Metaverse risks and standards - new report. What do you think?

This week Standards Australia released a report about the opportunities and risks for individuals and society from the Metaverse. It included some useful sections on needing to specifically consider and manage the risks to and design in the inclusion of people with disabilities.

The Metaverse is the name for the web-based technologies that offer 3D or immersive experiences in real-time so you can engage with other people there who are also online. It is an environment where people can engage with each other and with spaces

XR Standards Institute (XRSI) and the Responsible Metaverse Alliance were involved in creating this report.

The top 4 takeaways were that people engaging in the Metaverse should have,

  • "The right to experiential authenticity: Consumers should have the right to be made aware of what is a promotional experience in the Metaverse, versus an authentic encounter. 
  • The right to emotional privacy: Consumers should have the right to not have their emotional reactions assessed and stored, including facial expressions, vocal inflections, or vital signs. Particularly, AI in the Metaverse can detect “micro-expressions” which are too brief or subtle for human observers to notice, and consumers should have the right to not be assessed by these. 
  • The right to behavioural privacy: Consumers should have the right to not have their behavioural data taken, stored and given to platforms to create profiles of their activities or AI models that predict their actions over time. Consumers should also be protected from their emotional data and behavioural data being correlated, which could allow for promotional experiences that don’t just guide what users do in immersive worlds, but predictively influence how they’re likely to feel while doing it. 
  • The right to human agency: Consumers should have the right to make their own decisions in the Metaverse and be protected from any system that takes their emotional and behavioural data in real time and, using an AI-powered feedback control system, alters the information to make it appealing to the user. "

Have you engaged in the Metaverse yet?

This could be on platforms such as Decentraland, Altspace VR, Meta Horizon Worlds, Second Life, MeetinVR or Somnium Space. Anywhere where a digital version of you gets to interact with others in a 3D immersive and interactive environment.

It would be great to share what worked for you and what didn't, especially thinking about the accessibility and inclusive usability to you given your specific access needs.

  • Was it accessible to you? - to enter and get into and to use?
  • Did you feel welcomed and included as yourself? For example could you make an avatar that suited your self-identity and preferences?
  • Could you do what you wanted to do there? For example to be entertained, engage with others, learn something, purchase something etc.
  • Was it enjoyable
  • Would you go back?

Please tell us, as a community:

What should we be helping designers of Metaverse experiences think of now so that they make these environments more inclusive and valuable to people with disabilities?

What are you worried about that standards, guidelines, laws or practices can help?

How could these best manage these new environments for people with disabilities or other access needs to maximise the value to all and reduce risks?