With a medium of unprecedented immersion and a re-defining of 'real-life' experience, how do we tackle the question of regulation? As VR/MR diffuses into medicine, behavioral health and social interaction we quickly see why codes of conduct are important. Unlike the shout around the world that we all heard with drones and privacy, VR/MR regulation is thus far at a whisper. No one wants to put obstacles in the way of innovation - and VR is at its height of creative frenzy.
When we think about how our brains and bodies respond to many VR experiences as lived and not imagined, we can assume that effects can be long lasting. If we are to experience war, rioting, abuse, or even how it feels to 'be' in a different body, should we have established ways to deal with the emotional and psychological effects? With regular consumption, I think our responses to VR/MR will desensitize to a degree. However, it's still unknown how much of an imprint each experience will have on the human psyche.
The first thinking on regulation comes from researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany, with a code of ethics for the medium.
The code is by no means complete, formal or ready for adoption. Rather, the authors open the dialogue on ethical practices in content creation and viewing. For example, they suggest something analogous to a movie rating for violent, pornographic or avatar embodiment experiences, asking researchers to inform study participants of the potential for harmful effects. Thus far the code does not suggest standards for other content creators. Imagine the difficulty of imposing regulation or even a category system on a medium where individuals can create and post public content via YouTube or other channels that will no doubt soon pop up? Yes, we do this now with video, but we know that immersion is different. What do you want to see as an alert? What would you want your kids to see before engaging in an experience?
What are your thoughts on how, if and in what ways we should regulate VR?