Opinion: The metaverse can be transformative, but it’s a legal and ethical minefield

Editor’s note: Jane Thomason He is a Dubai-based writer specializing in groundbreaking technologies and social transformation, and his books include Applied Ethics in a Digital World. She is a member of the editorial board of the peer-reviewed journals “Frontiers in Blockchain”, “Global Health Journal” and “Journal of Metaverse” and president of Kasei Holdings, a Web 3.0 investment firm. The opinions expressed in this comment are their own.


The metaverse is here, it’s big and it’s not going away. Include the Collins Dictionary metaverse as one of its contents Top 10 words 2021 and recent study It found that 74% of the public had heard of the metaverse in March 2022, up from 32% in July 2021.

An immersive and always-on experience, the metaverse is the fusion of blockchain, virtual reality, augmented reality, mobile and computer technologies. Large amounts of money are invested, and More than 160 companies Compete to build the most popular metaverse across industries as diverse as gaming, commerce, real estate, entertainment, social media, health, education, and government.

Jane Thomason

Governments are exploring how to use it to provide better services more conveniently – for example, the capital of South Korea Seoul plans to create a metaverse for its municipal administration. In healthcare, the Apollo Hospitals Group, for example, plans to engage users in Virtual reality activities mediated by To enable them to regulate emotions. Metaverse education will revolutionize how people learn. Astronomy students will get into a Star Trek-style carriage and do a spacewalk, while history students can do it Traveling in a time machine.

It is both attractive and scary to imagine visiting various metaverses in the form of an avatar, which can be an exact copy of yourself. You can send your avatar clothes for shopping; You can try to dress up to find the right clothes, which can be ordered and delivered to your home. For the frail, the disabled, and the elderly, who may not be able to leave their homes, the allure of being able to go into a virtual space, receive services, meet people, travel, and be entertained is compelling.

But what about the negatives? Internet problems will be amplified in the metaverse environment. Here are some of the biggest challenges.

The exponential growth of immersive technologies will amplify biases, produce alternative realities, and influence human emotions. Monica Manulova, a digital ecosystem expert in Bulgaria, warns that Addictive nature of immersive environments as forms of escape from reality. The lines between the real and digital worlds are becoming more blurred with the convergence of social networks and geolocations.

The European Parliament reports That, if used excessively, the metaverse can cause mental health problems and reduce physical activity. Emotional vulnerability can lead to a situation where perceptions from an overwhelming experience can change or completely change a person’s life. People who use immersive technologies, such as VR headsets, can get confused and disoriented Oblivious to the dangers of the real worldwhich may lead to injury.

Determining jurisdiction in the metaverse will be challenging. Does it apply to a user site, avatar site, or computer infrastructure site? Intellectual property will be a challenge in the metaverse because content is distributed and replicated across decentralized networks.

The multi-layered architecture of the virtual environment can enable bad actors to hide behind encryption and untraceable NFTs (non-fungible tokens – unique digital assets), making them difficult to identify and take action.
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NFTs will be the backbone of the metaverse economy, enabling property, property, and identity authentication. However, the European Parliament highlights the regulatory risks of NFTs – for example, the difference between owning an NFT and having the right to Exploiting a copy of a copyrighted digital work.

An NFT cannot exist without a primary digital asset (for example, a work of art), and copyright protection exists only for the original to which it attaches the NFT, Not for NFT itself. There is often a loose link between the NFT and the origin it refers to.

Gary explains the NFTs from the metaverse

Counterfeiting is an urgent problem. There are currently no standards and Regulatory oversight of NFTs lags behind.

The metaphor offers the potential for unintended or deliberate automation of unethical behavior on a large scale, and a large number of ethical questions arise.

Ideally, consent should be communicated, but the experience of being immersed in the metaverse will require integration of access points – eg mobile devices connected to other devices, such as wearables, wallets and goggles, which may share metadata about user profile, device type, and geo-location without consent. This can include tracking body movement, brain waves, and physiological responses through wearable devices.

Data collection will be mandatory and ongoing, making informed consent nearly impossible. How do we avoid a scenario where people can be monitored, manipulated and monetized?

How Paris Hilton became the ‘Queen of Metaverse’

Some academics suggest That people in virtual worlds have rights to freedom and well-being and have rights and moral obligations similar to those of their real-world counterparts. This hypothesis may raise some interesting questions – for example, if you kill people in a virtual world, are you a killer?

Avatar can Amplify the negative aspects Social network engineering, such as groupthink, silos and hate chambers. The research found that avatars that represent the self stay anchor in the real world. At the same time, more abstract representations allow users to completely detach from reality and live new, potentially harmful experiences.

Metaverse promises children a unique and rich experience. However, in a highly realistic and immersive environment, it can be difficult to recognize the difference between what is real and what is augmented, as technologies share Sensory Industry Experiences affecting the brain, memory and cognition. This can lead to harmful side effects for vulnerable children if they experience abuse, harassment, bullying, racism and pornographic content. How do we know users are children? How do we protect them?

Can we ask the creators of the metaverse to consider appropriate safeguards? One possible solution could be to relate developers more closely to the ethical consequences of their decisions and algorithms, and to encourage the community to take a more active and demanding stance on ethics.

As we enter the attractive, unique, and immersive world of the future, we must purposefully build to account for the ethical questions that are already emerging. The metaverse will transform humanity at a depth and volume rarely seen.

Life in the metaverse can be satisfying and rewarding, creating a social purpose and providing new avenues for economic activity. But will we be able to sway the digital masters, gaming giants, and Web 3.0 innovators racing to build metaverses, until we get the ethos right?

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