Authors
Michael Madary
University of the Pacific
Thomas Metzinger
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Abstract
The goal of this article is to present a first list of ethical concerns that may arise from research and personal use of virtual reality (VR) and related technology, and to offer concrete recommendations for minimizing those risks. Many of the recommendations call for focused research initiatives. In the first part of the article, we discuss the relevant evidence from psychology that motivates our concerns. In Section “Plasticity in the Human Mind,” we cover some of the main results suggesting that one’s environment can influence one’s psychological states, as well as recent work on inducing illusions of embodiment. Then, in Section “Illusions of Embodiment and Their Lasting Effect,” we go on to discuss recent evidence indicating that immersion in VR can have psychological effects that last after leaving the virtual environment. In the second part of the article, we turn to the risks and recommendations. We begin, in Section “The Research Ethics of VR,” with the research ethics of VR, covering six main topics: the limits of experimental environments, informed consent, clinical risks, dual-use, online research, and a general point about the limitations of a code of conduct for research. Then, in Section “Risks for Individuals and Society,” we turn to the risks of VR for the general public, covering four main topics: long-term immersion, neglect of the social and physical environment, risky content, and privacy. We offer concrete recommendations for each of these 10 topics, summarized in Table 1.
Keywords Ethics of Virtual Reality  Virtual Reality  Applied Ethics  Immersive Technology  Privacy
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References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
How the Body Shapes the Mind.Shaun Gallagher - 2005 - Oxford University Press UK.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.

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Citations of this work BETA

Societal and Ethical Issues of Digitization.Lambèr Royakkers, Jelte Timmer, Linda Kool & Rinie van Est - 2018 - Ethics and Information Technology 20 (2):127-142.
Real Moral Problems in the Use of Virtual Reality.Erick Jose Ramirez & Scott LaBarge - 2018 - Ethics and Information Technology (4):249-263.

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