to embrace digital money as an asset and a routine payment method.

In September, El Salvador became the first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender, as the U.S. city of Miami reflects on using bitcoin for paying taxes and paying city employees’ salaries.

But countries like China and Nigeria have moved to ban some or all cryptocurrency transactions, which technology experts say could displace crypto mining – the power-hungry computer process by which tokens of currency digital are created – underground.

This year is expected to see more restrictions as authorities fear these highly volatile, privately-exploited digital coins will undermine their control of financial and monetary systems, increase systemic risk, promote financial crime and harm investors. .

A customer tests a smartphone during the launch of the new iPhone XS and XS Max at Apple’s “re: Store” retailer in Moscow, Russia, September 28, 2018. PHOTO: Reuters / Tatyana Makeyeva / File photo.

From virtual goods to AI-powered avatars that can be rented by businesses, a growing digital world is pushing property and privacy rights into uncharted territory.

In October, Facebook rebranded itself as Meta Platforms Inc and announced plans to create thousands of jobs and invest billions in the so-called metaverse – a virtual environment where people can meet, play and collaborate.

The term is popular in Silicon Valley, with Microsoft having mentioned the convergence of the digital and physical worlds, while online games like Roblox and Fortnite are already considered part of the metaverse.

The buzz has fueled the debate on how to protect fundamental rights as more and more activity moves online.

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted governments from China to the United Arab Emirates to impose surveillance measures such as drones and phone data tracking to trace infections and keep tabs on the population.

But human rights experts fear that measures put in place to protect citizens in exceptional circumstances, when most people agree to be necessary, may survive the current crisis and infringe on privacy rights. .

Authorities also regularly use surveillance technologies such as facial recognition to fight crime, leading activists to warn that such measures can disproportionately target minorities and marginalized communities.

For example, they note, police technologies predicting where crime might occur can be informed by biased data sets, leading them to mistakenly identify black people and people of color as more likely to offend.

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Content moderation
Social media companies have been criticized for their content moderation practices, berated for not combating hate speech online and facilitating the spread of fake news.

In December, Rohingya refugees filed a $ 150 billion class action lawsuit against Meta, arguing that the social media company’s failure to control the content and design of its platform contributed to violence against the community. rohingya.

Tech companies in the United States – where most large companies are headquartered – enjoy broad protections under a law known as Section 230, which protects online platforms like Facebook and Twitter from liability. legal about what others say or do on their sites.

This left the regulation of content to the companies themselves, exposing them to criticism.

Internet shutdowns
Global Internet shutdowns and shutdowns have disrupted communication and made life difficult for millions of people over the past year.

Internet services were cut off in Sudan for more than two weeks in October, following a coup by military leaders. Myanmar has also suffered several blackouts since a military coup in February.

Such measures are increasingly used by authoritarian governments to restrict people’s ability to organize, voice their opinions and participate in online governance, digital rights activists warn.

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