How to build a responsible approach for the use of VR and AI
When artificial reality and virtual reality first arrived on the scene, many people were concerned for their own safety and that of our world. As technology progresses, it has become obvious that AI and VR will work very closely together and it is our duty as tech leaders to work towards a future that fosters an ethical and responsible approach to developing VR and AI.
Building worlds in the metaverse is a creative and exciting privilege, and it gives us the chance to help shape humanity in the years to come. Both the creators and users of VR and AI technologies need to work together to elevate the good in our world.
Here are just three aspects we should consider:
1. KEEP HEALTH IN MIND
Just as you get manufacturers who put sweeteners and additives in food so that people become addicted to them, so developers create technology that is addictively immersive. Not only are these types of apps and programs bad for our mental health, our physical health also takes a knock.
Rather than creating tech that forces us to sit at our desks or on our phones for hours on end, we need to look towards a future with more movement. This tech should also work for, rather than against, our psychology. This may seem difficult at present, without many examples to lead us, and that’s exactly why we need to begin taking the steps to remedy our behaviour.
The most obvious solution is to design VR and AI not as just VR and AI, but rather with extended reality (an environment that is a combination of real and virtual) in mind instead. Creative uses here could rescue us from the confines of our tech, while still allowing us to enjoy the convenience and fun it provides.
2. ENSURE IT FOSTERS COMMUNITY
Feeling connected and having a place amongst other people is natural to us as humans. Historically, however, tech has been somewhat exclusive. This is possibly because it makes it easier and more efficient for us to connect, but when there are those who don’t have access, they are more isolated than ever because everyone is flocking to tech solutions instead.
The next step could be that many of us will spend hours a day using tech not to connect with those closest to us, but to AI characters; or we may spend our time immersed in a virtual space and without connecting at all. This would be the equivalent of us dreaming about what we want instead of heading out into the world to experience the real thing.
While interacting with AI in an immersive game and travelling the world in VR rather than in person seem like fun, we need to ask ourselves if this use of our amazing technology is actually serving us, or whether we’re wasting opportunities?
Virtual reality could be a massive success as the thing that brings us closer together. It is offering us the opportunity to bring our loved ones even nearer to us; we can use it to have a dream job anywhere in the world; you can prepare for a trip virtually before heading on your travels in person to ensure you will have the fullest experience.
3. CHOOSE A BETTER NEW NORMAL FOR OUR FUTURE
Harrison Lloyd wrote: “We are not a product of our circumstances – we’re a product of our decisions.” He goes on to elaborate that human beings have neglected their environment, consumed more than they could produce long-term and held on to outdated societal norms.
In our memes and popular science fiction, we satirise an apocalyptic future for ourselves, where our tech threw us over the edge. These kinds of narratives have the potential to direct attention away from tech companies who are working actively to facilitate a future we can be proud of. The world is expecting VR that gives us instant gratification and AI that will allow us to have relationships with robots designed just for us. And while there certainly will be people creating this kind of technology, most of us have a more positive and proactive view of the future.
We need to design future VR and AI around the best things in our world. For example, we noticed how much healthier and better for life balance working from home was during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why we decided to extend our internal training tool, Virtuworx, to the wider public, to make it easier for them to attend events and work and train from home, while still maintaining those quintessential connections.
Similarly, instead of creating tech that is based around passive consumerism, we can create participatory experiences that help us engage with others and the world around us. We can also use it to model a future of work or play that is sustainable.
The tech industry has a massive impact on society currently, and therefore has the responsibility to create tech that is useful, ethical and sustainable for our future. Keep your eyes on our newsfeed to find out what projects The Virtulab is working on as we try to do exactly that.
November 25, 2021
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