By fully immersing people within a digital, interactive environment, XR could represent a seismic shift in the way we interact with computers and with one another. XR promises to create more embodied, immersive, authentic-feeling experiences than we have had with digital media.
Allowing us to inhabit virtual worlds with one another.
Displaying and merging digital objects into our physical environment.
Combinations of virtual and augmented reality.
While its use for entertainment, and especially gaming, has received some of the greatest attention and investment, XR has already demonstrated benefits in areas like education and health. Rather than simply watching an educational video about the pyramids in Egypt, for instance, XR could help create an embodied, authentic feeling of climbing up the passageway to the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid and standing in front of the sarcophagus.
At the same time, XR also raises novel questions and issues, expanding on what was possible with the Internet thus far. Consider, for instance, how threats and harassment will also become a more authentic, embodied experience, and the wider mental and physical health implications of immersion within a digital environment. These experiences will be powered not just by data we input into a keyboard, but also highly sensitive biometric data like how our eyes move in response to specific stimuli.
The future of this technology is not written in stone. Now is the time to work proactively to create solutions that empower individuals and support the broader public interest.
How will XR platforms ensure the safety and security of users on the platform?
Given the scale of real-time interactions, will a more community-driven form of moderation be required?
What will be necessary to support both platforms and communities in addressing harmful content and behavior?
Conversely, how might XR be designed to enable or encourage certain values — e.g., empathy and comity?
How will user data be protected and what privacy rights will users have over their experience on these platforms?
How might surveillance advertising evolve in an XR environment?
What are the implications of increased collection and use of biometric information?
What health impacts — mental health, physical health — should we expect will arise from wider adoption of XR technologies?
Will the health concerns associated with social media today (e.g., distraction, disassociation, addiction) become even more pressing with the adoption of XR?
Conversely, given early evidence about the ways that XR might help medical professionals, what policy frameworks are necessary to facilitate positive deployment of XR in supporting health?
If XR means a worker can be paid for labour in performing a service intermediated by an XR platform, what rights and protections does that worker have?
How will creators who build on top of these platforms be empowered?
Will users own the rights to things they create on these platforms?
What are the possible implications of platforms developing in walled-gardens during the emerging phases of XR environments?
What will ensure competitiveness between and within these platforms, and ensure users don’t get unduly locked in to any one ecosystem?
How will broadband policy evolve to address these needs?
Will XR environments be predominantly commercial, or will there be the equivalents of the public square (e.g. public parks, libraries, and other civic spaces)?
What are the ways such spaces can be incentivised and governed?
How will XR platforms be made accessible, including to those with disabilities?
How will these platforms be held accountable for including diverse viewpoints and user needs in the development of XR technology?