Kabuni
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Kabuni

The Mail on Sunday, original article by news reporter Molly Clayton

A Safer Metaverse

Last week, I was interviewed by news reporter, Molly Clayton, at the Mail on Sunday. The article was subsequently shared across multiple media outlets Insider, The Independent, Newsweek, New York Post, The Evening Standard and more. Molly Clayton reached out to me regarding my experience of sexual harassment in Meta’s Horizon Venues that I shared, here on Medium back in December 2021.

Within 1 hr of the article being published, here in the U.K., I received death threats, abusive comments on social media and via email. It seems calling attention to sexual harassment has upset some people. I’ll spare you the details, but clearly, there are many, many misogynists in this world who think that sexual harassment is acceptable.

For the purposes of being efficient here, I will just say, let’s agree to disagree.

Harassment in digital spaces has been a problem since day one — rife with hate, violence, aggression, misogyny and racism. But I’m here to say — it doesn’t need to be this way.

‘’Immersive technology is just like the atom splitting. It can be used for helping mankind, lifting mankind, or it can be used for destroying mankind. That’s where we are with virtual reality. We’re on the cusp of having powerful tools like fire. What are we going to do with it? How are we going to use it? How are we going to put in safeguards so that we don’t get burned?’’

Tom Furness, VR Pioneer

We need to choose how we want to shape immersive technology for the future of society. I believe it is irresponsible not to consider human interaction in virtual spaces without considerations of boundaries that create safer virtual environments. With curiosity I ask these questions —

What safer metaverse do we want to design for our children?

How will a safer metaverse make our children feel?

What will a safer metaverse help our children achieve?

A Safer Metaverse. I don’t know about you, but this is where I want to be. As a woman, as a mother, as an ally for upholding human rights, I think this is where most decent human beings want to be.

In addition to the hate I’ve received, I’ve also received many messages of support. These are my people. I know there is so much potential. A safer metaverse is possible for those who want it.

My role as the VP of Metaverse Research is to explore the past, present and future applications of AR, VR and XR. My role as a doctoral researcher is to investigate and measure the psychological and physiological impact of engaging in these virtual environments. My role as a Movement Psychotherapist is to create safe spaces, and by extension I’m curious about integrations of the body in virtual spaces and human computer interfaces/interactions.

The idea that, quite soon, we will have experiences within open interoperable metaverses, walled-garden metaverses, and communities that can be empowered by the tools of Web 3.0, is very exciting. I am optimistic.

The inevitable move into the metaverse now causes further concerns if not properly regulated and controlled for children (an extremely impressionable age group) on the back of solid research, science, data and evidence-based methodologies.

Our company, Kabuni is small but mighty, and one of many startups, individuals, collectives and organisations that are working on potential solutions. Our focus, right now, is to actively research and develop, in collaboration with educators around the world along side leading industry advisors, to shape a safer metaverse for children aged 8–16. Our rock-star team has been through thick and thin, with grit and determination - it has not been an easy path, and there are many bumps ahead. Together, collectively, we dream of a metaverse where we dance with pixels in virtual environments to explore, learn and grow.

I will leave you with this thought: how can you become part of this conversation and get involved with initiatives that will help shape the future for a more secure and positive future for our kids? Seize the day. Carpe diem — the time is now.

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Nina Jane Patel

Nina Jane Patel

Co-founder + VP of Metaverse Research — Kabuni | Seeing Possibilities | Creative Futurist | Embodied Technology | Psychotherapist | Doctoral Research