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The ethics of the metaverse

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The ethics of the metaverse

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We’re all in a rage about the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. But we have a host of issues to consider when it comes to an ethical way to build and run the metaverse — before we plunge into it too quickly.

That was the message from a panel moderated at our GamesBeat Summit: Into the Metaverse 2 event by Kate Edwards, the CEO of Geogrify and executive director of the Global Game Jam.

Kent Bye, who runs the Voices of VR Podcast, said on the panel that he is concerned about privacy and general ethical frameworks around XR (extended reality, which includes virtual reality, mixed reality, and augmented reality). What data is collected through these metaverse systems, and where does that data go and how is it used?

Another panelist was Micaela Mantegna, an affiliate at the Berkman Kline Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University (and founder of Women in Gaming Argentina). She also does research on AI ethics. And Jules Urbach, CEO of Otoy and a longtime visual technologist, rounded out the panel.

“We can move into a situation where we have all this really intimate biometric and physiological data that is being radiated from our bodies, captured by this technology, and start to undermine what the Morningstar Group considers to be fundamental neural rights,” Bye said.

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Mental and biological privacy

The definition of insanity.
The definition of insanity

If we don’t have mental privacy and biological privacy, some of the new technologies could essentially read our minds, model our identity, reach fine-grained and contextually relevant conclusions, and then nudge our behaviors to the point where it undermines our intentional actions, Bye said.

That would hurt our ability “to make decisions within the integrity without being influenced by all these external influences,” Bye said.

Urbach said his own particular concern is eye tracking, “which is obviously something that VR and AR devices are going to be able to do.” It reminds him of when advertisers did eye-tracking to see how people read and react to the words that they’re reading.

“Eye tracking was really a map of somebody’s mind and intent,” Urbach said. “It also is something that, when you think about how, on a web browser, you move the mouse. It is used to identify you. So my concern is things like that can be used to infer intent, even subconscious intent. That should be controlled by the owner. And it shouldn’t be something that gets turned into a advertising cue. And it shouldn’t be used for tracking. So even when you externalize things in the metaverse and you’re looking at how these eyes are moving in a VR space outside of the goggles, you can still build a digital fingerprint, just like we can fingerprint walking and other things. So those things all need to be protected. And user should have the right to privacy” and not surrender those rights in the metaverse.

Mantegna said she agreed with what Bye said. She said that we’re talking about the metaverse, but we’re also still debating what the metaverse is without having a real consensus on the definition.

“One of the current definitions is this iteration of internet and social networks and gaming coming in to a convergence,” Mantegna said. “And this also translates the problems that were already known about social media, about internet governance, and about AI ethics. What Kent was referring to about about the data, that is currently the fuel of the artificial intelligence. Autonomous systems have already been very troublesome in the ethical” domain.

She added that the problems could get tougher in the metaverse because we’re adding this layer of immersiveness to the technology.

“A lot of this data is being taken out of our bodies in a very unconscious way,” she said. “So we are not able to prevent that. So the problems that were already known and the rights we already [surrendered], and in talking about artificial intelligence ethics and talking about human rights on the internet, we should translate it into the conversation of metaverse.”

Specific privacy challenges

Apple is enforcing tougher privacy rules with iOS 14.
Apple is enforcing tougher privacy rules.

From the opening comments, Edwards concluded the common thread of concerns was about privacy.

“It’s certainly been a concern already in our common internet usage and use of other devices. And so it’s a pretty strong theme that even the public at large is very attuned to, I believe, even though we still give up our data in our location, readily playing Pokemon Go and all kinds of other fun stuff,” Edwards said. “I know you mentioned a couple of examples of privacy concerns. Is there anything else or more specifically, dealing with the privacy issue? Jules, you mentioned eye tracking, as one particular issue, like being able to track people and keep a record of what people are looking at? Are there other things along those lines, like specific technologies or metadata that we are concerned about when it comes to privacy?”

Urbach said the feedback loop bothers him a lot. If you understand subconsciously what somebody is thinking and doing before they do, then you provide some sort of ad in the metaverse, and that is going to trigger them to buy something, then that could be a lot worse in the metaverse, Urbach said.

Bye said we can expect sensor fusion, where all of these data collection devices come together, gathering data that’s coming from our body, but also from things like brain control interfaces and the neural data and eventually being able to potentially decode our thoughts.

“So our our thoughts, our ideas, but also our actions and what we’re doing,” Bye said. “These technologies are aware of our context. I think there’s a paradigm shift that needs to happen between thinking about identity, thinking about privacy in terms of our identities, something that’s a static immutable object, because all the laws are defining whether or not that information that gets out is going to be able to identify us, which I think is a concern.”

We’ll have the biometric data and get contextually relevant AI, “on top of all of the sensor fusion, so it can model your actions, your behaviors, your emotional reactions, your physiological reactions to things that you can’t even control,” Bye said.

Like subliminal advertising, it operates at this unconscious level.

“It is going to start to get to this point where you’re sleepwalking into this dystopia, and there is not a clear way, legally, to” put up much resistance, Bye said.

A paternalistic approach is to say you should never use any of this data, or you should only use it for medical applications. And from an entertainment perspective, you will need this data to refine the entertainment.

“How do you draw the line between the contextual relevance and the use and appropriate use of that data in that entertainment context?” Bye said. “You can set up a last bastion of privacy or create the worst surveillance technology that we have ever seen.”

With great power comes great responsibility

Doing what a spider can.
Doing what a spider can.

“To quote, the very wise, Uncle Ben from Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility,” Mantegna said. “We are heading into a world where technology is going to be able to decode information from our brains, but only to implant or manipulate what is going inside.”

She said we’re talking about these dystopian nightmares as something of the future, but she noted this is something we have already have you seen with generative artificial intelligence.

“That’s why I like to talk about I think about magnitudes because this is going to become worse, for sure,” she said. “We already have artificial generative artificial intelligence, or we already have artificial intelligence, creating inferences about us. siphoning our data.”

We already have problems related to bias, transparency, efficiency, and those are going to be ingrained in this new technology, she said. The technology that is going to power [those things] is already here.

“So my concern is, how are we going to shape this? And moving forward to the metaverse?” she said.

Edwards said that the question is how we will have data ownership and personal sovereignty and the modeling of your identity in a digital space.

“What level of ethical responsibility are the companies, the platforms, going to have over allowing that personal sovereignty?” Edwards asked.

One of the problems is that the internet is universal and globally decentralized, but law is often territorial in nature. That makes it hard to govern technologies on a global basis, and it will get harder to govern as the technology is decentralized with Web 3.

If we see the tech for the metaverse in an open environment, or concentrated in a walled garden, we’ll have a need to push for stronger consumer protection, Mantegna said. Otherwise, we’ll be at the mercy of the platform’s terms and conditions.

And Europe has had real influence in getting tough on issues like privacy with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and it has begun to influence other parts of the world with privacy laws, Urbach said. He said that the laws should require that we have opt-in rights for use of data for AI training and other purposes.

“My concern is that if you just have a vertical platform that has one browser one, one app, that’s not great,” he said. “We should try to go back to the open web model for the open metaverse. And if we miss that, I think that would be that’s going to be bad.”

He thinks that decentralization and crypto payments could be a strong force to push for an open metaverse. Bye noted that Unity’s Tony Parisi has come up with the seven rules of the metaverse and one of them is that the metaverse is hardware independent.

He noted that we have duopolies like Android and iOS in mobile, and that could carry over to where we have very few players providing metaverse services to us, since big companies will control the metaverse the way they control social media today.

We could see different models emerge like Facebook/Meta’s emphasis on less privacy but cheaper technologies, while Apple will support privacy but require you to pay for it with higher product costs.

The ethics of interoperability

Social networking concept.
Social networking concept.

Edwards asked if we have an ethical responsibility to provide interoperability because if it doesn’t exist, then neither does the metaverse.

“It is in a way very similar to how we have the the longstanding internet access model with where we all go through ISPs,” Edwards said. “But generally, the ISP experience tends to be invisible because the service that we are provided with or, basically the internet that we’re getting to our homes is pretty much the same and just depends on the technology with your cable or fiber or something like that.”

Edwards added, “If you can’t easily move between platforms. If you’re stuck in a particular walled garden, which we tend to see that model pop up frequently, is that really the metaverse? And what responsibility do these companies have to actually work with each other to ensure that that kind of cross platform access?”

Bye said groups like the Khronos Group and Open XR can create a standard set of interoperable application programming interfaces (APIs). Work is also happening on WebXR, but the question is whether big players like Apple will support that. But each of these companies must make business decisions about how interoperability should work.

Urbach said active discussions are happening now about how to make interoperable technologies like glTF (the GL Transmission Format) for the efficient transmission and loading of 3D scenes and models by applications. But we still need to pull together a lot of different technologies. Apple, Nvidia, and others agreed to the 3D data format of the Universal Scene Description (USD), which originated with Pixar and powers Nvidia’s Omniverse simulation technology. All of that is promising, Urbach said.

Mantegna said she agreed with Urbach and she said that technical interoperability has to go with intellectual property law, which gives you legal and durable interoperability as a layer on top of the technical interoperability.

She said one of the promises about the metaverse is that true ownership of your digital assets.

“You’re not going to be able to take it or have the same functionalities from one metaverse to another because it’s going to be this other layer of regulation and intellectual property and licensing and contracts and antecedents of service that will prevent you from doing so,” Mantegna said. “And one of the huge discussions that still is ongoing is how the first sale principle is going to apply to digital goods. If you are buying a T-shirt in the analog world, you can take it and wear it wherever you want. But that might not be true for the metaverse for a cosmetic item. It is very similar to how you can buy an ebook and you cannot take it from one platform to another.”

Equal access

Graphic of a city street with people congregating. In the foreground, a hand operating a cell phone with geometric lines covering the screen and bubbles with icons for camera, email, social media, and rideshare. Represents digital communication, 5g networking
Smartphone networking

Edwards brought up the problem of socio-economic disparity throughout the globe and how that changes from locale to locale. How can companies grant equal access to others around the world?

Urbach believes that access to the metaverse may be very similar to getting access to the internet. Mobile phones have enabled access to the internet worldwide.

“I think that the mobile phone revolution will continue to the metaverse and I think that as far as the hardware, the bandwidth needed, you’ll have probably pretty good coverage just as an evolution of what the mobile phone has done for most of the world,” he said. “To me, it’s an extension of covering what mobile phone, hardware and bandwidth has done.”

He thinks the metaverse will be distributed via cloud services that can be decentralized, and that could give equal access for information through the open web.

Bye noted that VR has become more accessible because one company, Meta, has been subsidizing the cost of the headsets with a “model of surveillance capitalism.”

“You’re getting more accessibility, but at the same time, you’re maybe mortgaging people’s privacy,” Bye said. “And so there’s there is kind of a tension there in order to really financially pay for some of that, you have these trade offs that are inherent. And so how do you do things perfectly? Well, you can’t do things for free so you do have to decide what is more valuable for having a diverse, inclusive, [policy that] gets the technology into most people as possible.”

The challenge is the lack of a clear path to how we get to both an accessible technology and one that guarantees a lot of the rights that we would otherwise surrender with surveillance capitalism. Bye believes a new federal privacy law could accomplish this balance.

“When we think about ethics, that might not seem actionable. And that’s a difficulty to translate it into good practices that could be put into practice in everyday work,” Mantegna said.

She said that the access issue involves a few things. One is accessing the internet, and she noted a recent United Nations report found that a third of the global population has never been on the internet. Another issues is access to the technology that delivers the best results. And then we need to address the issues of access to hardware, which won’t be the same based on what everybody can afford.

“How are we going to ensure this balance?” Mantegna asked.

As long as ethical principles are just a guideline without concrete obligations, we are going to fail, Mantegna said.

“We don’t want to fail,” Edwards said. “We want to do this right. It’s not something we are going to solve easily, but it is something that I’m hoping that as we go into the development of the metaverse we are going to be eyes wide open on this issue.”

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Learn More

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AMD CEO says 5-nm Zen 4 processors coming this fall

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Advanced Micro Devices revealed its 5-nanometer Zen 4 processor architecture today at the Computex 2022 event in Taiwan.

The new AMD Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processors with Zen 4 cores will be coming this fall, said Lisa Su, CEO of AMD, in a keynote speech.

Su said the new processors with Zen 4 architecture will deliver a significant increase in performance upon their launch in the fall of 2022. Additionally, Su highlighted the strong growth and momentum for AMD in the mobile market as 70 of the more than 200 expected ultrathin, gaming and commercial notebook designs powered by Ryzen 6000 Series processors have been launched or announced to-date.

In addition, other AMD executives announced the newest addition to the Ryzen Mobile lineup, “Mendocino;” the newest AMD smart technology, SmartAccess Storage; and more details of the new AM5 platform, including support from leading motherboard manufacturers.

“At Computex 2022 we highlighted growing adoption of AMD in ultrathin, gaming, and commercial notebooks from the leading PC providers based on the leadership performance and battery life of our Ryzen 6000 series mobile processors,” said Su. “With our upcoming AMD Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processors, we will bring even more leadership to the desktop market with our next-generation 5-nm Zen 4 architecture and provide an unparalleled, high-

performance computing experience for gamers and creators.”

AMD Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processors

The new Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processors will double the amount of L2 cache per core, feature higher clock speeds, and are projected to provide greater than 15% uplift in single-thread performance versus the prior generation, for a better desktop PC experience.

During the keynote, a pre-production Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processor was demonstrated running at 5.5 GHz clock speed throughout AAA game play. The same processor was also demonstrated performing more than 30% faster than an Intel Core i9 12900K in a Blender multi-threaded rendering workload.

In addition to new “Zen 4” compute dies, the Ryzen 7000 series features an all-new 6nm I/O die. The new I/O die includes AMD RDNA 2-based graphics engine, a new low-power architecture adopted from AMD Ryzen mobile processors, support for the latest memory and connectivity technologies like DDR5 and PCI Express 5.0, and support for up to four displays.

AMD Socket AM5 Platform

The new AMD Socket AM5 platform provides advanced connectivity for our most demanding enthusiasts. This new socket features a 1718-pin LGA design with support for up to 170W TDP processors, dual-channel DDR5 memory, and new SVI3 power infrastructure for leading all-core performance with our Ryzen 7000 Series processors. AMD Socket AM5 features the most PCIe 5.0 lanes in the industry with up to 24 lanes, making it our fastest, largest, and most expansive desktop platform with support for the next-generation and beyond class of storage and graphics cards.

And AMD said the “Mendocino” processors will offer great everyday performance and are expected to be priced from $400 to $700.

Featuring “Zen 2” cores and RDNA 2 architecture-based graphics, the processors are designed to deliver the best battery life and performance in the price band so users can get the most out of their laptop at an attractive price.

The first systems featuring the new “Mendocino” processors will be available from computer partners in Q4 2022.

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Learn more about membership.

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AMD’s Ryzen 7000 desktop chips are coming this fall with 5nm Zen 4 cores

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AMD’s Ryzen 7000 desktop chips are coming this fall with 5nm Zen 4 cores

AMD’s upcoming Ryzen 7000 chips will mark another major milestone for the company: they’ll be the first desktop processors running 5 nanometer cores. During her Computex keynote presentation today, AMD CEO Lisa Su confirmed that Ryzen 7000 chips will launch this fall. Under the hood, they’ll feature dual 5nm Zen 4 cores, as well as a redesigned 6nm I/O core (which includes RDNA2 graphics, DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 controllers and a low-power architecture). Earlier this month, the company teased its plans for high-end “Dragon Range” Ryzen 7000 laptop chips, which are expected to launch in 2023.

Since this is just a Computex glimpse, AMD isn’t giving us many other details about the Ryzen 7000 yet. The company says it will offer a 15 percent performance jump in Cinebench’s single-threaded benchmark compared to the Ryzen 5950X. Still, it’d be more interesting to hear about multi-threaded performance, especially given the progress Intel has made with its 12th-gen CPUs. You can expect 1MB of L2 cache per core, as well as maximum boost speeds beyond 5GHz and better hardware acceleration for AI tasks.

AMD is also debuting Socket AM5 motherboards alongside its new flagship processor. The company is moving towards a 1718-pin LGA socket, but it will still support AM4 coolers. That’s a big deal if you’ve already invested a ton into your cooling setup. The new motherboards will offer up to 24 channels of PCIe 5.0 split across storage and graphics, up to 14 USB SuperSpeed ports running at 20 Gbps, and up to 4 HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 2 ports. You’ll find them in three different flavors: B650 for mainstream systems, X650 for enthusiasts who want PCIe 5.0 for storage and graphics and X650 Extreme for the most demanding folks.

Given that Intel still won’t have a 7nm desktop chip until next year (barring any additional delays), AMD seems poised to once again take the performance lead for another generation. But given just how well Intel’s hybrid process for its 12th-gen chips has worked out, it’ll be interesting to see how it plans to respond. If anything, it sure is nice to see genuine competition in the CPU space again.

While Ryzen 7000 will be AMD’s main focus for the rest of the year, the company is also throwing a bone to mainstream laptops in the fourth quarter with its upcoming 6nm “Mendocino” CPUs. They’ll sport four 6nm Zen 2 cores, as well as RDNA 2 graphics, making them ideal for systems priced between $399 and $699. Sure, that’s not much to get excited about, but even basic machines like Lenovo’s Ideapad 1 deserve decent performance. And for many office drones, it could mean having work-issued machines that finally don’t stink.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Disney’s Disney+ ad pitch reflects how streaming ad prices set to rise in this year’s upfront

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Disney’s Disney+ ad pitch reflects how streaming ad prices set to rise in this year’s upfront

With Disney+, Disney is looking to set a new high-water mark for ad prices among the major ad-supported streamers. The pricey pitch is representative of a broader rising tide in streaming ad pricing in this year’s TV advertising upfront market, as Disney-owned Hulu, Amazon and even Fox’s Tubi are looking to press upfront advertisers to pay up.

In its initial pitch to advertisers and their agencies, Disney is seeking CPMs for Disney+ around $50, according to agency executives. That price point applies to broad-based targeting dubbed “P2+,” which refers to an audience of any viewer who is two years old or older (though Disney has told agency executives that programming aimed at viewers seven years old and younger will be excluded from carrying ads). In other words, more narrowly targeted ads are expected to cost more based on the level of targeting. A Disney spokesperson declined to comment.

At a $50 CPM, Disney+ is surpassing the prices that NBCUniversal’s Peacock  and Warner Bros. Discovery’s HBO Max sought in last year’s upfront market and that gave ad buyers sticker shock. The former sought CPMs in the $30 to $40 range, while the latter sought $40+ CPMs. By comparison, other major ad-supported streamers like Hulu, Discovery+ and Paramount+ were charging low-to-mid $20 CPMs that major ad-supported streamers charge. As a result, Peacock’s and HBO Max’s asks ended up being price prohibitive, with some advertisers limiting the amount of money they spent with the streamers because of their higher rates.

Unsurprisingly, agency executives are balking at Disney+’s price point. “They’re citing pricing that no longer exists, meaning Peacock and HBO Max recognized they came out too high and they’re reducing it. Disney+ is using earmuffs to pretend that second part didn’t happen,” said one agency executive.

However, Disney+ isn’t the only streamer seeking to raise the rates that ad buyers are accustomed to paying. Hulu is also seeking to increase its prices in this year’s upfront, with P2+ pricing going from a $20-$25 CPM average to averaging in the $25-$30 CPM range, according to agency executives. And during a call with reporters on May 16, Fox advertising sales president Marianne Gambelli said that the company will seek higher prices for its free, ad-supported streaming TV service Tubi in this year’s upfront market. It’s unclear what Tubi’s current rates are, but FAST services’ CPMS are typically in the low to mid teens, said the agency executives.

“We have to get the value for Tubi. Tubi has grown to a point — it’s doubled, tripled in size over the past couple of years. So we are going to obviously make that a priority and look for not only more volume but price,” Gambelli said.

Meanwhile, in pitching its Thursday Night Football package that will be streamed on Amazon Prime Video and Twitch, Amazon has been pressing for a premium on what Fox charged advertisers last year, according to agency executives. The e-commerce giant will be handling the games’ ad placements like traditional TV, meaning that it will run the same ad in each ad slot for every viewer as opposed to dynamically inserting targeted ads. “It’s streaming broadcast,” said a second agency executive.

An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on pricing but did provide a general statement. “Thursday Night Football on Prime Video and Twitch is a purely digital broadcast, and we’re excited to bring fans a new viewing experience. There are 80MM active Prime Video households in the U.S. and, in a survey of our 2021 TNF audience, 38% reported they don’t have a pay-TV service – meaning TNF on Prime Video and Twitch enables brands to connect with cord-cutters and cord-nevers. Brands can also reach these viewers beyond TNF. Our first-party insights enable them to reengage TNF audiences across Amazon, such as in Freevee content.”

One of the agency executives that Digiday spoke to said the latest ask is for a plus-10% increase on Fox’s rates, though what Fox’s rates were are unclear and other agency executives said the premium that Amazon is asking for varies. Ad Age reported in February that Amazon was seeking up to 20% higher prices than Fox’s rates. “I don’t know if it is consistently plus-10, but it is definitely more. Which is crazy because Fox couldn’t make money on it, which is why they gave it up for this fall,” said a second agency executive.

“Someone was eating way too many gummies before they put the pricing together,” said a second agency executive of Amazon’s Thursday Night Football pitch.

Ad-supported streaming service owners also see an opportunity to push for higher prices as advertisers to adopt more advanced targeting with their streaming campaigns, such as by using the media companies’ and/or advertisers’ first-party data to aim their ads on the streamers. 

Said one TV network executive, “You’ll see premiums, especially as it relates to advertisers that really want to hook into [their company’s streaming service] and buy those targeted audiences across the platform and either use [the TV network’s] first-party data or bring their own data to the table. That’s the biggest business we’re in, and that’s where we see great growth from a pricing standpoint.”

https://digiday.com/?p=448869

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