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The danger of AI micro-targeting in the metaverse

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If you ask most people to name the key technologies of the metaverse, they’ll usually focus on the eyewear and graphics engines. If they’re sophisticated, they’ll also bring up 5G and blockchain. But those are the nuts and bolts of our immersive future. The technology that will pull the strings, creating and manipulating our experience, is AI.  

Artificial intelligence will soon become one of the most important, and likely most dangerous, aspects of the metaverse. I’m talking about agenda-driven artificial agents that look and act like any other users but are virtual simulations that will engage us in “conversational manipulation,” targeting us on behalf of paying advertisers. 

This is especially dangerous when the AI algorithms have access to data about our personal interests, beliefs, habits and temperament, while also reading our facial expressions and vocal inflections. Such agents will be able to pitch us more skillfully than any salesman. And it won’t just be to sell us products and services – they could easily push political propaganda and targeted misinformation on behalf of the highest bidder.  

And because these AI agents will look and sound like anyone else in the metaverse, our natural skepticism to advertising will not protect us. For these reasons, we need to regulate some aspects of the coming metaverse, especially AI-driven agents. If we don’t, promotional AI-avatars will fill our lives, sensing our emotions in real time and quickly adjusting their tactics for a level of micro-targeting never before experienced.

But of all the technologies headed our way, it’s the Elf that could be the most subtle form of coercion. These “Electronic Life Facilitators” will be the next generation of digital assistants like Alexa and Siri. But they won’t be disembodied voices; they’ll be anthropomorphized personas customized for each user. And because the metaverse will ultimately be an augmentation layer on the real world, these digital elves will follow us everywhere, whether we’re shopping, working, or just hanging out.  

And like the marketing agents described above, these elves could have an agenda, nudging us towards actions and activities, products and services, even views and beliefs on behalf of a paying advertiser. And they won’t be like the crude chatbots of today, but embodied characters we’ll come to think of as trusted figures in our life – a mix between a familiar friend, a helpful advisor, and a caring therapist. But your elf will know you in ways no friend ever could, for it could monitor your daily life down to your blood pressure and respiration rate (via your smart watch). 

Yes, this sounds creepy and invasive, which is why platform providers will likely make them cute and non-threatening, with innocent features that seem more like a magical character than a human-sized assistant following you around. This is why I prefer the word elf to describe them, as they might appear to you as a fairy or gremlin, hovering over your shoulder – a small character that can whisper in your ear or fly out in front of you to draw attention to things in your augmented world it wants you to focus on. 

There are many positive uses of such technology, but when controlled by for-profit corporations, AI agents can too easily coerce us, steering us towards products and services without us even realizing. After all, the metaverse itself is designed to fool our senses – when combined with the power of AI the dangers are very real. I raise these issues in hope the industry pushes for meaningful regulation before the problems become so ingrained that we accept them as inevitable. After all, we deserve a magical metaverse, free of excessive monitoring and hidden manipulation.  

Louis B. Rosenberg is a computer scientist, entrepreneur, and prolific inventor. Thirty years ago while working as a researcher at Stanford and Air Force Research Laboratory, Rosenberg developed the first functional augmented reality system. He then founded one of the early virtual reality companies (Immersion Corp) and one of the early augmented reality companies (Outland Research). He’s currently founder and CEO of swarm intelligence company Unanimous AI.

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Identity in the metaverse: Creating a global identity system

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With the advent of the metaverse, the need for a global identity system has become apparent. There are many different ways to create an identity in the metaverse, but no single system is universally accepted. 

The challenge is usually two-fold: first, how to create an identity that is accepted by all the different platforms and services in the metaverse, and second, how to keep track of all the different identities a person may have.

There are many proposed solutions to these challenges, but no clear consensus has emerged. Some believe that a single, global identity system is the only way to ensure interoperability between different platforms and services. Others believe that multiple identities are necessary to allow people to maintain their privacy and security.

The debate is ongoing, but it is clear that the need for a global identity system is becoming more urgent as the metaverse continues to grow.

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In this article, we will explore the various options for creating a global identity system in the metaverse. We will discuss the pros and cons of each option, and try to identify the best solution for the future.

Option 1: A single global identity

The simplest solution to the problem of identity in the metaverse is to create a single, global identity system. This would be a centralized system that would be responsible for managing all identities in the metaverse. 

The advantages of this approach are obvious: It would be much easier to keep track of identities, and there would be no need to worry about different platforms and services accepting different identities. In addition, a centralized identity system would allow for better security and privacy controls, as well as the ability to track identity theft and fraud.

However, this approach also has several disadvantages. First, it would be very difficult to create a global identity system that is accepted by everyone. Also, a centralized system would be vulnerable to attack and could be used to track people’s movements and activities. Third, it would be difficult to protect the privacy of users in a centralized system.

Option 2: Multiple identities

Another solution to the problem of identity in the metaverse is to allow each person to have multiple identities. This would mean that each person could have one or more identities that they use for different purposes. 

One of the main advantages of this approach is that it would allow people to maintain their privacy and security. Each person could choose which identity to use for each situation, and they would not have to worry about their entire identity being exposed. In addition, this approach would be more resilient to attack, as it would be much harder to take down multiple identities than a single one.

The limitations of such an approach would be that it could be difficult to keep track of all the different identities, and there would be no guarantee that different platforms and services would accept all of them. In addition, multiple identities could lead to confusion and could make it more difficult for people to build trust with others.

Option 3: A decentralized identity system

A third solution to the problem of identity in the metaverse is to create a decentralized identity system. This would be an identity system that is not controlled by any one centralized authority but rather is distributed among many different nodes. 

This might seem like the ideal approach, since decentralization is a common theme in the metaverse. However, there are still some challenges that need to be overcome. For instance, it would need to be ensured that all the different nodes in the system are properly synchronized and that the system as a whole is secure. In addition, it might be difficult to get people to adopt such a system if they are used to the more traditional centralized approach.

One solution would be to get the nodes in the system to be run by different organizations. This would help to decentralize the system and make it more secure. Another advantage of this approach is that it would allow different organizations to offer their own identity services, which could be more tailored to their needs.

Another would be to incorporate an edge computing solution into the system. This would allow for more decentralized processing of data and could help to improve performance. It would also make the system more resilient to attack since there would be no centralized point of failure.

The best solution for the future of identity in the metaverse is likely to be a combination of these approaches. A centralized system might be necessary to provide a basic level of identity services, but it should be supplemented by a decentralized system that is more secure and resilient. Ultimately, the goal should be to create an identity system that is both easy to use and secure.

The ideal identity standards of the metaverse

Now that we have explored the various options for identity in the metaverse, we can start to identify the ideal standards that should be met by any future global identity system. 

It is no easy task to create a global identity system that meets all of the criteria, but it is important to strive for an ideal solution. After all, the metaverse is still in its early stages, and the decisions made now will have a lasting impact on its future. 

Current iterations of the metaverse have used very traditional approaches to identity, but it is time to start thinking outside the box. The ideal solution will be one that is secure, private, decentralized, and easy to use. It will be a solution that allows people to maintain their privacy while still being able to interact with others in the metaverse. 

Most importantly, it will be a solution that can be accepted and used by everyone. Only then can we hope to create a truly global identity system for the metaverse.

The bottom line on identity in the metaverse

The question of identity in the metaverse is a complex one, but it is an important issue that needs to be addressed. 

The challenges associated with creating an implementation that is secure, private and decentralized are significant, but they are not insurmountable. For one, it will be important to get buy-in from organizations that have a vested interest in the metaverse. These organizations can help to promote and support the adoption of identity standards. 

It is also important to keep in mind that the metaverse is still evolving, and the solution that is ideal today might not be ideal tomorrow. As such, it will be critical to have a flexible identity system that can adapt as the needs of the metaverse change. 

Ultimately, the goal should be to create an identity system that is both easy to use and secure. Only then can we hope to create a truly global identity system for the metaverse.

Daniel Saito is CEO and cofounder of StrongNode

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How to Eliminate Scheduling Inefficiencies in Your Business

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What do salons, consultancies, and home service providers all have in common? This question may seem like the prime setup for a joke, but there’s no punchline to look forward…

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Why You Should Start a Business Only While You Have a Job

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Many people that I meet tell me that they dream of starting their own . I always ask them, “Then why don’t you?” They typically respond by saying that they have so many financial and personal responsibilities, that they can’t just quit their job to start a company, etc. Then I tell them my story …



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Related: How to Use Your Current Job to Start Your Next Business

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