Can we create an ethical metaverse? | metaverse

sPsychotherapist Nina Jane Patel was on Horizon Venues on Facebook for less than a minute when her avatar was attacked by a group of males. The attackers moved toAlmost gang rapeHer character, taking in-game photos as souvenirs. Patel froze in shock before desperately trying to free her virtual self – which she had styled to resemble her realistic blonde hair, freckles, and casual work clothes.

“Don’t pretend you didn’t like him,” the attackers’ human voices shouted through her headset as she fled, “Go and rub yourself into the picture.”

The Metaverse — the vaguely defined term for the next generation of immersive virtual reality technologies — is still in its infancy. But even with the rudimentary graphics and sometimes flawed gameplay, an experience like this can lead to a deep-rooted panic. Patel, who is also the co-founder of children’s metaverse CaponeSays Foreman. “Physiologically, I responded in a fight, flight, or freeze mode.”

Emerging reports portray Metaverse as closer to the outlaw chat rooms that dominated the early Internet than the mild, algorithmically trimmed digital gardens we mostly occupy today. Channel 4 Modern dispatches Investigation Documented full of hate speech, sexual harassment, pedophilia, and avatars that mimic sex in places where children can access them.

Research prior to the metaverse hype has found that these experiences are far from uncommon. 2018 study By virtual reality research agency The Extended Mind, it found that 36% of males and 49% of females who regularly use virtual reality technologies report experiencing sexual harassment.

Facebook, which changed its name to Meta last year to refer to its investment in the field, announced its decision Introducing Personal Limits in its metaverse products shortly after Patel’s experiment hit the headlines. This is a virtual social distancing function that characters can turn on to keep others at arm’s length, like a force field.

For her documentary 'Dispatch' about the Metaverse, Yinka Bokinni impersonated a 13-year-old girl who was racially and sexually assaulted.
For her documentary ‘Dispatch’ about the Metaverse, Yinka Bokinni impersonated a 13-year-old girl who was racially and sexually assaulted. Photo: Channel 4

Bill Stilwell, Product Manager, Virtual Reality Integrity at dead.

The idea of ​​the metaverse says that one day we will interact with the Internet primarily through a virtual reality headset, where sharply and convincingly rendered 3D environments will blur the boundaries of the physical and virtual worlds. Virtual concerts and fashion shows have already attracted large numbers of digital attendees, and brands and celebrities are buying plots in the metaverse, with individual sales reaching Millions of dollars Raising concerns about a reversible real estate bubble.

Tech companies are working to ensure that one day these worlds will feel as real as possible. Facebook It was announced last November that she was developing a tactile vibration glove to help simulate the feeling of handling objects; Spanish startup OOW Create a vest filled with sensors to allow users to feel hugs and gunshots within the game; And the Japanese H2L Technology Company pain simulation In the metaverse, including the sensation of a bird clicking on your arm.

Billions of dollars are pouring into space. Besides Meta, Microsoft, which sells its mixed reality HoloLens headphones, is working on software related to Metaverse, while Apple is developing a headset for augmented reality. Video game companies like Roblox and Epic Games, and decentralized blockchain-based metaversaries like Sandbox, Decentraland, and Upland are also keen to grab a slice of the future. Investment bank CitiGroup expects the metaverse economy to swell $13 trillion by 2030.

The normal internet is plagued by harassment, hate speech, and illegal content — and as early reports make clear, none of this will disappear into the metaverse. “If something can be done, someone will do it,” says Lucy Sparrow, a PhD researcher in Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne who has studied ethics in multiplayer video games. “People can really be quite creative in the way they use or misuse technology.”

Metaviruses can actually amplify some of this damage. David J. Chalmers is Professor of Philosophy and Neurosciences at New York University and author of Reality + … virtual worlds and the problems of philosophy. According to him, “physical harassment” directed at an avatar is generally considered more traumatic than verbal harassment on traditional social media platforms. ‘Which – which incarnate A version of social reality that makes it more equated with physical reality,” he says.

Professor David J. Chalmers argues that harassment
Professor David J. Chalmers argues that “physical” harassment in the metaverse can be more traumatic than verbal abuse on social media. Photo: TED / YouTube

With this brave new world come the ethical, legal and philosophical questions arising. How should the regulatory environment to deal with metaviruses evolve? Could metaverse platforms rely on the security protocols of their predecessors, or are entirely new approaches warranted? Will hypothetical sanctions be enough to deter bad actors?

Moving from a social media platform like Facebook to the metaverse means a shift from moderation Content for moderation behavior. Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s chief technology officer, has admitted that doing the latter “on any meaningful scale is virtually impossible.” A leaked internal memo last November.

Bosworth’s memo suggested that bad actors who were kicked out of the metaverse could be banned across all Facebook-owned platforms, even if they used multiple default avatars. But in order to be really effective, this method will depend on the accounts that require setting up the ID.

Facebook He said last year They are exploring how to apply AI mods to the metaverse, but they haven’t built anything yet. Automated content moderation is used by current social media platforms to help manage massive amounts of users and materials, but it still has a bug Positives Primarily due to an inability to understand context – as well as a failure to capture content that really violates policies.

“Artificial intelligence is still not smart enough to intercept audio streams in real time and accurately determine if someone is abusive.” Argues Professor of Digital Rights at Bournemouth University, Andy Wieben. “And while there may be room for human moderation, monitoring all online spaces in real time can be impossibly resource-intensive.”

There are some examples of a time when crimes in the digital world led to punishment in the real world. In 2012, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled a case Includes stealing a digital amulet and a sword in the online multiplayer game Runescape. Two players who stole another player with a knife were sentenced to de facto community service, with the judge saying that although the items stolen had no material value, their value derives from the time and effort that went into getting them.

Judging digital abuses in real-world courts doesn’t seem entirely scalable, but legal experts believe that if the metaverse becomes as important as tech CEOs say, we could increasingly see realistic legal frameworks applied to these spaces. Brunel University London bio-law lecturer Ben-Lin Lau says that although some new legal challenges have emerged in the metaverse, for example questions about “the legal personality of an avatar, or ownership of virtual property and whether this can be used as collateral for loans.. We may not completely need to reinvent the wheel.”

However, there are those who hope that the metaverse will provide an opportunity to bypass the interactive enforcement model that dominates the current set of online social spaces. Sparrow, for example, disagrees with the metaverse companies’ current focus on individual responsibility, in which it is the victim who must trigger a security response in the face of an attack. Instead, I asked, “How can we be proactive in creating a community environment that fosters more positive exchanges?”

Nobody wants to live in a hypothetical police state, and there is a growing sense of the need to balance implementation with the promotion of prosocial behaviour. Some of the suggestions made by the XR Association, an industry body that includes Google, Microsoft, Oculus, Vive and Sony Interactive Entertainment, include rewarding altruism, empathy, and celebrating positive collective behavior.

Nick Yi, co-founder of the game research firm Quantic Foundry Highlight the example of a multiplayer game EverQuestPlayers who died in the game are forced to return to the place of their death and recover their lost possessions. Yee argues that this design feature helped encourage altruistic behavior, because players had to seek help from other players in redeeming items, which helps foster camaraderie and foster positive interactions.

Patel advocates looking beyond the enforcement mechanisms when thinking about how metaviruses are regulated. She suggests examining the harmful behavior of some people in digital environments and “curiosity about what causes them to act this way”.

The top-down governance model of existing social media platforms may be affected as well, if decentralized platforms continue to play a role in the metaverse ecosystem. These models have been tried before. Online forum platform reddit, for example, relies in part on community moderators for conditional discussion groups. An early Disney multiplayer game for kids penguin clubshe pioneered a beloved network of “undercover agents” informants, who were keeping tabs on other players.

a 2019 paper by researchers working with Facebook-owned Oculus VR suggests that the company is exploring community-led moderation initiatives in VR applications as a way to address issues of top-down governance.

Mark Zuckerberg's avatar (left) hangs in the metaverse during the conference that changed Facebook's name to Meta in October of last year.
Mark Zuckerberg’s avatar (left) hangs in the metaverse during the conference that changed Facebook’s name to Meta in October of last year. Photo: Facebook/Reuters

In many ways, tech companies have come up with solutions to remedy backlash that reflects the inappropriate strategies they have used online — and can be described as SOP measures to avoid regulation.

However, some of the new laws being enacted to smooth out social media may well apply to the metaverse. Government legislation such as the EU’s newly enacted Digital Services Act – which imposes harsh penalties on social media companies if they do not remove illegal content immediately – and the still-incubated UK Internet torts Bill could play a role in developing standards Safety at Metaverse. Facebook’s indirect projects are already bogging down on regulators because of safety. Earlier this year, the UK’s data watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office, He sought conversations with Facebook About the lack of parental controls on the popular virtual reality headset Oculus Quest 2.

But there are still unresolved legal questions about how to manage virtual bodies that go beyond the scope of the current web – such as how rules around national jurisdiction apply to the virtual world, and whether an avatar may one day gain the necessary legal status to be sued. The highly speculative nature of space at the moment means that these questions are far from being answered.

“In the near term, I think the laws of metaphysics will be largely derived from the laws of physical countries,” Chalmers says. But in the long run, “it is possible that virtual worlds will become more like autonomous communities in their own right, with their own principles.”