The Rand Corporation is an American (non-profit) think tank. A recent one warning them αφορά “ένα σενάριο που θα μπορούσε να συμβεί στο metaverse.”
Let's look at the script and its implications:
A political candidate gives a speech to millions of people. Although each viewer thinks they are seeing the same image of the candidate, in virtual reality they are seeing a slightly different version. For each viewer, the candidate's face has been subtly altered to look like the viewer himself… Viewers are of course unaware of the image change.
However, they are strongly influenced by it: Every member of the public is more favorable to the candidate than they would be without some digital manipulation.
This is not speculation. It is known that mimicry can be used as a very powerful tool of influence. A series of experiments by Stanford researchers showed that slightly changing the features of an unfamiliar political figure to resemble each voter made people rate politicians more favorably.
The experiments took photos of study participants and real candidates in a mock-up of an election campaign. Each candidate's photos were altered to look like each participant. The studies found that even if 40% of the participant's features were blended into the candidate's face, the participants were unaware that the image had been tampered with.
In the metaverse, it's easy to imagine what this kind of mimicry can do on a massive scale.
At the heart of all deception is emotional manipulation. Virtual reality environments, such as Facebook's metaverse (now Meta), will allow the psychological and emotional manipulation of its users on a level unimaginable by today's standards…
We are currently a long way from being able to defend users from the threats that new technology will bring.... In virtual reality, body language and non-verbal signals such as eye gaze, gestures or expressions of the face can be used to communicate intentions and produce emotions.
Of course, we should not wait until these technologies are fully implemented to consider appropriate protective measures.
Let's remember that society didn't pay attention to classic social media (Facebook, Twitter and others) until things got completely out of control. Let's not make the same mistake with the metaverse.