The metaverse is not yet a concrete reality, but there is no denying that the vision of it as a 3D immersive world will affect all aspects of our lives – from socializing to working to entertaining to learning and much more. Imagine that any activity you currently do in the physical space could be done in the virtual space.
Furthermore, not only will you be able to interact between different virtual spaces, but this will affect physical spaces, too. Sounds impossible, but almost everything that we once imagined has become reality.
The metaverse opens up a range of opportunities, as well a number of risks and a variety of ethical issues and concerns. Most of the ethical concerns are issues we have been experiencing in our non-digital life, such as privacy, social-economic inequalities, accessibility, identity control, freedom of creative expression, etc. They are not new issues ; they merely reflect society as it is. Ethical problems have existed for centuries, and humanity has only recently started to address them.
With this new technology, new concerns are emerging, like access to biometric or brainwave data, which might be used to unscrupulously control people’s thoughts and behaviors. Data control, usage and privacy is a major ethical concern. The question for designers and developers of any new digital product or service and the companies that create and engage in them is how they ensure that the way data is collected and used is ethical and transparent to users.
We have experienced with Web2 technology (i.e., our current internet), where centralized companies, which provide the service, control and own all of our data and exploit it to their advantage either for marketing purposes or for selling it to third parties without the user’s consent. Since these companies control the internet, they also control user’s data.
The 2010 Cambridge Analytica scandal, when personal data belonging to millions was collected without their consent by British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to be used for political advertising, led to the emergence of privacy regulations. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which governs how the personal data of individuals in the EU may be processed and transferred, went into effect on May 25, 2018. GDPR is a comprehensive privacy legislation that applies across sectors and to companies of all sizes.
Five U.S. states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Utah and Virginia – have enacted comprehensive consumer data privacy laws. The laws have several provisions in common, such as the right to access and delete personal information and to opt-out of the sale of personal information, among others.
Technology inherently moves faster than the law. Therefore, when it comes to preparing for the metaverse as we develop it, the likelihood is that the onus will be on businesses, developers, and marketers to look beyond compliance in order to achieve ethical use of data.
As the world of big data continues to explode, this may appear to be a daunting process, but the good news is that there are simple steps businesses as well as developers can take to promote best practices and ensure a solid ethical foundation is in place.
Diversity and inclusion
As a start, companies should consider their people. Curating greater diversity in tech is critical to avoiding closed and self-reinforcing approaches to data and digital innovation as well as to preventing unintentional bias in algorithms.
After all, humans write these algorithms, and humans have inherent biases, which consciously or unconsciously may get into the code. Thus, creating a more diverse workforce should be seen as more than meeting a quota or ticking a box but a business imperative. To achieve this, businesses should carefully consider their recruitment process, making sure everything from job descriptions to interview formats promote an inclusive, unbiased agenda.
Taking the time to actively target minority groups or seek referrals from minority employees can pay dividends in enabling greater representation too. Recruiting diverse talent is not enough. Establishing an inclusive company culture that makes all employees feel welcome, recognized, and supported, and actively celebrates differences and new ways of thinking is key to retaining a diversity of talent and wide intellectual capacity.
When employees from different backgrounds and mindsets can express themselves freely and support each other, this supportive engagement and awareness will find itself into a well-balanced and fair algorithm.
Taking the concepts of diversity, inclusion, and equality a step further, MudAi, a new service provider for the growing metaverse business, is ready to launch a series of features on the market which addresses these issues. The project serves as an organizer and a platform that promotes peace and harmony by creating a global metaverse.
People of all races, ideologies, religions, national borders and even languages may freely express themselves. The people that participate in the project will build and own this virtual world. The ecosystem will only get financial and technical help from MudAi. Everything is browser-based and designed for a fast speed of loading.
In addition, MudAi team’s vision of a metaverse is shaped by the actions and decisions of its users. Thus, users not only have control of their own data, but also have a voice and an impact on the platform ecosystem, its direction, and actions.
While once confined to data analytics and business intelligence teams, the ability to understand and interpret data is now a common and essential task for every business area and ranking. Educating the entire team on how to manage and use data ensures everyone understands the opportunities, risks, and standards they should adhere to ensure consistency across the board.
Data accountability should always be top of the agenda for every company or project. At a basic level, companies should identify who is accountable for the impact of their use of data and that their applications are being used fairly. To ensure cross-organization accountability, this should be established as a company-wide initiative with all employees aware of the various processes and procedures in place.
Many businesses will be well versed in the data protection and privacy legislation in the region where they operate. However, businesses and projects should go beyond standard compliance. As the law struggles to keep up with the rapid and ever-evolving rate of technological innovation, the reality is that there will always be additional, non-mandatory opportunities to break new boundaries in data ethics and online privacy. Those that go the extra mile will enhance their reputation, while remaining enterprising and progressive.
The metaverse as a concrete reality might be years away. In the meantime, the underlying technologies that enable the metaverse, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and 5G hyper-connectivity continue to evolve and create a new age of bigger data.
With this comes an opportunity for businesses and developers to go beyond compliance and break new ground in their commitment to ethical principles. As the digital evolution continues to spark new debate around the roles of privacy and personalization, this approach will instill trust, and pave the foundations to sound ethical standards and morals as we develop and shape the metaverse.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.
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