On February 22, 2023, researchers from the Metavethics Insitute presented a groundbreaking new field of research at the Intelligent Human Systems Integration Conference (IHSI) in Venice, Italy.
The field, called Metavethics, focuses on exploring the ethical and integrity implications related to the metaverse and digital, virtual, and immersive environments.
With the increased importance and use of digital, virtual, and immersive environments in daily lives there is a potential to transform the way people work, play, and interact with each other.
At the IHSI conference, some of the key opportunities that the field of the ethics of the metaverse (Metavethics) seeks to address were presented.
Two of the most impactful opportunities refer to safety and security.
As users engage with virtual, digital, and immersive environments, they generate vast amounts of data that can be used to track their behavior and preferences. This raises questions about how this data will be used, who will have access to it, and what safeguard mechanisms will be put in place to protect users' privacy.
Another opportunity for further research refers to the potential for the metaverse to blur the boundaries between real and virtual worlds, leading to ethical dilemmas. For example, individuals may engage in virtual activities that would be considered unethical or illegal in the real world, such as identity theft or harassment. This raises questions about the nature of moral responsibility and the extent to which individuals can be held accountable for their actions in digital, virtual, and immersive environments.
“If I came very close to you in the metaverse, you would feel uncomfortable, and you would say, what does this guy really want?”
These are some of the opportunities and implications that might arise with the use and development of digital, virtual, and immersive environments.
We truly believe that there is a strong need to develop a dialogue and collaboration between academics, researchers, industry professionals, and policymakers to ensure that the ethical and integrity implications of the metaverse are carefully considered and addressed.
With this first milestone, we aim to enable sustainable ethical, and inclusive efforts for technology-driven organizations developing digital, virtual, and immersive technologies, by promoting access for people of different ages and abilities, communities from developing countries, and to improve their use in K-12 educational, working, or entertainment contexts, while addressing the needs of historically marginalized communities and underrepresented minorities.
The importance of applying a Metavethics lens to these conversations, to ensure that we are not only asking the right questions but also interpreting and evaluating the answers in a meaningful and rigorous way will affect how the door to the metaverse could be opened by different people by emphasizing the sense of belonging and help them to understand how they can be part of something new.
The Metavethics Institute is a global network of passionate scientists thought leaders, and industry experts committed to ensuring that metaverses and digital, virtual, and immersive environments are designed and developed by delivering integrity, privacy, safety, diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion.
Do you want to become a Metavethicist?