, November 29, 2022

The biggest danger from the Metaverse lies with explicit content


  •   3 min reads
The biggest danger from the Metaverse lies with explicit content

The Metaverse is both an opportunity and a threat, but there is one aspect to the Metaverse that barely gets discussed — it will become a haven for explicit user-generated content and interactive services.

A press release issued yesterday extended an invitation to Jack Dorsey to become Vice President of Dreamcam – a XXX VR livestreaming cam company.

“I’d like to offer you a position as Vice President at Dreamcam, a live virtual reality (VR) adult webcam platform. We’re keen on putting your creative juices to use and would love for you to spearhead our foray into the Metaverse,” stated the press release, which was written in the style of a letter to Twitter co-founder and outgoing CEO Jack Dorsey.

It was just a cheap PR stunt which partly worked because we ran the story but didn’t link to their site. This all does rather highlight an aspect of the Metaverse that not many people are talking about. The Metaverse will become a porn haven.

But does it matter?

There is a curious benefit that pornography may bring — it can seemingly spurn innovation.  That is not to say it doesn’t create all kinds of dangers — it does and there is some research to support this.

What is curious is a lack of serious academic research into the topic. For example, Google ‘importance of porn in the growth of internet’ and one academic paper and a couple of articles show up before we get into the research about the risks.

In Metaverse, will everyone hear you scream?
What is the Metaverse? How will the Metaverse change work and society, or there’s the Metaverse’s effect on play fun even humanity?

And even those reports that do exist are somewhat anecdotal and common sense led; there seems to be a dearth of studies based on data.

So, is it true — in the 1990s and then early 2000s, the pornpgraphy industry was apparently a significant driver of demand for faster internet speeds. The industry was an early pioneer in compression techniques for images and then later for video footage.

Porn is probably one of the drivers of the rise in Bitcoin.

We also hear that the availability of pornographic video titles was possibly the single biggest reason the VHS video standard triumphed over the technically superior  Betamax. Although, once again, it is hard to find strong evidence of this claim.

Who knows, maybe porn drove the development of colour printing presses.

We may exaggerate the importance of porn in driving innovation, but we probably don’t exaggerate how the evolution of media, from the printing press to video to the internet, has encouraged porn.

Maybe porn will support the development of the Metaverse and supporting technologies such as blockchain, NFTs, haptic technologies, screen displays, etcetera, etcetera.  But we can say that the Metaverse will support the further development of the pornography industry.

Is it healthy, though? The answer, as is nearly always the case, is ‘everything in moderation.’

But will it be in moderation? Almost certainly not.

Perhaps the single biggest risk of Metaverse porn lies in how it can change attitudes — change beliefs on how one should behave during love-making, which could be highly damaging.

One paper published last year concluded: “The exposure to explicit content can harm children and young people’s perception of sex, healthy relationships, and how they view their own bodies.”

It added: “Some children and young people asked explicitly for help and support, whether through education and/or some form of blocking the access to undesired materials. It is, therefore, undoubtful that some robust regulations are needed to protect children and young people from accessing online pornography.”

But you can’t regulate against human nature, and human nature can be dark. Who knows, maybe our ancestors got excited by cave paintings, but clearly, there is nothing in our genes to prepare us for the Metaverse pornography which may follow.

There is an analogy here with sugar. When we were evolving in Africa, sugar was rare — on the odd occasions we found it, we indulged. Today sugar is everywhere in supermarkets and cheap, tasty food, and we indulge because evolution didn’t supply us with a sugar-off button. So we get obesity and diabetes, and many other ills.

Maybe the danger created by pornography in the Metaverse is an order of magnitude greater. Regulation and censorship might help but might not be enough. This is a problem.

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