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The ethics of using XR

In this video, our experts Nonny de la Peña and Graeme Cox talk about the ethical decisions and considerations involved when creating XR experiences.
As an investigative documentary filmmaker, you’re often trying to tell stories that are pretty difficult. So I’m doing that in virtual reality instead of as a documentary filmmaker. So the stories are the same. And a lot of the same best practises and principles are the same. But there is an issue with the impact, and so you have to really think about what’s really ethical. For example, when we made a piece about Kiya, who was killed by the father of her kids, an ex-boyfriend, and her two sisters tried to come and rescue her, it’s an extraordinary thing where they both called the police and they both had their phones on live.
And they were taking turns going in and out of the home looking to see if the police had arrived. So this audio is extraordinary. Hold on. He has a gun in his hands. I don’t want the police to come this way, because he’s looking outside. I have two children in the house. When we put you in that moment where he’s got her basically as a hostage with a gun- which we recreated everything based on what the sisters told us and the audio files- it’s very, very powerful. So you have to be even more sensitive. We had all kinds of material that we could have used that would have been very graphic. But we chose not to do that.
We were very specific in making sure the story was deeply understood and deeply felt, without showing any of the graphic stuff that just wasn’t necessary. And I actually think this is going to become a more important question, as journalism evolves in this medium. Already, you can see the new iPad Apple just put out has a LIDAR camera on it, allowing you to scan your environment. Well, what’s going to happen when people are going to be able to scan a scene that was a site of a bombing or a massacre or whatever? I spoke with a LIDAR company.
In the horrible, horrible scene in Florida where the man shot up the nightclub, in which dozens of people were killed, the police asked for LIDAR scans of the space. So that material already exists in the real world. So journalistically, what are going to be the best practises? What are we going to show? What are we going to limit? How are we going to limit it? I think that this is going to be a very important part of the future of journalism. Look around you. Your world is not flat. Our media, our film, television, et cetera, it’s not going to stay flat. It’s going to have dimension and we’re going to experience it with dimension.
So that opens up a lot of really wonderful things. But also, we really have to be acutely aware of, what are some of the best practises and what are some of the issues that are going to arise with that kind of power.
We have to recognise that virtual reality is a very powerful medium.
It is a medium that drives real gut responses from people. That’s why it’s so powerful. It is an incredible way to feel like you’re in somebody else’s shoes, to live an experience that you couldn’t have otherwise. But that can be misused. And in medical situations, that could be misused very badly.
Take a simple example. You’re trying to build something that will teach people not to be afraid of heights anymore. And many people are afraid of heights. You build that so that they put the headset on, and suddenly they’re standing on a diving board 600 metres above this raging waterfall. And because our gut reactions immediately kick in, you could freak somebody out enormously with that. Not having a way of understanding the complexity of an individual user’s condition or what will trigger them and to what level, makes use of some simulated environments extremely dangerous.
That’s why we believe our objective measures of emotional response is so important to the next generation of training environments, simulation environments, whether that be training you to reduce phobias or whether it’s training firefighters on how to deal with difficult situations the first time they see them. When they first turn up at a car crash, how do you control your emotions to deal with that environment?
When you are, for the first time, put in front of a large room of people and told to stand up and give a speech, how do you control the fear and stress response that comes from that? Being able to measure emotional response and use that gives us a way to use virtual reality simulations for good.

In this video, our experts Nonny de la Peña and Graeme Cox talk about the ethical decisions and considerations involved when creating XR experiences.

Nonny talks about considering the audience impact immersive media can have and why it is important to consider this when creating journalism of this kind. She also considers the critical questions journalists may have to ask as this technology evolves.

Graeme speaks about the responsibility of using VR in the health sector and what Emteq do with their response feedback to ensure experiences are monitored and are safe to use.

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Introduction to Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality

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