Hey there. In this video, we're going to explore ethics in the metaverse. Let's start right out of the gate by defining what we mean by ethics, because that definition will inform our entire discussion today. Ethics is actually a branch of philosophy, which essentially seeks to answer questions about right and wrong. Ethics helps us determine what we should do or not do in terms of what's best for society, what upholds people's rights, and what's most fair. Now, it's important not to confuse ethics with your personal beliefs. Your individual perception of right and wrong is your morals. When we apply this sense of right and wrong to society at large, through rules, principles, and codes conduct, however, we call them ethics. An easy way to remember the difference is that morals are internal and ethics are external. We apply ethics all the time in real world scenarios when we do things like consider public policies or medical interventions. We use them to make difficult decisions in business, law, government, and the military. We apply ethics when interacting with the environment, animals, and each other. And we use ethics when we engage with technology. The dawning of the internet in the 1990s and the advance of social media and Web 2.0 meant that we had to consider new fundamental questions about how we interact with each other. We had to establish rules and norms for how we behaved online. That's because while technology is neutral — it's inherently neither good nor bad — when we add humans into the equation, we begin to wrestle with ethical questions like what acceptable online behavior looks like and how we can and should demonstrate respect for others online. As you can imagine, the metaverse raises even more ethical questions, ones we haven't thought about before, because we haven't had to. The metaverse is a proxy for society. It's a new way of being in community with those around us, and it's going to enable us to do that in ways we've never done before. New questions raised by the metaverse include those surrounding identity and ownership. Embodied avatars give us the opportunity to define ourselves in the metaverse in whatever way feels right. When I make my avatar, am I supposed to be me? Am I free to be someone else? And are there limits to what "someone else" means? When it comes to owning things, what's mine in the metaverse? What do I own versus what does the platform or service own? On the internet today, there are a handful of very large tech companies who control a lot of what we see and do. For example, for many of us because we use our Facebook, Google, and Apple accounts to log into so many places, it can be difficult to establish an online presence separate from those identities. As we've discussed frequently throughout this course, the concept of decentralization is key to an open and interoperable metaverse. If the metaverse is indeed built with no specific group having authority over its creation and use, we will be free to create identities and engage in experiences as we see fit. But we don't want the metaverse to become the Wild Wild West, where there are no rules and outlaws run amok. As we build the metaverse, it's important that we have conversations around governance. Governance is how an organization operates, and the ways in which people are responsible for upholding agreed upon rules. In simple terms, governance can be thought of as who gets to say what's allowed in a certain space. The metaverse could become a place where big tech companies make those decisions, or, in a decentralized metaverse, individual creators of spaces would be in charge of their corner of the virtual world. Think of the rules you'd put in place if you were creating a space for youth to interact, like a virtual Sesame Street, versus the ways in which you'd expect age-appropriate visitors to behave in a space dedicated to your favorite alcoholic drink. We will continue to debate these issues, but in all likelihood, we will end up with a combination of both types of governance. Engaging in corporate-managed metaverse spaces may require you abide by a certain set of behaviors, while visiting an individual creator's space meaning adhering to a different set of rules. Ultimately, though, we need to consider ethics in the metaverse as a whole. We've all seen what it's like when people give in to their baser instincts on social media. Instances range from uncomfortable and upsetting interactions, arguments, and rudeness to bullying, harassment, hate speech, and even crime, which have serious consequences in the offline world. And that's all happening in a primarily text space mode of communication. When we add embodiment into the equation, the sense of being truly physically co-present in a space with others, you can see why addressing ethical questions about behavior must be top of mind as we continue to build the metaverse. Ideally, we want to create a metaverse where people feel safe, secure, and in enough control of their experience so they can flourish and thrive. To make that vision a reality, we need to make collective decisions about what both good and bad behavior look like, and provide tools and resources to support users when things go wrong. As we wrap up this module, I hope you'll take some time to think about what an ethical metaverse looks like to you. After a quick quiz, you'll be headed up to our final module, where you will explore how the metaverse will be built. Enjoy!