#695: Diversity Training & Testing for Implicit Bias with Debias VR

clorama-dorviliasClorama Dorvilias’ Debias VR is using virtual reality to make diversity training more immersive, interactive, and fun. There are various controversies around the Implicit Association Tests (IAT) that are related towards how far the abstractions of interacting with computer screens can get to some of the unconscious embodied dimensions of implicit bias, and so Debias VR has implemented the IAT within VR using simulated classroom environments with racial and gender diversity.

Research has shown that VR can help to cultivate pro-social behaviors, and so Debias VR hopes to use the affordances of VR to help to identify some of these unconscious patterns of implicit bias, and then have simulated environments that can help to cultivate and practice behaviors that encourage diversity and inclusion. Social psychology tests are difficult because of the many different variables that are hard to keep consistent across different tests, but simulated environments in virtual worlds can start to add a level of empirical consistency for this type of research. Immersive VR technologies can also start to quantify the human behaviors, and perhaps there will be more methods in order to understand and model these types of unconscious implicit behaviors.


I had a chance to talk with Debias VR CEO and Founder Dorvilias at the Facebook F8 conference where we talked about implicit bias, diversity training, the cognitive neuroscience of implicit bias, creating safe contexts for hard conversations, and the future of using VR to help understand and train the skills for cultivating diversity and inclusion.

Here’s a trailer for Debias VR’s Teacher’s Lens experience.

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye and welcome to the Voices of VR Podcast. So diversity and inclusion is something that is a bit of a hot topic in our culture right now. It's one of the things that I think is really polarizing the different perspectives that are out there. For me personally, I have just had the direct experience of having so many new insights and the more inclusive that I am in terms of trying to seek out different perspectives and points of view that I'd learn something from it. Like somebody who is from a completely different field or different perspective, point of view, background, race, gender, all the different diversity that I've included on the voices of VR, I've personally found to be incredibly beneficial to making me have a better understanding as to what's happening in the ecosystem of VR. There are larger cultural debates that I'm not going to get into because I don't feel like I can accurately represent those perspectives. But what I will do on this podcast today is feature Klorama Derilius, who has a VR company called DeBias VR. And so there's this concept of implicit bias, which is this idea that Whenever you're interacting with the world, you are constantly creating stories about the world. You are trying to take these patterns and taking your direct experience and synthesizing those direct experiences into unconscious stories that you hold. You're not even necessarily aware that you have these stories, but they help you interface and interact with the world. The problem is, is that if you grow up in a world where you're not exposed to a lot of diversity, then you can start to have this implicit bias to have this in-group selection of only hanging out people who look and act and fit into the same sort of groups that you've decided to unconsciously be a part of. And that sort of creates these different dynamics that create power differentials, they create issues around sexism and racism. And so there's these tests that try to get at the implicit bias that we have. One is the implicit association test created by Harvard, where you're trying to do these different interactions to try to get at your reaction time to see if there are some unconscious differences when you are doing these different tests. These tests specifically aren't universally approved in terms of trying to get at what is essentially like this invisible structure that is in the unconscious that we even have a hard time trying to fully understand and describe, but at least this is starting to get some empirical data on this phenomenon through this implicit association test. But the problem is that it's done within the context of you looking at a computer screen and pushing buttons. And Klarma Dorovilius took some of these implicit association tests and decided to create them within a virtual reality environment so that you can actually be embedded within the context where you'd actually be making these decisions. And you could make those decisions a little bit more like an embodied interaction where you're lifting up your hand and pointing at something. and that be a little bit more immersive or get a little bit closer to being embedded in some of these contexts and environments where you could actually get at some of these implicit bias tests. So that's what we'll be covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Klorama happened on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018 at Facebook's F8 conference in San Jose, California. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:03:20.185] Clorama Dorvilias: My name is Clara Medorvilius. I am a VR developer turned entrepreneur. I just launched a startup this year called Debiased VR and our mission is to create an engaging diversity training alternative to the current methods that are out right now. Leveraging the power of VR and like the unique capabilities of VR to create immersion but also on top of that to Impact our cognitive behavior and to train us on give us opportunities to practice more positive cognitive behavior Traits inclusive behavior as well, but in a very fun way in a way that you don't really realize what's happening So personally, we don't believe like the way that traditional diversity methods trainings are happening right now. It's basically usually guilt-inducing kind of shameful it's kind of like It's just not a fun process to go through, and especially most of them are mandated. But we believe that training in general, when you're training to become a better person and you're expanding things that are going to be better things about yourself that are going to have a better impact in the world, that process should be rewarding, similar to like if you're going to a gym and you're going to work out. There's like an immediate feeling of, okay, after I spend an hour there, I feel better about myself and I feel better about what I just did. And then maybe over time, you start seeing the rewards in the way you look or whatever. There's that kind of thing. So we think that diversity training should have that same type of effects where you go into it and you're able to practice more inclusive behavior from in a more positive way. And then over time, see how it changes your maybe just unconscious reactions in terms of wherever you might have maybe faulty associations that could be, unfortunately, harmful in your social interactions. Long story. But that's what we're aiming for.

[00:04:55.044] Kent Bye: Wow. And so maybe we could dive into what the actual experiences are to give it a little bit more flavor as to what this means, what it looks like. I can imagine that there is perhaps some either 360 video or maybe some CGI, but probably 360 video with stories or things that give little anecdotes or glimmers where you may be able to show a scene play out, but maybe from a first-person perspective. There's lots of different design choices to be made here, so maybe you could walk through what the experience is and what you were trying to really accomplish with that.

[00:05:25.657] Clorama Dorvilias: Okay, so yeah, definitely. I've been kind of researching this topic and researching VR's impact on cognitive behavior for about three years now, and I've explored a myriad of different approaches. I think what's been the most common and usually first go-to approach is to do something where it's filming, first-person perspective, empathy, and what I found that that's not really as impactful as one would like to hope. Yes, there are a lot of research that shows that that can reduce bias, but the way that it's usually implemented, it's not really measured and it can impact different types of people from different types of mindsets in a different way. So it's unpredictable. So the way we're approaching it is like, okay, well, how can we create something that can be measured? that actually allows you to hold yourself accountable and actually measure your own progress in the way that you are becoming more inclusive in your interactions. So the way we're approaching it is there's three separate modules that we're focused on. The first one is kind of like, okay, we'll see where you're at and get a sense of maybe do I have unconscious biases that might play out in the real world. So we take the most very controversial but the most popular test that's out there that can measure associations is the implicit association test that Harvard created. There's been decades of peer-reviewed research that shows that at the very least in the moment when you're taking that test it does reveal whether you are more able to associate positive responses with certain types of people and negative with different types. And then at the aggregate level combined, that correlates to actual real world policies and inequities, um, what's showing. So there's a lot of merit to that test. And so we say, but there are a lot of the criticism on it is like the way that you take the test and is that you're kind of pressing keyboards and you're seeing screenshot pictures. We can't really make out the faces. It's really doesn't really, speak to whether or not I will actually practice discrepancy behavior in the real world. So we use VR simulations, we created simulations using CGI, where we give you the same choices but in real-world settings. So right now we're focusing on education. And we have teachers basically asking different questions for students. And in those questions that they ask, those questions are coded. Is it a technical question? Is it a difficult question? Is it an easy question? And then we measure their responses and how fast they're able to assign it to different types of students by race and by gender. And then after they take that test, they can see how they performed. And they can see whether or not they had an association to have higher expectations on a student based on skin color or a lower association with the female students in the technical course, which has shown to be an actual problem in education. And then once they get a sense of like, okay, this is where I possibly have a bias, they can learn about how it actually impacts the classroom and why it's important. And then they would partake in a game training module. So there's a lot of research that's been done right now in exploring the different types of ways that a VR can promote pro-social behavior. And I'll say Stanford's superheroes test that they've done, and I'm not sure if you know about it, but I can explain it a little bit. But basically the Stanford Human Interaction Virtual Reality Lab, They take a study where they have three different groups try VR. The first group takes an embodied perspective of a superhero and they have to fly around this abandoned town and their mission is to find a kid that has diabetes that they know is in the city somewhere and deliver them their insulin shot. So they do that and they go through that whole exercise and they find the kid. The second group is a third person where they see the superhero trying to find this kid and they help the superhero try to find this kid. And then once they help the superhero, the superhero delivers the shot. And then the third was like a control group that didn't take it. And then after they take off the headset, the moderator would drop a cup of pens in front of the people who just took the thing. And then they would measure how fast the people, first of all they measured how many people from either study went to help to pick up the pens, how fast they went to go help, and then how many pens from each of the group did they pick up in total. and they found that the group that was embodied as a superhero to deliver this insulin shot, 100% of them went to pick up the pens, picked it up at a significantly faster rate, and picked up significantly more pens. So that was enough of a conclusive result to show that being in an experience can really promote pro-social behavior. So we're thinking about what kind of games can we design that have this impact in other vertical settings. So what would it look like to have a teacher superhero that has to fly around the neighborhood and help specific kids with a backstory with their homework or to help deliver a pencil to them, would that in and of itself translate into the real world when they're in that class and that might trigger the need to want to be more inclusive in their behavior towards students where they might have had lower expectations for and therefore might have been a little bit more distant? Would this change their reaction to actually be more helpful in that kind of case? So there's certain behaviors associated with whether or not there's biases being practiced in the classroom in terms of expectations and in that sense. And so we're trying to figure out what can we do to promote using VR and immersive gaming to elicit those feelings that would have more positive outcomes, not only for the teacher in terms of their practice, but also better outcomes for students who are shown that if they do receive or are subjected to biased behavior, they're less likely to perform at optimal levels. They're less likely to engage in courses or topics that they might not have engaged in because they think that that might not be for them. We might internalize basically the beliefs of the adults around them and their capabilities. So that's long-winded, but that's kind of, we're trying to, yeah, it's a little bit different. CGI, gaming, and something that you can measure and track over time.

[00:10:39.846] Kent Bye: Okay, interesting. Yeah, I think one of the challenges with some of these issues around diversity is that at the core there's either unconscious behaviors that are happening or there's just complete like blind spots of just not being able to have the category schemas in your mind to be able to discern these different patterns and they're like these different blind spots that people have. It's a little bit of a sensitive issue in terms of like, you're basically advocating for people to reveal these blonde spots that they don't know they have that are potentially doing harm to other people. And then when they discover that they have those blind spots, there's this whole like, Benet Brown has like the distinction between shame and guilt. There's a behavior and there's a failure of being so there's a behavior that you do that you can feel guilty around But if there's a failure of being there's like this like oh my god. I've been a bad person for all this time Like how do you deal with the shame and so with these issues around diversity? How do you navigate the process of revealing? Blind spots that people may have and then kind of dealing with any sort of dimensions of shame that come from that

[00:11:42.823] Clorama Dorvilias: Yeah, I mean, I think it's hard to I mean, every person is different. And again, it's how you approach the topic. And this is a common issue for everyone bias is something that we're all programmed for. And a lot and actually, and a lot of times is actually a good thing for us. It's it helps us deliver an intuition that can protect us or save us from different types of situations. Unfortunately, we live in a society where we have inherited a lot of inequities that have been purposely implemented from a historical context in terms of racism and sexism that shaped our culture and a lot of the stuff that we are internalizing in terms of like what's our norms unfortunately do put people in boxes and can have effects that we don't realize is a bad thing or don't realize that we're just not conscious of as a collective. So, again, thinking about it from a way of, if it's unconscious, first of all, that gives a little bit of wiggle room for people to not feel like, okay, it's something wrong with them. If they know that it's not something that, you know, you decide to unconsciously have this bias, it's something that we are all victims or products of our environment. And unfortunately, if we live in a homogenous environment with certain attitudes that are more promulgated through media and what we're consuming, even if we consciously don't believe that, unconsciously our brain is just really wired to find those patterns so that way we can make better decisions to lower our cognitive load in terms of how we process and how we interact with people. So it's just literally a natural manifestation of everything we're taking in and our sensory information and helping us operate in a way that we're just on autopilot most of the time and it's actually a self-preservation tactic. Unfortunately, again, so this is one of the things that's like, okay, for example, I'll take the health example again, like everyone has different health eating patterns. Some people can drink coffee five times a day for 10 years and probably be fine and some people can't. What's healthy and what's not? Am I going to feel guilty when I find out that maybe my patterns or I go to the doctor and I get my test back and I find out that I might have certain ailments because I've not been taking care of myself? Yes, I'll feel bad, but then I know, okay, what do I need to do to change this? And I think that that's the attitude we should be taking in when it comes to social biases. It's like, okay, I have this. This is, again, something that maybe I didn't know I was doing, or obviously if it's not something I was consciously deciding to be, but I know that I have it now, what can I do to change it? And I think it was really important in our tool that we gave a solution where they can start working to counteract it immediately versus having to live and sit in that, like, shame. And again, sharing aggregate information and showing like, say, 70% of people actually scored the same way or being able to speak to that maybe insecurity that people might have around this issue would be a way of just calming their beliefs to know that it's not something is wrong with them it's really something's wrong with our society and unfortunately we unconsciously take that in and now at least now we have the tools to try to correct it.

[00:14:28.384] Kent Bye: And one other thing that comes to mind is like this whole phenomena of like microaggressions and things that people do that, just as an example, someone walk into a room and sees a number of women in there and they ask, well, where's the manager? Kind of like a assumption that there'd be no way that these women would be the managers. And that's sort of an example of a microaggression that is speaking to different dimensions of an unconscious bias, and is there a way to model the appropriate response of responding to that in a way that is kind of calling attention to it, or kind of showing modeling behavior? Maybe you show people two scenarios, or maybe showing examples of people that do make those transgressions or microaggressions in an immersive environment, and how you sort of deal with that level of diversity and training.

[00:15:16.840] Clorama Dorvilias: I mean, to be honest, I don't really have a solid answer for that other than knowing microaggressions. I think what happens when sometimes those do get addressed by the person who felt subjected to it, the person that said it might feel defensive and turn it around and make it about them, whereas they don't realize the impact of microaggressions because even the term in and of itself almost reduces it to mean that's not a big deal. And yes, in the literal sense, it's not a big deal. But this contributes to a culture where people feel like imposters where they, again, it's that lower expectation effect where if I feel like people have lower expectations for me, I'm not going to perform awesomely or I'm going to feel like I shouldn't be doing this. It just contributes to a culture that subtly keeps people out or away from it because it makes them uncomfortable about what they're doing now. So how can we get both sides when people say something, like for example, if I accidentally said something that was rude to you? And it's not a microaggression, but I say something that makes you feel bad about yourself in some way, shape, or form. What are the ways that we use to address that now? Why couldn't that be the same way that we would address that when it's a microaggression? Like, hey, just so you know, that was kind of offensive to me. Can you please make sure not to say that at like, you know, or think like that? And then, you know, it's a simple. point of conflict that doesn't have to escalate. It could be something that could be if people both take responsibility and people feel allowed or have the space to be honest with how a certain state made them feel. A resolution conversationally could possibly happen that can actually promote a bonding moment as sometimes because it's a learning opportunity for both but I think getting defensive about it was probably one of the worst things that can be done in terms of being addressed this problem not only at the individual level but at a collective level it makes it really hard to confront if the person then instead of listening to the person that they accidentally hurt decides to make it about like well how dare you assume that I'm this person and then that's not what was being said it was yeah so I don't know it's a it's a societal like if anyone finds the answer to that problem then great but like I think it is definitely more of an attitude in terms of the way we approach it and trying to figure out what are positive ways we can adjust our own perceptions of feeling defensive and that kind of stuff it's just that's a normal common psychological thing that we all have to work on sometimes yeah

[00:17:28.245] Kent Bye: The fields that I see this issue coming up the most is in the issues of sexual assault or sexual harassment where there may be a transgression that happened and there's a need for an apology. And I think that the keys to the apology is really listening and centering the entire experience and the victims. Perspective not the perpetrators perspective, but also having like owning the harm done Saying I did this and I'm sorry and then sort of inviting an opportunity for dialogue and conversation If it's I feel like the art of an apology is something that as a culture we're trying to figure out But there's like nonviolent communication. There's restorative justice. There's truth and reconciliation commissions all of these things are trying to look at like ways to speak the truth and to tell the truth and to have a context where that truth can be spoken and And then if there's a need for an apology for an heartfelt, yes, I'm going to own this harm done and I'm sorry, and having that exchange. I feel like there's things that happen like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, the restorative justice movement, and the Me Too campaign in terms of dealing with these types of the art of a good apology and not centering it in your own experience and trying to diminish the situation. So I think all of these are keys to figuring out the dimension to these issues as applied to diversity and racism and sexism. But we haven't sort of figured out these new models of restorative justice. That what the process is to be able to create a safe container, you know, testimony VR is one indication to be able to listen to some of those stories. And I think listening to those stories gives you the capacity to empathize with those so that you are not so defensive. So I think there's a little bit of, like, an education on part of, like, being able to have access to the direct experiences of people who have gone through these experiences. Then the next part of then, like, if you have transgressed those boundaries and become a perpetrator in any way, then how do you sort of have some sort of reconciliation and ability for forgiveness and that, so.

[00:19:22.340] Clorama Dorvilias: I mean, I definitely think when we talk about sexual harassment and those kinds of transgressions, that's definitely a huge shift away from microaggression and that's something where I feel like accountability is really important. If I accidentally steal from a store, I'm going to get punished no matter what. And I think if you do something to someone that they did not give you their permission to and it was forcefully like this is something that I think should be common knowledge and there should be accountability held to that and not apology is more so an icing on the cake in that regards but I think the problem with a lot of sexual harassment issues is that accountability is usually not in place because there's a power structure, there's a certain group of people where society said it's okay for them to feel entitled to treating people a certain way. And we have a societal perspective where we unconsciously might dehumanize other people because they're not of this homogeny that has control over a lot of different things. When that happens, I do think we have to find a way to not only, number one, make sure that those things are accountable because that can set the tone for others who might fall in their suit. I think what happens is a lot of times when you're talking about sexual aggressions or harassment, that might be a little bit more direct and overt. When they don't get punished, other people think they can do the same and they can make the excuse, well, I didn't know it was wrong. And when you have someone like the guy from Stanford that I think raped someone behind like a dumpster that was like a really big deal in Silicon Valley. I think Brock Turner was his name. He got three months in jail, like six months, but three months was released. And so that doesn't really send a strong message that this is a real problem. And people can then feel empowered to say, well, she shouldn't have XYZ and looked at it as it was the victim's fault. So once we could get as a society a little bit more assertive about holding accountability to what's wrong and what's not, and especially putting things that happen to people who are not male in the same, like if this were to happen to a male, if would the female only get three, six months, like it doesn't feel like that, right? Because we all know better. There's a group of people that we feel Might be more valuable on an unconscious level and so therefore we want to make sure justice happens for them But when it comes to a different group and we're used to overlooking them when something like this happens It's easier to not care if justice doesn't occur So I do think that in those cases we need to as a society figure out how do we make things like this accountable? How do we actually declare this thing is wrong? No matter what so that there is no confusion about what the gray area is or not and And then once we get that right, I think it's a lot easier to handle what happens subsequently. But yeah, but if we're talking about that versus microaggressions, where somebody might say the appropriate thing, like the solution is like, okay, hey, like, again, a natural conversation of correcting that person, but making sure that the power dynamic allows for the person who was transgressed to feel comfortable to voice that. And then the person who transgressed them be responsible enough to take ownership and then try to figure out how to correct the situation.

[00:22:10.004] Kent Bye: Yeah, I'm really getting, there's certainly a large scale of different transgressions and that there's different reactions and new processes and rituals we have to figure out to kind of deal with that full range and spectrum and that I think part of the the challenge with race and racism is that this is an issue that is intergenerational. It's something where the accountability of this sort of goes back to way beyond before any of us were born and I think it's like hundreds of years and I think That's a challenge to sort of I guess communicate the cultural context of some of these things as well to sort of see the institutional and infrastructure ways that this sort of biases impacted people's lives and sort of ways over many different generations and so it's at a level of collective scale that's difficult to really address. But as you're doing this as an individual training for diversity, like, I don't know if VR can sort of give you this sense of the span of time and scale of this issue, or like how that type of awareness of like these larger dimensions of, and building empathy, actually, you know, trying to really empathize with these experiences.

[00:23:15.695] Clorama Dorvilias: Yeah, I think, and that's where I think is a good distinction to make when we talked about the empathy and being in someone else's shoes. I think that's a great solution for the more overt approach for people who maybe choose to believe in certain value systems for different types of people. And I think for the more overt racists or the more overt sexism, I think things like embodiment and empathy measured storylines that can appeal to them emotionally might be a better solution for them. But we, DeBias, are focused on the unconscious. It's the people who want to do good and who are already on the same page consciously, but unconsciously might be wired to accidentally have low self-esteem or might be in a culture where it's the norm to expect different types of people and not be cognitively aware of that. And that's where our approach, I think, is more handy versus shaming or because, again, these are good people with good intentions. how can we help them get the tools that they are looking for to make sure that they are practicing inclusion for all the different types of students and they're giving the best opportunities for the students to be able to be their best potential to the best potential in the classroom. So I think those situations are clear or for me at least from my perspective and I think there's a place for both different types of solutions but Yeah, I think if you ask any person who's rational, who has a good mindset, like, oh, you know, to listen to a story is like testimony. And do you think that they would have needed to hear those testimonies to know that what those women went through were bad in testimony? I think most people would say what they went through was terrible. then don't really have to sit through and hear those stories in order to actually believe it. But because they already had that mindset and they go and sit through the stories, it just can even feel that compassion that elicits can definitely be a drain emotionally for them because it's almost like you're giving a person who's like completely hydrated more water and it's like it's almost like too much. And so I think that's where that stuff can potentially missed a little bit if you're preaching to the choir, but if you're preaching to someone who's already kind of against it and you use those strong aggressive measures to get them to understand another person's or humanize another person's situation, I think that that's where that strategy is more powerful.

[00:25:21.447] Kent Bye: Yeah, the thing that I find fascinating with the approach of what you're trying to do is actually kind of teach culture in a certain way of like the skill sets that you need to be able to have this type of interpersonal interactions and in talking to Jessica Outlaw we were talking about like harassment in VR as an example and that how There's going to be certain protocols that social VR experience is going to create, but yet at the end of the day, there's going to also need to be some dimension of the implementation of that culture of people using those tools. I think the conclusion I had after talking to Jessica was that there's going to be a limit to what you can do technologically to kind of mediate and engineer culture, I guess. You know like there's a certain dimension here being at F8 and listen to Facebook talk about like they're gonna use AI for moderation and I'm like wow like that philosophically just to me does not make sense to AI mediated moderation and trying to really kind of engineer culture in a certain way and that What Jessica said is that, in talking to sociologists, that there's a certain dimension of rituals and story and myths and who are the heroes and what are the jokes that you tell. There's like these social norms that can get formed within groups of people that then are kind of doing this implementation of that culture. And so I start to think about, well, how can VR be used to be able to give people the training that they need to get before they interact with either a social VR space or in workplaces? where they get the sort of ground rules of the experiences, which is essentially what it sounds like you're working on, is try to find ways to cultivate that culture.

[00:26:51.178] Clorama Dorvilias: And again, I'll go back to that example of working out and health and dieting and eating. And I think that's a good analogy to what we're trying to do or the way that we're trying to approach it is, yes, let's say, for example, you know you want to work out or whatever, and you watch this documentary that guilt-induces you to your eating habits. OK, great, that worked. That was strong enough to finally make you take the initiative to fix that. What do you go use to lose weight? You go to a gym or fix your health. You use technology like treadmills. that kind of stuff that's accessible to you versus like maybe whatever came before the treadmill. Maybe it was regular just staircases or jogging outside. But if you don't have the luxury of having those type of capacity to be able to jog in the middle of the night for two miles in a dangerous neighborhood or something like that, you're going to go to technology to be able to supply that capacity for you to work on those certain muscles or kind of give you that exercise that you're looking for. I do think technology is a tool that can be used for practicing or we use technology to implement a lot of things to help us reach goals in a lot of myriad of ways. Social media to help us better connect with our friends and maintain relationships. Our laptops to do our work and to be able to communicate better to our colleagues or whether it's through visual pictures and charts or emails and that kind of stuff. again, if we're going to I think we're constantly using things to as a means to an end and I think Virtual reality is exactly can be exactly that and especially with its ability to impact us at an unconscious level That's like research has shown that it can change our cognitive thinking and our cognitive reactions. It gives us a practice It's a tool that can actually quantify our behavior. We can make decisions and we can actually have something that solidly gives us the replay or actually gives us the choices that we need to do in a controlled setting to make those decisions and actually be watched over time. I think there's a lot of potential in that to really be used as a tool excessively for people to change behavior or behavior modification in period. And so we're just trying to harness that and seeing what we could do on their pro social impact way to kind of promote more positive social interactions between people and especially from at a cognitive level and Bias kind of falls perfectly in that especially harmful social biases falls perfectly under that umbrella. I guess yeah

[00:29:05.483] Kent Bye: So for you, what's next? Do you guys have a demo? Have you been able to show stuff? What are the big open questions and problems that are really driving your work forward?

[00:29:14.630] Clorama Dorvilias: So right now, we fully translated the IAT test into VR. And we have a few educational components where people can actually learn about the impact of the different types of most common biases that get practiced in the workplace. We have an alpha that's being submitted and being looked at at Oculus right now. They're funding our initial project that we submitted for Oculus Launchpad. And once we get that back, then the last changes will be made. It will probably be up on the store probably within the next two weeks. It's called Teacher's Lens. People could download it for free and try the beta. They can take the IOT test for two different types of scenarios, and then they can learn about the different types of biases. They can learn about the IOT as well in like an educational virtual setting. And then what we hope to have by the end of June is the training module, the first training module where people can take a game training that might elicit positive behavior. We're also launching the fundraising part of our project to see if we can extend our runway so that way we could have a couple months where we actually work and partner with a couple of schools to see what we can do in terms of like researching whether or not we can actually measure impact and does this actually affect student outcomes if teachers initially having several different groups being able to try the experience before They start the summer program having teachers try different gaming modules throughout the week, throughout the whole program, and then versus people who haven't tried it at all and seeing whether or not it changes the behavior and it changes the student outcomes as well. Ideally we would love to have that set up for the summer and then we could actually have hard numbers about what works and what didn't work and then we could reiterate and create some more stronger modules in the fall. And then work with schools or work with companies to make custom, based on the research that we have, to actually drive impact towards diversity goals and inclusion goals that any institution might have for the workforce.

[00:30:58.655] Kent Bye: Awesome. And finally, what do you think is kind of the ultimate potential of virtual reality and what it might be able to enable?

[00:31:06.596] Clorama Dorvilias: I think it's dynamic. There's a lot of potential for it to really expand our imaginations in a way that allows us to almost even just become superheroes in a way that real world, like it's a world without physical limitations. And granted, a lot of the stuff that we'll be exposed to will be in the hands of a few creators at this point. But imagine if you can get a world of different types of creators to create experiences. And I think that would expose our brain and our conscious to things that we would probably not be experiencing in the real world and what would that do to our development, what would that do to our ability to think outside the box or like that kind of stuff. I think it could expand human development and thinking in ways that are unforeseen and I'm just curious what that would look like. It's almost like the new legal way of doing drugs. or what drugs have been known for, where it's like you can have these experiences that really shape or change your perspective in altering ways, and what would that look like on the long term, and what other experiences could be created that we don't have a mental model of now because of the limitless of VR, but with the added impact of immersion, will have that much more of an impact on us, yeah, as people. I don't know, that's interesting. I'm curious about what that looks like. But yeah, already the idea that it could impact our cognitive behavior and our cognitive thinking is to me is like tenfold. So like, I know that this is just only one way and I'm sure that the ways of doing that is endless if you have full immersion, if we engage in our senses. And yeah, it's interesting to see what that looks like. I mean, obviously bad and good, but yeah, I'm a little bit more of an optimist. So yeah, technology hasn't killed us so far, but yeah, I don't know.

[00:32:43.928] Kent Bye: Yeah. Great. And is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say?

[00:32:47.841] Clorama Dorvilias: Yeah, if you want to check out www.dbiasvr, the website's still under construction, but stay tuned. It's going to be a lot more. And you can stay in tune with updates. If you send us an email, we can definitely be in contact with you. If you know any educators who might be interested in something like this, we'd love to work. We want to develop this product with actual practitioners, because we think that will make it a stronger product. And so any help or connections that we can get on that space would be very appreciated. Awesome.

[00:33:12.855] Kent Bye: Well, thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast.

[00:33:14.957] Clorama Dorvilias: Thank you. Thank you for having me, Kent. I appreciate it.

[00:33:18.851] Kent Bye: So that was Klorama Dorovilius. She's the founder and CEO of DeBias VR. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that, first of all, well, it was really interesting to hear Klorama talking about some of the controversies around how the implicit association test was administered. Perhaps by moving into virtual reality you're able to get a little bit more of a contextual situation where you're able to do an embodied reaction where you're pointing and then maybe that is able to get to a little bit more of the simplicit bias when it comes to your reaction times rather than having everything abstracted out. It still was a little bit like reading a text and sort of making a very mental decision and almost turned into like this video game at some point where you're trying to determine whether or not it's a math question or humanities question and you're told either a boy or girl to point to. So again, this is something that because it's such an unconscious thing, it's very tricky to figure out how could you actually get at it. I'm imagining that these are the types of things that they come up in the course of conversations and they're completely unconscious. So what is the process of maybe revealing those as they're unfolding? And so this is a issue that does have a lot of shame around it. Once you realize that, oh my gosh, I have this unconscious bias where I'm doing these things. I'm not even realizing that I'm doing, but aggregate both as individuals but also as a collective we can certainly see that these types of behaviors are happening. The question is like how do you start to identify them and change them? And this is something with the D-BIAS VR that I think that with these virtual reality simulations it could maybe start to get some progress but I think one of the things that Klorama said was that you know they're really targeting people who are already willing to be able to do this type of work and When it comes to people who completely deny the benefits of diversity or inclusion, I don't know if something like this VR experience is going to make any inroads on that. That seems to be a little bit of a deeper philosophical difference of the benefits of multiculturalism. But that, I think, also speaks to the amount of exposure. And looking at the book called Nurture Shock, it's basically looking at these different parenting strategies to figure out what is the best way to introduce the topics of race to your children. And I think one of the conclusions is that, you know, just exposing your children to multicultural and diverse environments could be one aspect of that, and to just kind of normalize it in that way. But overall, I think this is a bit of an open question for our culture right now, because we have this polarization and separation into these different in-groups and a little bit of the labeling of ideologies or whatever it ends up being, we basically have these filter bubbles that have been created within our society that have created these huge splits. And I think that virtual reality has the potential for the people who are willing to give the opportunity to show empathetic experiences of what other people's lives may be like or the benefits of multiculturalism and diversity. But some of the other things that came up in the course of this conversation, one was this interpersonal interaction when something happens, whether it's a microaggression or whatnot. And this is not something that they were creating an experience for, but I think one of the things that became clear is that if you confront someone of a microaggression, then they have the potential to start to get really defensive. And there's kind of a tricky dynamic there, which is to recognize that we all have these different parts of our shadow or our blind spots or things that are in our unconscious psyche that we're not necessarily aware of? And is it because we do one instance? Does that mean that there's a larger pattern? And is it like something that is our behavior that should feel guilty over? Or is it something that is a larger problem that we have the tendency to spin into this shame spiral of feeling like this is something that is wrong with us? And I think that there's a number of different reactions to either calling people out and shaming them or trying to find a way to have this conversation in a way that could actually build empathy and have some sort of resolution and to just have the humility to be able to recognize that we all have this and that how do we sort of handle this at an interpersonal level. And I think this is the The challenge that Klarama was saying is that sometimes when you're in these situations and there's a power differential, there's not really necessarily an environment to even say anything about it. And so you just kind of like suck it up and just kind of deal with it. And so I think this is the intention for some of these types of diversity trainings with Debiased VR is to potentially educate people and to maybe within the context of a virtual reality environment, be able to explore some of these things. One of the things that I wanted to just expand on a little bit is the concept of nonviolent communication, which is all about you sharing your direct phenomenological experience and trying to build a bridge through empathy, saying, you know, when you said that, this made me feel really bad. And I was just wondering if you'd be willing to talk about it. And from that point, that could be an opening of a conversation and perhaps an opportunity to kind of talk about these types of instances. But those types of conversations, I think, are really difficult. And I think that something like virtual reality, especially with AI, we're going to get to the point where we're going to be able to actually get some practice with some of these different interactions and have the ability to fail because I think the fear is that the risks can be so high, especially in an environment where you could lose your job or you feel like you can get exiled if you make a wrong step. It creates an environment where there's not enough safety or trust to be able to actually have some of these conversations, which then Puts them into the deep unconscious and shadow parts of a culture that then at some point will explode Rather than being able to actually grow through it together So I think this is actually something that our entire culture is dealing with at many different levels And so I do think that virtual reality does have the potential to make some impact here but it kind of goes back to both what Jessica outlaw and like Isaac as well as with Ken Wilber talking about a the potential of creating these types of virtual reality environments so that you can actually cultivate this deeper culture. There seems to be the cultural elements of the context and the environments where things are embedded into cultural norms, into taboos, into the collective behavior that is unconscious, but it's reflected into what are the stories that people are telling, what are the heroes that are there, what are the jokes that people are telling and all of that in some ways is revealing the deeper value systems of that culture. And anytime you're in a company or organization or society, you have to figure out how to cultivate this culture and what are the ways in which you are trying to develop these deeper practices and have some sort of shared values so that you can create a safe context and environment for people to actually work together. So this is, I think, a big open question as to how, number one, to do that. What are the best practices for that? And I think this is where we can look to sociologists to kind of, you know, get some insights into what are the anthropological types of things that we can look to other cultures to start to integrate into our process of cultivating these communities. But also, like, is it possible to create these virtual reality simulations to be able to, number one, identify some of these unconscious patterns? And I do think that as we get more and more biometric data through either EEGs, or galvanic skin response, or eye tracking data, or just how we move our body. There could be these unconscious body language tells that will be able to quantify our behaviors to be able to have these controlled environments within virtual reality to be able to do these controlled studies and experiments. And maybe there's a way to kind of identify people if they are, let's say, extreme, explicitly denying the importance and need for diversity, and just maybe see some of the different behaviors that may be coming out in those people when these types of situations come up, and just to see what's happening at the biological level within their body, and to then see other people who are actively open to trying to work on these issues of identifying their unconscious biases and implicit biases and do something about it, this kind of bias-busting type of training. Is the virtual reality technology going to help us do that? Because at a fundamental level, there's the parts that are happening that are completely beyond our awareness. And so can we start to get at some of those things through the VR technology? My suspicion is that there probably is. It's just a matter of how to translate these unconscious signals that are coming from our body into quantified insights so that we can actually create a mental model of the human psyche and start to do things like create these different training scenarios in order to identify some of these aspects of ourselves and to, like Klorama said, it's like going to the gym and doing these types of exercises to become a better person. So, that's all that I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, and consider becoming a member to the Patreon. This is a lesson-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon your donations in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.

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