Friday, December 30, 2016

VR Analytics=Privacy Invasion? (part 4/4)

Data collected from VR users can easily be used to manipulate by those who control VR platforms. In fact, commercial third-party software designed for VR developers already allows for data collection to help identify which parts of their worlds are most engaging and which parts need more work, based on the reactions of users in real time. These systems are also capable of influencing people using VR, manipulating them, for example, to make more environmentally conscious choices and or affecting their choices in tests for racial bias. AI-controlled avatars can be used to “nudge” users into accepting certain ideas or views through seemingly innocuous AI-avatar conversation responses such as smiling or frowning, and these avatars could be even more effective if they are able to access data about the user’s emotional responses through eye-tracking or emotion capture. Emotional data collection and influence upon VR users is currently without limit, as no laws exist to restrict the types of behavioral data VR companies can collect from users, nor are there laws restricting how that data will be used. There are also no laws to protect against who will have access to this data—data which could be used and shared among profit-seeking advertising companies, insurance companies, the police, and the government. Laws were finally enacted against subliminal advertising in the 1970's—will VR users have the same protection someday? Or will anyone care, in a technological landscape where giving up all privacy is increasingly accepted?

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