RL Crimes in VR
This weeks reading presents some serious ethical dilemmas presented in Virtual Reality. Although the actions that take place in such spaces cannot physically harm another user, the article raises the question as to whether or not someone can be attacked psychologically. In this case , Mr. Bungle attacks or rapes users as they enter his living room, and Dibbell makes the point to say that while these actions have no “physical” real world implications, the user Mr. Bungle does not know any real world information about the users he is interacting with. Some users truly might have experienced abuse in their lives and his actions could have triggered emotional harm to them. But at the same time, users entering into a virtual world where there are virtually no limitations on the actions you may perform should also understand that everything happening to them in that world has no bearing on their real life, so they should not take matters so seriously when they have the ability to unplug from VR at any time.
Just as in real life VR can set standard rules and laws for user interaction, but for it to be a true reality, users need to have the basic freedoms to act as individuals. LambdaMOO did well in creating a governing system for the users to vote on and report disturbing behavior by another user, but there was nothing in place to prevent whoever was behind Mr. Bungle from creating another account using a different name. So I guess the questions raised are how can users be held accountable in real life for immoral actions that take place in a virtual world? Should they even be held accountable? And if they should be, what must be required upon signing up for a user account in order to track users and their real world identity?