3 Ways to Ensure Trust in a Digital World

By Chieh Huang, President Global Collaboration Village, WEF

The digital realm has become a ‘Wild West’ of uncertainty. With the advancement of powerful new technologies like large language models and artificial intelligence (AI), is the concept of trust still a viable idea in the online world today?

It is no longer science fiction to think that one afternoon you could be diving into a sparkling blue ocean in augmented reality; and by the evening, you're lost in a maze of deepfakes and misinformation. In this new reality, trust, simultaneously a simple yet difficult-to-achieve idea, still must be the North Star guiding us through the binary wilderness we’re all traversing. Whether we're talking metaverse, extended reality (XR), or AI, it is the glue that holds our digital realities together.

This is also the reason why trust is the foundation of the Global Collaboration Village, a purpose-driven platform created by the World Economic Forum, in partnership with Accenture and Microsoft, to bring diverse global voices together in a virtual space to exchange ideas.

2024 marks the start of the second full year of the Village. Two years ago, it started off as just an idea for an inclusive, immersive platform. This year, it has come to life as an open and operational reality of a place where diverse voices can exchange ideas and partner for impact. In this journey, we have identified three key lessons to ensure trust in the digital world.

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3 Ways to Ensure Trust in a Digital WorldThe Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chain Hub visualises and simplifies complex manufacturing concepts. (dok. GCV)

First, democratize access

Diverse voices are key to creating a truly inclusive platform where the digital world becomes a trusted forum for different points of view.

The Village aims to embody diversity across sectors, industries, geographies, generations, and gender. This year at the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2024, more than 300 participants from all over the world, a number of them fully remote from, among other places, Brazil, Indonesia and Zimbabwe, will immersively explore various aspects of the Village to engage in discussions about topics including climate tipping points, aquaculture, energy transition, decomplexifying global manufacturing supply chains, and the intersection of generative AI, art, and activism

Second, focus on enhancing the experience

Insights from the 'Whose Metaverse?' case study, as detailed in the paper 'Social Implications of the Metaverse (2023)', emphasize the vital role of emotional engagement in virtual environments. This study reveals that immersive learning methods are substantially more effective, enhancing learner confidence and skill application by 75% and 275% respectively, compared to traditional classroom settings. These findings highlight the significance of emotional connection and immersive experiences for users in virtual worlds, surpassing the importance of visual realism in these digital spaces. 

Building on that idea, the Village's XR technology is focused on creating those emotional connections and building an immersive virtual environment that is more engaging and effective than standard video conferencing. In the Village, decision-makers engage in risk-free simulations and experiential learning in a safe, trusted environment.

3 Ways to Ensure Trust in a Digital WorldImmersion in XR makes the realities of climate tipping points immediate and undeniable, deepening empathy. (dok. GCV)

Third, create avenues for positive, sustainable change

Cooperation – among private and public sectors and across and within borders and industries – is essential to addressing the interconnected and complex challenges facing our world. It’s what the World Economic Forum has specialized in for over 50 years.

Now, in the Village, leaders actively shape and drive sustainable change in an innovation hub using advanced 3D tools. For example, the Village's Stakeholder Campus features pavilions from five Forum partners – Aramco, Arctic Basecamp, Interpol, SAP, and Schneider Electric. Participants are coming together to exchange ideas and partner together to advance impactful projects. They can trust that the collaboration taking place in these XR pavilions will continue on and drive results in the real world.  

Moving forward

In this context, Annual Meeting 2024 stands as a landmark event, marking the first instance where the metaverse is being utilized at this level of international engagement for fostering public-private cooperation. 

This is more than just about deploying advanced tech. It’s about enhancing global voices. Consider someone in a remote part of the world who now gains a new platform for expression. This is innovation driving empowerment, using technology to broaden perspectives on global issues.

And it's not only about dialogue; it's about fostering deeper understanding. It’s transforming the adage of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes into a reality. This kind of empathy is where real transformation begins.

(This article was published as part of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2024 discussions)

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