philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Biometric Data Streams and the Unknown Ethical Threshold of Predicting & Controlling Behavior

Voices of VR Podcast – Episode #517

John-Burkhardt-150x150I also talked to John Burkhardt about some of the ethical implications of integrating these biometric data streams within an entertainment and consumer VR context. He says that the fields of advertising and brainwashing often borrow from each other’s research, and he is specifically concerned about whether or not it’ll be possible to hack our fixed action patterns, which are essentially stimulus response behaviors that could be operating below our conscious awareness.

Most of the work that iMotions does is within the context of controlled research and explicit consent of participants, but what happens when entire virtual environments can be controlled and manipulated by companies who know more about your unconscious behaviors than you do?

Burkhardt also says that these types of issues tend to be resolved by implicit collective consensus in the sense that we’re already tolerating a lot of the cost/benefit tradeoffs of using modern technology. He says that it’s just a matter of time before someone creates a way to formulate a unique biometric fingerprint based upon aggregating these different data streams, and it’s an open question as to who should own and control that key.

As I covered in my previous podcast with Jim Preston, it’s easy to jump to utopian or dystopian outcomes regarding privacy in VR, but it’s more likely to fall somewhere in between, as it is complicated and complex.

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