Report “The metaverse and the soul: journey to tourism’s next challenge”

A technological phenomenon is approaching, which could transform our current way of handling the world: the metaverse. SEGITTUR and Turium have conducted the study “The metaverse and the soul: journey to tourism’s next challenge”. A multidisciplinary analysis from seven authors that delves into the next technological revolution.

The professor of philosophy Fernando Broncano (Carlos III), the neuroscientists David Bueno and Diego Redolar (UAB), the anthropologist Pablo Mondragón, the technologist David Vivancos, and the university professors of Videogame Design David Alonso and Sergio Reyes (ESNE) wrote the report.

Their reflections shape a study on how the use of metaverses and its impact on the tourism sector can affect human beings and society. According to various studies, in the year 2025, 25% of the population will spend more than an hour a day in the metaverse.

During the presentation, the general director of Turium, Germán Jiménez, explained that it was time to address this complex issue due to the media noise that it is generating”. He added about the findings: “The impact of the metaverse on the travel environment and its potential are still far from certain and predictable. But we can be certain that it will have a deep impact and will change the rules of the game: from the very creation of the tourism product to the customer experience”.

The president of SEGITTUR, Enrique Martínez, stressed that “Using technology is often presented as being inevitable, but this is not the case. Effective implementation of technology requires its acceptance by society and this cannot be uncritical”.

He added that “all our actions have desired and undesired effects. Their promoters have to talk about both, and check that the beneficial effects are being realised and anticipate – and counteract – the negative effects. These accounts are not usually drawn up. Promises often ignore the effects on the present and, curiously, tend never to anticipate negative effects”.

In the presentation, David Bueno, PhD in Biology and director of the UB-EDU1st Chair in Neuroeducation at the University of Barcelona, explained what the metaverse means for the human brain. In his opinion, the upside of the metaverse will be unlimited creativity, and that it will do a lot for ecology and the planet: “We will not consume as much in transport.” To his mind, the downside is addictions: “You have to manage reward and quick and effortless gratification. It will really hard to do.”

Next, there was the roundtable “Closer to the Matrix”, with David Vivancos, entrepreneur and specialist in artificial intelligence, Rebeca Cordero, Associate Professor of Applied Sociology at the European University, Sergio Reyes, head of special actions in the area of Videogames at ESNE and a PhD candidate on the metaverse, and José Ignacio Conde, Business Director at Bravent.

Sergio Reyes stressed that the metaverse is already here: “We already have a lot of young people spending a great deal of time playing online games.” He also spoke of the architects who will make possible the construction and creation of these worlds and destinations, where “we are already talking about digital children”: For Reyes, these creators “will be tomorrow’s Goyas and Velázquez”.

José Ignacio Conde wanted to emphasise that the metaverse “is not a fad that is going to disappear. Mckinsey says that in 2022 more than 120 trillion dollars have been invested, and this figure will reach 5 trillion dollars by 2030. There are creators of devices, of content… many companies investing to make it more usable and simpler. The field of development is enormous, and there are many facets in which to advance”.

For Rebeca Cordero, “technological development until now affected one or two social aspects; the metaverse has a global dimension that affects everything”. According to the sociologist, “it delves into the relationship of the individual with the machine”. She added that “it is important to prevent behaviours so as not to endanger the individual and society”.

In the opinion of David Vivancos, the real metaverse will not arrive “until we kill the mobile. It is very limited for this type of technology. When we see smartphones start to disappear, it will be time for the metaverse”. The technologist and entrepreneur predicts a decade of waiting.

They all stressed that this new phenomenon must be prevented and regulated. “We need stability, growth and development to be a society. And here we have a phenomenon, which is controlled by companies for financial purposes, whose regulation may be due to other types of interests”, warned Cordero. For Vivancos, it is hard to restrict: “How to set rules and limits to the imagination?”, he wondered.