#935: Oculus Quest Enthusiasm vs the Skepticism of Bootstrapping VR with Surveillance Capitalism

cris-mirandaThe Oculus Quest launched on May 21, 2019. Nine days later I was at Augmented World Expo doing interviews and preparing a main stage talk about The Ethical & Moral Dilemmas of Mixed Reality.

I ran into Enter VR Podcast host Cris Miranda, who was extremely excited about his experience of the Quest and the potential for stand alone VR. My reaction was tempered by my concerns around privacy and Facebook’s future plans for how biometric data was going to be integrated into their business model of surveillance capitalism. I recorded a conversation and dialectic with Miranda exploring a complicated set of tradeoffs between the amazing benefits and concerning risks of Facebook’s VR products and underlying business strategy.

Flash forward to yesterday when Facebook made the controversial announcement that all future Oculus VR users & headsets would be required to use a Facebook account, Oculus accounts will be phased out by January 2023, and Facebook Technologies (formerly Oculus VR, LLC) is being completely folded into Facebook, Inc. There has been a lot of deep concerns around what
this means in terms of how much of our activities in VR are going to be tracked and surveilled.

Miranda explained to me last year how he saw the stand-alone form factor of the Quest as an absolute game changer as it’s the best of class from any other VR stand-alone headsets on the market. The Quest really does have the potential to catalyze wider and broader adoption within the larger XR industry, and it feels like it’s a mature enough and affordable platform for him to be able to unabashedly evangelize to his friends and family.

My hesitations around the future of the Quest stem largely on whether or not these affordable prices are being subsidized on a longer-range plan to feed everything thing we ever say, do, or look at in VR into a giant surveillance capitalism machine. While I share much of the same enthusiasm for the potential of the Quest and stand-alone VR generally, the lack of transparency and accountability of what will be recorded and how it will be used gives me more pause.

Miranda and I debate these tradeoffs and discuss some of the larger concerns that I have around Facebook’s future plans, which seemed to erupt yesterday as a part of the overall skepticism, lack of trust, and backlash that Facebook faced yesterday with their announcement to consolidate the Oculus accounts into Facebook accounts and how “Facebook will manage all decisions around use, processing, retention and sharing of your data.”


Here’s a thread tracking the reactions to Facebook’s announcement yesterday:

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 yesterday, on Tuesday, August 18th, 2020, Facebook made what ended up being a fairly controversial announcement. Not a lot of people were excited about it, let's just say that. So, Facebook announced that they're going to be eliminating Oculus independent accounts. So, starting in October 2020, any new person that's buying any Oculus hardware will have to use a Facebook login in order to get access to the hardware. And by January 2023, all the existing Oculus accounts will be phased away. So up to now, Facebook and Oculus have been somewhat separate over time. They've been slowly merging together. Originally, it was a separate subsidiary, Oculus VR LLC. September of 2018, that was changed into Facebook Technologies, but that Facebook Technologies was still somewhat separate than Facebook Inc. Now in October, that's going to be merging all together and everything's going to be run under the auspices of Facebook Inc. And for the users, the accounts that they used to have with Oculus Identity that was managed separately, within the terms of service, it was already all being shared and everything, but now everything's going to be funneled directly through Facebook. So if you want to use any VR technology from Facebook, you have to have associated with it a Facebook account starting in October of 2020. So this is ahead of Oculus Connect 7, which is coming up sometime, let's say, in September, October. Hasn't been announced yet. We're waiting to hear. But I think they wanted to get this out ahead of that so that it wasn't completely dominating all the other news that they have to announce at Oculus Connect 7. But this is not necessarily a welcomes change. I think a number of reasons for that. I think, in part, it's a continued blurring of the differentiation between Oculus as an independent entity. Of course, that has long since not been the case. but also just having the terms of service and all the identity run through Facebook implies that they're going to be subjugated to all the existing practices of surveillance capitalism. At least that's the impression and that all of the information that's held about an individual is now going to be managed completely by Facebook. So going back to last year at AWE, it was about nine days after Oculus Quest had launched. It was launched on May 21st of 2019. And then on May 30th of 2019, I was doing interviews at AWE and I came across Chris Miranda, who does the Enter VR podcast. And he was really, really excited about the Quest and the potential of standalone VR and just seeing how it had changed his habits over the course of that week. And at AWE last year, I was giving a talk about the ethical and moral dilemmas of mixed reality. So looking at all the potential risks and harms that could be done. And I think I was maybe taking a step back and really trying to say, okay, wait a minute, you know, I want to be as excited as you are, Chris, about this new Oculus Quest headset, but my excitement is tempered by the underlying surveillance capitalism. business model of Facebook and how the future of that is going to unfold. So flash forward over a year later, now that's in some sense come into pass where there's a continued blurring the line between Oculus and Facebook. And the implications are that there's going to be potentially some level of our data of everything that we say or do within VR is going to be fed into this giant surveillance capitalism machine. At least that I think was the thrust of a lot of the backlash that was happening. So I wanted to go back and air this conversation with Chris Marana because I think he's really excited about the potential of standalone VR. And I think, honestly, the Oculus Quest is the best standalone VR headset that's out there. But there's this underlying dilemma, which is it's being subsidized by this business model that I think is inherently problematic, especially when you start to add in all sorts of new biometric data. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this conversation with Chris Miranda happened on Thursday, May 30, 2019, at the AWE conference in Santa Clara, California. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:04:11.130] Cris Miranda: So I'm Chris Miranda. I am the host of the Enter VR podcast, and I also do community management for Ubiquity 6. Great.

[00:04:19.015] Kent Bye: So maybe you could give me a bit more context as to your background and your journey into immersive media.

[00:04:24.506] Cris Miranda: Yeah, so about six years ago, I went to the first SVVR in Mountain View and I put on a DK1 and then I was blown away. So I quit my job working for the state and I dropped out of grad school the next month and I started a podcast and I've been doing this show for, yeah. on and off for the past six years. And through it, I've been able to work at the various different VR companies. And it's been an amazing journey. It's hard to put into words how much I've done. It feels crazy. It's so much, so much.

[00:04:56.408] Kent Bye: So you've been doing inter-VR. So what would you say the mission of inter-VR is?

[00:05:01.218] Cris Miranda: Oh yeah, so when I started NRVR, the first thing that I asked myself, or the thought that was revolving around my head a lot was like, alright, what are people going to think 20 years from now? You know, it's like, I remember watching a documentary about the Vietnam War once, and they had the veterans, the soldiers, talk about their experience, what they felt like. And so I saw that, and it just captured me. And I want to do that for VR. So that 25, 20 years from now, people are going to listen to the show, just like you, Kent, and they're going to be able to hear and listen to people's motivations, their fears, their inspirations, their anxieties, all those things that make us human. And that's my goal. I want to put together a quarter century of conversations about virtual reality, just to unveil that humanity behind the virtual reality veil.

[00:05:47.285] Kent Bye: There's also a thread of like the psychedelic culture as well as the potential of consciousness Transformation as well as like the philosophical implications and ethical moral implications I think that it's a pretty consistent theme and thread throughout your work as well And I feel like there's a part of that.

[00:06:03.102] Cris Miranda: What's that bad in the brain? I love that Because we talk about hardware, we talk about software, but we don't talk enough about the wetware and how VR and AR are affecting the wetware. I think you're definitely on top of the philosophy, the morality, but also the brain, the neuroscience. This stuff just gets me going. I don't know why, but yeah.

[00:06:21.727] Kent Bye: So what's some of the more interesting interviews that you've done lately?

[00:06:24.729] Cris Miranda: Lately, you know who I love? I love John Oakes. John Oakes is the man, dude. Like, I've been talking to John Oakes here and there, and we've been experimenting doing our interviewer show in VRChat. And it's just been a lot of fun. So shout outs to John Oakes. And yeah, right now I'm trying to get Vasant Mohan, Fuse Man, on the show. Who's that? Vasant Mohan. This guy, if Harvard University wanted to do a virtual reality crash course, They would just have to go to YouTube and then use Fuseman's library, because he made easily the world's best library of VR tutorials out there, ever, ever. And he's so good, he just stopped. He's like, I'm so good, I don't need to do this anymore. So I'm trying to chase him down. He's like a legendary Pokemon in the way I see it. Yeah.

[00:07:05.707] Kent Bye: Interesting. Yeah, so the Quest has just come out within the last couple weeks or so. And so what has been your reaction to the Oculus Quest?

[00:07:12.899] Cris Miranda: I was skeptical at first. I, you know, because I'm a big PC guy. I love PCs. I love the vibe. I have a Samsung Odyssey plus and you know, I just, yeah, it's my jam. And so I went into the quest a little skeptical, but then I realized immediately how much of a difference it makes to not have that cord, that cable being tethered is, It almost feels like, and I mentioned to you earlier, like my PSVR, my Odyssey, my Vive, I put them all in the closet now. And I got the Quest a week ago because I'm rolling on my carpet like a madman. And I'm like doing spinning backfist and Creed. And it's just so easy to get into VR now. Whereas it used to take me 20 minutes to get set up in VR chat with a friend. Now, it takes me 20 seconds. And that exponential jump in efficiency, getting myself into Metaverse, is beyond, beyond valuable to me. And so the quest is super exciting, and it's changing the conversation. I'm noticing that the conversation is shifting whenever I go and demo it. I went to a party, and I showed it off to people, and it went from people giving me excuses that, oh, it's too expensive, oh, that cable, oh, I don't know about it, To now, people are asking me, oh, well, how much does it cost? And I say, it's $400. And they're like, that's it? And I'm like, yeah. And they're like, that's all you need? The headset and the controllers? And I'm like, yeah, that's all you need. And they can do all of that? And I'm like, yeah, I can do all of that. They can't believe it. They can't believe it. I swear I don't work for Oculus, but I'm just so excited about this potential because of this device to be really the Nintendo Wii of VR. I think we're hitting our Nintendo Wii moment, and this Black Friday, this December, holiday season, people are going to set up websites where like, oh, there's three at Best Buy, there's three at Amazon, and people are going to go wild. I think that's going to happen because, yeah, it's just so good. Holy shit, it's so good. Can't buy it. I can't believe it. And, yeah.

[00:09:10.631] Kent Bye: Yeah, we were just talking here right before we started recording, and you said that when you ask people and you tell them it's only $400, and they can't believe it. And then I said, but they're also mortgaging their privacy for the next 10 years. Because I feel like that's an important point, where I don't feel like I've gotten a satisfactory answer, and that I feel confident that Oculus and Facebook, we might as well just call it Facebook because Oculus doesn't really exist anymore, but Facebook is going to do the right thing when it comes to privacy, especially biometric data privacy. So I don't trust that they're not going to want to hoard and get all of this information for me and store it for the next decade and have like all the emotional profiles and eventually with eye tracking technologies. So I am right there with you of seeing how much my own behavior around VR has changed of having these new contexts where it's so much easier for me to jump into VR and my living room where I Wasn't had my whole VR rig was in my VR room upstairs in a separate room and it's separate context But that's not where I spent most of my time. I spent most of my time in downstairs in the living room working. And so now I can just contact switch and jump into VR. And I found myself, it changed my habits of the length of play that I was playing and also just being able to kind of dip in and out of it a lot easier than I had before. But to me, I feel like there's something in my gut and my intuition that is giving me this huge pause that there's a lot of, I'd say, transparency and accountability that we haven't seen. And I think it may actually take the level of when I look at what Mozilla and Mozilla Hubs is doing, what they're doing in terms of open sourcing everything that they're doing on the hubs. So you can have some sort of accounting as to what's happening on the back end. We don't have that same ability to see, OK, we don't even see the SDK and what the SDK is. You have to have an NDA sign before you even know what the SDK is. On top of that, we don't know what is being stored, what's being recorded. So because of that, I feel like I There's a bit of a moral dilemma of mixed reality, where the technology is super compelling, but yet I just fear for where they may want to be taking it in terms of trying to hoard and gather and harvest our emotions and capture our biometric data for the next decade.

[00:11:16.289] Cris Miranda: If Google had nailed the Lenovo Mirage with 6DoF controllers, we would have a different conversation right now.

[00:11:22.451] Kent Bye: I mean, Google's still, I mean, why would, Google's, I don't know. You think Google's just as bad as Facebook? Absolutely, yeah, they still have a fundamental.

[00:11:27.995] Cris Miranda: Who do you trust then? Who do you, who do you, who do you trust with your 6DoF standalone VR experience at this point?

[00:11:33.580] Kent Bye: Who's left? I think there's Microsoft, but then there's also. You chose Microsoft too? I think Microsoft doesn't have a business model of surveillance capitalism. If you look at the economic underpinnings of Facebook and Google, they're both fundamentally advertising companies that use surveillance capitalism as their fundamental primary mode of their economic business model. So Microsoft doesn't have that business model, and also Apple doesn't have that business model. But I'm frustrated with Apple because they're not engaged in the community, and they don't feel like they're an active participant. But I feel like Apple is on the right side of privacy, but they also will charge you for that privacy. So privacy becomes an exclusive right that you have. So I don't think that Google is necessarily on any better than Facebook. They may have more sophisticated ways of doing differential privacy. I actually had a lot more encouragement to see where Google was going, but I definitely trust Facebook the least.

[00:12:28.846] Cris Miranda: What about Sony? What about if Sony released their own standalone competitor? This is my mentality, this is my logic. I want to support, I want standalone VR to succeed. And I'm adding my little grain of sand by getting the Oculus Quest and getting other people hyped about it. Because the hope is that other competitors will see that, oh shit, there's a market here, there's something going on, there's a fire that we want to take advantage of. And then I can just ditch Facebook and move on. That's my goal. But it feels like I might not have to do any of that myself, because this thing, the Oculus Quest, sells itself. I don't have to market it. We've reached the point where, like, this thing, I don't even need to do anything, basically, honestly. But I still wanted to succeed. I want competition. And yeah, and that's my goal. I want competition so that I can ditch Facebook as soon as Sony jumps on board, hopefully. I don't know about Microsoft. Microsoft, they're just dropping the ball with the mixed reality.

[00:13:20.856] Kent Bye: I just don't know what's... I'm not actually a fan of the Windows mixed reality. I feel like it's a little bit of half-baked. I feel like they're putting all of their emphasis on HoloLens in that there's a bit of, like, anything that doesn't serve the Microsoft Azure cloud ecosystem kind of gets dropped. Like, they didn't even have the VR at Microsoft Build because it's not emphasizing developers to integrate into their cloud, which I think ultimately they want to be a cloud business and have all this stuff in the cloud. And at Sony, the problem that I have also is that with the console model and the app model, I feel like it's a nice short-term Improvement in the sense that you know when you get onto your PC, you would have to update your PC You'd have to like have all these systems that were like not integrated and so it was like sort of an open platform But also like you do a lot of labor of like making updates and things would break and it would just be like a pain It would be like friction like unnecessary friction. And so but with the closed walled garden you have not as much friction there, but at the same time they have complete control as to what does and does not get onto their platform, which then, to me, is a bad direction to go in terms of I don't necessarily want to see the Quest become the absolute dominant platform if it's going to be a totally closed walled garden that is wholly owned by Facebook. And that they become the kingmaker of what can and cannot be on a platform. In some ways, we have mobile technologies with iPhone and Android where we have this monopoly of the app stores that are dictating what can and cannot be on the system. And that with the PC, we don't have that similar gatekeeping functionality where anything that you do on the platform has to have a 30% cut because they've been able to cultivate that platform. I feel like we've moved into this App Store mindset, where it's almost like you own the platform. So then anything that happens, you have to go everything through their payment processing. So I asked, would it be possible to have a cryptocurrency app, something like High Fidelity, on the Quest? And they're like, no. You have to run every single exchange of value through our payment processing. So anything that wants to have a cryptocurrency as a part of their system is not going to be possible in the Quest. So it's this whole owning the platform. It's a closed platform. It's a walled garden. And there are amazing benefits. But in the long-term health of the ecosystem of VR, I feel like it's not something to put all of our eggs into that basket. Sony would do the same thing. Yeah, Sony absolutely would. And in a lot of ways, they're worse.

[00:15:49.891] Cris Miranda: Here's the question, though. I can't imagine myself sideloading onto a Sony standalone device. But you can see that you can sideload apps to the Quest. And I think that there's a hint of that hacker mentality, hacker culture in that, and the fact that they allow that even. The fact that that's possible, I think that's a good thing. I mean, again, I don't work for Oculus. And I don't like Facebook, but I think the sideloading thing It's actually pretty neat because I can sideload al VR and now my steam library all my steam VR games most of them I can play them on the quest which is really dope and then You've been able to play steam games on your quest. I've okay. So here's that I have the quest for one week I'm getting through all the whole quest library and I've been speaking with people actually the social VR HQ people over there and They were telling me how they've been running the quest at their home with SteamVR on ALVR just fine. Just fine. Playing Beat Saber, playing Elite Dangers, playing Contractors, it works just fine. That's pretty cool. I think that's a... The fact that that's possible, that's a good thing. Should it be more accessible? Should it be more available for regular people to have access to that? Yes, 100%. 100%.

[00:17:00.320] Kent Bye: Yeah, talking to Chris Pruitt, he's like the head of the content ecosystem for Oculus. He did say that yes, it is possible to sideload content and it's the only headset that's like a console genre that you can do that. It's also a development kit so that they do that so that developers can start to develop on the Quest. So I think that's also amazing. I guess my hesitation was that you have a game like Soundboxing, which was rejected by Oculus, and AudioShield either wasn't submitted or wasn't accepted, but you have a couple of the precursors to something like Beat Saber. And it's not even on the platform. And so there's a part of me that's like, if they're going to take this highly curated approach and have this very specific idea about what the future is, but yet they kind of miss the biggest thing happening within VR by the experiences that were kind of leading up to a Beat Saber, it made me question as to what else are we going to be missing or what else have we missed because of that very tight curation of what they think is going to be interesting in VR in terms of really pushing forward the gaming. So I just have this hesitation that, They have this idea of what the future of VR is going to be, but also wanting to have the control. But also this whole thing around privacy and what do they want with our data, and how can we know for sure what is the accountability and what's the transparency that they're not going to be doing the absolute worst that is dictated and afforded within their privacy policy.

[00:18:24.493] Cris Miranda: We don't they haven't they haven't communicated what exactly they're gonna do with the camera stuff that it's like is the camera collecting stuff Like is the camera like sending stuff to Facebook and Facebook has now a model of your house a 360 video of your house because you know I'm spinning around my house or do you know much about that? So I know that

[00:18:42.799] Kent Bye: The last time I talked to them, it's on April 19th of 2018, I published an interview talking to the architects of the privacy policy. So the privacy policy that was released at that point was the privacy policy that is still mostly in place for the future generations. And so in some ways, when I talk to the privacy policy people, whatever was released at that moment, they could tell me something, but they could also do something completely different. As an example. It's in the privacy policy that they can record conversations. I'm like, well, are you recording conversations? And they're like, no, not yet. Well, they didn't even say not yet. They're like, no, we don't do that. But it's in the privacy policy, which means that the very next day after I talk to them, they could start recording conversations. And there's no obligation that they have to come back to me and say, oh, by the way, now we're recording conversations, or to let anybody know, hey, now we're recording conversations. So there's no transparency in terms of what they are or are not recording. And even if they tell me something like, we're not doing that, They're not doing that right now because it's still in their privacy policy that any moment in the future they could do that. And not only that, that it's an adhesion contract that they could change it at any moment in time. So they could change the contract and just basically do whatever they want. And the extent to which they're doing it is to the point where they can scan your room. They can take in all this information. They could be able to start to do this detecting what objects are in your house, in your room. And my understanding is that it could only be the fixed points. So they're detecting only these feature points to be able to come up with the geometry to orient you to do the spatial tracking. But the way that the privacy policy is written, there's nothing that would be preventing them, as far as I can tell. Just start to do a scan of your room, what's in your room, what products do you have. Oh, you have this kind of shampoo. Then let's mark that and sell the data to the competitors of that shampoo so that these other competitors that you're not using could start to advertise to you. Originally, it was written in a way that it was saying that they could share all the data with any entity that's owned by Facebook. And that was when Oculus was separate. But now it's just all one entity. So it's just Facebook. So everything is going into Facebook. So I think it's just like, we don't know what's there. And there's no ability to have any sort of transparency or accountability as to what data is being collected or where it's going. So all of that, to me, I don't mean to be a big damper on the quest excitement train, but I just feel like there's a lot of really important unanswered questions that I haven't had satisfactory answers to, and that I don't feel like I can, with the same sort of enthusiasm, advocate for the quest without getting clear answers to some of this stuff.

[00:21:09.599] Cris Miranda: This is why, this is why it's important. to continue funding the Voices of VR podcast. Because honestly, I'm not even kissing your ass, this is fact, true story. You're the only line of defense we have. You're the only VR journalist that I know of that is this deep in this kind of subject, one of the most important subjects of all. And so I'm gonna make sure I go home and jump on Patreon and support you because these questions shouldn't be left unanswered. Especially by a company the size of Facebook But that being said I can't get off the quest hype train it already took off choo-choo I can't get off

[00:21:58.239] Kent Bye: Well, I would say I was disappointed in the collective VR industry in terms of the other journalists, that I didn't see any other review that even mentioned the privacy concerns that I've been bringing up. And to me, I don't separate it. I don't separate the quest from the entity of Facebook and all the other legacy of these issues and this as a moral and ethical issue. And I feel like it needs to be a part of the conversation. And I think we need to have people. And it does feel like, uh, It's tilting out windmills for me sometimes, because it is like a lone voice of me having these conversations, listening to my own moral intuition. And you are clearly extremely excited, and that is your baseline. But I'm also completely terrified. Because listen, right now, after the Quest is launched, they're opening up their APIs right now to be able to look at the next generation and designing both the operating system of the future And so what are those APIs? And why do they say that you can only look at what they're designing to have an NDA? You can't see what they're designing. So there's absolutely no transparency that Facebook has with the APIs of the future. We don't know what's going to be coming. We don't know. And any developer. has to have this. So I've been also upset that the fact that any developer that gets onto the train for the Oculus Quest, they have to essentially silence themselves. They have to sign an NDA where they can no longer speak out. And if they want to be a part of this ecosystem, then they have to basically sit back and swallow their own moral intuitions and objections because they have no ability to speak out.

[00:23:32.948] Cris Miranda: What do you think is the best way? I'm gonna go around, keep showing off the quest, but what do you think is the best way to present it to people? Like, yes, it's standalone, 400 bucks, you can do anything you want, but should I also say, but also keep in mind, Mark Zuckerberg is watching.

[00:23:49.246] Kent Bye: Also keep in mind, this could be the most powerful surveillance machine that you ever have. And you better be aware and ask a lot of questions as to where this data is going and whether or not you have any access or control over it. Because, yeah, we're basically creating the ingestion of a lot of really intimate biometric data. Now, that is not going to help sell any headsets at all.

[00:24:07.531] Cris Miranda: Well, here's the thing. I will say that, and I predict that I'm going to have a spectrum of reactions. and i have a my expectation on my assumption is that the vast majority of reaction for people my generation or younger are they're gonna say well i don't care And that saddens me. It really does. Then there's going to be another spectrum of people who actually do care. And that's exciting. But I think they're the minority. And so I'm trying to figure out what is the best way? How do you do this? And my other question is, if the quest fails, which I don't think it will, Will there be another chance for standalone VR by some other company? Will they say, well, look, they had it all going, and people still didn't want it. So I don't know. I guess my concern is that if the quest fails, will standalone VR still be around? Because I feel like this is the best shot we've had since the DK1. This is what the DK1 was supposed to be. And if it doesn't succeed, then will we ever get another shot? I don't know. Maybe I'm being weird. Maybe I'm being paranoid. I don't know. But I also am cognizant of that, of the fact that, yeah, I have completely given up and turned over for Mark Zuckerberg right now, my whole house, my whole house. He knows where I live. He knows the mess I live in. It's not yet at the point where I feel like it's affected my life negatively. But it will be. I promise you that it will be. And my hope is that I'll be able to jump off that train onto another hype train from another competitor that has their morality a little bit more grounded before I start seeing diminishing returns on my Facebook VR experience.

[00:25:53.398] Kent Bye: I'm going to ask a question. I'm curious. Have you heard of the third party doctrine and what that might mean?

[00:26:00.342] Cris Miranda: I feel like I've heard it in passing, but you're going to have to explain it to me again.

[00:26:04.764] Kent Bye: OK. So this is where it kind of freaks me out, is that any data that you give to a third party has no reasonable expectation to remain private. which means that in some ways it weakens our Fourth Amendment protections around that class of data. So that as soon as we start to give up our movement data, our biometric data, our eye movement, that means that not only can the government go to Facebook and say, let me see Chris Miranda's emotional reaction to content for the last 10 years, and that you'd have to have Facebook stand up and say, no, we're not going to do that.

[00:26:32.384] Cris Miranda: And they're not going to do that. No. They're going to be like, here you go, Uncle Sam. Go after that. Go pursue those crimes. That's where we're headed. That is scary. That is scary. And yeah, it's going to become a spectrum. of our reality is going to have a spectrum of black mirror and sort of the magic, like fantastical magic that, you know, after a couple months we're going to take it for granted, like most technology is going to become mundane. But it's going to enhance us, it's going to make life easier, better, us more efficient, and do so many things. but at what cost, right? And here's the thing that I've been thinking about. Here's an experiment. If I had to compete against myself for a month on an economic challenge, who can make the most money, myself with a smartphone or myself without a smartphone, without the internet? You know who would win. You know who would win, Kent Bide, the guy with the smartphone, because the guy with the smartphone has the superpowers right now. In that same vein, when spatial computing becomes more mature, That's going to be another leap over the smartphone, where the people who wield spatial computing are going to have superpowers over those who don't. And so now it's game theory, baby. Are you going to join them or beat them? Because you can't beat them, just so you know. So I'm going to join them. I'm sorry.

[00:27:48.805] Kent Bye: See what I mean? I feel like it's the moral dilemma of our day to be faced with a company like Facebook, who has so many issues of history of being on the wrong side of taking a very utilitarian approach of mortgaging our privacy and creating these psychographic profiles that got into the wrong hands and used for information warfare. And I feel like the move fast and break things ethos is still totally in play, especially as they're just pushing forward into this new realm. And I just think that there's a lot of talk about privacy at the Facebook F8. But they were talking about end-to-end encryption. They were talking about stuff that was all about encrypting what was the content of the communication, but nothing about the metadata, nothing about biometric data, nothing about, oh, hey, by the way, we have a patent. I don't know if you're aware of this, but they have a patent so that if you're looking at Instagram, Because you've given Instagram your consent to use your camera, they can passively turn on your camera and they can watch you as you're looking at content and record your emotional reactions to content and basically correlate your emotional salience to a piece of content while you're looking at it. And so they're secretly harvesting your emotions. I don't know if they're actually doing it. They have a patent for it. It's very likely that not only that they're doing it, that all the companies are doing this. And so I feel like it's this harvesting of biometric data that is the grand, unspoken thing that's happening right now, that nobody's talking about it.

[00:29:16.544] Cris Miranda: You want me to tell you a scary story? My friend did a, you know my friend, you know my friend, trust me, and he did an eye-tracking demo with Intel, right? And eye-tracking is biometric data. So basically it was a public speaking demo where he was giving a speech to an audience. And at the end of the demo, the engineers came back and told him, whoa, so it looks like you looked at women 75% of the time more than men. And he was like, oh no, what do you, I, he became self-conscious, really self-conscious doing public speaking later because he was like, I need to make sure I'm actively looking at men and women 50% of the time, because now I feel weird, I'm a creeper now, you know? That's weird, that's weird. And they didn't tell him they were gonna tell him that, you know, they didn't tell him in advance that, so when he found that out, the look on his face felt like he was violated, you know, that's what he felt like, that's what it looked like. And that's scary. I can see already a world where you're going to have apps out there that are going to be made by developers, and these apps are going to send info, text messages to your girlfriend, or your wife, or your significant other, and they're going to say, hey, your man is looking at women's butts 20% of the time more today than yesterday. Something's wrong with him. Make sure you smack him. I mean, something like that of that realm, where it's just like, Looking isn't a crime at other people. And then it was weird because if you think about pedophiles, one day the government is going to go after people who are looking at children a little too much. Oh, is he a school teacher? Oh, no. Okay, then he's good. Oh, maybe he's a drawing person. He draws kids for a living in anime, whatever. so that's weird you know that there's so much variety in sort of the spectrum of humanity that there's no way that these systems that are going to come into play are going to be flawless and you're going to get fuck-ups and it's going to be major news and the hope is that through those bad examples hopefully the companies will learn, or the users will have an incentive to move or look for alternatives. Other than that, what do you think, Kent Bye? What can we do?

[00:31:20.175] Kent Bye: Well, the thing that Neil Trevitt told me a number of years ago, he's from the Kronos Group, and it's always stuck with me. He said, for every successful open source protocol, there's like a proprietary competitor. So I see that what's happening with Sony, what's happening with Facebook, and I just hope that there's somebody out there that's able to really create an open platform that really embodies a lot of these principles. Whether it's Apple or Valve, I don't know if they're going to take as strong a stance. I know that Valve tends to be a lot less interested about trying to harvest and get all of our biometric data. But they also run Steam, and so they have this app store ecosystem. So I feel like there's a lot of just having awareness, having people talk about it, but also having a collective outrage. of saying not just me asking Facebook to talk to a biometric data privacy expert and to be ignored, but that if there's more and more journalists that are requesting to talk to these people on the record in embodied conversation, I think that there's been a sense of like, A PR strategy is to control the information and not make people available for live, interactive, embodied conversations. And so the people that are at the heart of these decisions are not being made available to be really interrogated and challenged. And so I feel like there's a certain part of Facebook as an entity where they've been kind of just doing what they want without a lot of really held any sort of accountability in any meaningful way. So there's that, but also we need to change the third party doctrine. So the third party doctrine that says any data you give to anybody that's a third party that has no reasonable expectation of privacy, which means that collectively, as a culture, that definition of the Fourth Amendment is defined by what the people are doing. It's a reasonable expectation is defined, but what are people doing? Well, if people are giving away all this biometric data, that means that the government all of a sudden could start to use your emotional profile data, all of your stuff, we could turn it into China. Because as a collective, our society has said, we don't care if this information is private or not, so the government can now do all this stuff. So the fact that whatever Oculus and all these companies are doing, it's collectively weakening the arguments against holding stuff private. So that's why ISPs can now sell our search data. is because Google and Facebook have been doing it. So then the ISP said, well, they're making money on it. We should be able to make money on it, too. And they're like, OK, yeah, you're right. The people have decided that's a thing that they don't care about that is being sold or even used. And so that's going to be a thing that they're able to do. I think the other thing is that we should be demanding that no biometric data is being recorded at all. That's an extreme position.

[00:33:58.667] Cris Miranda: Let me think about it, let me think about it. What if the biometric data is encrypted in the device and doesn't leave the device, right? Like, maybe there's a game, or maybe there is a VR game that I want my heart rate to be monitored, because maybe I'm in dread halls, procedurally generated dungeon thing, and then... the quest or the system is monitoring my heart rate and if it spikes too much then it's gonna like reduce the amount of like monsters and stuff like tailored world simulations based on your biometric feedback and that and then I can tune it up so I can crank it all the way up until you know so and if it were possible to encrypt that data keep it in the in the headset and not send it out to Facebook that I would like that

[00:34:37.148] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I think there's a couple approaches that I think I've heard of. One is homeomorphic encryption, which I think is you send it up to the cloud, and then it's basically in a container that is encrypted. And then you can do processing on it, but you get results, but you never actually see the data. And there's another sort of differential privacy where it's maybe stored in the device, and maybe you have increasing levels of access in different ways. But right now, I don't think that either one of those approaches are being proposed, and that the more centralized model is to just send it over wire, and collect it, and gather it, and hoard it, and be able to start to collect it over decades so that they can trade AI over it. So by preventing them from recording it, that in some ways makes the AI worse, but also protects this whole horde of data that may be out there leaking on the dark web, your emotional profiles getting into the wrong hands. I mean, it doesn't take too much imagination to figure out how all the ways that that could go horribly wrong.

[00:35:34.442] Cris Miranda: It's about biometrics and specifically eye tracking is about control. Who are you giving up your control to? And thank goodness the Quest doesn't have eye tracking in it. I would honestly be thinking, I would still be buying it, but I would be less hyped. I'd be a little bit more cautious about it with eye tracking. I think that's where I'm going to draw the line. If Oculus Quest 2 comes out and it has eye tracking and there's no competitor, I might slow down. I might like, I don't know how I feel about this. because you're giving up control and you can see how you can get governments, institutions, corporations to get you to buy a certain thing before you even knew that you wanted it, but maybe even also vote a certain way, you know? And that is scary. That's scary to me because just thinking about how much of an impact we are able to have on people, just using flat screens in the palm of their hands, that they're using five hours to six hours a day. Imagine when they have glasses on them, 12 hours, 14 hours a day. So all reality. This is what's at stake, Kat Bai. This is why I'm here. I know, that's why I'm here. Because reality is at stake, baby. It is. I'm not joking. It's crazy. This is what's at stake. And the people who realize this have a chance to not go along with the river, not go with the flow, but actually channel this motherfucker and bridge and send that water in more positive directions, hopefully.

[00:37:00.703] Kent Bye: We'll see. So a couple other things I just want to mention. One, we don't have a comprehensive framework philosophically for what privacy is. So modeling the entirety of human experience and then differentiating what should be public and what should be private, we don't have that philosophically, which means that that's left up into the hands of all these different creators. Also, you have EEG data, potentially, down the road. Within the next, I'd say, from what I've heard talking to some neuroscientists, within the next four or five years, external EEG that's going to be able to read your mind. And proof of concept's been shown with ECOG, which is a little bit more of an invasive technique to be able to put a whole array of measurement devices on your brain to get really high resolution and be able to essentially have you hum a song and be able to decode it and be able to listen as if you were listening to that song. you know, and also to be able to listen to what you're thinking. So it's our thoughts, it's what we're looking at, the biometric data, eye-tracking technologies. I have a sense that there's this go slow with it, you know, like even on the original Quest we don't see any social experiences from Facebook, so there's a bit of like trying to really build up this trust in the overall platform that they're not trying to dominate it or own it, but yet It could be that there's a longer game here, which is that this is a platform to be able to capture and ingest all of this biometric data. So as we move forward, of course, there's going to be more and more ways of capturing that biometric data and to display it in a VR experience, which I do think that Neil Stevenson was right with. Once you get the fidelity of the face into the experience, that it's going to be super dialed in in terms of having this sense of social presence. But the other thing that gave me a huge pause seeing at F8 was this kind of very sly mention of being able to do identification of you by your iris, as well as fingerprinting. So right now, it's a challenge that, like, if you took your question and someone picked up and you're logged into VRChat, someone could start to spoof your identity. But if there was the iris technology that was able to detect, no, this is not Chris Miranda, this is Chris Miranda, that protects your identity, you could have authenticated identity at that point. Which is, in a lot of ways, it's very useful. Facebook's very happy to have authenticated identity. However, that also means that no matter how you try to protect your identity, That could mean that they could always know who is actually using the device. And they could always tie what was happening with all the biometrics to specific people within your family because they have this iris scan that is being pushed off as a security feature. But it's actually something that's going to be able to connect your identity to anything that's happening within that experience. And I think that is also why do we actually need to have our identity tied in that way? And what are the risks involved of having biometric identifiers tied into our virtual identity to the point where we can never really truly be anonymous?

[00:39:49.074] Cris Miranda: I think the challenge with biometric capturing with VR seems to have some parallels with communicating and getting people on board about climate change. The thing about climate change and the effects of climate change is that we're already feeling them. But there's people who are in denial who don't see them, who don't want to see them. And so it's hard. It's hard to be proactive about a world that we can't know what it's going to look like 30 years from now, maybe 12 years from now, depending on which reports you're reading. Right. And so with that same vein, with biometric capturing and virtual reality from Facebook, like it's hard to know right now how this is damaging me right now. But when it does have a negative impact on me, I will know, and I will be outraged. The hope is that I'll bounce out of Facebook, I'll leave Facebook behind before that happens. But here's the thing, the issue is, the challenge is, human beings are amazing at being reactive. We're great when we're reacting to things. Being proactive There's only a few can't buys in the world. They're doing that. See what I'm saying? Like it's, that's the challenge. How do you get people proactive about something where we don't know what the sandbox looks like? We don't know where the boundaries are, that sandbox where we have to operate because we're predicting the future, you know? And so it's a hard challenge and I'm glad you're asking those questions and you're going around doing this kind of work. Again, can't say it enough. Support Voices of the VR on Patreon right now.

[00:41:18.185] Kent Bye: I appreciate it. Yeah. I feel like, you know, there's a bit of this Socratic dialogue of, in these interactions, these conversations, you know, what are we going to say? What was your thought?

[00:41:27.334] Cris Miranda: I was, I was, I was thinking to myself, like, how do we communicate? How do we get people about like, how can we communicate the people to get them excited, to get them galvanized, energized about this, their privacy. Right. And if only there was a new medium of communication, where we can put people in an experience where they not only, because words aren't enough anymore. We can't use words. Use experience. And you teach them through experience what it would look like to live in a world where your privacy is fucked. Maybe there's a chance there. By using the very medium we're in, trying to defend, to communicate to people, maybe there's a chance. I don't know. Maybe.

[00:42:09.347] Kent Bye: Do you ever watch Black Mirror?

[00:42:11.469] Cris Miranda: Yes, I have. Plenty.

[00:42:12.935] Kent Bye: Did you see season three, episode one, Nosedive, where it was you're rating everybody? Yes. I've seen that, yes. So that episode is actually what's happening in China right now. Yeah. They have a social credit score where you have a number. In some ways, I think it might even be invisible. In the Nosedive episode, at least you had a tracking. You could see these different interactions. And you would have an interaction with another person, and they would rate you. And so then if you fell down a certain threshold, it's kind of like when you rate your Uber and Lyft Drivers like if they get enough bad ratings, then they can't be a Lyft or an Uber driver anymore and so it's kind of like that but for you being a citizen and having access to education or transportation or Access to mortgages like this is actually already happening in China And I think there's also levels in which different social VR experiences have to implement an implicit type of social score to kind of track and mediate. But what happens when these social scores that are in the virtual space jump from being just virtual into the real world? So I feel like Black Mirror is an example. You can watch that episode and see how that plays out and be like, oh yeah, well, that was kind of like architecting what was going to be deployed in China within the next year. So it's like near future sci-fi dystopias that are showing the negative potentials. And that's also a place of fear. I think the harder thing to do, actually, it's actually easier to do that. I think the harder thing to do is to create the protopias that Monica Bilaskita talks a lot about, which is designing and architecting the future. Like yeah protopia. Okay. It's the kind of a utopia but something that's more about the Pro-social and that it's kind of like what I do in the podcast is ask about the ultimate potential but it's actually like building out immersive experiences that are exploring the most positive manifestations of regenerative culture and privacy openness and the potential of the decentralized and decolonized worlds and you know, it's like trying to figure out what the social dynamics of these cultures might be and give you an embodied experience of that. So I think that is, in some sense, what I'm trying to do on the podcast is have people imagine into that what those futures are and what those potentials are. But also on this specific topic, there's a little bit of like, I feel like on the edge of just paranoia, of just trying to invoke people with a sense of what's at stake. Because I feel like there's a lot at stake that in my body is like, wow, There is a lot at stake here and why isn't everybody talking about this right now? And, you know, the more people we get to at least think about it and talk about it, the more that we could collectively have this outrage that is being focused at these companies where they can start to actually engage authentically and realistically with some deep meaning as to ways that they can actually address it.

[00:44:57.422] Cris Miranda: We should find the people who work on these specific programs on Facebook, on privacy, on Twitter, and then put the list public, right? And then when they're fucking up, blast it out to a community, a mailing list, and say, guys, go out and tell them they're fucking up. And then maybe they'll feel weird. They're like, oh, but my username is private. Why am I on this list? And then we'll be like, ha, now you know what it feels like.

[00:45:21.992] Kent Bye: I think that's one thing that could definitely happen. I'd also encourage people to check out the OpenAR Cloud. They're an organization that's trying to actually create those open, decentralized systems. And there's a new privacy initiative by Kavya Perlman, who's also looking at a lot of these. They got a collaboration with the OpenAR Cloud. And so they're looking at the security XR, so basically all the privacy and security issues. So I think there's emerging organizations and entities that have just been announced here just the day before AWE, that the open AR cloud had a summit. And so there's people that are around the world that are thinking about trying to create these open, decentralized systems that have privacy first as a part of their architecture. And I'd also encourage people to check out the Mozilla hubs and what they're doing in terms of the architecture of what they're doing and what they can do in terms of really advocating for designing systems of social VR that have privacy in mind. So I feel like there's some positive things that are these counterweights. And so it could be that there's native code within these experiences, but it still has a browser. And so there's a lot of potential for WebXR, WebVR, for people to put energy and effort into the open web and to create systems within the open web that can start to have a little bit more systems that are designed with privacy in mind. And there's going to be different browsers from, Firefox and Mozilla, Mozilla Reality. And I know that Samsung has their own. Because actually, all the browsers that Facebook has, they're recording everywhere you go, and they're sending it back to the server. So you don't have any sense of privacy of anything that you look at on Facebook. They're recording. This is something that either Upload VR. I think, yeah, Upload VR did a whole interaction. They're like, yeah, we're recording everything that you're going to, which is outrageous. Why do they need to keep a log of everywhere we're going to on our browser? totally the wrong way to go down. Going back to the more positive, there's OpenAI Cloud, Mozilla, and different initiatives that are out there that are trying to actually gather the people to get involved to do something about all this.

[00:47:21.639] Cris Miranda: No, this is what brings me hope. This is the alternative metaverse that people might be able to escape to from Facebook's grasps in the future. It's going to take some time. I just saw a talk from Brandon Jones at SFHTML, Google, and he was talking about how WebVR is gone. They're not doing WebVR anymore, and they set up WebXR in a way where they wanted to have longevity. They wanted to be able to work with AR, work with VR, and just have a long-term longevity. So I'm excited. They said they're like six months away from completing it and making it really official official. So if there was ever a time to get involved in spatial computing on the web, now it's the time. Now's the time. And Mozilla Hubs works great on the Oculus Quest. So the fact that it has that browser and it has WebVR enabled in it, I mean, you're there. Here it is. And so hopefully there'll be stores on WebVR that will give me Beat Saber-like experiences and other kinds of experiences that super dope developers out there will be able to make. We'll see. But yeah I go back to thinking like how do I convince my little brother to give a fuck about his privacy or my little cousin you know. Something about the younger generation where like they haven't lived in a world where they won't surveilled like you and I. Remember before smartphones you remember what it was like not having a smartphone people all the time like yeah we know what that's like. It's the same parallel with the cord. We know what it's like to be tethered to a headset. So when we try standalone, we know how much better it feels like. We know what it was like to not be constantly looked at by Big Brother. So we're still holding on to that, right? But the other younger generations don't give a fuck. So I don't know how to get them to give a fuck. You see what I'm saying? Can't buy. But the hope is with this new medium of communication, we might be able to persuade them. better than language can to actually care. Maybe. We'll see. Who knows?

[00:49:22.188] Kent Bye: So for you, what are some of the either biggest open questions that you're trying to answer or open problems you're trying to solve?

[00:49:29.871] Cris Miranda: Right now, I'm trying to figure out if it's possible to get regular people to use smartphone AR. That's what we're trying to figure out. And it's not with the big 86. Yeah, it's you big 86 and it's fun. It's a really hard edge of the unknown kind of problem. And there's more to it that I will share in the future. But yeah, it's just so exciting because it feels like all of this. that i saw five years ago six years ago is becoming true now it's coming to fruition and like you know now i can i can just show people like look i don't need to talk to you about hypotheticals here put on the quest bam and it works and yeah there's some other stuff that i can't talk about but yeah other than that what else am i thinking about In my spare time, and feel free to anyone message me, feel free to message me, chris at nwr01 at gmail.com, I'm trying to start the world's first virtual reality fight league. Because we know, we know, this is my spare time, right? This is like fight club. Yes, because we know, I got a little too excited, we know who the world's best physical fighter is via UFC and we know who the best eSports players via whatever eSports leagues out there like the best fortnite players right but that middle that hybrid of a person who's playing Creed a boxing game in VR we don't know who that best virtual reality fighter in the world is and so I want to set up a fight club that will eventually become the World Virtual Reality Fighting Federation. And we're going to determine who will be the best virtual reality fighter in the world. And it could be a 12-year-old girl. It really could be, because it doesn't matter anymore. It doesn't matter how tall you are, how strong you are. All that matters is that you have the experience, the technique, and some speed. And it's so beautiful because I have a feeling that now that Quest the Seer, Stan Lalone is here, this is going to bring people together more than ever. And we're going to face the consequences as well, somehow, someway. So we'll see what happens. But it's going to be great. I mean, I mean. I feel like the future is going to be bright, Kent Bye. It's going to be bright with little spots of shadows here and there. But the good thing here is that we have Kent Bye out there in the front lines asking these hard questions, putting people on the spot. And honestly, if it weren't for you, I don't think we would have this energy, this ability to like... And I actually am thankful I just got to talk to you because I was on this quest hype train and now I feel like I have a more... balanced view of how this will play out, wherein, yeah, yeah, this is real stuff, man. This is going to affect people big time. Not yet, but it is. And so I'm just happy you're out there asking these questions.

[00:52:12.064] Kent Bye: Yeah. Yeah, there's like a little footnote, a little caveat. It's like, oh, yeah, and by the way, be sure you find ways to tell Facebook that you don't want them reading your thoughts and harvesting your emotions.

[00:52:20.685] Cris Miranda: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Side load. Someone's going to side load something into that quest thing. Maybe. Hopefully. Please do it, someone. Please.

[00:52:29.507] Kent Bye: Great. And finally, what do you think the ultimate potential of virtual and augmented reality are, and what they might be able to enable?

[00:52:38.564] Cris Miranda: I have a feeling that humanity, the human species, has been plagued by a problem for centuries. And it stayed, and I don't know if it's gotten worse, but it's definitely a problem. And that's the problem with small mindedness. And what happens is people get locked in to a pattern of life. Nine to five job, go to work, go to sleep, and that's all you do. And you see the same people every day. And whether you're in a small town, you're in a city, you get locked in, right? out there exposing yourself to new experiences, new people, right? And so my hope is that virtual reality will allow people to open their minds, expand their minds, right? And all of a sudden, the problem of small-mindedness will become not as a big deal as it used to be. People who live in the middle of Kansas will feel just as cosmopolitan as someone who lives in New York because of the breadth of experiences that virtual reality will allow them to have. So that's the hope. That's the hope. We'll see.

[00:53:39.295] Kent Bye: Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the immersive community?

[00:53:43.558] Cris Miranda: Um, you know, just, uh, thanks for listening. Yeah. Have fun. Be safe out there in the Metaverse. And I'll see you there. I'll see you at Rec Room Paintball. Add me. I am Fantastic Buffalo. You can't see me. Little 12-year-old kids. I take, dude, it's amazing. I go in there. I go in there because they destroy me in Fortnite. 12-year-old kids are merciless in Fortnite. But in Paintball, I go in there and I, like, I dodge and cover. I play the game how it's meant to be played. They think it's Call of Duty. But and so that way, and so because I do it that way, They rage when they can't beat me. And when I hear them rage, it's sort of like their souls are leaving their bodies. And I absorb that energy, and I just feel full again. I feel pure. It's amazing.

[00:54:25.215] Kent Bye: All right. Great. Well, what a note to end on. You can only do that in virtual reality. Awesome. Great. Well, thank you so much.

[00:54:34.397] Cris Miranda: Thank you, Kat.

[00:54:35.850] Kent Bye: So that was Chris Miranda. He does the Inter VR podcast and at the time of this recording, he was working at Ubiquiti 6. So I remember different takeaways about this conversation is that first of all, Well, it's interesting to go back just nine days after the Oculus Quest had launched, because I think that level of excitement and enthusiasm has actually continued to bear out within the larger market. I think that there's been a lot of people that have been really excited. It's been amazing to see how the Quest really is this combination of what people, I think, wanted the CV1 to really have something where everything just works. And, you know, not having a tether, a cable, it just has unlocked all these amazing potentials for what VR could be. And the quest has been sold out for a lot of the first part of 2020, in part because of the coronavirus disrupting the different supply chains, but also just because there's been so much high demand for people that wanted to have a quest that they literally could not keep up with the demand. So I think in the announcement of consolidating everything into Facebook accounts, requiring people that if they want to use any Oculus VR hardware that they're going to have to use, Facebook account, you know at F8 they were talking about different levels of biometric markers to be able to ensure that you are who you are and that that's a risk that anytime anybody uses any VR headset they're gonna always know who you are. They're gonna be able to track all this additional information on you and I think the biggest open question that has still yet to be answered today is both the long-term and short-term plans for how Facebook plans on what they're doing with the data that they're going to be collecting. Are they going to be subsidizing and making a big part of their business model to be surveilling us and capturing all this information and data? And how much transparency do we have about what is being recorded? And are there going to be any other alternatives that are going to be emerging in the market that are going to provide a different approach where maybe you pay more upfront and you don't have to be subjected to all this level of surveillance? So privacy within the United States from a legal perspective is in a bit of a disarray in a sense that there's not like a single thing you can point to that gives us the rights to privacy. It gives so much more latitude to the companies to be able to do whatever they want in a lot of ways that has been able to foster the dominance of Silicon Valley around the world. or all these different companies that are able to have these different websites that give them a great latitude to do lots of different innovation and to put some of these unintended consequences of the erosion and the loss of privacy as like a second tier priority. GDPR has started to change some of that, but yet in the United States there's not any sort of equivalent to be able to kind of shift some of those different dynamics. The Fourth Amendment in the United States has an interpretation from the Supreme Court called the Third Party Doctrine, and it would take another case going to the Supreme Court to be able to argue something to establish new doctrines. The Carpenter case from the ACLU was at least one Alternative and I think generally the third-party doctrine as a doctrine needs to be Reimagined and reinterpreted and just reconsidered because at the point it is right now there's this spatial metaphor for things that we Expect to have a certain amount of privacy like say go into a phone booth or a bathroom or a hotel room You have this enclosed space where you feel like you have a sense of privacy and there's a reasonable expectation of privacy but Metaphorically when you think about the internet, it's all flattened and there's no, from the US government perspective, no place on the internet that is private. It's all public because it's all being handed to a third party. So there's no sense of this spatial metaphor of having an enclosed space with any interaction that you do online full stop. And I think that's a problem within the legal interpretation of the third party doctrine. And that, of course, needs to have some sort of initiative that is coming for maybe having the big tech companies support some alternative method to restore some sense of our privacy. But I think it's in their interest to not do that, and to just continue to use that information and to do whatever they want, and to not give us, the people, ownership over our data. There's no data sovereignty that's enshrined in the legal right that we have. And it's all up into these adhesion contracts saying that, according to these terms of service, we're giving over this data. And it's, in some sense, mortgaging our privacy in order to get access to all this. So I think that type of surveillance capitalism business model, I think, is not that viable once you start adding a lot more intimate biometric data, what we're doing, our gate, how we're moving our body, our rooms, it's just a path that has so many different concerns that I have. And so So as this news has come out for that everything's going to be consolidated and they're going to require all Oculus VR hardware and users to use a Facebook account, then it sort of invokes all the existing issues that Facebook has had with privacy and the erosion of privacy and, you know, a lot of other things that are happening on their social network in terms of move fast and break things and let the society deal with the unintended consequences of all the things that they haven't red teamed out to the point of really thinking about the ethical implications of a lot of this technology. So they're a little bit of like, let's make it and then we'll solve the problems after the fact. And I think in some ways, people are like seeing that that's not necessarily a great strategy. And in fact, I think Facebook has formally abandoned the move fast and break things as a model, but yet functionally, that's still where we're at in terms of this relationship between these major tech companies and the public at large. And, you know, the only entity that's in between is the government to be able to step in and to be able to change some of these different cultural or market dynamics that are out there. So on a day today is Wednesday of August 19th, Apple was just announced that they have a market capitalization of over $2 trillion. August 13th, Epic Games is going to war and battle with Apple to be able to say that they're behaving in a monopolistic fashion. So Epic launched a version of Fortnite that offered an alternative way to pay that goes beyond the payment system of either Apple's payment system as well as Google's system. And so currently Fortnite is ejected from both the Apple Store and the Google Play Store, and they're launching all these different lawsuits and trying to change the different dynamics of having everything being driven by this App Store model. And I think That App Store model that has been happening in the mobile realm is also starting to happen within the VR realm as well. And I think the battle that's happening with Epic versus Apple is the same type of battles that potentially go down in path in the way that the mobile area has gone, which is more and more closed down, more and more controlled by a handful of major corporations. So there's a lot of different dimensions here that I think that folks are maybe hesitant to go all in and having yet another major corporation have complete dominance over a communication medium without much recourse. And is Apple going to come up and whatever they do with either VR or AR, is that going to have something that is going to be a viable alternative that's going to have privacy built in at a fundamental level? Is that something that's going to be extra expensive that you have to pay for because, you know, it's not going to be subsidized with aspects of surveillance capitalism? So there's a lot of different dimensions here. And I think that just moving forward, I would just, for me personally, just love to hear a little bit more direct engagement in a lot of these different issues with Facebook directly, whether that's from people that are thinking about these issues, talking about the ethics, talking about the biometric data, having some sort of transparency and accountability with what is and is not being recorded. And are the protections of something like GDPR, are those only going to be applied to folks that living in the European Union and everybody else is going to be subjugated to this whole surveillance machine. So anyway, I think there's a lot of unanswered questions there. And I think with this move towards forcing people to use the Facebook account, I think it's, you know, in some sense, the terms of service within Facebook means that you have to use your real name, which implies that all of your interactions that you're doing within VR, like, what degree is your real name going to potentially accidentally leak out? They're going to still have the ability to have pseudonyms available, but, you know, that's unsure as to how long that is going to be there, if that's just a stopgap to be able to slowly boil us into everybody being our true identity all the time and everything that we do within virtual reality. So anyway, I think there's lots of different issues there that I think the community at large, it's hard for me to know whether or not this is just kind of like a social media outrage where people are going to have something to fight against and they're going to send out a hot take tweet and then that is at the end of it. But at the end of the day, are they going to still look at the market to see what the best option is for the standalone headsets and see that actually the Oculus Quest is the most Evolved and highly advanced standalone VR headset that's out there and so, you know how do we make these various different trade-offs between like what is actually happening in the market and We need some viable competition and if something like the dilemma that Chris was saying here if we totally deep six Standalone VR now is there gonna be another opportunity for VR to really take off in the future? And so there's like this whole existential paradox for anybody that's involved in the VR industry of to what degree do you? turn your head and look the other way when it comes to some of your moral intuitions about what's the right thing and the most ethical thing to do versus what's the most pragmatic to be able to bootstrap something that needs a little bit more help than what's already coming from the market. So lots of complicated issues here. I don't think there's necessarily like a clear answer. I think for anyone who's in the industry has to kind of deal with this. For me, from my perspective, I just want to not see the total consolidation of wealth and power be focused onto one singular company, but to have a diversity and plurality of lots of different options for consumers as well as the overall industry to be able to grow in the way that it needs to without having to put all of our eggs into one basket that's based upon an economic business model of surveillance capitalism. 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, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a list of supporter podcasts, and I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. Thanks for listening.

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