Competition for the metaverse projects funded by META (formerly, Facebook) revealed four grant recipients. Among others, a project led by Tanel Kerikmäe, Professor of Law and Technology at TalTech, was awarded a grant according to the international Centre for Technology, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and the Law (TRAIL).
Besides the TalTech’s project ‘Empowering AI-based Public Services by Metaverse and Protection of Biometric Data’, the metaverse projects submitted by the Australian Bond University, the University of Hong Kong, and the National University of Singapore were also awarded grants. In addition to Kerikmäe, Dr Maria Claudia Solarte Vasquez, who specialises in legal services design, and sworn advocate Tea Kookmaa (Head of Legal Lab of TalTech) participate in the Estonian research project.
TRAIL announced the competition on 20 September 2022, when over two hundred business leaders, legal practitioners, scientists and policy makers convened in Singapore in order to discuss and share their views on privacy and data protection, intellectual property, criminal liability, and legal choices in metaverse. All interested researchers were invited to submit projects focusing on the privacy and data protection issues of the metaverse to the competition. The deadline for submitting projects was 1 December 2022. Evaluation committee included Professor David Tan and Associate Professor Jungpil Hahn from the National University of Singapore.
As the Law Department of TalTech cooperates closely with leading scientists working with new technologies, Kerikmäe was invited to be a guest lecturer to the highest-ranking science centre in Asia, the National University of Singapore, last year. He also became the first foreigner to become a member of TRAIL (the Centre for Technology, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and the Law).
META funds the National University of Seoul and the University of Hong Kong directly; both universities focus on the security, ethics, and responsible design of the metaverse. Howard University in the United States of America focuses on the economic possibilities of the metaverse and the University of Singapore on private law and the legal aspect of data use.
Professor Kerikmäe's project examines this issue in the public services sector, analysing the potential of implementing AI solutions already in use, i.e. kratid, in the metaverse as exemplified by the Estonian e-state. ‘First, we must map the types of services which could be enhanced in the metaverse, so that processing a quickly increasing volume of data would not cause harm instead of benefiting us. Primarily, this concerns services in the fields of education, medicine, and the exchange of information. Estonia could grow its reputation as an innovator even more with the new agenda by conducting a preventative risk assessment.’ In the opinion of Kerikmäe, transferring services used by the state to the artificial realm is only a matter of time and he presumes that the forthcoming report will model future scenarios for multiple jurisdictions and associations of countries, such as the European Union.
In total, META is going to invest about 50 million dollars, which will be distributed between the funding schemes of several research projects.