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Resource Database > Ethical Matters
Ethical and moral decisions abound in VR, perhaps due to the very nature of the medium itself. Just because you can do something, does not mean you should.

Sometimes the ethical decision emanates from the software and wetware. At other times there is an issue with a hardware interface, and how it affects the participant's physical form.


Ethical Interfaces (1)

Not every conceivable VR interface is ethical to deploy. Some that have been deployed, have been found to cause physical damage. Should they still be used? Is it right to hold that knowledge back from users of the equipment?

Debuting in late 2008, this book is the first tome dedicated explicitly to examining the challenge of building artificial moral agents, probing deeply into the nature of human decision making and ethics.

Changing Behaviour (5)

It is possible to use VR to radically alter someone's behaviour. It can be used to combat racial hatred, or paedophilia, but it can also invoke other, less benign changes. Is it ethical to do such? Is it ethical to force changes upon a racist?
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Germany Declares War on Second Life
A look at the news of early May 2007, and the changes to Second Life levied by the German government, blaming Second Life itself for the actions of a paedophile in their midst.

My Mother Was a Computer explores how the impact of code on everyday life has become comparable to that of speech and writing: as language and code have grown more entangled, the lines that once separated humans from machines, analogue from digital, and old technologies from new ones have become blurred.

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Paedophile Brains, can VR Help?
Paedophilia, the sexual attraction of adults to children, is a significant public health concern and it does not respond well to normal treatment. If the wiring in the brain is indeed different, then this is why traditional therapy does not work in these cases. Perhaps...Perhaps a virtual reality can.

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Racial Equality in VR Forms
Race is the enduring, heartbreaking problem of modern, multinational society. No matter the country, no matter the society, if there are people who are visually or culturally different from other people, the race card flares. VR cannot of course sweep all of that away overnight. It can however offer another way, after all, race is all about the physical, and VR is very good at making the physical, not matter.

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Using the Allport Scale on Virtual Societies
If you are developing any scenario or social order in a virtual environment where prejudice is manifested in any way, shape or form, whether as part of a storyline for entertainment, edutainment, or straight education of effects, then the Allport scale is a very useful tool to use to model your society by.

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Virtual Relationships (2)

The embodiment of love through VR, telepresence, or long-distance, intangable romance.
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Combining Physical and Virtual Relationships
Adultery is never exactly a great idea. Historically, for married couples, catching your spouse in the act with another person is reason enough to lead to divorce. Even if not married, finding out they have been playing the field as it were, is emotionally devastating. Why then is there such expressed shock and newsworthiness when one of the partners is virtual?

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US Military Designing Virtual Parents
In what is at once both a wondrous idea, and a dark disaster waiting to occur, the US department of defence has initiated a project to design virtual reality based, artificial intelligence surrogate mothers and fathers for the children of deployed military personnel.

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Ethics in Multi-user Environments (4)

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A Player's Right To Privacy
An old counter argument, to the continuing belief amongst new administrators that players or participants in the virtual world, deserve no privacy when they are logged in.

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Bringing Women to the Game
Whilst it is true that this article is over a decade old, and many inroads have been made, this article is still worthy reading for any even thinking of setting up their own multi-participant VR, gaming based or not.

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Ethics and Virtual Reality
Despite the title, this article deals with ethics on gameworlds only. No other medium is touched upon. It is mostly focussed on the ethical interaction between administrator and player.

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Theft of Ideas
How ethical is it to strip-mine ideas from one virtual environment, and build them into another?