ethics of the metaverse

Meta/Facebook has created a special status for the “walls” of dead people.

However, because of its dynamics, the metaverse presents specificities that question the solutions put in place by social networks. What to do with the avatar once the person it belonged has died? Will we create spaces where we “park” the avatars of deceased people? Or will the avatars continue to coexist after their death in the metaverse? In the latter case, the questions would be the same type as for deadbots.

Can avatars be hacked?

The metaverse will be a digital universe. So, there is no reason why it should escape the problems of hacking. This raises some interesting questions.

Ethics of the metaverse

Already there is every indication that Zuckerberg and other meta-world creators will seek to trivialize autonomy by proffering consumer choice as an alternative.

The pitch for The Metaverse by Zuckerberg is that you can be whatever you want, with creators offering different wardrobes and such. But choosing a particular hue of skin color, like choosing which emoji one wants, is not control. And it is not autonomy.

Every identity in a virtual world is the creation of a private database.

The individual human being has no control over that database. They can pick from a menu, and in Zuckerberg’s world, perhaps they will even be able to propose what goes onto the menu. But at the end of the day, people have no veto power.
What the corporation decides is final.

Ethical issues of the metaverse

B Special Report:

  • The metaverse: Where we are and where we’re headed
  • Why the metaverse must be open but regulated
  • How the metaverse will let you simulate everything
  • 7 ways the metaverse will change the enterprise
  • Identity and authentication in the metaverse
  • Understanding the 7 layers of the metaverse
  • Can this triple-A game usher in the promise of the metaverse? (sponsored by Star Atlas)
  • How the metaverse could transform upskilling in the enterprise
  • Why the fate of the metaverse could hang on its security
  • Gaming will lead us to the metaverse
  • The potential environmental harms of the growing metaverse

VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact.

Opening the metaverse up for increased accessibility

With a technology as complex as something that may succeed the internet, contributions from citizen and professional developers alike may similarly shape much of the metaverse.

And, in some ways, the metaverse comes as an opportune time. The older days of a relatively open internet have been threatened of late, by increasingly powerful technology companies, including Google, Meta (formerly Facebook) and Microsoft. The U.S. government has only just started antitrust proceedings against these giants, and has a long way to go.

Now that the machinery has been set in motion, it’s a good time to make sure we get things right for the metaverse.
Indeed, those same three companies – Google, Meta, and Facebook, all have the size and scale to tip the metaverse in their favor.

There is a simple way to avoid this issue though, A/Prof. Nicholls points out. By acting ethically as a business, one can avoid these problems and achieve good business outcomes without having to change too much. And for businesses that are built around algorithms, this means ensuring you’ve embedded ethical approaches throughout the AI design.

“Ethical behaviour can be built into the design of AI.

Some of that actually means that you end up with better outcomes from your AI because you ensure that you actually think about it first.”

“It really doesn’t matter whether you’re a small start-up, doing analysis of big data, or you’re a very big platform-based company.

This article is part of a VB special issue. Read the full series here: The metaverse – How close are we?

The metaverse isn’t a new concept. In fact, the term was coined in a 1992 novel, Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. As the novel defines it, the metaverse is essentially a virtual universe controlled and owned by a “global information monopoly that users can access via personal VR goggles.”

In 2022, as a new computing revolution brings about an, interactive, virtual world for us to collaborate, work and play in, industry watchers are calling this new world the metaverse.

And of course, we want this metaverse to be open.

Just as we benefited from internet, we want competition and open access in this evolving metaverse.
Likewise for regulation.

But generally, the ISP experience tends to be invisible because the service that we are provided with or, basically the internet that we’re getting to our homes is pretty much the same and just depends on the technology with your cable or fiber or something like that.”

Edwards added, “If you can’t easily move between platforms. If you’re stuck in a particular walled garden, which we tend to see that model pop up frequently, is that really the metaverse? And what responsibility do these companies have to actually work with each other to ensure that that kind of cross platform access?”

Bye said groups like the Khronos Group and Open XR can create a standard set of interoperable application programming interfaces (APIs). Work is also happening on WebXR, but the question is whether big players like Apple will support that.

In a Metaverse, as conceived by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, you cannot even scratch your virtual nose without the permission of a program controlled completely by the company. There is no standard for virtual worlds. Every single one of them is crafted as a set of technologies known only to the proprietor.

To the extent that moving virtual limbs and seeing with virtual eyes is the equivalent of freedom of movement in a virtual world, no one who enters into a Metaverse of any kind has any autonomy. Their every move is at the discretion of the digital controls of corporations such as Meta that reserve the right to refuse freedom of movement to anyone.

It seems silly to fret over such a situation, given that the Metaverse doesn’t yet exist.
At the moment, it is a figment of Zuckerberg’s imagination.

Are there other things along those lines, like specific technologies or metadata that we are concerned about when it comes to privacy?”

Urbach said the feedback loop bothers him a lot. If you understand subconsciously what somebody is thinking and doing before they do, then you provide some sort of ad in the metaverse, and that is going to trigger them to buy something, then that could be a lot worse in the metaverse, Urbach said.

Bye said we can expect sensor fusion, where all of these data collection devices come together, gathering data that’s coming from our body, but also from things like brain control interfaces and the neural data and eventually being able to potentially decode our thoughts.

“So our our thoughts, our ideas, but also our actions and what we’re doing,” Bye said. “These technologies are aware of our context.

I think is a concern.”

We’ll have the biometric data and get contextually relevant AI, “on top of all of the sensor fusion, so it can model your actions, your behaviors, your emotional reactions, your physiological reactions to things that you can’t even control,” Bye said.

Like subliminal advertising, it operates at this unconscious level.

“It is going to start to get to this point where you’re sleepwalking into this dystopia, and there is not a clear way, legally, to” put up much resistance, Bye said.

A paternalistic approach is to say you should never use any of this data, or you should only use it for medical applications. And from an entertainment perspective, you will need this data to refine the entertainment.

“How do you draw the line between the contextual relevance and the use and appropriate use of that data in that entertainment context?” Bye said.

You can set up a last bastion of privacy or create the worst surveillance technology that we have ever seen.”

With great power comes great responsibility

“To quote, the very wise, Uncle Ben from Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility,” Mantegna said. “We are heading into a world where technology is going to be able to decode information from our brains, but only to implant or manipulate what is going inside.”

She said we’re talking about these dystopian nightmares as something of the future, but she noted this is something we have already have you seen with generative artificial intelligence.

“That’s why I like to talk about I think about magnitudes because this is going to become worse, for sure,” she said. “We already have artificial generative artificial intelligence, or we already have artificial intelligence, creating inferences about us.

In this vein we promote a relaxed and fun atmosphere, to encourage users to act as members of a community by cooperating, and not against each other, not to use violent and offensive language because The Nemesis is a place of inclusion.

We can begin to define a manifesto, with a few simple rules of behavior, an etiquette of the virtual world, in which we invite users to:

1. use peaceful and cordial language: we don’t like swear words and we condemn violent and offensive expressions on the platform and on all aggregation channels (Discord, Twitter, etc)

2. promote freedom of expression with respect for all: do not blast!


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