Ethical Challenges Can Take Mega Proportions in the Metaverse Era

Birender Singh

Birender Singh

Metaverse is a virtual 3D space where people can enter the digital world using their virtual identities. It is a place where people can hang out with their friends, shop, have fun, and play games. But this paradise of the digital world is where every aspect of your digital identity is controlled by companies that develop technologies. It could be down to how you see what you see, how you move your limbs or even feel in Metaverse.

Cyber-bullying is about to Increase in the Metaverse

As AI-based characters and personalities fill up the space, people will find it difficult to get out of it and face situations in the real world. The foremost concern is the mental and physical health of participants of this universe. Addiction to the virtual world could lead to depression, anxiety and obesity, and heart-related issues because of the sedentary lifestyle.

The other psychological aspect is the trolling and bullying already rampant in social media networks. The worry is that such bad behavior will only multiply several-fold in Metaverse, throwing up opportunities that were never seen earlier and challenges that were not encountered before. As the internet and social media have shown, people express their opinions that they would have never done in real life, which has led to cyberbullying and other related real-life social problems.

In Metaverse, people can hide behind their digital avatars and indulge in ill-mannered behavior. Law and regulation have to be up to speed, and digital ethical constraints have to be put in place before it starts creating havoc in the real world.

Data Privacy breaches will reach new Heights

Metaverse is not merely saving your email IDs and passwords; it also stores your behavior. Devices will provide access to Metaverse, but in the bargain, brain-computer interfaces (BCI) will record your brain patterns and predict your behavior and thought processes. As a result, companies will have a humongous amount of data to more precisely predict the behaviors of users intruding into your personal and private spaces. Also, the data collected will remain in the blockchain forever for anyone to access and manipulate with it.

Even today, most consumers do not read privacy policies fully, and the same will happen in Metaverse too, but with far more serious consequences. There has been a continuous rise in identity thefts, data leaks, hacks, and data misuse even now. In Metaverse, your entire identity and ‘behavior’ could be stolen and used for nefarious activities.

Since Metaverse will not have any physical boundaries, there will be virtual crimes, like the cybercrimes of the present day, and countries will have to develop systems to protect their people. Children who learn and adapt to technologies and changes much quicker than adults would be exposed to the highest risk. As it is now, in Metaverse, too, they are likely to be exposed to undesired content.

Ensuring Ethical Practices in the Metaverse

First and foremost, all the stakeholders of Metaverse should agree that the consumers and their welfare should be the ultimate concern. The impact of the Metaverse on the social, legal, personal, and mental health of consumers should be examined.

  • Ethical councils should have developers, technologists, social scientists, and mental health experts, but not companies, as they have ulterior motives. Like the internet, no country or company should be allowed to control the Metaverse.
  • A regulatory framework and de-centralization of the Metaverse are a must. We need to first democratize the platform by all and for all. Have a decentralized environment that will not be governed by one mega entity but is transparent, run by safe algorithms & AI.
  • Metaverse personalities will be able to speak any language and interact with people from all around the world. They may be able to present themselves better in the Metaverse, which should be respected. We should learn from past experiences with the internet and social media and try to remedy them.
  • In the end, awareness is the key. With proper awareness campaigns and education for the younger generation, there are high possibilities where Metaverse can be life-changing for coming generations.