Metaverse Safety Week 2022 | ARPost
The third annual meeting of the XR Safety Initiative was held last week. metaverse safety week (previously known as XR Semana de la Seguridad). As always, the week kicked off on International Human Rights Day, December 10, and was followed by five jam-packed days of panels and talks, each day featuring a different theme related to security in immersive environments.
We weren’t able to attend all of the Metaverse Security Week sessions live or watch the streams fast enough to keep up with everything. But, this article presents some highlights of the event.
Kavya Pearlman Welcome to the Metaverse Safety Week
Of course, the event began with an introduction by XRSI Founder Kavya Pearlman. Pearlman addressed the audience through his altspaceVR avatar on the virtual model of the Taj Mahal custom made for the event by the design studio chicken waffle.
“On the 74th Human Rights Day, we bring together world leaders, technology professionals, global regulators, policy experts, ethicists, ethics organizations, researchers, and underrepresented voices.” Pearlman said. “Metaverse Security Week is a very important point of reflection for all of us. We are uniting the world to safeguard the metaverse.”
The “Pong” Version of the Metaverse
The first topic of discussion was Dr. Louis Rosenberg’s video on the metaverse for most perfect union. After the video, Rosenberg appeared on stage to address some of the key issues in metaverse security.
“When thinking about human rights for the metaverse, I think it’s helpful to set the context a little bit forward: think about the 2030s. I say that because the work we do today is really preparing us for the future.” Rosenberg said. “Today is really the ‘Pong’ version of the metaverse.”
A little later, HTC China President and Global Vice President of Corporate Development Alvin Wang Graylin took the stage. Graylin’s presentation focused on lessons learned from immersive technology. According to Graylin, the current enthusiasm is the result of the joint development of related technologies, a condition that creates opportunities for good and evil.
“As an industry, we need to make sure that we educate the world, as well as keep an eye out for bad actors and prevent them from doing the wrong things.” Graylin said. “Instead of trying to create a closed world and take value off the table, we really need to work together to create open worlds that are interoperable.”
This same day he saw the announcement of the XR 2030 Policy Fund from the Minderoo Foundation. The program will “award funding to researchers and civil society leaders who are powering the next generation of digital media ecosystems to prioritize public interest values.”
Building a “Super World”
Day two opened with a discussion led by super worldby Hrish Lotlikar. lotlikar said ARPost last summer that he wants the platform to be “the gateway” between the physical and virtual worlds. At Metaverse Safety Week, he discussed how emerging technologies can work together to make people feel more connected to the world around them.
“The importance of decentralization is that it allows us all to become stakeholders in the environments that we’re playing in, that we’re working on, that we’re building together.” Lotlikar said. “At SuperWorld, our vision is to improve society and build a better world, and we can do that with these technologies.”
That morning also saw the launch of the “Metaverse for All” certification program. Launching next year, the program will provide “An informative and enlightening course to shed light on the many ways the metaverse will change the world.”
How the metaverse will affect young people
The third day focused on metaverse safety for children and began with a talk by representative Lori Trahan. Despite it being her first time on AltspaceVR, Trahan’s talk was moving.
“Every time we access the metaverse, data about ourselves can be stored, accessed, and used by people who will pay for our data to influence and manipulate us in real time. And, as we all now know, it could even be shared with third parties and governments without our knowledge.” Trahan said. “That’s why we must pass comprehensive privacy legislation.”
Trahan noted that while data is a common metaverse security concern in the immersive technology community, it’s largely an issue outside of the experiences themselves. We must also take into account the interactions within the immersive experiences as they occur.
“High levels of bullying on social media and in video games have already become prevalent in the metaverse,” Trahan said. “Indeed, the harms we know all too well from platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat can often be seen in the metaverse where immersion and a sense of physical presence can make these negative experiences even more visceral.”
And the young man said…
Later that day, a “Youth Panel” took the stage. The panel consisted of five members of the International Children’s Art Foundation (ICAF) between the ages of 13 and 23, and was moderated by the founder of the Foundation, Ashfaq M. Ishaq. The panel presented a rare opportunity to hear young people speak for themselves on metaverse safety issues, such as the effectiveness of age restrictions.
One speaker noted that in her experience, VR motion sickness it disappeared as it got older, so not exposing kids to VR too young could help give them a positive first impression. Another noted that age restrictions might be less helpful than a system of content warnings for VR experiences similar to those in movies and TV shows.
Perhaps the most interesting takeaway was that the metaverse might be about gaming or work for most people reading this, but for a growing number of young people, it’s also about socializing. That can present potential metaverse security issues with no immediate fixes.
“Not forming relationships through the metaverse is no longer an option. We have to trust these new connections that we are making to be able to get there.” said ICAF member Alaalitya Acharya. “When you interact with someone through an avatar, what are some of the signs that you should look out for in the same way you would when meeting someone face to face?”
So. A lot of. Content.
We try to bring you as much of Metaverse Safety Week as possible. And there is much more that would have been worth introducing. But unfortunately, five days of sessions averaging eight hours each don’t fit into one article. If you want to explore it yourself, you can find the recordings on the XRSI YouTube channel.