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A Mexican deputy becomes the first legislator in the world to give a report in the metaverse

Mexican deputy Javier Lopez is speaking on a giant screen and a whale hangs next to it. People scamper toward an alebrije-like figure. They all go in a sweatshirt and dark pants. Lopez talks about the National Defense Secretariat, Conacyt scholarships and legislative, tangible and real issues, but he does so from beyond, from a space that cannot be touched. Lopez has become this Friday the first legislator in the world to render a report from the metaverse, that digital universe promoted by creators such as Mark Zuckerberg, from Facebook, which allows interacting with people and spaces from an avatar. It might seem like the future, but Lopez insists that it is already the present.

The virtual stage from which the politician has issued the message has been carefully created. With the help of programmers, Lopez and his team have designed this Spatial room, a freely accessible and easy-to-use website. All you have to do is register, create an avatar and you can now explore this virtual world. The legislator also opened the possibility of access only as a guest. Behind the screen in which Lopez appears, they have recreated the Chamber of Deputies, with the Mexican flag and the name of former presidents such as Lazaro Cardenas carved into the wood. “We wanted to make a bit of a reference, not leave aside the part that it is a report that a legislator has to render by law,” the official explained in a telephone interview with EL PAIS.

There is also an experimentation room, where there is a floating whale —which pays homage to the skeleton of the one in the Vasconcelos library in Mexico City—, and other nooks and crannies where you can walk. By clicking on one of the options, a video is played where a journalist explains what the metaverse is from the metaverse. All very modern.

Lopez acknowledges that at least the idea causes surprise: “It can make you curious and you go in or fear and reject it. Our objective was also to feel if the citizens would enter a new and disruptive approach”, he points out. The first reactions have been much better than expected, he says. The live video – also broadcast on Minecraft, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – came to gather 15,000 people across all platforms at times. In addition, the idea is going to be to leave it hanging in these rooms of the metaverse so that people can continue coming to see it – it plays on a loop – and interact. “They will be able to create things, add a library, leave comments, continue interacting,” he explains, adding that part of the purpose is to find other communication channels with other communities.

The deputy, who chairs the Science and Technology Commission, points out that the “boring” report of his year as legislator, “the brick” has already been officially delivered to Congress. And that today, in addition to betting on innovation, he sought to transmit the work in a closer way. The politician has stressed that he seeks to push for Mexico to spend 1% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on Science and Technology —as defined by law— or to improve the country’s cybersecurity. At a time when the Ministry of Communication and Transport has had to suspend all its procedures until 2023 due to having been hacked and four million emails were stolen from Sedena’s servers for not having its computer system well protected, the Lopez’s proposal in the metaverse sounds right.

The metaverse has been defined by experts as the next phase of the Internet. It is a place parallel to the physical world in which human beings will come together to work, play, shop and socialize; that is, to do all those things that they already do in the physical world. Now it’s the place where you can relive the Day of the Dead in Mexico, take a medical class, or buy cryptocurrencies, NFTs — an acronym for virtual works — or even real estate. Lopez acknowledges that he has several in his virtual spaces. This new universe, designed to make the most of it with virtual glasses, has caught the attention of large companies, has opened new questions – what law applies to workers in the metaverse? – and opportunities – from improvements in education to more energy efficiency-. In Mexico, Lopez has been the first to put it back on the political agenda.

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