The European Commission has adopted a new concept for "Web 4.0" and virtual worlds. This concept is intended to guide the upcoming technological change and create a digital environment in the EU that is open, secure, trustworthy, fair, and inclusive for all stakeholders.
According to the Commission, the EU Economic Forecast published in March for the period after 2030 highlighted the importance of digitization as a crucial catalyst. The so-called Web 4.0 is a central part of this technological change, which will bring about a seamlessly connected, intelligent, and immersive world. In doing so, the European Commission bypasses the commonly used Web 3.0 in the crypto industry and presents recommendations for the "next-next" version of the internet.
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What is Web 4.0?
Web 1.0 is considered the first version of the internet. This early era was characterized by static web pages where users could only consume information. Therefore, the term "read-only" is often used in relation to Web 1.0. This was followed in the years leading up to the dot-com bubble by Web 2.0. The next iteration of the internet introduced interactive features that enabled user-generated content, social media, and global collaboration. Today, according to blockchain advocates, we are in a transitional phase toward Web 3.0. Through the use of decentralized technologies, this generation of the internet aims to enable full ownership of assets and data.
However, the EU predicts the emergence of another iteration over the next decade. According to the Commission, Web 4.0 will be the fourth generation of the internet and will encompass artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), trusted blockchain transactions, virtual worlds, and extensive XR functions (a collective term for Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality) based on it. This integration will allow for a complete merging of digital and physical worlds. The EU Commission's description of Web 4.0 closely resembles the concept of the metaverse.
EU as a Web 4.0 pioneer?
According to the announcement by the European Commission, virtual worlds will revolutionize people's daily lives as the pioneers of Web 4.0. This will open up a wide range of possibilities in various business and industrial ecosystems. By defining a clear strategy, the Commission aims to ensure that society, companies, and public institutions in the EU are prepared to seize the new opportunities and address the associated challenges.
"Today, Europe is stepping up to become a global leader in Web 4.0 and virtual worlds. Europe has the prerequisites to lead the next technological change: innovative startups, rich creative content and industrial applications, a strong role as a global standard-setter, and an innovation-friendly and predictable legal framework." - Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market
The strategy is based on the work of the European Commission on virtual worlds and consultations with relevant stakeholders. Between February and April 2023, the Commission organized a European citizens' panel on virtual worlds and invited 150 randomly selected citizens to formulate recommendations for a vision, principles, and measures. Specific action priorities were derived from the 23 recommendations and incorporated into the EU's strategy on Web 4.0 and virtual worlds.