Hello. In this video, we're going to focus on what I think you'll agree are some very important topics: diversity, equity, and inclusion in the metaverse. We could easily spend hours talking about these things, but since we only have a few minutes, let's get started. Ask anyone actively working on building the metaverse and they'll tell you the goal is to create digital worlds that are open, accessible, and equitable for all. But one barrier to that vision is accessibility. We can think of accessibility as having two distinct but interrelated aspects. First, we have to improve high-speed internet access. Applications that focus on the metaverse simply require more bandwidth than many experiences in Web 2.0. Earlier in this course, we talked about how almost four billion people in the world aren't online. As the metaverse evolves, metaverse companies need to work with organizations, companies, and governments to improve widespread access to broadband internet. Second, when we think about the cost of immersive technologies — VR headsets and, in the future, AR glasses — are fairly expensive investments that simply won't initially be available to everyone. While they may eventually become more affordable, they will be prohibitively pricey for a lot of people. This is one reason it's critically important that metaverse immersive experiences be built so they can be accessed from different types of devices, from headsets and glasses to smartphones and computers. But because headsets allow for more immersive, embodied experiences, that are at the heart of the metaverse, we also need to be continually thinking about how to make this technology cheaper and more readily available to a wider range of people. Now, one of the most exciting things about the metaverse is the virtually endless opportunities it offers for both economic and educational growth. You already explored money and learning in the metaverse in other modules. But let's dig in to how they can make for a more diverse and equitable digital world. Think about a time when you weren't able to pursue something, whether that was a job, a degree, or even a dream. There may been numerous circumstances that got in the way of those dreams. The metaverse creates opportunity to reduce some of those barriers. Maybe you wanted to learn a new skill so that you could change jobs, but you live in a remote area and you're unable to attend in-person classes. Or say you have a great idea for a product, or you've been honing your artistic skills, and you want to start selling online to your consumers or fans. Or you've dreamed of taking a course on a certain topic, but the university where the professor teaches is halfway around the world. Now, of course, you can do many of these things online right now, but the immersive nature of the metaverse offers significantly enhanced options for hands-on learning and the potential for marketing opportunities through metaverse channels and services. For example, Open Brush and art program that lets users draw and paint together in VR, no matter where they are. The language training app Immerse allows you to practice your language skills and practical situations, and also includes live learning with a teacher as an avatar. Because distance is irrelevant to the metaverse — that is, we can be physically anywhere in the world as we engage in immersive virtual experiences without having to travel — we can now be present in ways we never could before. We know that cost can be a barrier for a lot of people, whether we're talking about having the financial means to learn something or build a business. When we combine broader access to information and immersive opportunities with experiences that can be accessed from a variety of devices, the metaverse will allow more people to be empowered both economically and educationally, if we can create access to hardware for as many people as possible. Now, you've already explored safety in another part of this course, but it plays a significant role when it comes to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion as well. As we build the metaverse, we must work to enhance safety for all people. One way we can do this is by allowing people the freedom of self-expression. Through customizable, embodied avatars, users are able to represent themselves in the ways in which they choose. These can be different in different moments. All over the world, people are living in places where personal expression such as gender identity or sexual identity is unwelcome, or makes them feel unsafe. For some, it may be an opportunity to explore or start anew, and for others, a chance to fully embrace the identity they desire. In the metaverse, the choice is theirs. The freedom of self-expression through avatars in the metaverse enables us to give users options and the ability to control their experiences. Avatar technology needs to include a wide variety of clothing, facial features, body shapes and sizes, options for people with disabilities, and skin tones. A truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive metaverse requires that the people building it, from the foundational technologies to the spaces and experiences that we engage in, are diverse. According to a report from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the high-tech sector is, compared to the overall private industry, dominated by white men. More than 83 percent of tech firm executives are white, and only 20 percent are women. People of color are woefully underrepresented in the high-tech sector. As we tried to build a safer, more equitable environment in the metaverse, it is essential that we work to address issues faced by marginalized communities online, so we don't repeat them. All companies must make it a priority to create spaces and experiences that are safe and inviting for everyone, and specifically for those from marginalized communities. Dulce Baerga is a digital creator and experience designer who's been producing interactive content for more than two decades. In 2022, at the Fifth Annual Black Tech Nola, a conference focused on raising awareness around building an accessible and equitable technology talent pipeline, she participated in a panel with other women of color and women and virtual reality. "I was very encouraged," she told us about experience, "because I saw so many young people who understood that they had to dive really deep into being a technologist to really hone the craft of the metaverse in virtual spaces." For Dulce, social justice movements had a strong influence on the changing mindset when it comes to the inclusion of people of color over the last few years in virtual spaces. She believes that culturally significant movements like Black Lives Matter has led to the creation of more inclusion initiatives tech companies, opening the door to more technologists of color who in turn have more influence over culture and representation in the metaverse. As we build towards a fully realized metaverse, we must keep diversity, equity, and inclusion in mind. A virtual world that is accommodating, accessible, and inviting for people of all colors, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, geographic locations, and economic backgrounds must be built both for and by those people. I hope you'll consider to explore ways in which you can make the metaverse more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Everyone needs to do our part because, after all, the metaverse is for everyone.