The metaverse, which will connect physical reality with the digital world through virtual reality, augmented reality and the internet, is coming. But the question is – are we ready?
According to Chris Wylie, whistleblower of Cambridge Analytica who encouraged a massive review of privacy practices and laws around the world, the answer to the above question is a resounding no.
In fact, it might be best to start pumping breaks in the metaverse now before it infiltrates our daily lives, he warns.
Recently talked to Cheetah Digital CMO Richard Jones on the metaverse, marketing and the future of privacy, Chris likened the metaverse to a physical entity like a skyscraper or an airplane. He gives a picture of how digital worlds should be architecturally so-called ‘fire exits’ or other protections.
“There should be some kind of building code, which protects its users, their privacy and, more importantly, their mental health,” he says.
Because even though the metaverse is considered to be built to allow people to roam freely; the reality is that it could be designed to present to its users a particular narrative that instead leans toward their reality.
Richard agrees that this is something we as citizens, not just traders, need to consider as we, our children and their children’s children, go deeper into the digital society.
“We need to ask questions – ‘Is there a need for a regulatory body or some layer of social protection?’ – as the metaverse evolves and touches all aspects of our lives, ”adds Richard.
Technology is getting more sophisticated every year. The ways in which data collection can drive our lives are almost endless. Who would have ever thought that one day we would be able to enter a store, skip the cash register and still pay for goods? Still, here we are, this day has arrived thanks to sophisticated camera technology that can track our every move.
While this is a stunning thing, Chris believes we’re just scratching the surface. “In the current direction we’re heading, I imagine in 10 years you’ll come home and sit down to watch TV while the TV watches you,” Chris says.
“The TV will talk to the appliances in the kitchen. What could TV present to you, to convince you to buy something? And in the other room, Facebook will watch your children play. And your self-driving car decides when you come to work. ”
While the future, indeed, sounds ‘creepy’; with today’s possibilities, it is quite possible. “In that situation, there are many things that, in isolation, seem everyday. “A smart refrigerator, a smart TV or a smart car do not look insidious in themselves,” he added.
“When you connect these things and put them in a system that is able to observe you, think about you and create plans and intentions for you, it results in something really deep in terms of human activity. For the first time in human history, we are building thinking environments around us. ”
Nature versus technology
The modern landscape leads us to live in a world full of natural pleasures, as well as potentially threatening forces of technology, Chris points out. “We have evolved as a species that can be influenced by nature. Maybe there’s a lion in the savannah chasing us or an antelope we want to eat; but nature itself has no intention of us. “
“As the metaverse continues to evolve, what does it mean to be a person in an environment where everyone around him suddenly has intentions – and we can’t see what those intentions are?”
In addition to intentions, Chris shares the importance of considering what effect the metaverse will have on human development. What will this mean for people who grew up in an environment where everything that was consumed worked diligently to turn them into consumers?
People have mostly become what they are by moving freely through their world. “It is through your life experience, engagement and random cases that you can grow and develop as a person. But what happens when, suddenly, the environment decides to get involved – classifying you, influencing your every step and finally making you the ideal consumer? ”
The shocking realization of everything, Chris says, is that privacy is just one small piece of the puzzle. The subject is much larger and much more complex than the data collected and the way it was collected.
“When we look at some of the consequences of algorithmic damage, be it mental health and mental well-being – especially among young people, men and women in development – on social cohesion around the world where real damage comes from these systems, it is crucial that we address these consequences before than the metaverse becomes mainstream, ”says Chris.
Building a new paradigm
When there are more safety regulations for a toaster in the kitchen than for a platform that touches a billion people, Chris says, it’s time for a change. The best way to understand that change, he says, is to start from the source.
“A big part of the problem is that we do not frame the conversation about those who are responsible – engineers and architects. “The things that do harm are the products of architecture and engineering,” he said.
“When you look at how we connect other technological products and other engineering products, be it in aviation, construction, pharmacy, etc .; there are safety standards. There are inspections. We need to start examining technological constructions on the Internet to ensure that there are regulatory frameworks to create a safer environment. ”
While many today occasionally use smart devices to track health statistics, communicate with loved ones and have fun, Chris says that in the coming decades, these smart devices could have a stronger impact on their users. Smart devices may become the only way they can communicate with modern society.
“Imagine 10 or 20 years from now when the internet will evolve into a metaverse, where you can’t participate in society without entering this augmented reality. And then imagine an institution like Fox News that takes over people’s reality – not just what they watch on TV, but literally what they see, “he says.
What’s more, Chris asks what happens when people start personalizing their experiences to suit their preferences. For example, racists could eliminate colored people from their view. Or people could create a society in which they walk the streets and no longer see the homeless; they no longer see major social problems.
“What happens to society when we no longer fully understand what is happening around us, and the only people who understand that are those who are in charge of expanding it,” he asks. “It’s a really important issue and it’s not an exaggeration.”
At nominal (book) value
Despite Facebook’s now-called Meta, attention-grabbing algorithms that encourage one-sided views and encourage misinformation, retailers continue to pump large sums of money into its platform each year. But is it worth it? Do marketers rightly believe that Facebook data is really as valuable as they think it is?
According to Chris, absolutely. “From a purely functional point of view, yes. That is incredibly valuable data, “he admits.
However, marketers who use this information to create personalized ads are not a problem. The problem, he says, is a little more than that. “There’s a difference between personalized advertising and creating an entire ecosystem using that logic,” Chris points out.
“When you look at the news that Facebook and other social media platforms provide to users, it expands this logic that was created for advertising, by showing content that is relevant to you.
“Not only do the basics make what makes your ads more effective, but also less annoying for the people who receive them. It extends to: ‘You should only see the things that occupy you the most, the point, in all the information you consume’, to the point where the only information you consume is what usually really pisses you off because it happens to make you click on things . And that’s different from marketing. “
You’re doing the right thing
To support retailers and advertisers in their role in this modern, technology-enabled society, Chris offers advice: Don’t trust a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
“The tool you use, which you love so much, is probably one of your biggest threats. “While advertisers are appalled by the idea of regulations that limit what they are allowed to do, in the long run, regulations could be useful for the sustainability of the industry,” he says.
“Don’t be drawn to bad practices in an industry that behaves badly. There is a significant loss of trust in platforms such as Facebook because it does not constantly listen to consumers. It does not respect consumers. Putting that industry aside could fail in the long run. ”
Chris advises asking yourself these two questions as a simple rule when considering privacy and data misuse in advertising:
1. If you use personal information, would it be appropriate for you to ask a random person on the street questions to create that database?
2. Would anyone reasonably expect their data to be used in this way?
If the answer is yes to both, then it’s probably okay.
In short, the metaverse or not, it really doesn’t matter where you hire your clients. Reality is zero side data, loyalty and thinking through ‘value sharing’ about how you communicate with the client are all vital components. They will all be important as the metaverse evolves, and we are moving into this ‘brave new era’ of privacy.
A special record to talk about Metaverse, marketing and the future of privacy is available to watch here.
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