This doesn’t bode well for the metaverse, where avatars are likely the primary way we communicate and interact with each other. Noel Martin, a legal researcher at the University of Western Australia and co-author of an upcoming paper on the Meta metaverse, raises such concerns. “If people are able to customize their virtual super-realistic 3D avatars, or change, filter and manipulate their digital identities, [there is] a With regard to the possibility of affecting the deformation of the body, Self-image defect, and eating disorders… produce] Beauty standards “unrealistic and unattainable”She said via email.
This fear is unfounded. Facebook has been criticized for silencing internal research that indicates this Instagram has a toxic effect on the body image of teenage girls. A report in the Wall Street Journal found that the app’s content focused on the body and lifestyle leaves users more likely to develop body disfigurement. But in the metaverse, where avatars will be the main way of presenting oneself in many situations, vulnerable people can feel more pressure to adjust the way they look. And Martin says customizable avatars in the metaverse can be used to “stoke racial injustice and inequality” as well.
Meta spokesperson Eloise Quintanilla said the company is aware of potential issues: “We ask ourselves important questions such as how much logical adjustment to make to ensure avatars are a positive and safe experience.” Microsoft, which recently announced its own metaverse plansHe has also been studying the use of avatars, although his research focuses largely on workplace settings such as meetings.
The possibility of child avatars raising a whole other set of legal and ethical questions. Roblox, the highly successful gaming platform primarily marketed by children, has always used avatars as the primary means by which players interact with each other. The company announced its own plans for the metaverse last month; CEO and Founder David Baszuki announce That the Roblox metaverse would be a place where you “should be who you want to be”. So far, Roblox’s avatars have been fun, but Baszucki said the company strives to make fully customizable skins: “Any body, any face, any hair, any clothes, any movement, any face tracking, they all come together…we have… A hunch if we do it right, we will witness an explosion of creativity, not only among creators but also among our users.”
In the end, avatars represent the way we want to see. However, there is no plan for what could happen if and when things inevitably go wrong. Technology has to walk a fine line, remaining realistic enough to be real with people’s identities without threatening the mental health of the humans behind the avatars. As Park says: “We will not be able to stop the … metaverse. So we must prepare wisely.” If the Facebook papers show anything, it’s that social media companies are well aware of the health effects of their technology, but that governments and social safety nets are lagging behind in protecting the most vulnerable.
Crane understands the dangers of more realistic avatars for those who may have body dysmorphia, but says the power of being able to see oneself in the virtual world is indescribable. “For me, the joy of seeing myself so accurately represented means that I’m not the only one who thinks my existence is right,” he says. “It means that a team of developers also sees my current potential as, it seems, as a man.”