Does the metaverse need its own police force?

Does the metaverse need its own police force?

Two people enter the metaverse. They appear as avatars, wearing virtual reality headsets and haptic suits that provide virtual body feedback. One person is assaulting the other. what happened after that?

It sounds completely unrealistic, but experts believe that the dark side of the metaverse, the potential for crime from assault to hacking and even avatar rape, has yet to be fully considered.

How to monitor the metaverse – an online world where people can live their lives in the form of avatars – has, then, opened new frontiers for governments, tech companies and police forces.

The issue was in sharp focus this week at the Abu Dhabi International National Security Expo and Resilience Conference as attendees heard tough questions about trying to take over the metaverse.

“If we start to see metavir doing what I think it will do, which is becoming more real and more massive than ever before, you have to start asking very difficult questions about what physical police action represents in virtual reality,” said Gareth Stubbs. , a former British police officer spoke at the conference on Monday.

“If we introduce tactile suits with feedback from bodily touch… that opens up a huge amount of body-focused crime categories,” said Mr. Stubbs, who lectures at Rabdan Academy in Abu Dhabi.

“It can be regulated through things like consent. But it is open to abuse and vulnerable to hacking and impersonation.”

What is metaverse?

The metaverse is seen as a new online world where a person with a 3D avatar – a representation of yourself – uses a virtual reality headset to go to concerts, work or just socialize. It was first mentioned in a 1992 science fiction novel, Snow crash. online community, second life, which was released in 2003 was loosely based on the concept. But interest has surged in the past few years driven by advances in technology and massive investment by companies like Facebook, which was renamed Meta in 2021.

Some are still skeptical and believe that metaphysics are still many years after maturation. However, interest is growing and the United Arab Emirates has announced that it will set up an office of the Ministry of Economy there. Ajman Police have also conducted trials, and the Metaverse Society in Dubai last month attracted experts from around the world to explore its potential.

But questions also arise about the work of the police and about who is responsible for organizing it. There have even been reports of avatars teasing others in the current virtual reality world of Meta, Horizons.

“Speaking from an American point of view, crimes on the other side are mostly related to improper behavior [harassment, use of explicit language, racism etc]Professor Marco Marabelli, an expert in the field who teaches at Bentley University in the US, said:

“These are important issues. The problem is that because the metaverse is ‘running’ in real time, it is often difficult to keep digital traces of what is happening on the platform or platforms. This makes it difficult to prosecute the perpetrators. This is a source of concern.”

Technology that allows the metaverse to succeed, like virtual reality headsets, is getting better all the time.  Environmental Protection Agency

A faster response is required from the regulators

Experts at the Abu Dhabi conference noted that governments and regulators around the world are not moving fast enough. Stubbs said it was critical that the chaos of the early Internet, where criminals took advantage of the slow response of regulators, not be repeated with this turnaround.

“People were saying it was the heyday of the internet,” he said. “Yes, it was, but a lot of bad things happened in addition to good things. Look at cybercrime. It was a stratospheric growth. This was the untold story while the internet was developing.

“Law and regulation… it would take years to set up and you would have that black spot… of disorganized space and that disorganized space giving way to bad parties. I’m not saying that’s all you’ll get [but] We shouldn’t ignore it.”

Prof Marabelli said one of the problems with emerging technologies is that regulators often start tackling the problem as soon as the damage is done.

“One partial solution… is to put in place high-level laws and regulations that protect the basic rights of citizens regarding technologies. Data privacy laws, laws regulating how algorithms are used with the general public in terms of transparency, accountability and so on,” he said.

“To that end, Europe is way ahead of the United States,” he said, referring to the adaptation of the General Data Protection Regulation and the first-ever proposed legal framework on the use of artificial intelligence.

“But recently [President Joe] “The Biden administration is taking important steps toward protecting citizens from inappropriate use of algorithm-based systems,” Professor Marabelli said, referring to the publication of the Artificial Intelligence Rights Act, a set of guidelines intended to encourage the responsible use of artificial intelligence.

He also pointed to the fact that governments do not drive technology research as they used to – private companies do – and often do not have the tools to evaluate technology because these companies often do not share research data about their innovations and potential dark side. . pointed to The Wall Street Journal The article that found Instagram led young teens with eating disorders to actually eat less.

Professor Marabelli said: “If not for the whistleblower, we would never have known about this internal research. This is a huge problem.”

Gareth Stubbs is a former British police officer and now lectures at Rabdan Academy in Abu Dhabi.  Photo: Rabdan Academy

How can metaviruses be monitored?

What would the police look like in the metaverse? First, the platforms can use online tools and artificial intelligence to detect erroneous behavior. Meta has even introduced a tool to try to stop bad behavior where people can prevent others from interacting with them, but that puts the burden on users.

Another is a system similar to speed cameras where a person who breaks the rules gets a fine in the real world, while the third is the appearance of volunteer police officers similar to the moderators seen on social media groups today. Also possible, Stubbs said, is a strange new world of avatars for police officers carrying out justice online.

“We might see … an avatar of a police officer on active patrol the same way I would be on foot patrol in downtown Blackpool,” said Stubbs, who has spent years tramping on council estates in Blackpool. It can be a visual deterrent.”

We can also see “Avatar Prison”, because the avatar is very connected to your real life, and not allowing it to be used would be a real punishment. “I know this is a reimagining of the reservation system of sorts, but it doesn’t do any physical harm to the person,” Stubbs said.

It’s not technically a prison but the boundaries are blurred. It’s strange. But we will likely see the creation of a new type of police in Metaverse. It will not look like the old one. The challenge will be trying to figure out what it looks like.”

How will the metaverse change the world

Despite the skepticism of some quarters, the investment is pouring into the metaverse. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta this year, said he envisioned “a billion people” spending hundreds of dollars on digital goods. But experts warn that VR headsets are still some way from being comfortable and it will take years before their ability to reshape sectors from education to health is seen.

He is currently at the center of research in what we call ‘the future of work,’ Professor Marabelli said.

“However, the technology … is still very immature. Mark Zuckerberg said he believes the metaverse will be ready for the general public in five years from now. I think a decade might be a more accurate bet, but it will come. And it will change many business practices. And maybe our own lives. As did the internet and social media.”

Updated: October 14, 2022, 6:00 PM

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