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e-book Act Your Age: Moral Imagination in the Virtual World

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Clearly, using a Wand to navigate or even a treadmill may miss critical aspects of the play see also Section 2. The paper reports many such pitfalls that need to be overcome and points out that studies have been inconclusive and therefore, there is the need for more research. Craig reviews how VR might be used to understand perception and action in sport. She argues that VR offers some clear advantages for this and gives a number of examples where it has been successful, as well as pointing out problems. However, she wonders why if it is successful it has not been widely used in training up to now, but where there is reliance on alternatives such as video.

She points out that one problem has been cost, though this is likely to be ameliorated in the near term. A second problem is to effectively and differentially meet the needs of players and coaches, pointing out how VR action replays could be seen from many different viewpoints, including those of the player and of the coach so that different relevant learning would be possible. Another advantage of VR would be to train players to notice deceptive movements in opponents, by directing attention to specific moves or body parts that signal such intentions.

However, she points out as mentioned above how it is critical to provide appropriate cues to avoid mislearning. This was a Cave-like system enhanced with auditory and haptic capabilities, an earlier version described in von Zitzewitz et al. Their study, carried out with eight participants, compared skill acquisition between conventional training on water, with training in the simulator.

Examining the differences between the two they concluded that both with respect to questionnaire and biomechanical responses that the methods were similar enough for the simulator to be used as a complementary training tool, since there was sufficient and appropriate transfer of training using this method. The novelty was that they added a virtual audience to test the idea that the presence of an audience would encourage the rowers in a competitive situation.

They did not find a notable outcome in this regard, only the relatively high degree of presence felt by the participants. On similar lines, Wellner et al. In spite of null results, it is important to note how VR affords the possibility to experiment with such factors that would be possible, but logistically very difficult to do in reality.

Another example of this use of VR that is logistically very difficult to do otherwise is for spectators to attend sports matches when they cannot physically attend e. Instead, they can view them, as if they were there — and have the excitement of seeing the game life-sized, first hand, and among a crowd of enthusiasts. They carried out a study with 60 participants who were divided into three conditions: They concluded that the Cave and HMD experiences gave the participants greater opportunity to interact i.

Participants nevertheless experienced a greater degree of realism in the Cave, perhaps not surprising because of its greater resolution and several orders of magnitude greater cost. On the whole, the HMD and Cave produced similar results across a number of aspects of presence. There have been many other applications of VR in sports — impossible to cover all of them here — for example, a baseball simulator, 46 for handball goalkeeping Bideau et al. It is well known that aerobic exercise is extremely good for us, especially as we age.

A meta study of research relating to older adults carried out by Colcombe and Kramer showed that there is a clear benefit for certain cognitive functions. A more recent survey by Sommer and Kahn again showed the benefits of exercise for cognition for a variety of conditions. However, repetitive exercise with aerobic benefits can be boring; indeed, Hagberg et al. Virtual reality opens up the possibility of radically altering how we engage in exercise.

Instead of just being on a stepping machine watching a simple 2D representation of a terrain, we can be walking up an incline on the Great Wall of China, or walking up the steps in a huge auditorium where we are excitedly going to watch a sports game, or even walking up steps to a fantasy castle in a science fiction scenario. Instead of just riding an exercise bike, we can be cycling through the landscape of Mars. Moreover, other motivational factors can be introduced such as virtual competitors as we saw in the rowing example above.

Finkelstein and Suma used a three-walled stereoscopic display and upper body tracking of participants who had to dodge virtual planets flying toward them. They found that the method produces increased heart rate i. They found that the addition of music was beneficial both psychologically for motivation and pleasure and behaviorally. They were interested in testing among other things whether such cycling would improve executive function. They found that cognitive function was improved among the cybercyclers, and that it was likely that it would help to prevent cognitive decline compared to traditional exercise.

Overall, while there has been significant work in this area, a systematic review carried out by Bleakley et al. It is one thing to be cycling or walking on a treadmill or exercise steps while looking at a screen, since this is anyway the case with most exercise machines even though the display may be very simplistic. Since the exerciser is not actually moving through space, looking at a screen should be harmless. However, it is not obvious that the same activities could be safely or successfully carried while people are wearing an HMD, which not only obscures their vision of the real world but may also lead to a degree of nausea — which is all the more likely to occur while moving through virtual space.

First, to overcome the problem of possible sickness; second, to have reliable tracking of the body; third to deal with health and safety aspects; fourth the choice of player visual perspective; and fifth, the problem of latency. They described a system that was designed to overcome these problems, that used an Oculus DK2 HMD, and which was evaluated in an experimental study Shaw et al. They compared three setups: The fundamental findings were that on several measures calories burned, distance traveled the two feedback systems outperformed the bike only condition but did not differ from each other.

The two systems with feedback were also evaluated as more enjoyable than the bike only, and the HMD was more enjoyable and was associated with greater motivation than the external display system. Only 4 out of 26 reported some minor symptoms of simulator sickness. As the authors pointed out, the study was limited, since the participants were almost all males, and with limited age range, and it is not known how well these results would generalize.

There are several other applications without associated papers such as RiftRun 53 where participants run on the spot to virtually run through an environment. Whether these are successful or not will obviously depend on consumer uptake. Finally, as in other applications, we emphasize that VR allows us to go beyond what is possible in reality. Even cycling through Mars is just cycling. It is physically possible, if highly unlikely to be realized. Perhaps though there are fundamentally new paradigms that can really exploit the power of VR — the virtual unreality that we mentioned in the opening of this article.

One approach is to use VR to implicitly motivate people toward greater exercise rather than as a means to carry out the exercise itself. Participants at various points were required to carry out physical exercises or not. While they did not carry out these exercises the body of their virtual doppelganger became fatter, and while they did the exercises the virtual body became thinner.

The dependent variable was the amount of voluntary exercise that participants carried out in a final phase of the experiment during which there was also positive and negative reinforcement. It was found that the greatest exercise was carried out by the group that had the positive and negative reinforcement. In order to check that it was the facial likeness that accounted for this result, a second experiment introduced another condition, which was that the face of the virtual body was that of someone else.

Here, the result only occurred for the condition of the virtual doppelganger. The setup was that they saw their doppelganger exercising on a treadmill, or a virtual character that did not look like themselves exercising, or a condition where their doppelganger was not doing any exercise but just standing around. The results suggested that those who saw their virtual look-alike exercising did carry out significantly more exercise in the real world in a period after the experiment than the other two conditions. A second approach might be to use VR to provide a surrogate for exercising, rather than providing a motivation to exercise physically in reality.

Participants who were seated wearing an HMD and unmoving except for their head saw from 1PP their virtual body standing and carrying out walking movements across a field. They saw this when they looked down directly toward their legs that would be walking, and also in a shadow. In another condition they saw the body from a 3PP. After experiencing this virtual walking for a while they approached a hill, and the body walked up the hill. In the embodied 1PP condition participants had a high level of body ownership and agency over the walking, compared with the 3PP condition.

More importantly, for this discussion, while walking up the hill participants had stronger skin conductance responses more sweat and greater mean heart rate in the embodied condition, compared to a period before the hill climbing, which did not occur for those in the 3PP. There were 28 participants each of whom experienced both conditions there was another factor, but it is not relevant to this discussion. Although there are caveats for both of these studies, the important aspect for our present purpose is that they illustrate how VR might be used to break out of the boundaries of physical reality and achieve useful results through quite novel paradigms.

Of course it must always be better to carry out actual physical exercise rather than relying on your virtual body to do it for you.

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Yet sometimes, for example, on a long flight, virtual exercise might be the only possibility. There are many areas of social interaction between people where it is important to have good scientific understanding. What factors are involved in aggression of one group against another, or in various forms of discrimination?

Which factors might be varied in order to decrease conflict, improve social harmony? It is problematic to carry out experimental studies in this area for reasons discussed below. However, immersive VR provides a powerful tool for the simulation of social scenarios, and due to its presence-inducing properties can be effectively used for laboratory-based controlled studies. Similarly, away from the domain of experiments, there are many aspects of our cultural heritage that people cannot experience — how an ancient site might have looked in its day, the experience of being in a Roman amphitheater as it might have been at the time, and so on.

Again, VR offers the possibility of direct experience of such historical and cultural sites and events. In this section, we consider some examples of the application of VR in these fields, starting first with social psychology. Here, the potential benefits are enormous.

Deforming Teens’ Moral Imagination

First, studies that are impossible in reality for practical or ethical reasons are possible in VR. Second, VR allows exact repetition of experimental conditions across all trials of an experiment. Moreover, virtual human characters programed to perform actions in a social scenario can do so multiple times. This is not possible with confederates or actors, who can become tired and also have to be paid. Although it is costly to produce a VR scenario, once it is done, it can be used over and over again.

Also, the scenarios can be arbitrary rather than restricted to laboratory settings. The first refers to the possibility of valid experimental designs including issues such as repeatability across different trials and conditions, the precision at which outcomes can be measured, and so on. The second refers to generalizability. For example, in a study of the causes of violence, VR can place people in a situation of violence, which cannot be done in a real-life setting.

This means that there is the possibility of generalization of results out of the laboratory to what may occur in reality. In particular, VR can be used to study extreme situations that are ethically and practically impossible in reality. This relies on presence — PI and Psi — leading to behavior in VR that is sufficiently similar to what would be expected in real-life behaviors under the approximately the same conditions. In the sections below, we briefly review examples of research in this area. How do you feel when a stranger approaches you and stands very close? Proxemics is the study of interpersonal distances between people, discussed in depth by Hall He defined intimate, personal, social, and public distances that people maintain toward each other and these distances may be culturally dependent.

An interesting question is the extent to which these findings also occur in VR. If a virtual human character approaches and stands close to you, in principle this is irrelevant since nothing real is happening — there is no one there. Even if the character represents a physically remote actual person who is in the same shared virtual environment as you, they are not really in the same space as you, and therefore not close. We briefly consider proxemics behavior in VR because it is a straightforward but fundamental social behavior, and finding that the predictions of proxemics theory hold true for VR is a foundation for showing that VR could be useful for the study of social interaction.

There has not been a great deal of work on this topic that has exploited VR. This work was continued in Bailenson et al. Participants also moved away when virtual characters approached them. Readers might be wondering — so what? It has to be remembered though that these are virtual characters, no real social interaction is taking place at all. Further studies have shown that proxemics behavior tends to operate in virtual environments Guye-Vuilleme et al. Subsequently, participants engaged in a shooting game with those virtual characters.

It was found that there was a positive correlation between the distance maintained from the characters in the first phase and the degree of aggression exhibited toward them in the second phase but only for the condition where both virtual characters were Black. This was to test the finding of McBride et al. It was found that there was a greater skin conductance response as a function of the closeness to which the characters approached participants and the number of characters simultaneously approaching.

However, it was found that there was no difference in these responses when cylinders were used instead of characters. It was suggested that skin conductance cannot differentiate between the arousal caused by characters breaking social distance norms and the arousal caused by fear of collision with a large object the cylinder moving close to the participants. Kastanis and Slater showed how a reinforcement learning RL agent controlling the movements of a virtual character could essentially learn proxemics behavior in order to realize the goal of moving the participant to a specific location in the virtual environment.

Participants in an immersive VR saw a male humanoid virtual character standing at a distance and facing them. Every so often the character would walk varying distances toward the participant, walk away from the participant, or wave for the participant to move closer to him. The long run aim was to get the participant to move far back to this target, unknown to the participant herself. The RL eventually learned that if its character went very close to the participant, then the participant would step backwards.

Moreover, if the character was far away then it sacrificed short-term reward by simply waiving toward the participant to come closer to itself, because then its moving forwards action would be effective in moving the participant backwards. Hence, the RL relied on presence the participant moving back when approached too close — from the prediction of proxemics theory and learned how to exploit this proxemics behavior to achieve its task. For all participants, the RL learned to get the participant back to the target within a short time.

This method could not have worked unless proxemics occurred in the VR. Having shown that this is the case we move on to more complex social interaction.

Frontiers | Enhancing Our Lives with Immersive Virtual Reality | Robotics and AI

For example, we saw earlier how simply placing White people in a Black body in a situation known to be associated with race discrimination led to an increase in implicit racial bias Groom et al. On the other hand, virtual body representation has been shown to be effective with respect to racial bias, where White people embodied in a Black-skinned body show a reduction in implicit racial bias Peck et al.

More generally, the method of virtual embodiment has also been used to give adults the experience of being a child Banakou et al. Some of the work in the area of body representation applied to implicit bias is reviewed in Slater and Sanchez-Vives and Maister et al. Although not in the context of discrimination there is some evidence from the work of Ahn et al. They immersed people with normal vision into an HMD-delivered VR where they experienced certain types of color blindness.

It illustrates how VR might be used to put people experientially in situations and how this may influence their behavior compared with only imaginal techniques. Stanley Milgram carried out a number of experiments in the s designed to address the question of how events such as the Holocaust could have occurred Milgram, He was interested in finding explanations of how ordinary people can be persuaded to carry out horrific acts. The type of experiments that he conducted involved experimental subjects giving apparently lethal electric shocks to strangers.

These are a very famous experiments that are as topical today as in the s, and barely a week goes by when there is not some mention of it in news media, 57 or further research relating to it is reported. Typically, the experimental subject, normally recruited from the local town near Yale University rather than from among psychology students, were invited to the laboratory where he or she met another person, also supposedly recruited in the same way. The other person was in fact a confederate of the experimenter, an actor hired for the purpose, this being unknown to the subject.

The experimenter invited the subject and the actor to draw lots to determine their respective roles in the experiment. It turned out that the subject was to play the role of Teacher, and the actor the role of Learner, but the outcome of this draw was fixed in advance. Then both the Teacher subject and Learner actor were taken to another room, where the Learner had electrodes placed on his body connected to an electric shock machine. It was explained that the idea was to examine how punishment might aid in learning.

The Learner was to learn some word-pair associations, and whenever he gave a wrong answer he was to be shocked. The Learner was left in the room, and the experimenter took the Teacher back into the main laboratory, closing the door to that room. He explained to the Teacher that he had to read out cues for the word-pair tests and whenever the Learner gave the wrong answer the Teacher should increase the voltage on a dial and administer an electric shock at that voltage.

The voltages were labeled from 15 V slight shock to V danger: During the course of the experiment, a tape was played giving the responses of the Learner. With the low voltage shocks there was no response. He shouted that he wanted to be let out of the experiment, and finally with the strongest shocks he became completely silent.

Participants generally found that the experience was extremely stressful, and even if they continued through to lethal voltages they were clearly very upset. Prior to the experiment, Milgram had asked a number of psychologists about how many people would go all the way and administer even lethal voltages to the Learner. The view was that only a tiny minority of people, those with psychopathic tendencies, would do so. The results stunned the world since it apparently showed that ordinary people could be led to administer severe pain to another at the behest of an authority figure.

There is a wealth of data and analysis and a description of many different versions of this experiment in Milgram , but the basic conclusion was that people will tend to obey authority figures. Here, ordinary people were being asked to carry out actions in a lab in a prestigious institution Yale University and in the cause of science. They tended to obey even if they found that doing so was extremely uncomfortable. Although this is not the place for discussion of this interpretation, interested readers can find alternative explanations for the results in, for example, Burger ; Miller ; Haslam and Reicher ; and Reicher et al.

Participants in these experiments were deceived — they were led to believe that the Learner was really just another subject, a stranger, and that he was really receiving the electric shocks. The problem was not so much the stress, but that fact that participants were not informed about what might happen, were not aware that they may be faced with an extremely stressful situation, and were ordered to continue participating even after they had clearly expressed the desire to stop.

These and other issues led to strong criticism from within the academic community that eventually led to a change in ethical standards — informed consent, the right to withdraw from an experiment at any moment without giving reasons, and care for the participants including debriefing. See also a discussion of these issues as they relate to VR in Madary and Metzinger Hence, these experiments on obedience, no matter how useful, cannot be carried out today for research purposes, no matter how valuable they might seem to be scientifically.

Yet, the questions addressed are fundamental since it appears that humans may be too ready to obey the authority of others even to the extent of committing horrific acts. In , a virtual reprise of one version of the Milgram experiments was carried out Slater et al. The approval was given because participants were warned in advance about possible stress, could leave the experiment whenever they wanted, and of course they knew for sure that no one in reality was being harmed because in this experiment the Learner was a poorly rendered virtual female character displayed in a Cave-like VR setting.

They saw the virtual Learner on the other side of a virtual partition, projected in stereo on the front wall of the Cave. Just as in the original experiment, after a while she began to complain and demanded to be let out of the experiment, and eventually seemed to faint. However, if participants expressed a wish to stop, no argument against this was given, and they stopped immediately.


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Even though carried out in VR, many of the same results as the original were obtained, though at a lower level of intensity of stress. All those who communicated by text gave all of the shocks. However, 6 of the 23 who saw and heard the Learner withdrew from the experiment before giving all shocks.

In the paper, it was argued that the gap between reality and VR makes these types of experiments possible. Presence PI and Psi leads to participants tending to respond to virtual stimuli as if they were real. But, on the other hand, they know that it is not real, which can also dampen down their responses. In VR, we see that they responded similarly, though not with the very strong and visible stress that many of the original participants displayed.

Using VR, we can study these types of events, and how people respond to them, and construct predictive theory that may help us understand how people might respond in reality. The predictions can then be tested against what happens in naturally occurring events and the theory examined for its viability.

This type of approach can also be used to gather real-time data about brain activity of people when faced with such a situation Cheetham et al. You are in a bar or other public place and suddenly a violent argument breaks out between two other people there. It seems to be about something trivial. One man is clearly the perpetrator, and the victim is trying to calm down the situation, but his every attempt at conciliation is used by the perpetrator as a cue for greater belligerence.

Eventually the perpetrator starts to physically assault the victim. What do you do? Suppose you are alone there?


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  • Suppose there are other people? Perhaps the victim shares some social identity with you, such as being a member of the same club or same ethnic group different to that of the aggressor. How do you respond? Do you try to intervene to stop the argument? How is your response influenced by these factors such as number of other bystanders or shared social identity with the victim or aggressor? This area of research was initiated in the late s provoked by a specific incident when apparently 38 bystanders observed a woman being murdered and did nothing to help.

    However, other researchers have also suggested the importance of social identity as a factor, the perceived relationships between the people involved, for example, see Reicher et al. There is a meta-analysis and review of the field by Fischer et al. As pointed out by Rovira et al. This is very similar to the situation of the Obedience studies discussed above. Instead, researchers have to study surrogates such as the responses of people to someone falling Latane and Rodin, or responses to an injured person laying on the ground Levine et al.

    However, these are not violent emergencies so that it may not be valid to extrapolate results from such scenarios to what might happen in actual violent emergencies. In VR it is possible to set up simulated situations, where we know from presence research that people are likely to react realistically to the events portrayed. A possible problem though with using video games is that they do not mobilize the body — there are no natural sensorimotor contingencies so that PI becomes something at best imaginal.

    In some applications this may not be important. Hence, it might be the case that video games are mainly aids to imagination and that results obtained from video games might be the same as those from imagination. Indeed, a result from Stenico and Greitemeyer suggests that this might be the case.

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    This is not to say that such results are invalid but that by themselves they are not convincing enough, and some experimental evidence is needed that does place participants into the midst of a violent emergency so that various factors influencing their responses can be investigated. But, as we have said this cannot be done both for practical and above all ethical reasons.

    The method to foster social identity with a virtual human character was through the use of soccer club affiliation. They were in a virtual bar where they had an initial conversation with a life-sized male virtual character V. After a while of this conversation another character P — also wearing a generic soccer shirt but not Arsenal — butted in and started to attack V especially because of his support of Arsenal.

    This attack increased in ferocity until after about 2 min it became a physically violent attack. It was found in accordance with social identity theory that those in the group where V was an enthusiastic Arsenal supporter intervened much more than those in the other group. There was a second factor, which was whether or not V occasionally looked toward the participant during the confrontation, but this had no effect. However, there was a positive correlation between the number of interventions and the extent to which participants believed that V was looking toward them for help — but only in the ingroup condition.

    Since it is impossible to compare these results with any study in real life, of course their validity in the sense of how much they would generalize to real-life behavior cannot be known. However, experiments such as these generate data and concomitant theory, which can be compared in a predictive manner with what happens in real-life events. In fact, there is no other way to do this other than the use of actors — which as mentioned earlier can run into ethical and practical problems. Moreover, the knowledge gained from such experiments can be used also in the policy field, for example, providing advice to victims on how to maximize the chance that other people might intervene to help them, or of use to the emergency or security services on how to defuse such a situation.

    Its diverse manifestations — from our cherished historic monuments and museums to traditional practices and contemporary art forms — enrich our everyday lives in countless ways. Heritage constitutes a source of identity and cohesion for communities disrupted by bewildering change and economic instability. The preservation of the cultural heritage of a society is considered as a fundamental human right, and there is a Hague Convention on the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict.

    The ideal way to preserve cultural heritage is physical protection, preservation, and restoration of the sites. The first and obvious application of VR in this field is to allow people all over the world to virtually visit such sites and interactively explore them. This is no different from virtual travel or tourism, except for the nature of the sight visited. This is also possible through museums that have VR installations. The second is digitization of sites for future generations, and especially those that are in danger of destruction either through factors such as environment change or conflict.

    The third type of application is to show how these sites might have looked fully restored in the past and under different conditions such as lighting conditions. For example, it is quite different to see the interior of a building or a cave with electric lighting than under the original conditions that the inhabitants of that time would have seen them — by candlelight or fire. The fourth is to see how sites, both cultural heritage and non-cultural heritage sites might look in the future, under different conditions such as under different global warming scenarios. This is a massive field and mainly concerned with digitization, computer vision, reconstruction, and computer graphics techniques.

    Here, we give a few examples of some of the virtual constructions that have been done and that potentially could be experienced immersively in VR. An example of one type of application is described by Gaitatzes et al. Apart possibly from the last issue, each of these problems is largely overcome with the advent of low-cost, high-quality HMDs with built-in head tracking.

    Of course it is still true that an interdisciplinary team is required to create the environments, although see Wojciechowski et al. In particular, digital acquisition and rendering of cultural heritage sites requires a huge amount of data to be processed. An example of how this was handled for the site of the Monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll in Catalonia, Spain, is presented in Besora et al.

    The David statue 72 required 2 billion polygons for its representation, and the software is available as freeware from Stanford. Sometimes a digital reconstruction is the only way to view a site. The ancient Egyptian temple of Kalabsha was physically moved in its location to preserve it from rising flood waters.

    Many examples of virtual cultural heritage in the past have been implemented for desktop or projection systems — though of course they could always be displayed immersively in HMDs. However, this raises other issues such as appropriate tracking, interfaces, and so on. A joystick for navigation, for example, is not always appropriate for an HMD especially bearing in mind that movement without body action can sometimes be a cause of simulator sickness.

    Also a screen display has the advantage that typically it can be much higher resolution than what is possible in an HMD, where all the detailed lighting and detail rendering might not even be perceivable. They point out how traditional systems, such as tracking, requiring the wearing of devices, and expensive Caves are not always suitable for busy environments such as museums.

    However, low—cost, camera-based tracking systems do not require physical contact with visitors, and the use of the Oculus Rift HMD in their application allowed visitors to look around the virtual environment simply by turning their head rather than learning a joystick type of navigation method. In other words, these systems provide a natural means of interaction.

    As the authors wrote: The natural camera control just by turning the head, like one would do in the real world, lets users control this aspect without even thinking about it. The combination with natural interaction inputs with the Kinect or the Leap Motion enables the user to directly interact with the virtual world. However, maybe once such systems become commonplace, the same results might not be obtained.

    There are no clear-cut answers, and it is not easy to establish criteria for the success or otherwise in comparing such systems since there are many factors that vary between them. For example, Loizides et al. They found that participants appreciated both types of display and especially the presence-inducing capabilities of the HMD. Many in-world businesses will attempt to compensate for this or restore items, although they are under no obligation to do so and not all are able to do so.

    A recent change in how the company handles items which have "lost their parent directory" means that inventory loss is much less of a problem and resolves faster than in recent years. Second Life functions by streaming all data to the user live over the Internet with minimal local caching of frequently used data. Due to the proprietary communications protocols, it is not possible to use a network proxy service to reduce network load when many people are all using the same location, such as when used for group activities in a school or business.

    Although Second Life ' s client and server incorporate digital rights management technology, the visual data of an object must ultimately be sent to the client in order for it to be drawn; thus unofficial third-party clients can bypass them. One such program, CopyBot , was developed in as a debugging tool to enable objects to be backed up, but was immediately hijacked for use in copying objects; additionally, programs that generally attack client-side processing of data, such as GLIntercept , can copy certain pieces of data.

    Linden Lab may ban a user who is observed using CopyBot or a similar client, but it will not ban a user simply for uploading or even selling copied content; in this case, Linden Lab's enforcement of intellectual property law is limited to that required by the "safe harbor" provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act , which requires filing a real-life lawsuit. Although a few high-profile businesses in Second Life have filed such lawsuits, [] [] [] [] [] none of the cases filed to date have gone to trial, and most have been dismissed pursuant to a settlement agreement reached between the parties.

    As a result, many Second Life businesses and their intellectual property remains effectively unprotected. Another case where settlement and dismissal was gained may be found in the matter of Eros, LLC v. As of October 7, , the case was transferred to private mediation and the plaintiffs filed for dismissal of charges on March 15, There have also been issues with the use of false DMCA takedown notices. In addition, the technical process of removal and re-instatement of content on Second Life is subject to failure which can result in content becoming unusable to its owner.

    This does not effectively prevent content theft; a thief who is subject to a DMCA takedown notice will not challenge it, but will simply create a new account and re-upload the content, often releasing it with all permissions available to maximize propagation out of spite. Most users in the world as paying, private individuals are, likewise, effectively unprotected. Common forms of fraud taking place in-world include bogus investment and pyramid schemes, fake or hacked vendors, and failure to honor land rental agreements.

    A group of virtual landowners online have filed a class action lawsuit against the company, claiming the company broke the law when it rescinded their ownership rights. The plaintiffs say a change in the terms of service forced them to either accept new terms that rescinded their virtual property ownership rights, or else be locked out of the site. The Emerald client was developed by a group of users based on an open-source branch of the Snowglobe viewer.

    Several groups alleged that the Emerald viewer contained Trojan code which tracked user details and demographics in a way that the developers could later recover via in-world logging scripts , one of these groups was banned from Second Life by Linden Lab after publishing their discovery. In response, Linden Lab revoked Emerald's third-party viewer approval and permanently banned several of Emerald's developers.

    The Phoenix team are now the developers behind Firestorm Viewer and work closely alongside Linden Lab, holding bi-weekly joint meetings with all third party viewers. Linden Lab has twice, in and , banned a California educational institution, Woodbury University , from having a representation within Second Life. On April 20, , four simulators belonging to the university were deleted and the accounts of several students and professors terminated, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Professor Edward Clift, Dean of the School of Media, Culture and Design at Woodbury University, told The Chronicle of Higher Education that their campus "was a living, breathing campus in Second Life ", including educational spaces designed mostly by students, such as a mock representation of the former Soviet Union and a replica of the Berlin Wall.

    According to Professor Clift, the virtual campus did not "conform to what Linden Lab wanted a campus to be. The article in The Chronicle of Higher Education concluded with: In , the newspaper The Alphaville Herald , founded and edited by the philosopher Peter Ludlow , migrated to Second Life, and in the following years the newspaper played a prominent role in reporting on Second Life and in the public discussion of the game. According to scholars Constantinescu and Decu, The Alphaville Herald was the first "virtual free press," pioneering mass communication in virtual worlds.

    Since its debut in , Second Life has been referred to by various popular culture mediums, including literature, television, film and music. In addition, various personalities in such mediums have themselves used or employed Second Life for both their own works and for private purposes. Then, in June , author Charles Stross held a conference in Second Life to promote an upcoming novel. Much of the published research conducted in Second Life is associated with education and learning.

    Unlike computer games, Second Life does not have a pre-defined purpose and allows for highly realistic enactment of real life activities online. Both problem-based learning and constructionism acted as framing pedagogies for the task, with students working in teams to design and build a learning experience which could be possible in real life. Situated learning has also been examined in SL , in order to determine how the design and social dynamics of the virtual world support as well as constrain various types of learning.

    Second Life has also offered educational research potential within the medical and healthcare fields.

    Review ARTICLE

    There have also been healthcare related studies done of SL residents. One survey suggests that users are engaged in a range of health-related activities in SL which are potentially impacting real-life behaviors. Another focus of SL research has included the relationship of avatars or virtual personas to the 'real' or actual person. These studies have included research into social behavior and reported two main implications. The research indicated that virtual lives and physical lives are not independent, and our appearances and actions have both online and offline consequences.

    The SL avatar-self relationship was also studied via resident interviews, and various enactments of the avatar-self relationship were identified. The study concluded that SL residents enacted multiple avatar-self relationships and cycled through them in quick succession, suggesting that these avatar-self relationships might be shaped and activated strategically in order to achieve the desired educational, commercial, or therapeutic outcomes.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the virtual community. For the Portuguese film, see Second Life film. This article needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. Windows x 7 or higher Windows x 7 or higher macOS Economy of Second Life. Arts in Second Life. Education in Second Life. Criticism of Second Life. Retrieved October 1, Can It Stop Content Theft? Retrieved September 5, Archived from the original on November 6, Retrieved October 2, The Making of Second Life , pg.

    Archived from the original on July 19, Retrieved June 10, Archived from the original on July 18, Retrieved March 6, Archived from the original on January 5, Retrieved January 5, Retrieved February 19, InformationWeek Business Technology Network. Retrieved November 6, Archived from the original on September 21, Retrieved August 24, Retrieved March 22, Retrieved April 19, International Journal of e-Collaboration.

    Retrieved August 11, Retrieved July 10, Retrieved September 2, Retrieved June 18, Retrieved October 27, Peachey, Anna; Childs, Mark, eds. Archived from the original on November 16, Retrieved November 24, Au March 24, Retrieved March 30, Retrieved July 21, Archived from the original on March 4, Retrieved January 8, Retrieved July 9, Retrieved November 8, Archived from the original on April 6, Retrieved January 20, Retrieved March 4, The New York Times. Retrieved December 18, Archived from the original on February 20, Archived from the original on October 2, Because of the transparency of the emotional layers in the human self-model Metzinger, , it will be experienced as real, even if it is accompanied by cognitive-level insight into the nature of the overall situation.

    Powerful emotional responses occur even when subjects are aware of the fact that they are in a virtual environment Meehan et al. Torture in a virtual environment is still torture. A final concern for the research ethics portion of this article has to do with the use of the internet in conjunction with VR research. For instance, scientists may wish to observe the patterns of behavior for users under particular conditions.

    It is clear that the internet will play a main role in the adoption of VR for personal use. Users will be able to inhabit virtual environments with other users through their internet connections, and perhaps enjoy new forms of avatar-based intersubjectivity. There is a sizable body of literature covering the main issues of internet research ethics Ess and Association of Internet Researchers Ethics Working Committee, ; Buchanan and Ess, , Here, we address the following question: The two main issues that we will cover here are privacy and obtaining informed consent.

    We will consider the internet both as a tool and a venue for research Buchanan and Zimmer, , while noting that virtual environments may place pressure on the distinction between internet as research tool and internet as research venue. Let us begin with the question of privacy.

    It is widely accepted that researchers have an ethical obligation to treat confidentially any information that may be used to identify their subjects see, for example, European Commission, , p. Although implementing this scenario may be beyond the capabilities of the forthcoming commercial hardware, it is plausible and rational to assume that the technology may evolve quickly to include such options. Data regarding the kinematics of users will be useful for researchers from a range of disciplines, especially those interested in embodied cognition Shapiro, As a complement to these recommendations, we wish to highlight the threat to privacy created by motion capture technology.

    Researchers collecting such data must be aware of its sensitive nature and the dangers of its misuse. A second main concern in the ethics of internet research is that of informed consent. There are a number of concerns and challenges regarding the practice of gaining consent for research using the internet as a venue Buchanan and Zimmer, , see section Privacy, below , including, of course, the fact that actually reading internet privacy policies before accepting them would take far more time than we are willing to allocate — on one estimate, it would take each of us h per year McDonald and Cranor, We suggest that immersive VR will add further complications to these existing issues due to its manipulation of bodily location and its dissolution of boundaries between the real and the virtual.

    Consider that entering a new internet venue, say a chatroom or a forum, involves a fairly well-defined threshold at which informed consent can be requested before one enters the venue. In addition, and more interesting, it is also foreseeable that HMDs will incorporate simultaneous combinations of augmented, substitutional, and VR, with the user being able to toggle between elements of the three.

    This ambiguity raises the likelihood that users may give consent for data collection in a particular virtual context but then become unaware of the continued data collection as the user changes context. Such a situation might occur if users of HMDs are able to toggle between, say, an entirely virtual gaming environment, a look out of the window to the busy street below presented through augmented reality, and a family gathering hundreds of kilometers away using substitutional reality through an omni-directional camera set up at the party.

    This worry can be addressed by giving users continuous reminders after, of course, they have given informed consent that their behavior is being recorded for research purposes. Perhaps the visual display could include a small symbol for the duration of the time in which data are being collected. We leave the implementational details open, but urge the scientific community to take steps to avoid the abuse of informed consent with this technology, especially in the interest of preserving public trust.

    We would like to conclude our discussion of the research ethics of VR by noting that the proposed incomplete code of conduct is not intended to be sufficient for guaranteeing ethical research in this domain. What we mean here is that following this code should not be considered to be a substitute for ethical reasoning on the part of researchers, reasoning that must always remain sensitive to contextual and implementational details that cannot be captured in a general code of conduct. We urge researchers to conceive of our recommendations here as an aid in their ongoing reflections about the ethical implications and permissibility of their own work, and to proactively support us in developing this ethics code into more detailed future versions.

    As we emphasized in the beginning of the article, this work is only intended as a first list of possible issues in the research ethics of VR and related technologies. We intend to update and revise this list continuously as new issues arise, although the venue for future revisions is undecided. In any case, we wish to open an invitation for constructive input from researchers in this field regarding issues that should be added or reformulated. Scientists must understand that following a code of ethics is not the same as being ethical.

    A domain-specific ethics code, however consistent, developed, and fine grained future versions of it may be, can never function as a substitute for ethical reasoning itself. Now consider possible issues that may arise with widespread adoption of VR for personal use. Once the technology available to the general public for entertainment and other purposes, individuals will have the option of spending extended periods of time immersed in VR — in a way this is already happening with the advent of smartphones, social networks, increasing time online, etc.

    Some of the risks and ethical concerns that we have already encountered in the early days of the internet 10 will reappear, though with the added psychological impact enabled by embodiment and a strong sense of presence. We all know that internet technology has long ago begun to change our self-models and consequently our very own psychological structure. The combination with technologies of virtual and robotic re-embodiment may greatly accelerate this development.

    He forced them to perform a range of sexual acts, some of which are especially disturbing Dibbell, Users of LambdaMOO were outraged, and at least one user whose character was a victim of the virtual rape reported suffering psychological trauma ibid. The relevant point to keep in mind here is that this entire virtual transgression occurred in a world that was entirely text based. We will soon be fully immersed in virtual environments, actually embodying — rather than merely describing — our avatars.

    We must now take steps in order to help users avoid suffering psychological trauma of various kinds. To this end, we will discuss four kinds of foreseeable risks:. We will offer several concrete recommendations for minimizing all four of these kinds of risks to the general public, a number of which call for focused research initiatives. First, and perhaps most obviously, we simply do not know the psychological impact of long-term immersion. So far, scientific research using VR has involved only brief periods of immersion, typically on the order of minutes rather than hours.

    Once the technology is adopted for personal use, there will be no limits on the time users choose to spend immersed. Similarly, most research using VR has been conducted using adult subjects. Once VR is available for commercial use, young adults and children will be able to immerse themselves in virtual environments. The risks that we discuss below are especially troublesome for these younger users who are not yet psychologically and neurophysiologically fully developed. In order to better understand the risks, we recommend longitudinal studies, further research into the psychological effects of long-term immersion.

    The risks that are discovered through longitudinal studies must be directly and clearly communicated to users, preferably communicated within VR itself. Psychologists have long expressed concern about internet use disorder Young, , and it is a topic of ongoing research Price, Doing so will require monitoring users who prefer to spend long periods of time immersed see Steinicke and Bruder, for a first self-experiment.

    There are two relevant open questions here. First, how might the diagnostic criteria for addiction to VR differ from the established criteria for internet use disorder and related conditions? Note that the neurophysiological underpinnings of VR addiction may differ from that of internet use disorder Montag and Reuter, due to the prolonged illusion of embodiment created by VR technology, and because it implies causal interaction with the low-level mechanisms constituting the UI. Second, can we make use of the recommended treatments for internet use disorder for the purpose of helping individuals with VR addiction?

    For instance, Gresle and Lejoyeux , p. It is plausible that these strategies would be effective for immersive VR as well, but focused research is needed. Importantly, the sense of agency in VR is always indirect; control of the avatar is always mediated by the technology. However, the causal loop in principle enables bidirectional forms of control, or even unnoticed involuntary influence. In those experiments, subjects reported that they felt themselves to be in control of a cursor selecting an icon on a computer screen when in fact the cursor was being controlled by someone else.

    The illusion of control was induced by auditory priming — subjects heard a word through headphones that had a semantic association with the icon that was subsequently selected by the cursor. While immersed in VR, subjects can receive continuous audio and visual cues intended to influence their psychological states. Important parameters here will likely be the timing of the false movement, the degree to which the false movement deviates from the actual position of the body, and the context of the movement within the virtual environment including, for instance, the attentional state of the subject.

    In addition, human beings often willfully choose to decrease their autonomy, as in drinking alcohol or playing games. But we do claim that creating a false sense of agency in VR is an unacceptable violation of individual autonomy when it is non-beneficent, such as when it is done out of avarice, for example. Manipulating the sense of agency for users in VR is a topic that deserves attention from regulatory agencies. A third concern that we wish to raise about long-term immersion is that of risks for mental health.

    As stated above, we simply do not know whether long-term immersion poses a threat for mental health. Overall, the disorder can be characterized as having chronic feelings or sensations of unreality. In the case of depersonalization, individuals experience an unreality of the bodily self, and in the case of derealization, individuals experience the external world as unreal. For instance, those suffering from the disorder report feeling as if they are automata loss of the sense of agency , and feeling as if they are living in a dream see Simeon and Abugel, for illustrative reports from individuals suffering from depersonalization.

    That is, someone suffering from depersonalization may lose the sense of agency, but will not thereby form the false belief that they are no longer in control of their own actions. Heavy users of VR may begin to experience the real world and their real bodies as unreal, effectively shifting their sense of reality exclusively to the virtual environment. While Nozick suggests that many of us would not wish to plug-in to the experience machine for the reason just stated, recent work by Felipe de Brigard suggests otherwise.

    Apart from the deeper philosophical issues, there is one important point that we wish to make before moving on. The point has to do with the way in which we imagine the possibilities of VR for personal use. People without exposure to great works and ideas might find that [their] inner lives are shaped to a large degree by market-led cultural products rather than works of depth and profundity. We agree that such a scenario would be undesirable, but wish to counterbalance this concern by reminding readers that it is not unique to VR. It is a concern that can be applied in various degrees to other media technology as well, going all the way back to worries about the written word in Plato Phaedrus d—e.

    The printing press, for example, can enable one to disseminate great works of literature, but it can also enable the dissemination of vulgarity — and it certainly changed our minds. The same goes for photography and motion pictures. The important point is as follows. There is no reason to doubt that works of great depth and profundity can be produced by artists who choose VR as their medium. Just as film emerged as a new predominant art form in the twentieth century, so might VR in the twenty-first century. We predict that immersive VR-technology will gradually lead to the emergence of completely new forms of art or even architecture, see Pasqualini et al.

    VR will enable us to interact with each other in new ways, not through disembodied interaction, as in the texts, images, and videos of current social media, but rather through what we have called the illusion of embodiment. We will interact with other avatars while embodied in our own avatars. Telepresence is likely to become a much more accessible, immediate, comprehensive, and embodied experience.

    Our general recommendation on this theme is for focused research into the following question: What, if anything, is lost in cases of social interactions that are mediated using advanced telepresence in VR? If such losses were unnoticed, what negative effects for the human self-model could be expected? When we are not present in the flesh with others, the context and mood of a situation may be difficult to appreciate — if only because the bandwidth and the resolution of our internal models are much lower.

    Perhaps more importantly, there is a concern that mediating technologies will not allow us to pick up on all of the subtle bodily cues that appear to play a major role in social communication through unconscious entrainment Frith and Frith, , cues that involve ongoing embodied interaction Gallagher, ; de Jaegher et al. In addition to the concerns about losing embodied signaling for communication, we might also consider what is lost from the sense modalities that are not yet integrated into VR.

    Clark takes a notably different approach to these kinds of issues, raising the point that, instead of treating VR and related technologies as a replacement for in-the-flesh interaction, we should think of them as providing opportunities for new and perhaps enhanced modes of human interaction. Consider, for example, using a combination of substitutional and augmented reality to see a representation of some of the physiological states of your partner who is many miles away — such as a soft flash over the body in synchrony with the heartbeat as in Aspell et al.

    That and similar uses of the technology could plausibly enhance embodied though mediated social interaction. As with many other topics addressed here, future research will be crucial for our understanding of which uses of the technology will be best for enabling positive forms of mediated social interaction. We should also note that his recommendation may not entirely address the concerns raised by Dreyfus, Turkle, and others.

    We wish to close this discussion of the ways in which VR might attenuate our contact with others and with our physical environments by revisiting a point briefly made in the previous section on a loss of authenticity during long-term immersion. We would like to note that a likely relevant factor here may be whether those long periods of immersion involve forms of intersubjective engagement with others that are subjectively experienced as meaningful, and how this experience is integrated into our culture.

    Along these lines, one may suggest that the artificial nature of the virtual environment is not as important compared to whether or not the environment affords intersubjective engagement experienced as meaningful see Bostrom, , p. Normalization is a complex sociocultural process by which certain new norms become accepted in societal practice, a process that is often mediated by the availability of new technologies, a process that changes our very own minds and which, therefore, carries the risk of unnoticed self-deception.

    Another main concern for users of VR is that of virtual content. One might begin with the general rule of thumb that red lines not to be crossed in reality should be the default red lines in VR. One obvious problem, though, is that users will almost certainly seek out VR as a way of crossing red lines with impunity. A second possible problem is that this rule of thumb would make VR even more subjectively real. One main issue here is whether some particular kinds of content in VR should be discouraged in various ways.

    Obvious candidates for such content would be sex virtual pedophilia, virtual rape and violence. The dark triad refers to narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Individuals may find it appealing to spend time in virtual worlds designed to reward characters that exhibit traits associated with the dark triad. Valkyrie having a lasting influence on the psychological profile of users. Apart from the behaviors encouraged by particular virtual environments, there are concerns about the content that can be created when users will have the freedom to create and design their own avatars.

    For instance, one goal of our own project VERE is to create software that enables untrained users to generate an avatar that resembles any human being with fairly little time and effort. It is also worth noting that these avatars will be available for use after their human model is dead. The ability to body-swap and to interact with the dead in this way may offer great opportunity for therapy in the hands of the beneficent, but it could easily lead to profound trauma, especially in the hands of characters such as Mr.

    These considerations raise difficult questions about which regulatory actions would facilitate the best overall outcome. On the one hand, there are good reasons for taking a fairly restrictive approach to avatar ownership. On the other hand, there are also reasons for allowing individuals maximum freedom in their creation and use of avatars. We will consider the reasons for each approach in turn. A reasonable starting point on this issue would be to treat avatars in an analogous manner to personality rights relating to the publication of photos.

    They are public representations of persons. Interestingly, societies and legal systems exhibit considerable differences in their underlying moral intuitions here. One important conceptual issue here may be determining the relevant degree of similarity between an avatar and a human person. Therefore, the validity of the right of publicity could be taken to survive the death of the biological individual. There will be new questions about the ownership and individuation of avatars.

    The likeness between a person and their avatar may or may not be an important factor. Instead of likeness, we might individuate avatars by a unique proper name that can be represented in the virtual space, as in many video games. How does one assign an unequivocal identity to the virtual representation of a body or a person? We already have digital object identifiers DOIs for electronic documents and other forms of content, a form of persistent identification, with the goal of permanently and unambiguously identifying the object with which a given DOI is associated.

    But what about an avatar that is currently used by a human operator, namely by functionally and phenomenologically identifying with it? There will also be questions about whether some kinds of virtual activities should be censored. Another kind of content worth considering may be the use of virtual environments for indoctrination into extremist groups. They suggest that such technology would help protect the autonomy and privacy of users. Importantly, avatar theft may also create completely new opportunities for impersonation and fraud, for example also using physical robots.

    From a more theoretical point of view, we might distinguish between internal and external self-models: Here, the specific, historically new kind of action that needs to be ethically assessed and legally regulated takes place when a user identifies with a potential external model of the self by dynamically integrating it with the internal model of the self already active in his or her brain.

    The core question seems to be what consequences we draw from the potential for phenomenological ownership to legal notions of ownership. Virtual identification can cause real suffering, and real suffering is relevant for the law. Without denying the value of protecting avatar ownership, we would now like to consider two reasons for taking a less restrictive, more libertarian, approach.

    First, implementing control over the use of particular avatars may be impractical. So far, attempts to curb digital piracy using technology have not been very successful, and there is no reason to think that things will be different for avatars. In fact, regulation and control may be even more difficult with avatars due to questions raised above having to do with avatar individuation and degrees of similarity.

    Protecting avatar ownership might lead to a regulatory quagmire. Even if the appearance of the avatar is not highly relevant for ownership, we would need to establish a widely accepted alternative method of individuation, such as a unique proper name that cannot be easily forged. The second reason for taking a less restrictive approach would be out of concern for individual creative freedom.

    As noted above, VR holds the promise of being a powerful new artistic medium — the creative possibilities are astonishing. The fact that regulations on avatar ownership may restrict those possibilities must be taken into consideration. Avatar ownership and individuation will be an important issue for regulatory agencies to consider. There are strong reasons to place restrictions on the way in which avatars can be used, such as protecting the interests and privacy of individuals who strongly identify with their own particular avatar on social networks.

    On the other hand, these restrictions may prove impractical to implement and may unnecessarily limit personal creative freedom. Privacy is, of course, a major concern with contemporary information technology van den Hoven et al. Here, we wish to offer only a few quick remarks on this topic, noting that this issue deserves further attention. Commercials in VR could even feature images of the target audience himself or herself using the product. Users ought to be made aware that there is evidence that advertising tactics using embodiment technology such as VR can have a powerful unconscious influence on behavior.

    In this article, we have considered some of the risks that may arise with the commercial and research use of VR. We have offered some concrete recommendations and noted areas in which further ethical deliberation will be required. One main theme of the article is that there are several open empirical questions that should be urgently addressed in a beneficent research environment in order to mitigate risks and raise awareness for users of VR in the general public.

    More research is needed. Here, one of our main goals was to provide a first set of ethical recommendations as a platform for future discussions, a set of normative starting points that can be continuously refined and expanded as we go along see Table 1. Let us end by making one more general point, an observation which is of a more philosophical nature.

    Interestingly, some of our best theories of the human mind and conscious experience itself describe it in a very similar way: Slightly earlier, some philosophers Revonsuo, , p. What is historically new, and what creates not only novel psychological risks but also entirely new ethical and legal dimensions, is that one VR gets ever more deeply embedded into another VR: Increasingly, it is not only culturally and socially embedded but also shaped by a technological niche that over time itself quickly acquires a rapid, autonomous dynamics and ever new properties.

    This creates a complex convolution, a nested form of information flow in which the biological mind and its technological niche influence each other in ways we are just beginning to understand. It is this complex convolution that makes it so important to think about the Ethics of VR in a critical, evidence-based, and rational manner. The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

    We are also grateful to the three reviewers of this contribution for recommending substantial improvements to the original draft. Short- and long-term effects of embodied experiences in immersive virtual environments on environmental locus of control and behavior. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. DSM-5 , 5th Edn. Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self. False hopes and best data: