Yesterday, the European Commission announced that it has adopted a new strategy for the future development of technologies related to the concept of Web4 and virtual worlds.
The so-called Web4, which echoes and overrides the term Web3, would be part of an entirely new vision of the Internet in which virtual experiences, the Internet of Things, and blockchain merge.
Let’s look at the details of the news together.
European Commission and Web4: thinking about the future of technologies
In a press release on Tuesday, 11 July, the European Commission made explicit what are the strategies and initiatives that will be taken to make the Union more involved in the world of Web4 technologies.
The latter term, completely unknown to even the most illustrious developers of decentralized ecosystems, would be an evolution of the Web3 concept, in which IoT, blockchain, virtual reality and augmented reality are fused together.
While this might all sound extremely promising, no details have yet been provided that can explain how all the technological facts can be mixed together and give birth to this innovative concept.
All that is known is that the European Commission, after opening the door to cryptocurrencies and blockchain with the approval of MiCA (Market in Crypto Assets) in April, now wants to go a step further to try to compete with US tech innovations.
In the same announcement where the mysterious term Web4 first appeared, a number of initiatives were disclosed with which to experiment in this new, nascent form of the Internet.
All these ideas were proposed in a panel held in April by 150 randomly selected EU citizens.
First and foremost, the institution proposed a program inherent within Horizon Europe called “Partnership on Virtual Worlds” with a potential start date in 2025.
The goal would be to develop an “industrial and technological roadmap for virtual worlds” by helping developers, creators and companies working broadly with the Internet, to get in touch with this new trend.
Also emerging is the need to experiment with new solutions with all EU member states.
As a second idea part of the technology extension plan, a project called “CitiVerse” was envisioned, described as an urban metaverse used to manage and plan a city’s jobs and events in an alternative way, without specifying in detail to whom it was aimed.
Finally, another idea proposed by the Commission concerns the “European Virtual Human Twin” virtual replica of the human body that can help doctors in the study of disease outbreaks and treatment.
Regarding the introduction of the new Web4 technological frontier, Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the EU Internal Market, quoted the following:
“Today, Europe throws its hat in the ring to become a world leader in Web 4.0 and virtual worlds. Europe has what it takes to lead the next technological transition: innovative start-ups, rich creative content and industrial applications, a strong role as a global standard-setter, and an innovation-friendly and predictable legal framework.”
Europe is not yet ready for Web3
The European Commission has gone so far as to have introduced the term Web4, which represents an entirely new concept within the tech world.
Although Europe’s regulatory framework is on the verge of becoming one of the most permissive in the world on the cryptocurrency front, and although there is a willingness to make the continent stand out in the context of new technologies, it still seems early to talk about Web4.
A June survey conducted by YouGov and Consensys, i.e., the company that runs the MetaMask software wallet, revealed that only 8% of people across the Union think they are familiar with the concept of Web3.
On the other hand, terms such as blockchain, cryptocurrency and DeFi still remain taboo for the inexperienced and have yet to be assimilated by much of the population.
People are only now beginning to mention these concepts in schools, and it will take time for new minds to actually enter this job niche.
If we focus on the case of cryptocurrencies, we can well realize that there are still serious barriers of access towards a large number of citizens, who are not familiar with the basics of virtual currencies.
Many European hubs such as Berlin, London, and Lisbon are emerging as centers where know-how in crypto and blockchain is very high, but the rest of the continent is unaware of what even the term “crypto” means.
In 2021, in countries such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, the adoption rate to the Bitcoin standard is much lower than in the United States, where cryptocurrencies are definitely more “famous.”
In recent years we have been seeing positive initiatives and trends that will lead to expansion of the use of blockchain technologies in Europe.
For example, during Q1 2023, the number of investments by Venture Capitalists in crypto projects derives for 50% of startups in Europe.
However, despite the excellent figure, which shows a growth in interest from investors, entrepreneurs and developers on the continent, there remains a fear that the term Web4, introduced by the European Commission, is unfortunately still a completely worthless concept.
Rather than pushing for something of which one is not yet able to provide a concrete example, better to devote oneself to the development of a world that is growing rapidly, whose activities are clearly visible and understandable throughout the world.
Everything in its own time.