Omar Sultan Al Olama, the United Arab Emirates’ minister of artificial intelligence, told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos yesterday that he believes that people who commit “serious crimes” in the metaverse should be punished with real criminal consequences.
Per article by Sam Shed of CNBC, the minister sees this as a necessary measure to protect people’s mental health:
If I send you text on WhatsApp, that’s text, right? It may terrorize you, but to some extent it will not create memories that you will have post-traumatic stress disorder (post-traumatic stress disorder) from it.
But if I enter the metaverse and it’s a realistic world we’re talking about in the future, and I actually kill you, and you see it – it actually takes you to a certain extreme, where you have to be aggressive in the whole world, because everyone agrees, that some things are unacceptable.
Tell me you don’t understand how post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) works, without telling me you don’t understand how post-traumatic stress disorder works.
Preliminarily: There is no medical threshold for post-traumatic stress disorder. Clinical diagnosis includes observation and interviews with a medical professional.
Anecdotally, post-traumatic stress disorder does not have to be triggered in the way Al Olama points out. I was diagnosed with PTSD while in active military service after learning of the death of someone I mentored. The diagnosis of other people comes after completely different experiences.
Jennifer Cobelt, a survivor of the NXIVM cult, told investigators and documentarians that her post-traumatic stress disorder was caused after she underwent a horrific “experiment” in which she was exposed to graphic violence from a Hollywood movie and a real snuff movie.
Deeper: You can’t kill an avatar. At least not in the legal sense. This is a stupid idea that doesn’t deserve much attention, but let’s just unravel it very quickly so we can move on.
Let’s say that in 10 years you are wandering in the Meta version of the metaverse. You’re probably wearing VR headphones, and maybe technology has advanced to the point where visual and audio precision are almost indistinguishable from reality.
Suddenly, someone presses the buttons on their control panel to make their avatar pop out of a digital bush, and then he presses the buttons on his control pad, causing them to pierce your avatar.
Your avatar bleeds and dies. You must witness the entry of the knife! Oh! The horror!
But wait, let’s go back for a second. How did the knife get there? Who programmed the animation for jumping from the bush? Are there any more assassination moves? What is the combination for silent download?
Oops! I’m ahead of myself. I forgot, we’re not talking about a video game. We are talking about the most unpleasant murder in the metaverse.
I’m not sure what the UAE AI Minister knows about an area that others don’t know, but there is no basis for this fantasy in this particular version of reality.
Bottom: You can also pass a law against “killing” people in video games. And that means all of you who play Call of Duty are fucked up – some of you have more murders than aging.
The thing is, as traumatic as it may be to see yourself killed in the first person, it’s not like Zuckerberg plans to do it.
Perhaps Al Olama believes that the metaverse will be a fragmented internet experience like the web, where the dark corners of the platform can host everything.
But at least for now, companies like Meta, Nvidia, Microsoft, Google and Epic, which are investing billions of dollars in creating personalized experiences, are unlikely to assemble a team of designers focused on adding blood that causes post-traumatic stress disorder. to their production models.
Of course, a hacker can hack a little violence on a server or find an exploit that shows violence. And it is possible that over time some underground fashion scene will develop.
But seriously. The idea that you will somehow shop casually in Nike section of the billions of dollars of Meta and the counting of the metauniverse and suddenly the digital Jack the Ripper will appear before you in a furious rage is just stupid.
If you can kill people in the metaverse, this will be a feature that people enter specifically to experience. For the same reason that so many of us play Dead By Daylight, Resident Evil and Call of Duty or watch R-rated horror movies, there are many who would enjoy the good old-fashioned fake murder in the world of VR.
Quick pick: Everything about the idea of criminalizing digitalized violence in virtual reality is stupid. This kind of glamorous rhetoric simply demonstrates how far from reality some technologists can be. No one is worried about getting into the VR version of Facebook and being killed in their headphones.
There are many real ethical concerns that the AI Minister is about the sixth richest country in the world they could spend their time.