Susskind’s Metaverse

Susskind's Metaverse

Legal futurist and fellow Scot, Richard Susskind, has entered the metaverse [N.B. paywall if not subscribed to The Times].

He did so at a virtual reality exhibit at the British Legal Technology Forum where he was apparently encouraged to virtually walk the plank. He was too scared to do so.

400 million Metaverse Users?

Susskind tells us that:-

there are already more than 400 million users of the fledgling universe.

He concedes that most are gamers. But are these gamers actually in the metaverse? Are they not just playing video games online? Video games that for years have not been considered to be in the metaverse? Only perhaps since Meta (the company formerly known as Facebook) cottoned onto and sought to reinvent the metaverse in late 2021?

Let us look at the 400 million statistic as it sounds rather overinflated for what I would class as being the metaverse.

I assume, but Richard Susskind does not tell us, that the statistic in question comes from this article from March 2022: The Metaverse Reaches 400m Monthly Active Users

Metaverse Children

These are nearly all children as this graph shows:-

Metaverse User Graph by Age

The article does indeed reveal these children to be gamers:-

What’s very obvious here is the dominance of young teenagers. Virtual worlds like Roblox (210m MAUs), Fortnite (80m) and Minecraft (160m) have an average user age of 12 – 13 years old.

Those three “virtual worlds” combined therefore account for 450 million monthly active users. That is 50 million more than the 400 million in the headline. I can only assume that some users cross over into the different “virtual worlds”. Let’s not call them metaverses.

We also learn that:-

83.5% of the total market is aged under 18.

Not a typical profile for a lawyer to have as a client I hasten to add.

The sudden drop off in users over the age of 18 is presumably linked to the former gamers now entering the real world of work or University where real life experiences will take precedence over virtual ones.

I remember selling my BBC Micro at the age of 18 in 1985 as I left home in Shetland for Edinburgh University. It had mostly been used for playing games or learning basic coding. I was going to have no time for that with a University social life to sustain!

600,000 Metaverse Users?

Another report, not mentioned by Richard, suggests that “the virtual worlds of the metaverse have attracted nearly 60,000 all-time users” by 2022. Apparently “this is a tenfold increase since the beginning of 2020.” Quite a difference from 400 million. I assume this report was excluding the tween and teenage gamers.

What does the Metaverse mean for Lawyers?

Richard Susskind then turns his attention to what the metaverse means for lawyers. I did that back in January: 2022: The Year Lawyers get Legless in the Metaverse?

Susskind thinks that:-

It is safe to predict here, even if the detail is still hazy, that lawyers will offer their services in the metaverse when this becomes more convenient or better value.

Well maybe it is safe to predict this will happen if it does in fact become more convenient or better value.

But will that ever happen? I doubt it. How could it? I mean is putting on a virtual reality headset to enter a virtual world as a cartoon avatar ever going to be more convenient or better value than a phone call, Zoom call, e-mail or even a letter in the post or an in person meeting to communicate with your clients?

Susskind also thinks that:-

clients will congregate in online communities to help one another.

That has of course already happened since the dawn of the internet with chatrooms and forums. I doubt the metaverse will add anything significant if at all to what is already available in a more easily accessible way.

Legal Training in Susskind’s Metaverse

Then with regard to legal training Susskind opines:-

Future generations of legal professionals will be trained in virtual reality. If astronauts and surgeons can cut their teeth in simulators, lawyers and judges can do likewise.

I’m not so sure that is a good comparison. A flight simulator allows you to travel through virtual space. An operation simulator allows you to dissect virtual human tissue. This is very different from the actual tasks of solicitors where much is reading, thinking, analysing and writing. Not sure why or how a virtual reality simulator is going to help me draft a conveyancing contract or a set of court pleadings.

Also, virtual reality simulators used for specific purposes are not necessarily you entering the metaverse.

Can you not have a virtual courtroom you might ask? Of course you could but based on present technology it would be crap. In court you are not flying a virtual space ship or holding a virtual scalpel. You are examining and cross examining witnesses and presenting legal argument. Given the present abysmal state of legal chatbots having software do this virtually to anything verging on reality is at present science fiction.

But Richard does say “future generations” without giving us a timeframe (not even a five year one) so he may mean 3022 or beyond. And he may then have made an accurate prediction.

Court Hearings in Susskind’s Metaverse

Richard thinks that:-

some court hearings will be held in the metaverse.

Again I must ask why?

Why would our justice system think it was a good idea to allow anyone to appear in court as a cartoon avatar? To allow them to disguise themselves as something other than what they really are? Why would that be better than Zoom (or Webex as the courts were using in Scotland during the pandemic and still do for some procedural matters).

I really cannot see any benefit at all to anyone in having a court hearing in the metaverse. Webex is a very poor alternative to the real thing and the metaverse would be even worse.

But, if anything, the future would be appearing remotely in a courtroom where everything was more like reality rather than a cartoon world. Hologram technology rather than metaverse technology. Think of a Star Wars Council Meeting:

Star Wars - Hologram meeting

The Rule of Law in Susskind’s Metaverse

Susskind finishes by stating that:-

preserving the rule of law in this metaverse is the next great legal project.

On that point I am with him. Lawyers don’t have to be in the metaverse but there will be plenty of work for them to do sorting out in the real world the legal mess that the metaverse will undoubtedly create.

Image Credit: Hologram Meeting in Star Wars © Lucasfilm Limited

Reactions on Social Media about Susskind’s Metaverse

On LinkedIn the following comments have been made:-

Graeme Johnston (Software for mapping work and getting things done):

I was briefly at the conference mentioned (bltf) and went to a metaverse talk by an enthusiast. Emphasis was only partly on the VR aspect: lots of emphasis on the blockchain, crypto, nft and smart contract aspects. To give him credit, he did acknowledge the serious problems which could result from it, if it does happen in the maximalist sense (as opposed to roblox etc) – see photo. I hope it doesn’t.

The Dangers of the Metaverse

Allen Woods:

The only people with sufficient technological clout who can pull this off are the current privacy bogeymen. Anything else is nibbling at the edges.

Alex Smith (Global Search & AI Product Lead (Senior Director) at iManage):

He predicted there may be problems with crypto and blockchains … this is crazy thinking. Maybe he’s been reading Molly White’s blog … https://web3isgoinggreat.com/

Graeme Johnston:

Yes. I found it an odd speech, as he did acknowledge those issues but the overall vibe was that it’s happening anyway and it’s gonna be BIG. He quoted a Citi estimate of Metaverse being a market of up to $13 trillion a year by 2030, but felt that this was likely an under-estimate.

Maybe I’m just far too old and conservative.

His book: https://www.thedigitalspeaker.com/book-step-into-the-metaverse/

Alex Smith:

Famous quote from Hitchhikers on making a living from the unpredictability of the future:

“Yes,” declaimed Deep Thought, “I said I’d have to think about it, didn’t I? And it occurs to me that running a programme like this is bound to create an enormous amount of popular publicity for the whole area of philosophy [replace with Futurism] in general. Everyone’s going to have their own theories about what answer I’m eventually to come up with, and who better to capitalize on that media market than you yourself? So long as you can keep disagreeing with each other violently enough and slagging each other off in the popular press, you can keep yourself on the gravy train for life. How does that sound?”

There should be historical deconstruction sessions of old book, Big 4/consultancies reports of the “future”, big predictions. We’ll all in driverless cars this year apparently.

Graeme Johnston:

Yes. Some day I might attempt an analysis of past Gartner predictions and how they turned out. Assuming they haven’t gone into the memory hole.

Me:

On the question of dangers of the metaverse I recently saw a ‘metaverse lawyer’ say: “We can change our avatars and be who we want to be anytime and anyplace.”

I immediately thought of the old Martini adverts. But immediately after that I thought that real life lawyers would be thinking: “KYC & AML?!”

Me:

And following on from that Hitchhikers quote here is one from Osho: “The professor thinks himself to be a different species altogether, because he knows. And what does he know? Just words, and words are not experience.”

Me:

And on the topic of Gartner we can’t forget their prediction that by 2023 Lawbots will handle a quarter of internal legal requests. Only 3 months to go!

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Paul Ryan (Mobile and Web Apps For Legal):

I will largely yield to my 10 year old son. When I ask him why he hardly uses his Oculus Quest he got at Christmas “only one other friend has one and there’s not as much to do”. This is from a generation who would live life entirely in front of a screen if allowed. The technology to create a truly immersive graphical experience wearing a comfortable device (ie create a world / internet that is better to use than a screen in front of you) is 10 to 20 years off. To even plan for it now would be like buying a fleet of Sinclair C5s in the 1980s.

As interesting as I found it there is no aspect of the Oculus Quest vision of Metvaerse that would make me go back to it beyond novelty value.

VR will evolve naturally across the industries it’s most useful for and then time will tell if it’s useful enough to move into other industries. Facebook/Meta will quietly move out of VR in about 2 years maybe even less.

Augmented reality has far more potential and to me may be the stepping Ng stone to a more rewarding Metvaerse experience.

Me:

As Tom Goodwin puts it in his book ‘Digital Darwinism’: “We don’t want to put technology on our face yet, and likely never will en masse.” If that is true, and I think it is, then the metaverse is dead before it starts.

Me:

Richard Susskind also states in his article for The Times that: “Today’s children, some already wanting virtual rather than in-person birthday parties, will expect a comprehensively digital legal service when they become tomorrow’s clients.” Would your 10 year old rather go to or have a virtual birthday party than a real one?

Paul Ryan:

I wish! It would certainly be cheaper! Haven’t seen any sign of such a thing. Biggest birthday party hit this year has been one where they all went for a night camping.

Alison Berryman (Technology Lawyer and Data Protection expert – helping scale-ups and SMEs at Stephenson Law):

Brian Inkster my soon-to-be-12 year old definitely wants an in person birthday activity (go carting).

He also desperately wants a VR headset… He may get the VR headset – partly because I quite fancy checking out the Metaverse when he’s in bed 😆 – but I’m interested to see whether it’s still in regular use by next year…

Paul Ryan:

The other thing we noticed is when he took it to a friend’s house they were curious but naturally moved away from it because in those situations it excludes everyone else. Nintendo Switch seem to know far more about social in person gaming at a friends house!

Me:

I’m relieved to hear that even with tweens real life parties still trump virtual ones!

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Stephen Allen, FRSA (Chief Scout, TRAMPELPFAD | Co-founder Bionic Lawyer | Fellow, The Royal Society of Arts | Fellow, College of Legal Practice Management | Inaugural Financial Times Legal Intrapreneur of the Year | Human and Dog Dad):

Whilst I love to indulge in a spot of “legal industry what if” it should be conducted with great caution. You can’t both be a paid adviser on deliverable change and an indulgent celebrator of fantasy futures.

Futurists have a role but that should not be confused with “expert”.

What can be delivered is far from what sounds cool.

Me:

Spot on.

Alex Smith (Global Search & AI Product Lead (Senior Director) at iManage):

The constant pivoting to new without any word of what happened to the last new. I’d love to see a retrospective on the exit of IBM from “AI” that was once the core of AI is coming. Futurist Retros. Agile Futurism.

Me:

There is this article on What Ever Happened to IBM’s Watson? https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/16/technology/what-happened-ibm-watson.html

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Stephen Allen, FRSA (Chief Scout, TRAMPELPFAD | Co-founder Bionic Lawyer | Fellow, The Royal Society of Arts | Fellow, College of Legal Practice Management | Inaugural Financial Times Legal Intrapreneur of the Year | Human and Dog Dad):

And I am happy that a declared futurist has licence to indulge in continually new “what ifs”. However – then those same futurists hold themselves out as experts in the here and now……then they must answer why that which they say should be done, can’t or no longer should be!!

Me:

Spot on again.
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Heidi Saas (CIPP/US, JD Licensed in CT, MD, & NY | Data Privacy and Technology Attorney | Change Agent | ⚡️ Disruptor ⚖️):

Good article-Ha! Susskind thinks law firms will operate in the metaverse “when this becomes more convenient or better value”. Meanwhile, I heard a lawyer talking about smart contracts, like he could just draft one up. 😂 Attorneys bill by the hour, and as a consumer, I would never pay some old white guy (and his forced-trendy avatar) to advise me. How long would it take before he got the tech all figured out to shake my hand, and then gave me the advice I needed? Most lawyers are interested in the metaverse because businesses are building new places for us to be harmed. It’s business dev., not motivated by genuine concern for our fellow humans. Not really a prediction here, sorry Richard. Stick to AI. 😎

Anthony Rocha (Data / AI / Governance / Compliance / CIPP-E / CIPM / CIPT / CPO / CDO):

They’re just users of a channel.

They couldn’t care less.

It’s the “dark” lawyers possy all over.

Alex Smith (Global Search & AI Product Lead (Senior Director) at iManage):

He isn’t that great on AI predictions either. maybe stick to automated documents. That’s finally happening.

Lawyer chase a growth area for two reasons, and in essence probably the last of these two. (1) chance to advise on traditional business/corporate law/privacy law on new tech (2) to be seen as an expert when it all goes wrong. The long play on (2) for crypto/blockchain is playing out perfectly as that goes to sh#t and the regulators move in, tons of litigation work to do (in the real world in 2D word documents).

Tara TAUBMAN-BASSIRIAN LLM (🌈Advocating privacy beyond compliance🌏 promoting GDPR, Data Protection and IP as an asset 🌏Voted Privacy Hero of the Year🌈):

Most lawyers are interested in Metaverse because they don’t understand what it is and never tried to understand data protection. They just jumped in the latest hype to talk about the latest fashionable subject. They could first learn about data protection and new technologies.

Alex Smith:

assuming that no-one mentioned the link to Meta and the attempt to “re position” Facebook as a slight cause for legal/rule of law concerns to your exact point Tara. That seems to be very missing from “future possible issues”.

Me:

Tara, that is exactly what they did with Clubhouse. Not surprisingly it is now the same familiar faces doing it again with the metaverse!

Faye Gelb, B.A., LL.B (Legal Product Management | Legal Strategist | Side hustle: Podcast to empower your legal career):

Solicitor – client privilege?

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Michael Burne (Rebel with a cause. Working with like-minded folks to change the way legal services works. Like taking photos.):

Technology for its own sake is pointless. How does a metaverse add to reality in a meaningful and valuable way. I am up for enhancements to video conferencing and even holograms so we can ever better assess body language in video calls. After that the metaverse sounds like tech for the sake of tech and a chance for someone to write a book. 😂 MetaLaw I suggest as a catchy title.

Me:

Agreed Michael. We’ve been there before of course with AI and blockchain.

The metaverse certainly won’t help you better assess body language. You will be looking at a cartoon character possibly with no legs (although they do appear to have started adding those to avatars in the metaverse since the beginning of the year when most new metaverses couldn’t cope with legs – Second Life strangely always could).

I see that metalaw.com is currently under construction 🤣

Michael Burne:

it’s not me. Obvs 🙄

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Tara TAUBMAN-BASSIRIAN LLM (🌈Advocating privacy beyond compliance🌏 promoting GDPR, Data Protection and IP as an asset 🌏Voted Privacy Hero of the Year🌈):

Brian his thoughts are not ‘science fiction’ but ‘creepy science’.

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David Burgess (Publishing Director at The Legal 500 – Legalease):

The question I think we all want to know the answer to is….”are Black & Decker still talking about what their customers want in the metaverse?”

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Agne Zasinaite (Intellectual Property | Sports Law | Charities & Regulation | Data | Associate at MacRoberts LLP):

If done well, using the metaverse to put the witness into the scene of the crime or accident could have some use? Present the recreated street/corner that you can use / walk through rather than showing a video or pictures. Who knows how likely courts would adopt such usage even if it was available!

Me:

But is that “the metaverse”? Is it not using VR for a specific purpose. Like the space simulator or the operation simulator referenced by Richard Susskind? I believe that there is a place for VR applications in certain circumstances (and you describe a potentially sensible one) but that does not necessarily have to involve entering the metaverse as such.

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Iain Witheyman (Senior Associate (Real Estate) at DAC Beachcroft LLP):

Some lawyers struggle with actual reality.

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Memme Onwudiwe (Evisort Founding Team | Harvard Law Lecturer | Metaverse Mogul):

As you may have imagined, I love this.

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Antti Innanen:

I think that it is strange that you have a whole series on metaverse, without owning a pair of VR headset.

Try it out yourself, tinker and build your own stuff, dl Blender and enrol into a 3d course. Open a wallet and get involved in discord communities.

I am not saying that this would change your mind but it would make these blog posts much more interesting.

Me:

I reacted with a LinkedIn funny emoji

Antti Innanen:

It is funny because it is true.

Me:

It is funny because you said this in response to an earlier post by me called “Not the Metaverse”. Our conversation back then went:-

You: “Do you own a VR headset? Have you tried Spatial, for example?”

Me: “I don’t own such a Gargoyle gadget personally. But I did borrow my nephew’s one and it made me feel sick. So I will not be rushing back to the metaverse anytime soon.”

You: “I understand that the metaverse might not be your thing, but you need to go bit deeper before giving expert opinions.

Borrowing VR glasses for a weekend from your nephew hardly makes you an authority on the subject. Give it a good shot, you might hate it even more – but then your opinion would be much more valid.”

So we have been here before!

I have probably spent longer in the metaverse than Richard Susskind who it would appear did so for the first time only very briefly at a #LegalTech conference the other week.

Following your logic that would make me better placed than Richard to give an opinion on it!

However, I get and accept that as a metaverse evangelist you will prefer Richard’s view.

How is ‘life’ on Cornerstone going?

Antti Innanen:

as the old saying goes “trying it once at your nephew’s house does not make you an expert”.

In general, if you have more experience in something (preferably first-hand), you are more entitled to give an expert opinion.

Not everything about the metaverse is good and we need critical discussion. But for opinions to hold weight, they need to be based on expertise.

I hope that your next blog post will be titled “I spent 100 hours in the Metaverse and it still sucks”.

Cornerstone was a great project, I learned a lot. I am not “living” there though. I live in Spain with my wife and kids.

Me:

We covered that before too! I said in response when you raised this previously:

“I never said it did and I have never professed to be an expert or authority on it. Unlike the ‘evolving experts’ that I referred to in my earlier blog post on the metaverse (some of whom actually sell their ‘expertise’ but had never heard of Second Life!).

I am, however, entitled to express my opinions from what information and experience I have. I understand and accept that you do not agree with those opinions. Many others do.

A variety of views/opinions and healthy debate makes the world go around. And may even one day result in a metaverse worth visiting!”

I don’t need to spend 100 hours in the metaverse to form an opinion on it. Most of it is currently a desert with nobody there. Guess that is true of Cornerstone too – a desert island?

Someone did spend 100 days in the metaverse. I’ve watched the video (well some of it) and it is more than enough research to tell anybody that it sucks.

You don’t have to spend long in the metaverse to know that as it currently stands (and this may of course through time change) it is no place for lawyers to do business, train or appear in court.

Antti Innanen:

Cornerstone is doing good as far as I know! www.cornerstone.land

Me:

They appear to be raffling Cornerstone off?

Antti Innanen:

maybe I will write a blog post on Scottish property law

Me:

I look forward to reading it. If you do the necessary research you will be able to opine on it. You don’t need to actually own and live in a property in Scotland to do so. Just the same analogy as me being a crofting lawyer but not tenanting or owning or living on or working a croft.

Antti Innanen:

I bet it would help if I was a Scottish lawyer and would actually own property in Scotland though.

Me:

How the law applies to something does not mean you have to be an expert in or experienced in the actual subject matter itself.

Personal injury lawyers do not have to be in a car crash before they can practice in that area.

Medical negligence lawyers do not have to be operated on and it go wrong to practice in that area.

Corporate lawyers do not have to own and run large corporations to practice in that area.

Family lawyers do not have to be married, divorced or have children to practice in that area.

Property lawyers do not need to own property to practice in that area.

Intellectual Property lawyers do not have to own intellectual property to practice in that area.

Space lawyers do not have to visit the International Space Station before they can practice in that area.

Criminal lawyers do not have to commit a crime and spend time in prison to practice in that area. Indeed it is strongly advised that they do not.

Probate (Executry in Scotland) lawyers do not have to die before they can practice in that area.

I could go on but I hope you get the gist.

Likewise I can give my views on lawyers and the metaverse without spending 100 hours in the metaverse.

Graeme Johnston:

Interesting discussion. To continue the Scottish property law analogy, I claim no expertise in that area but I have bought property in Scotland and the UX was pretty poor. I have an opinion on that. But I was motivated to go through with it anyway because the end goal was important to me (somewhere to live).

With metaverse, I have tried out various applications in recent years and my overwhelming impression was that the UX was a bit poor but I could imagine how it might get there over the next X years. Who knows.

But beneath all that, I couldn’t really see the point of it in legal work. Games I can understand. Some VR tours. But what does it add for legal work? And given the massive unresolved risks (privacy/surveillance, money laundering etc) it doesn’t feel very attractive to me.

None of that – Scottish property law or metaverse – comes from a position of expertise, just small bits of experience and some reflection on how similar things have played out in recent years. I’m sort of open minded about it if the UX, privacy, crime etc issues can be sorted, but even then I find it hard to summon real enthusiasm.

Me:

Indeed. I think we are all allowed to express an opinion based on small amounts of new experience (in my case the metaverse) and the knowledge we have from a lifetime of known experience (well 30+ years in my case of being a solicitor).

I would also suggest that the lifetime experience is very valuable in commenting on how that might work in relation to the new experience compared with those who comment without that actual known experience e.g. practicing law, running a law firm, training as a solicitor, conducting full court hearings (I did a four day one in May and have another one next month).

Interestingly Antti Innanen only appears to argue from the point of view that I am not qualified to comment without at least 100 hours experience in the metaverse.

He does not argue as to how he thinks my views are wrong and how lawyers can in his opinion effectively practice in the metaverse, can train in the metaverse and can hold court hearings in the metaverse. I would be interested to actually hear those arguments if he is able to make them.

Antti Innanen:

I dont have to argue so much. I can show.

I am practicing in the metaverse. Our weekly meetings are at our metaverse office and I sometimes have client meetings there too. We frequently organise seminars, get-toghethers and events there.

Of course, it is not suitable for every kind of legal work. But for us – and we are also lawyers – it has worked really well. Our team is scattered in Helsinki, Berlin and Alicante. It is not nearly as much fun as meeting in real life but it is much better than Teams or Zoom.

Maybe you can drop by someday.

Greetings from our office

Antti Innanen in his metaverse office

Me:

That does sound like practicing in the metaverse even if not actually practicing law in the metaverse. If you do have a client meeting in the metaverse how do you deal with the KYC and the privacy issues that may arise from such a meeting?

Antti Innanen:

obviously there are security and privacy questions so it is not for all kinds of legal work. I don’t really trust Zoom either.

Me:

I rest my case!

Antti Innanen:

What was your case?

Antti Innanen:

The environments and avatars are not always cartoonish. My avatar looks exactly like me (ok I gained some weight lately), and I can also build a very realistic courtroom if needed.

Arlene McDaid (Lawyer| Mediator| Tech):

Antti Innanen, putting lipstick on a pig i.e. “realistic courtroom” design, won’t solve the underlying acute issues – for example, many don’t have access to the necessary hardware or connectivity for video hearings, and therefore a court hearing in the metaverse is an access to justice regression through the creation of new barriers. We should be devising better pathways, not more complex ones.

Antti Innanen:

Arlene McDaid, I am not suggesting that. But, for example, educational purposes it would be a really nice to show people/students/junior lawyers how courtroom really looks like. This is more of VR than metaverse though.

My point is that it is totally possible to do realistic-looking spaces and avatars with todays technology. You do not need “holograms”.

Arlene McDaid:

Antti Innanen, from a public education perspective, there are simpler, more accessible solutions which could be deployed e.g. a basic explainer video showing a courtroom would be an improvement and realistically a more achievable outcome for many jurisdictions. There are some examples of more interactive online tools around.

You will no doubt be aware that the use of VR technology in legal practice, proceedings and education has been a topic of discussion for a number of years.

Antti Innanen:

I started doing the courtroom, still having troubles of getting the textures right but it already looks pretty good.

metaverse courtroom

Antti Innanen:

Arlene McDaid, I have no clue what you are arguing for or against. Again, my point is that it is totally possible to do realistic-looking 3d spaces and avatars with today’s technology – that was one of the topics of the blog post.

No pig, no lipstick. For training purposes – let’s say for junior lawyers or judges, for example – these environments could be super helpful. I am 100% sure about that.

I encourage lawyers and legal professionals to not only discuss but also to try it out themselves.

Me:

Antti Innanen, I’ve never seen a bottle of champagne 🍾 in a courtroom before. But hey this is the metaverse not real life!

Antti Innanen:

Brian Inkster, maybe there was a party?

Arlene McDaid:

Antti Innanen, I made a number of observations, none of which concern the graphical realism or otherwise of avatars or the metaverse environment. Given you seem keen to focus on these aspects, I am happy to offer a view – in my considerable court experience, I have never encountered a courtroom featuring a commercial logo as a backdrop, and displaying what appears to be bottles of champagne.

Arlene McDaid, there is also cake and a giant cat. I included them for fun – maybe they had a birthday party at the courtroom – but also to remind that the physical limitations do not apply to the virtual worlds. We can build almost anything.

Me:

Antti Innanen, I can see part of the cake but not the giant cat. We did of course have a lawyer appear (by mistake) as a cat at a hearing on Zoom in the US during the pandemic. That happening in the metaverse would therefore not surprise me.

However, access to justice is a serious topic and one where certain limitations must apply to ensure justice is properly executed.

If the metaverse courtroom is just for letting law students know what one looks like a 3D rendering of an actual court room via virtual reality (not the metaverse) is probably a better option. Although clearly visiting a real court room would be preferable.

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Quddus Pourshafie (Helping #NFT & #web3 Projects Find, Grow and Maintain their Users 🚀):

so many straws…enough to make a man i’d say…

*eats popcorn*

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Antoine Marmoiton (Trader / Analyst at Alken Asset Management):

I’m mostly with you since the Metaverse is in effect as you underlined Roblox + Fortnite + Minecraft. All the kids I know are in 2 out if the 3, so the number of users could even be halved and be just about 200 Million users.

The favourite way to play Roblox seems to be all these scenarios in which the player is commuting all these misdeeds and escaping the police.

So is the concept that the future real life clients of the lawyers are in the Metaverse maybe?

It has to be that if it’s not defending the kids pro bono against a parent ruling that the number of hours a week is limited…

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Namit Oberoy (Legal tech industry researcher • Consultant):

As an aside, the toggle icon ▶ always gets me to click on it. Everytime!

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Me:

Since my post last week there have been some interesting articles published on the metaverse (all on 7 October 2022) that add information and context to some of my thoughts and the comments that flowed from them. First up ‘It’s Lonely in the Metaverse: Decentraland’s 38 Daily Active Users in a $1.3B Ecosystem‘ which puts the 400 million statistic used by Susskind into some sort of perspective:

Then we have ‘Meta’s flagship metaverse app is too buggy and employees are barely using it, says exec in charge‘. If the people creating the metaverse don’t want to spend time in it what does that tell us about the future of the metaverse?!

And last but not least, for the moment, ‘This Is Life in the Metaverse‘ where a New York Times reporter spent a lot of time in the metaverse and tells us what it is like (to avoid us having to experience the pain like Antti Innanen thinks I should for at least 100 hours). It is not a pretty picture that she paints as far as I can see. She also highlights “the fact that most people, apart from those currently in the metaverse, aren’t keen to spend hours and hours of their day “in the plastic.””

Antti Innanen:

Blind pessimism and blind optimism are very much the same – they both claim that they can predict the future without proper research.

You are doing the same thing that you are accusing Susskind of – knowing the future. And it is very sus.

How can you be so sure that the metaverse “adds nothing significant”?

Maybe I was too harsh. Instead of 100 hours, try it for two hours. Is that too much to ask? Tag me after that.

You will still have plenty of time to have walks in the “real world”.

The article is interesting precisely because the reporter tried it herself. 24 hours doesn’t make you an expert – but it will give you some kind of idea.

In my opinion, most of the metaverse spaces suck atm. But also I think that it is an idea worth exploring!

Me:

I’ve been there for at least 2 hours. I’ve told you that before, several times. Not sure why you keep ignoring that fact? Here is a picture of me as a gargoyle doing so!

Brian Inkster enters the metaverse

Antti Innanen:

That would be a good disclaimer to add to your metaverse blog series (that have very strong opinions). “Spent at least 2 hours in the Metaverse”.

Again, it is not very controversial to ask experts to gain first-hand knowledge before making big claims. That applies to Susskind too.

I am done, even Decentraland is more fun than arguing with you.

Me:

I think I can safely say that I’ve spent more time in the metaverse than Susskind has or ever will. Also, much more time at the coalface actually practising law to have an opinion on how that practice and the metaverse might or might not intertwine.

Have fun in Decentraland trying to find the other 37 active users!

Antti Innanen:

2 hours more *not ignoring the fact

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On Twitter the following comments have been made:-

The Jolly Contrarian (@ContrarianJolly):

Good old William Tell, at it again.

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Ryan Groff (@GroffMRyan):

So… if there are only 600k unique users (and most others really are kids), then the current lawyer to US population ratio (1.3m to 333m or 0.39%) only requires 2,340 ESQs to hang meta-shingles, and 99.8% of ESQs can stay focused on the unmet legal needs of clients IRL… right?
Obvious notes:
• “meta-shingles” vax is coming soon
• the metaverse is bigger than US, so some of those 2,340 will not be US… so there’s… EVEN MORE US ATTYS AVAILABLE TO FOCUS ON #a2j!
PS looks like the article’s heading (600k) should’ve been 60k. The reasoning holds, IMHO.

Me:

Sounds like a sound argument to me!
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Richard Moorhead (@RichardMoorhead):

In which ⁦@BrianInkster takes on ⁦@richardsusskind @TimesLaw piece on the Metaverse. I’ve walked the plank (entertainingly scary) and played cricket (cool) and table tennis (utterly convincing). I generally lean to BIs view here, maybe not everything. So I think jury simulations could be a lot better in 360 3D. Whether that’s worth doing, hard to say. Other simulations rely on physical simulation and response for their power. Not convinced there are many analogues for law, but curious.

Andrew Neill (@legalBA):

Come for the excellent commentary from @brianinkster stay for the comments…

Richard Moorhead:

Wow, there are a lot!

Me:

I’m struggling to keep up with them! Latest one has champagne 🍾 in a metaverse courtroom.
In real life I’ve only ever done that on the London Eye following a House of Lords decision 😉 #notthemetaverse
Moncrieff v Jamieson - London Eye Champagne flight

Mitch Kowalski (@MEKowalski):

A young #elviscostello

Me:

dance-moves-dancing-elvis-costello

Alex G Smith (@alexgsmith) replying to Andrew Neill:

Always useful for when someone 2 years later tries to say they were on the right side and they weren’t … see the collapse of Atrium. 😭😭

Andrew Neill:

Can’t be on the wrong side of history if you’re always in the future.
Think about it, smart - Eddie Murphy

Alex G Smith:

And don’t document anything …

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