Psychotherapist Nina Jane Patel took less than a minute to Facebook’s Horizon Venue when her avatar was attacked by a group of men. The attacker effectively gangbanged her character and snapped her in-game photo as her souvenir. Patel froze in shock and desperately tried to free her virtual self, which she styled to resemble her real blonde hair, freckles, and business casual outfits.
Don’t pretend you don’t love it, the human voice of the attacker ridiculed through her headset as she escaped, rub yourself into the photo.
The vaguely defined term metaverse of next-generation immersive virtual reality technology is still in its infancy. But even with crude graphics and sometimes glitchy gameplay, such experiences can cause deep-rooted panic reactions. Faithfulness is something that makes it feel very real, Patel, who is also the co-founder of the children’s Metaverse company Kabuni, tells observers. Physiologically, I reacted in that fight or flight or freeze mode.
If something is possible, someone will do it.People Can Be Creative In How To Use Or Abuse Technology Lucy Sparrow, University of Melbourne
The new report depicts a metaverse that resembles the lawless chat rooms that dominated the early Internet, rather than the moderated, algorithmically pruned digital gardens that we primarily occupy today. A recent Channel 4 Dispatch study has recorded a flood of metaverses with avatars that simulate hate speech, sexual harassment, pedophilia, and sex in spaces accessible to children.
Studies prior to the Metaverse hype have found that these experiences are not uncommon. According to a 2018 survey by virtual reality research institute The Extended Mind, 36% of men and 49% of women who regularly use VR technology reported experiencing sexual harassment.
Last year, Facebook, which renamed Meta to show its investment in this area, announced a decision to introduce personal boundaries into Metaverse products shortly after Patels’ experience was talked about. This is a virtual social distance function that can be triggered by a character to keep others at arm length like a force field.
In her dispatch documentary on the Metaverse, Yinka Bokinni posed at the age of 13 and encountered racial and sexual abuse. Photo: Channel 4
Bill Stillwell, Product Manager of Meta’s VR Integrity, wants to make it easy for anyone using our products to find, investigate, and act on tools that are useful in these situations.
According to the Metaverse Pitch, one day we will interact with the internet primarily through virtual reality headsets. There, a crisply rendered and compelling 3D environment blurs the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds. Virtual concerts and fashion shows have already captivated crowds of digital attendees, brands and celebrities have bought land in the Metaverse, and one-time sales have reached millions of dollars into the Metaverse real-estate bubble. Concerns are growing.
Technology companies are working to make these worlds as realistic as possible one day. Facebook announced in November last year that it is developing tactile vibrating gloves that help mimic the feel of handling objects. Spanish startup OWO has created a jacket full of sensors so users can feel the in-game hugs and shoots. Japanese technology company H2L is working on simulating the pain of the Metaverse, such as the sensation of a bird poking its arm.
Billions of dollars are being poured into the space. In addition to Meta, Microsoft, which sells mixed reality HoloLens headsets, is working on Metaverse-related software, and Apple is developing augmented reality headsets. Video game companies such as Roblox and Epic Games, and decentralized blockchain-based metaverses such as Sandbox, Decentraland, and Upland are also keen to seize part of the future. Citigroup’s investment banks predict that the Metaverse economy will grow to $ 13 trillion by 2030.
The normal Internet is plagued by harassment, malicious language, and illegal content, none of which disappears in the Metaverse, as early reports revealed. Lucy Sparrow, a PhD researcher in computing and information systems at the University of Melbourne, who studies the morals of multiplayer video games, says that if something is possible, someone will do it. People can be very creative in the way they use and abuse technology.
The Metaverse can actually magnify some of these harms. David J Chalmers is a professor of philosophy and neuroscience at New York University and author of Reality + Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy. According to him, physical harassment of avatars is generally experienced as more traumatic than verbal harassment on traditional social media platforms. That embodied version of social reality equates it to physical reality, he says.
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, ethical, legal and philosophical issues are emerging. How does the regulatory environment need to evolve to address the metaverse? Can the Metaverse platform rely on its predecessor’s safety protocol, or does it require a whole new approach? And is virtual punishment enough to stop the villain?
Moving from a social media platform such as Facebook to the Metaverse means moving from content moderation to behavior moderation. Facebook Chief Technology Officer Andrew Bosworth admitted in an internal memo leaked last November that it’s virtually impossible to do the latter on a meaningful scale.
Bosworth’s note suggests that a malicious person expelled from the Metaverse could be blocked on all Facebook-owned platforms, even with multiple virtual avatars. doing. But to be really effective, this approach depends on the account that requires the identity setting.
AI isn’t smart enough to intercept real-time audio streams and determine if someone is offensive. Andy Phippen at Bournemouth University
Facebook said last year that it was looking for ways to apply AI moderation to the Metaverse, but hasn’t built anything yet. Automatic content moderation is used on existing social media platforms to help manage large numbers of users and materials, but primarily due to incomprehensible context and the inability to catch content that truly violates policy. , I am suffering from false positives.
AI isn’t smart enough to intercept real-time audio streams and determine exactly if someone is offensive, claims Andy Fippen, a professor of digital rights at Bournemouth University. Also, while there may be room for human moderation, monitoring all real-time online spaces consumes a great deal of resources.
There are several examples of crimes in the digital world that have resulted in real-world punishment. In 2012, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled a lawsuit on the theft of digital amulets and swords in the online multiplayer game Runescape. The two players who robbed another player at Knife Point were sentenced to real community service, and the judge had no significant value in the stolen objects, but with the time spent getting them. He said it was worth the effort.
While arbitrating digital violations in real-life courts doesn’t seem to be exactly scalable, legal experts say that when the Metaverse becomes as important as the technical CEO, real-world legal frameworks apply to these areas. I believe we can see more and more being done. Pin Lean Lau, a lecturer at Brunel University in London, said that Metaverse could pose some new legal challenges. For example, questions about Avatar’s legal personality, ownership of virtual assets, and whether it can be used as follows: Loan collateral may not need to completely reinvent the wheel.
However, some hope that the Metaverse may offer an opportunity to go beyond the post-hoc enforcement model that dominates the current online social space. Sparrows, for example, blame Metaverse companies for their current focus on the responsibility of individuals who are victims who must trigger a security response in the face of an attack. Instead, she asks how she can actively create a community environment that encourages more active interaction.
No one wants to live in a virtual police state, and there is a growing sense that enforcement should be balanced by promoting prosocial behavior. Some proposals proposed by the XR Association, an industry group consisting of Google, Microsoft, Oculus, Vive, and Sony Interactive Entertainment, include rewarding altruism and empathy, and celebrating positive collective action. ..
Nick Yee, co-founder of game studies firm Quantic Foundry, highlighted the example of the multiplayer game EverQuest. In this game, the player who died in the game was forced to return to the place where he died and recover his lost belongings. Yee said this design feature helped promote altruistic behavior, as players needed to seek help from other players when acquiring items, foster friendships, and foster positive interactions. Insist.
Patel advocates looking beyond the enforcement mechanism when considering ways to regulate the Metaverse. She proposes to investigate the harmful behavior of some people in the digital environment and get them interested in what makes them behave this way.
As decentralized platforms continue to play a role in the Metaverse ecosystem, the top-down governance model of current social media platforms can also be shaken. Such a model has been tried before. For example, the online forum platform Reddit relies partially on community moderators to monitor discussion groups. An early multiplayer children’s game, Disney-owned Club Penguin pioneered a gamed network of informants of secret agents who were closely watching other players.
A 2019 paper by researchers using Facebook-owned Oculus VR shows that the company is looking for community-driven moderation initiatives in VR applications as a way to combat top-down governance issues. increase.
Mark Zuckerbergs’ avatar (left) hangs out in the Metaverse during a meeting where Facebook was rebranded as Meta last October. Photo: Facebook / Reuters
In many respects, the solutions devised by tech companies to tackle the harm of the Metaverse reflect the improper strategies adopted on the Internet and are a trick to circumvent regulations.
However, some of the new legislation enacted to mitigate social media may apply to the Metaverse. Government laws such as the EU have introduced new digital services legislation that imposes severe penalties for social media companies not quickly removing illegal content, and the UK is still considering online harm bills, making Metaverse safe. May play a role in the development of standards. Facebook’s Metaverse venture has already rebelled against regulators over security. Earlier this year, the Information Commissioner’s Office, a UK data watchdog, called on Facebook to discuss the lack of parental controls on the popular Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset.
However, there is still no way to manage virtual bodies beyond the scope of the current web, such as how national jurisdiction rules apply to virtual worlds and whether avatars will one day acquire the required legal status. There are still legal issues to resolve. Be sued. The very speculative nature of the current space means that it is far from answering these questions.
In the near future, I think the Metaverse law will generally derive from the laws of the physical country, Chalmers says. But in the long run, virtual worlds can become like autonomous societies in their own right, with their own principles.
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