In Focus - Issue 35 (Spring 2023)

connects police forces across countries. Its annual assembly drew , security ministers, chiefs of police, and other delegates from around the world in New Delhi, India, including Hong Kong’s police commissioner. “I’ve never felt so safe!” Prof. Hui said. Activities at the assembly included the unveiling of the rst metaverse designed for law enforcement, which is being used for training. As a founding member of the INTERPOL expert group on the metaverse, Prof. Hui will be working closely with law enforcement specialists globally to raise concerns and try to make these realms safe. In providing societal input, Prof. Hui sees a special role for academia in evolving the metaverse. “Sometimes the big tech companies may not have such things in mind when they design their metaverse as they are more interested in the commercial aspects. But as academics, we have to push more on the ethical, societal side. While we focus on technological development of the metaverse, we can also identify what other potential issues there are and voice them as early as possible so that society knows about them. “In the beginning, nobody knew what was going on with online social networks (OSNs), that people could be so manipulated. If this can happen with OSNs, it can happen in the metaverse. But now we have learned from everything that has happened with social networking and people know they need to be more careful.” Raising awareness in this way is particularly important, for Prof. Hui. An IEEE Fellow, International Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and Member of the Academy of Europe, he views the development of the metaverse as the future that awaits us. He sees people want convenience, business wants e ciency, and both want communication. The three combined will ensure that as virtual and augmented reality technologies improve, more and more content will become available and incorporated into people’s lifestyles. They will be used to hold meetings, when people sit in restaurants, or to call up information overlaid on locations they are visiting. Prof. Hui views the development of the metaverse as the future that awaits us “Fi een years ago, we didn’t have smartphone. At that time, people wouldn’t believe that you would use your phone to do all the things we use it for today. Now we can’t go out without bringing our phones. Similarly, people will get used to virtual content,” he said. It is also why Prof. Hui feels it is imperative at this formative time that it is shaped to be a “better metaverse”. “A metaverse, with respect, accessibility and equality, enabling more global collaboration by providing a platform for people from di erent regions to communicate, study, and learn immersively,” he said. “A metaverse for good.” 16 IN FOCUS Cover Story Members of the multicultural MetaHKUST research team, with Prof. Hui (second row, third right) and Prof. Wang Yang (second row, third left).