Reality Check: How to Protect Human Rights in the 3D Immersive Web

Reality Check
September 2023

Advances in immersive technologies mean that in the near future, people will consume digital content and interact in 3D, eclipsing the 2D Internet.

A new report by the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights explains two pressing risks related to the mass adoption of immersive technologies: an unprecedented erosion of privacy and proliferation of physical aggression in virtual environments.

Immersive technology will power the “metaverse,” the sprawling collection of virtual environments on which the Silicon Valley giant Meta has staked its future success.   

Other large tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Nvidia, and Sony, have made sizable investments in immersive technology as well, using alternative terms like “extended reality” (XR) and “spatial computing.” Regardless of the specific form that it takes, the 3D web will usher in new threats to human rights and exacerbate old ones. Businesses and policymakers should learn from the mistakes of the past and take proactive action to mitigate those harms.

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