Just Because We Can, Doesn’t Mean We Should

One of the questions brought up on Monday was the ethics of VR, which has been on my mind all semester. I think about worlds like Wizard of Oz and Wonderland, and I don’t really see a problem with creating these worlds and surprising people with them in our VR projects. However, I wonder the ramifications of putting someone in a VR world based on a text like Handmaid’s Tale, especially if that person is a woman. What would that do to their mental and emotional state, if it were a scene at the wall or the moment where they stoned that man to death? VR is supposed to replace reality, at least for the duration of the experience, and that can be a negative experience as much as it can be a positive one. It’s like have a nightmare as your VR. But what are the ethics when someone has purposefully constructed that nightmare and wants to put people in it? How ethical is that?

One thought on “Just Because We Can, Doesn’t Mean We Should

  1. I think you pose some really great questions in terms of where to draw the line in what we recreate in a Virtual Reality world, and what falls outside of our moral compass. I approached the ethics question differently, where, for me, it was more of a question on an individual basis. With my experiences, or lack thereof, would I be able to do justice to certain stories and their VR reproductions? Would I be misrepresenting a story if my background differs exponentially from the writer? With regards to your audience question, I think the notion of consent comes into play, where I’m assuming that all those who enter a VR experience have a slight understanding of what they are going to experience. The audience would actively be choosing to engage with a more difficult experience.

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