Join us on an enlightening adventure with AImpactful, as we explore the fascinating fusion of technology with everyday life. Our special guest, Eve Logunova-Parker, renowned for her pioneering work in Web 3 and the Metaverse, brings her profound insights to the table.

During our conversation, Eve delves into the intricacies of the Metaverse, showcasing its role in reshaping digital communication and creative expression. Her focus on developing virtual reality spaces that are inclusive and ethically robust highlights the importance of responsible innovation.

Evenness, Eve’s forward-thinking startup, exemplifies her commitment to the IDEAS framework – Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Sustainability. One of her key projects, InnoCityX, presents an immersive and sustainable vision for future urban environments.

Explore the essence of the Metaverse and its impact on society. Uncover how technology can positively shape our world and delve into innovative approaches for a responsible tech future. Tune in for an episode brimming with inspiration and deep insights.

Transcript of the AImpactful Vodcast

Branislava Lovre: The Metaverse, VR technologies, avatars, we hear these terms a lot. Eve, can you explain what the Metaverse is and what we can do there?

Eve Logunova-Parker: We’ve been living through a digital revolution and evolution for the last, well, progressively last decade, but as we know it since the beginning of the industrialization process, and then it took us on a technology journey, technical journey as well. What has changed is that finally the computers and devices that we’re using are strong enough and powerful enough to do more than just callings, sending text messages.

You can bring the whole world into the virtual space, having replicas of Bahamas and the Fiji Islands, some cultural festivals, and artifacts. You can have replicas of people, their digital twins. And that’s the term that’s usually used for these replicas. Where Branislava appears as an avatar and looks exactly like Branislava, working around and talking to people and hosting her events. And you can have replicas of products, various clothes items, T-shirts, accessories, like bags. So, you can, without going into a shop and finding, searching for the physical item, you can just find the 3D version as an avatar, flip it around, change colors, play with that, test it, and experience it.

I purely believe that the physical world should always be in parallel with the digital or virtual world. Because we as humans build or receive our experiences by exploring. Digital is great. At the same time, it’s limited to the digital screen. Your learnings are different, you learn how to communicate, how to present, how to experiment digitally. But as social skills, you need to stay human, right? And it’s good for your health and well-being when you go to nature, when you meet people, when you have a party. Everything else is really important to do physically, as well.

Transition now goes into phygital. Physical going digital, and also you see the other way around digital trying to get into the physical.

Branislava Lovre: Is there just one metaverse, or are there different versions?

Eve Logunova-Parker: There is A Metaverse and The Metaverse. So, we are now at a metaverse because we’re trying to kind of explore and build it. No interconnection between spaces yet. Different platforms are doing it, but it’s more centralized. Let me figure it out myself, and maybe then I can interlink with someone else, and then we can build the metaverse. And that’s where the differences are.

What we are doing is experimenting with new tech. Basically, at this moment we need more people doing it together with us. So, we all have different voices included in the metaverse evolution and revolution. A Metaverse. When you have a sufficiently functioning space that is yours, you build it on somebody else’s platform or you have a company, let’s say Decentraland, Roblox, well, many others like Frame VR and Spatial. They have the engine, they have small spaces that you can create yourself, and then they are kind of interlinked by the means of the website. You just click on these boxes with different spaces and you enter them. They are not interconnected from within. So, it is still a metaverse because it’s a space and not connected the metaverse. And that’s a term that was coined well, twenty years ago.

I think the metaverse is not going to be in our lives for probably another fifteen years. AI, generative AI helps us with the fast implementation and progression of things. But we need to figure out the foundations first. And when I say foundations, not only how to build wonderful spaces where you have birds flying in, and the waterfall replica so realistic that you kind of want to jump inside.

You need to figure out how do you collect data, how do you make the privacy of data GDPR compliant in this case, how do you protect your digital assets and digital identities of people? Cybersecurity applies. How do you enable interactions that people find each other easier? How do you enable their creativity, so they easily create and experiment and innovate? And how do you support businesses growing through that community interaction? We’re showcasing their digital twins, solutions, products and creating that virtual economy that we’re all focusing on. And that takes years, twenty-forty, let’s hope by then we’ll have something decent to start working on the Metaverse, but it takes time as any innovation.

Branislava Lovre: In this online world, we have avatars that represent us. How do we go about creating them? What are the first steps?

Eve Logunova-Parker: Speaking of avatars, as you appear in the virtual dimension as an avatar, you create that replica of yourself. Well, now you can also create a replica of someone else, and it becomes super scary. Let me take you through the steps, of also risks and opportunities with that. So, there are various companies who have been trying to figure out how to make humans look human in the digital virtual dimension. Companies like Ready Player Me, Unreal Engine with their metahuman capabilities and many others like NVIDIA and so on. They all experimented and launched their businesses and features regarding that. Just, let’s say recently, within the last five years, we will see progression with avatars. Now, there are many more coming along.

There’re avatars that you lead like in the game. Imagine you want to attend a conference, it’s in a metaverse space and you first need to create your avatar, your eyes, your hair, you can, but you don’t have to be exactly yourself. Maybe it’s the person you imagine yourself to be. So, you can have this unicorn looks and the big fleshy eyes. Wherever you want to be, everyone is welcome and digital identity is not on the surface. It’s actually the identity that you have within yourself first. So, you can come out, if you’re LGBTQIA and you were scared to do it and physical work, but you can have test ground to just come out and see how people respond. I tell you that they won’t discriminate because everyone’s so different. Some can be cats and some other forms of animals just passing by. Some can be an avatar shape of transformers, some can be human, some can be what the imagination allows.

So, you create this replica of yourself knowing this is me. I feel, this is me. My avatar has green hair and orange shirt, it stands for the Netherlands, where I’m from, and then green hair, that’s the color of our company Evenness. I have also mustache, most cases, because I believe in fluid Identity. I identified as a citizen of the world. I want to relate to many people and gender wise; it is a bridge of looking as the girl in my avatar, but having a mustache representing the masculine side, right? So, you can play with the form of how you want to look and the feel about it.

Branislava Lovre: This world is fascinating, but do we need to be mindful of risks? Can someone steal our identity or misuse our avatar?

Eve Logunova-Parker: It’s super easy to create an avatar… And in most cases, you can also upload your photo to create your actual face. So, Branislava you appear with your curly hair and your face and great, that’s you. As per my understanding, you need to have identities, digital and registered on a blockchain, Web3, their transparency layer with your image associated to that avatar saying only this is Branislava. You can have flexibility changing your clothes, but the face is registered to you, and if someone tries to upload the photo that is associated with your profile bridged to the blockchain, supposed to be somewhere in the system flagging issue, flagging concern, say like, are you sure this is you? Request the send to the registered identity of Branislava in this case, and saying, are you creating your avatar, because someone is trying to upload your photo, to suit that avatar representing you, so then you can step in. It could be done automatically. We’ll figure it out. It’s not done this way yet, but with artificial intelligence, you can seamlessly enable this flagging, risk taking care of and notification sent to you that someone is trying to make your avatar.

Branislava Lovre: You developed Evenness. Can you tell us more about this project and its purpose in the metaverse?

Eve Logunova-Parker: In 2020, while running an accelerator for women in AI, months before the pandemic started, I realized that the participants were coming from different countries and continents. How do I bring them together to make it interactive, to showcase solutions, to make them experiment, participate in hackathons? Zoom is fine, but it’s just flat. There is no interaction. Let’s look at each other and talk, and if it’s a long event, you get bored eventually. So, gamification played a key role as well as in-person experience done virtually, and that is Metaverse, not the hype. Last year it was all about metaverse because Mark Zuckerberg said that, and Mark Zuckerberg said these. Yes, okay, people are talking about it. But metaverse, in a nutshell, it’s not a hype. It’s a tool. It’s a tool that brings people together. And once you figure out how to apply that ethical AI for the metaverse, that brings people together and supports them in their learning, in their development work, building something awesome, finding each other in this world, that’s when you unlock the power of metaverse, not just talking about VR headsets and some kind of epic form of infrastructure. Great, but if people cannot access it, can’t buy it, cannot use it, health profiles are different than what you’re doing, it doesn’t mean a thing. So how do we bring people together? This is my mission with my team at Evenness. That’s how Evenness was launched in 2020, with an idea to unleash the power of sustainable, accessible, inclusive innovation. And as an infrastructure provider, we are now building our own platforms to bring people together and make them successful in their choice of career of life, and just help them meeting each other. Branislava, we are in two different countries. Would we ever meet? Unless you reach out, and then, what if you were passing by in the Metaverse and I say, “Hey, who are you?” and we start talking. That’s a spontaneous opportunity to meet and broaden your network.

Branislava Lovre: How can we make more people interested in the Metaverse?

Eve Logunova-Parker: My whole belief was democratization of knowledge starts with making people excited about the topic. And the way you make them excited is by understanding the value; you can scare them. So Black Mirror, if you watch on Netflix, pretty scary what they show about AI, but you can also excite them showing the better side of artificial intelligence. And we, as humans, are trying to figure out how to not only prevent the risks, but how to live in this unity with the machines. How can we become friendlier and better towards each other where the machines help us humans to become better? Therefore, AI with its ethical form, ethical AI application, that’s what I purely believe in, not just AI, or generative AI, or this and that AI, but ethical. Once you figure that out in your algorithms, in your applications, you enable so many more people to jump into the field of technology, to become successful, to spend their careers in their various tools. How you can learn? Self-mode is just there, click a button to go on YouTube to take all these courses that are available across platforms. As a person driven by learning, that mindset that I have, I strongly recommend people to take a step and be, just pushing their own boundaries. What can I do? What can I explore? How can I do that?

Branislava Lovre: We know that not everyone finds it easy to use the metaverse or AI. Can you tell us how we might make these technologies easier for more people to use?

Eve Logunova-Parker: There are different ways of accessibility. Accessible across devices. People can access it on their iPhone, Android phone, laptop, desktop, in their headset. Then, there is accessibility, people can access it, even their internet is slow, their device is not modern, it’s like the previous generation of technology. How can we enable that? That’s where AI, decentralized architecture, federated learning, all these models step in to make sure that’s possible. It’s still a complicated process, but it is possible, and then there is accessibility regarding health profiles.

We set ourselves on a mission to help humanity become better, more respectful, more inclusive, doing things more sustainably and accessible. And I’m sure that the time is now for everyone to reconsider their models of doing things, their behaviors, because it’s easy to join the hype, get investors’ money and spend it to justify the return on investment and just say, I accept that I am rich, I can become an investor myself. I’ll find another one who does the same for me. But there is no impact. Once you are doing this kind of startup routine, bringing money, and that’s it, you’ll be doing great, but you don’t help anyone else, and that’s sad. Because, we as humans, should leave the planet Earth at some point, kinda feeling proud that they will leave something behind for people to be successful. Anyways, philosophical discussions are something else, but I hope people will hear me saying. Sustainability, accessibility, and inclusion are very, very important in today’s world and ethical AI is what you want to focus on, if you are learning.