One of the most popular trends in product design right now is the metaverse. Dozens of articles explain what the metaverse is and how it will be the next step after the internet as we know it. But fewer articles talk about how dangerous this technology is for our society.
If we don’t carefully design the metaverse with the public’s best interests in mind, it could cause a number of problems.
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One of the worst things about the internet is cyberbullying. Between the ages of 12 and 17, about 37% of young people have been bullied online. Young people who suffer from cyberbullying have a higher chance of self-harm and suicide.
The metaverse, on the other hand, can take this problem to the next level. It’s one thing to see a mean comment on Twitter or Facebook, but it’s another thing to see the person who wrote it right in front of you. The virtual world will make it hard to tell the difference between our real and virtual selves. So, if the other person insults or hurts you, it will feel much more like they are hurting you personally. Cyberbullying is a problem that can lead to more psychological traumas if it is not handled in the right way.
But moderation can’t happen if there aren’t clear rules about how people should act. Most likely, the people who made the metaverse will write a set of rules for it that will let moderators and AI-based tools judge how people act in the virtual space and act accordingly. Most likely, the rules will be based on real-world moral codes that have something to do with how people interact in the virtual world.
If ads are used to make money in the metaverse, there will probably be more concerns about privacy.
The more information you have about a user, the better you can guess what they’ll want. Imagine a virtual world where your every move is tracked so that a company can learn about your tastes and show you ads that are more likely to interest you.
Even though the metaverse is built on web 3.0 and blockchain technology, data privacy may just be a myth. Before the first user joins the metaverse, it’s important to have GDPR rules in place.
The worst thing that can happen to you today in terms of data security is if someone hacks your account and gets some of your data (access to your bank account, photos, personal messages, etc.). The worst thing that can happen to your data security in the metaverse is if someone hacks your digital identity and takes all of your digital assets. One of the main goals of the people who make the metaverse will be to make data security better.
Industry leaders are always looking for new ways to make sure that data is safe. One way to protect a user’s digital identity is to use biometric data when setting up an account and logging in. For example, the sign-in process in the metaverse will probably include facial recognition and fingerprint scanning by default.
Social media is a big reason why people in the US are more divided than ever. In the movie The Social Dilemma, it was said that AI algorithms used by social media systems track how people use them and what they like to see so they can give them more of what they like. The Covid-19 pandemic showed that having such different points of view can be dangerous.
If the metaverse is built on the same foundation, it will be even easier for people to be divided and cause the tension that usually comes with it. When you can feel the presence of other people in the virtual world, it’s much easier to build communities, and seeing how many other people agree with you will give you more confidence.
Virtual reality (VR) is seen as one of the most important ways to communicate in the metaverse. When we talk to each other in virtual space, we will wear VR headsets. It’s a known fact that using a modern VR headset for a long time can cause eye strain. Our eyes and minds need a break from virtual activities, but the metaverse will be made to keep people interested. So, people will spend a lot of time in the virtual world, which is bad for their health.
Some of the problems people have with VR headsets right now can be fixed by making the technical side of the devices better. For example, most VR headsets on the market today have a refresh rate of either 60Hz or 90Hz. Some experts think that 120Hz is the minimum refresh rate that makes interacting in VR space more natural for the human eye (the higher the refresh rate, the smoother the motion).
But the people who made the metaverse should also add ways to stop people from staying in the virtual space for long periods of time. It’s also important to give parents tools like parental controls that stop teens from spending too much time online.