Social Implications Of Virtual Reality

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  • Freedom of Speech
         There is not many issues in freedom of speech.  Main items would be activities dealing with crime, such as child pornography[11].  However, this and other crimes are talked more later in its own section.
  • Intellectual Property
         There is not many issues with Intellectual Property.   The most relevant comes from IP battles of smart phone manufacturers (as some VR devices utilize your smart phone)[14].
  • Privacy

    • Many companies are moving toward a future where the entire body is tracked head to toe. [7]In this regard Virtual Reality has the potential to reinvent the way we see online privacy. One of the fundamental aspects of the internet it the possibility to be nothing more than an anonymous keyboard and mouse. Even with this simple interface, many companies use data-mining in order to identify and track individuals based upon patterns of behavior and sites they visit. [8][9] This tracking can be based on any small bits of data that are then strung together and can be used to find information about people that is not directly apparent from any given data point. It is data mining that caused a stir when Target used it to determine if, and to what extent, women were pregnant. While at first this doesn’t seem too relevant to VR, consider the near future when VR allows the precise tracking of your every twitch. Virtual reality will have the most comprehensive data about the movement and behavior of your body. In the future virtual reality will allow companies to know your measurements better than you, and that is just the beginning. If Target can pinpoint the due date of a pregnant woman to a few weeks based solely on what she buys at their store, imagine what could be conclusions could be mined from millimeter-accurate measurement of your every movement. Conservatively, they will know your height, weight, arm span, leg length, limps, posture, shirt size, pants size, nervous ticks, fears, physical prowess (or clumsiness), eyesight, age, comfort, reaction time, mood, and even tendency for violence, sympathy, empathy and introversion. Imagine watching an ad that is dynamically changing because it knows you’re bored and aims to engage you. Imagine ads for ice cream delivered to your door because your body language in-game says you had a rough day.
    • From another direction, this could allow the government equally unparalleled opportunities as they collect massive amounts of data on every person using virtual reality. Aspects of interest to the government could include IQ and efficacy based upon how well one person does relatively to others. Additionally, and more worryingly, the government could use this new information to establish a threat level to each individual based upon their abilities, pension for violent games, frustration acted out physically, and general behavior profile down to the millimeter.


  • Crime
    • Is crime on virtual reality worlds treated the same as real crime? If the difference between real and virtual is blurred by increased performance of these systems, at what point is there no realistic difference between virtual crime and real crime? If your avatar is murdered on a virtual reality world, with you experiencing all of it, except for actually dying, is anyone at fault? These lines may need to be defined before virtual reality reality becomes commonplace. Virtual reality may not be completely polished yet - it is still not entirely a "real" experience. But what happens when virtual reality is indistinguishable from reality? People even now are brought to tears playing VR games. [1]
    • Privacy crime is the largest risk here - what if the system is hacked? Can have some problems with viewing things that you didn't want to see. It is easy to put images in front of you that were not originally in your plan if you system is no longer under your control.
    • As sensors become more and more advanced, there is potential for stealing someone's movements/identity to cause harm to someone. For example, if heartbeat sensors or fingerprint scanners start being commonplace in VR, that might expose information to people who shouldn't necessarily have it. Again, these are simply privacy crime concerns.
    • Virtual reality may bring jurors to crime scenes, to recreate the scene so that the jurors have a better view of what happened. This will not directly affect the way that crime happens, but it most definitely will change the way that people are convicted of crimes. [3]
[1] http://time.com/4172998/virtual-reality-oculus-rift-htc-vive-ces/
[2] http://www.newsweek.com/can-you-commit-real-crime-virtual-reality-449856
[3]http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2016/05/24/virtual-reality-research-aims-to-transport-jurors-to-crime-scenes/
  • Errors, Failures, and Risks
    • Poorly done VR has the potential to make users physically sick. VR sickness is similar to simulation sickness and other forms of motion sickness. Its symptoms can include eye strain, headache, vertigo, nausea, and even vomiting. These symptoms can persist for hours or days after the use of VR [4].  VR sickness is caused by mismatches between the vestibular and visual systems in the body. The eyes of a VR user perceive motion, but since there is little to no actual accelerations the vestibular system does not. A variety of things can cause this, including errors in positional tracking, lag between user input and an action occurring, and flicker in the display [4].  Artificial locomotion methods like game pads and keyboards also often cause this same effect. Current developers in VR are working to identify the exact causes of VR sickness and identifying systems to mitigate or emanate the effects [5]. 
  • Work
    • VR has the potential to revolutionize the business industry. It would allow for remote teleconferencing that would be much more effective than current methods. People would be able to interact in virtual environments as if they were in the same room, eliminating much of the downside of remote workers. This would also allow for increased globalization, as people would be able to work from anywhere in the world without having to ever step foot in a physical office. In theory, many offices could be completely or almost completely replaced by these virtual offices if all of the work does not involve physically interacting with products. [12] 
    • VR will also allow for a revolution in the conventional desktop. Currently computers are limited to a few flat displays, which only take up a small portion of the user's view. With VR, the computer can render objects and windows anywhere around the user. This would allow for increased productivity, as one could have many more projects and interfaces displayed at once. In addition to the display improvements, VR could also allow for changes in computer interaction. Users would be able to simply grab objects and manipulate them, making many actions much more intuitive. This could have the largest impact on the 3D modeling industry. Modelers would be able to sculpt or manipulate their creations directly, allowing for much easier design. Additionally, VR could be used for visualizing these designs, allowing users to see what the object would like in the real world. To this end, Dassault (the makers of SolidWorks) have partnered with HTC to bring VR to the CAD world.[13]

Social Implications

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