SINGAPORE, 29 JULY 2022 – The metaverse, its applications and implications for the legal profession and regulatory frameworks were some of the topics deliberated at the three-day TechLaw.Fest 2022, which ended on 22 July 2022.
At the event’s opening ceremony, Singapore’s Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, Mr Edwin Tong SC outlined how the metaverse offered “immense possibilities” for everyday life, including legal services. In construction disputes, for example, he shared how the metaverse could ‘transport’ disputants to construction sites, instead of having them pore over 2D plan diagrams. “You can put yourself into the actual tunnel or the oil containment facility to look at the construction dispute from the perspective of augmented reality, representing the actual space.” But he cautioned, “The metaverse, and virtual platforms like these bring with them their own set of challenges and cutting-edge frontier legal issues.”
To frame some of these issues for participants, TechLaw.Fest 2022 kicked off with a one-day experiential exhibition at Marina Bay Sands Singapore. Here, they could experience the metaverse for themselves. Around 30 exhibitors such as DXC Technology, Alethea AI and Somnium Space showcased cutting-edge technologies such as virtual reality meeting spaces, a metahuman kiosk, and an AI system developed to debate humans. Participants then engaged in two days of discussions and deliberations on disruptive Web3 technology with over 60 of the world’s leading legal experts, academics, technologists and entrepreneurs.
At a panel discussion on securing identities in the metaverse, SAL member Mr Benjamin Wong, Sheridan Fellow at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore, shared how deepfakes, a common menace on the Internet today, could wreak further havoc in the metaverse. Said Mr Wong, “In immersive virtual reality (VR) worlds like the metaverse, deepfakes could become even more problematic than they are now. It could be possible for somebody else to create a deepfake avatar of you and speak through it using your voice. Your digital identity could thus be subject to abuse—made to say or do things that you never actually did. What’s even more concerning is that you may fall victim to this, even if you’ve never entered the metaverse before.”
Mr Wong urged metaverse service providers to put in place safeguards to prevent such abuse. “They are in the best place to do so. And perhaps controversially, I would go so far as to say that it would be irresponsible for an immersive VR world to create avatars that are photo-realistic representations of real people. This level of immersion should not exist because it would facilitate the misuse of personal data.”
Mr Rama Tiwari, Chief Executive of the Singapore Academy of Law (“SAL”), said: “We are happy to have once again brought together the fraternity to discuss and exchange ideas about an emerging tech trend—in this case, the metaverse. We hope the insights shared at TechLaw.Fest will prepare the legal fraternity in tackling the legal issues surrounding the metaverse.”
Ms Stephanie Siu, Director of Strategic Development of eBrevia, DFIN, said: "We are pleased to take part in this year's TechLaw.Fest 2022 and congratulate the organisers for the successful event. Bringing the legaltech community together is an important part of driving innovation and tech adoption within the legal sector. eBrevia looks forward to the continued growth in adoption of AI-assisted contract review across the Asia Pacific region." eBrevia is a Donnelley Financial Solutions company that specialises in AI-assisted contract review and management.
Ms Daphne Ng, Chief Executive of TechLaw.Fest supporting partner Dedoco, said: “Supporting and participating in our inaugural TechLaw.Fest has been groundbreaking. The Dedoco solution enables the legal profession to provide data privacy and document security all through an easy-to-use, secure platform. We applaud the team for organising an impressive event and giving Dedoco an opportunity to be a part of it. We look forward to a continued partnership to foster innovation in the legal sector.”
TechLaw.Fest 2022, the fifth edition of the premier law and tech conference, attracted more than 3,300 participants from over 100 countries. The annual conference is organised by SAL, MP International and Singapore’s Ministry of Law.