The “moral discourse” of the Metaverse: a cruel digital wonderland

“Ultima IV is the first game where I want players to respond to what I call’moral dilemmas and ethical challenges’ like they do (not like another self). When studying virtue and ethics… in order to find ethical fables Or moral philosophy, I have encountered the concept of the word “avatar” in many Hindu texts. In that case, the incarnation is the physical manifestation of the gods when they come to the world. This is perfect because I really want to make up my imaginary Test your spirit in the field.”

——Richard Garriott

Most philosophical traditions and religions can be considered as the basic moral requirements of mankind.

The first and most positive aspect of the virtual world is that it is possible to give people an experience of the golden rules of operation. For example, VR can place people virtually in “the body of another.”

Just like in the Metaverse, a member of the “inner group” can temporarily occupy the body or part of a member of the “outer group”: a person with pale skin can temporarily have dark skin; an adult can become a child; someone can experience it A world where they are taller or shorter than their actual height.

The "moral discourse" of the Metaverse: a cruel digital wonderland

“The Sims”, play as a virtual you, you can do whatever you want in the game world

Many people describe Metaverse as the next-generation Internet, believing that it will allow people to access it in a more seamless and attractive way, for example, through glasses or bracelets. It is a virtual world that represents the Internet, where people can use digital avatars and advanced technology to interact in new ways.

It sounds very good, but it also attracted a large number of doubters: they questioned the moral dilemma and ethical challenges of the metaverse.

Human rights dilemma

In the 73 years since the United Nations ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world has been unable to reach agreement on “what rights should be granted to mankind.”

The idea itself is controversial. The best thing about such idealistic documents is that they limit the most extreme abuses people can suffer, including slavery and economic exploitation.

This is an important achievement, because the upcoming virtual world may jeopardize human autonomy in the most basic sense.

The "moral discourse" of the Metaverse: a cruel digital wonderland

In “Inception”, the world is turned upside down in a virtual dream, and you can’t control yourself

In the Metaverse, as Zuckerberg envisioned, you can’t even scratch your virtual nose without the permission of a program that is completely controlled by the company. There are no standards in the virtual world, and each of them is made into a set of technologies that only the owner knows.

Moving virtual limbs and viewing with virtual eyes is equivalent to moving freely in the virtual world. People who enter any type of Metaverse world do not have any autonomy. Their every move is determined by the digital control agencies of companies such as Meta, and these companies reserve the right to refuse anyone’s freedom of movement.

Considering that the Metaverse does not yet exist, it seems foolish to worry about this situation. At present, this is Zuckerberg’s imagination, and some critics have reason to believe that none of this will be realized.

However, the desire to participate in the future Metaverse—every press release now envisions amazing economic opportunities—shows that many social activities may be sucked into the virtual world in whole or in part. When this happens, people are either involved or deprived of their rights.

Every identity in the virtual world is the creation of a private database, and individuals cannot control the database.They can choose from the menu, and in Zuckerberg’s world, maybe they can even propose the content on the menu.But in the final analysis, people have no veto power, and the company’s decision is final.

Simply put, you can do whatever you want in the Metaverse, but you can’t control it.

The "moral discourse" of the Metaverse: a cruel digital wonderland

You can do whatever you want in the Metaverse, but you can’t control it

This is a bit like dreaming while sleeping, dreaming of falling into a dark abyss, like earning but powerless. In the Metaverse, if your entire existence and the identity you think can be cancelled by a company.

People don’t really exist in social media, and they won’t exist in the Metaverse. Their identity is a fiction of the database, and when people enter things into a web form, they will have the illusion that they have an identity. Without control and autonomy, they don’t have any meaningful identities, they are just the “chess pieces” of the database owner.

Similarly, any behavior in the Metaverse world will be an illusion of autonomy and physical integrity, and the company that owns the database still controls the virtual air that people breathe in the Metaverse.

The good news is that all of these have a solution: a method that will promote personal autonomy and form the basis of human and civil rights.

The "moral discourse" of the Metaverse: a cruel digital wonderland

The virtual world makes people unable to distinguish between reality and illusion, everything is chaotic

Mirror world

The Metaverse is not just a term in Neil Stephenson’s science fiction novels. Today, a “real virtual world” is being constructed.

In 2019, Kevin Kelly of Wired magazine wrote a cover story called “Welcome to the Mirror World”. In it, he described how augmented reality will inspire the next large technology platform.

Essentially, “We are building a one-to-one map of an almost unimaginable range. When it is finished, our physical reality will merge with the digital universe.” In other words, get ready to welcome your digital twin, including Around you: your house, your country, your office, and even the digital twin of your life.

The "moral discourse" of the Metaverse: a cruel digital wonderland

The Metaverse is like a mirror world, your avatar is shaking hands with you

So what happens when the world becomes a billboard, robots have spatial reasoning capabilities, and virtual assistants have relationships with consumers?

Today, the Metaverse world is a shared virtual space where people are represented by digital avatars (think Ready Player One), and the virtual world is constantly evolving and evolving according to the decisions and actions of the society in it.

Eventually, people will be able to enter the virtual world completely virtual (that is, use virtual reality) with the help of augmented reality and mixed reality, or interact with a part of it in their physical space.

Leslie Shannon, head of Nokia Trend Reconnaissance, mentioned the importance of Metaverse or spatial internet in a recent speech during the VRARA Global Summit.

In her speech, she said: “Space Internet is the culmination of the development of AR and VR today. This is the idea of ​​acquiring information about things, places or historical events, and actually positioning this information to the most relevant places in the world. “Augmented reality and virtual reality will be the way to view this layer of information.

The "moral discourse" of the Metaverse: a cruel digital wonderland

Virtual iceberg, Metaverse is like space internet

Marketing and communications professionals need to pay attention to Metaverse because it is the next frontier of online interaction. Just as social media has completely changed the field of online marketing, so will Metaverse.Although we currently do not have a shared Metaverse, some companies are working on creating it.

Just like Fortnite, Minecraft and AnimalCrossing, although they are now games, they already have a huge user base, specific worlds, and user-generated content. Niantic, Magic Leap, Microsoft and many other companies are also working hard.

They are advancing on the road of creating “mirror world”.

Technology itself

This is a tricky period for the ethics of the 21st century.

Unlike the ancient Greeks, the father of Western ethics, we tend to treat moral rules with great suspicion. Beyond the boundaries of public order protected by law, under a liberal democratic system, each of us has the right to define our own “right and wrong” through the unique prism of personal experience.

The "moral discourse" of the Metaverse: a cruel digital wonderland

O2 and the vast music square

The market economy follows the same logic: as long as the law is respected, no consumer will be personally harmed in the process, and one’s path to profit has nothing to do with others.

As digital technology becomes an indispensable part of our daily lives, the less obvious long-term impact of innovation needs to be considered, which is recognized in the technology ecosystem including artificial intelligence and robotics.

The growing presence of Meta in the immersive technology ecosystem has shocked many people. As the controversial technology giant steadily paved the way to mass market dominance through hardware and platform breakthroughs, an uneasy doubt spread: Is our immersive future in our hands?

The answer is far from that simple. The key issue is not just Meta, or the rest of GAFAM, or any other VR/AR company itself. It is the technology itself first.

For decades, immersive technology has attracted our imagination because of its utopian dreams—overcoming secular constraints by creating new dimensions of reality with infinite possibilities.

The "moral discourse" of the Metaverse: a cruel digital wonderland

“Beyond the universe”, people interact through digital avatars

The idea of ​​surpassing human conditions is as old as humans themselves, but here is a turning point: the “escape” achieved in the virtual world is unprecedentedly powerful. With the correct visual and auditory stimulation alone, our brain may be tricked into experiencing the real thing, even though we know it is not.

In addition to the common moral challenges associated with games (violence, addiction, physical negligence, etc.), we are dealing with a breakthrough technology that blurs the boundary between the media and the user to make the latter identify with his/her virtual life On a deep level.

Quoting the view of the “amoeba effect”, users adjust their behavior according to the appearance of the virtual image, and our virtual selves may gradually merge and reshape our “real” identity.

As the researchers and ethicists Michael Madary and Thomas K. Metzinger explained: “It is not ruled out that extended interaction with the VR environment may lead to more fundamental changes, not only on the psychological but also on the biological level.” This is The good and the bad, because the same VR mechanism can help users overcome racial prejudice and become more altruistic, and can also trigger unethical or degrading behavior.

The "moral discourse" of the Metaverse: a cruel digital wonderland

The combination of Metaverse and fashion brings new inspiration for brand design

Once adopted on a large scale, virtual reality will promote a larger trend: digital technology redefines the meaning of human beings.

If all goes well, we can imagine a future where the ultimate dream comes true: Metaverse will release our creativity, reduce inequality, and let us finally experience the thrill of online “real” social interaction.

At the same time, it is difficult to ignore the dystopian scene, in which the presence of a virtual intermediary numbs users’ feelings towards others and/or induces them to completely abandon the physical world.

The actual future is likely to be a combination of the two, which is enough to show that as an industry, we may wish to take moral issues in the metaverse more seriously.

Because all the seemingly trivial decisions made today in terms of world design, storytelling skills, avatar representation, virtual codes of conduct, and consent mechanisms will certainly be important in the future.

04. Reconnect human cognition

If we apply Robert Nozick’s 1974 classic experiential machine thought experiment to the contemporary context, the key question on the agenda is no longer “Do humans want to insert happy machines forever?” To program machines in a way to protect our humanity?”

This is where we encounter the real challenge.

The "moral discourse" of the Metaverse: a cruel digital wonderland

The last 3 days of Mind Labyrinth VR Dreams

So far, the (almost unlimited) power to make an immersive future has been delegated to private participants, for several reasons.

First, it involves money. As Kent Bye explained in the XR Declaration in 2019, technology companies’ fiduciary obligations to their shareholders often conflict with their respective obligations to users.

From a legal and ethical point of view, this corporate paradigm becomes particularly questionable when the selling experience can reconnect human perception and the key commodity of the transaction is the user’s private data.

According to Silicon Valley “informers” such as Tristan Harris, in the recent Social Dilemma documentary, social platforms have been purposefully using manipulative design choices to maximize participation, usually to harm mental health and aggravate social polarization. Differentiation is the price.

We have no reason to believe that the situation in the social Metaverse will be very different, in fact the opposite is true.

Through direct insight into our body and surrounding environment, immersive technology devices will not only enlarge our digital footprint, but also make it more detailed and therefore easier to manipulate.

The "moral discourse" of the Metaverse: a cruel digital wonderland

“Player One”, running in a virtual game

The fact that Meta requires Oculus Quest 2’s account associated login proves that this new data is a real gold mine for technology companies that rely on advertising, and it is an equally large privacy threat for users.

In fact, according to a recent study from the Virtual Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory of Stanford University, the kind of data collected through an immersive experience may be more difficult than previously thought to be anonymized.

Obviously, if we are to innovate responsibly in the Metaverse, then the inherent business model and privacy framework of “surveillance capitalism” need to be challenged at least to a certain extent.

In addition to questioning the ethics of a growth-oriented business mentality, we may also want to examine the other values ​​of the people who drive the manufacturing of technology products.

If we assume (and the evidence tells us that we should do this) that cutting-edge technology “exists” (that is, it can redefine our way of life), then it is only reasonable to ask about the ideology of its creator. The regrettable case of artificial intelligence bias alone is enough to motivate serious investigations.

On the surface, the basic dominant ideology inherited from Silicon Valley cannot be classified as outright “immoral,” but it is indeed one-sided.

The "moral discourse" of the Metaverse: a cruel digital wonderland

The entertainment of a mother meeting her deceased child in VR

Staying away from humanitarian doctrine in a self-reinforcing social bubble, technological revolutionaries are so driven by surpassing competitors and providing innovation at all costs, they ultimately neglect some basic factors that need to be considered for the entire society.

However, this short-sightedness of ethics can be compensated by a proper corporate culture. Today, most technical employees simply do not have sufficient resources and guidance to conduct meaningful deliberations around ethical challenges.

For example, they can benefit from greater exposure to outsiders, especially from academia and other industries that are experienced in dealing with survival dilemmas.

Due to its novelty and rapid development speed, Metaverse Innovation is a complex beast that cannot be tamed single-handedly by industry giants. Moral standards should ultimately be formed by multiple voices inside and outside the entire ecosystem to ensure their comprehensiveness and fairness.

Today’s digital world is much more complicated than at any time in human history. This is a complex task that defines the world to be constructed and the story to be told in the virtual world.

The "moral discourse" of the Metaverse: a cruel digital wonderland

Metaverse, the newest way of life

Figuring out how to democratize big data in a financially and ethically meaningful way is equally complex, but the challenge should not discourage us.

Ethics provides us with an opportunity to understand the world better, start asking the right questions, and jointly develop a new framework for thinking about ethics.

In this process, we may need to get rid of individualistic thinking and remember collective wisdom, which has always been the right and best choice we are making.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
Coinyuppie is an open information publishing platform, all information provided is not related to the views and positions of coinyuppie, and does not constitute any investment and financial advice. Users are expected to carefully screen and prevent risks.

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