Businesses adopting extended reality (XR) must take ethical considerations into account, according to a new report from Accenture.
The professional services firm says that while XR technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and other immersive tools have the potential to provide “tremendous economic and social benefits”, they also carry new physical, mental and social risks.
As a consequence, business leaders need to proactively design, build and deploy XR tools and business models responsibly from the start, guided by diverse experts such as neuroscientists, mental health experts, sociologists and behavioural theorists.
Risks associated with XR tools include:
- Misuse of personal data: Going beyond people’s personal information, or social media activity, XR could expose their feelings, behaviours and judgements to cyber-theft and manipulation.
- Fake experiences: When consuming news and information through immersive experiences, it will be harder to separate reality from fiction, making it easier to profoundly influence behaviours, opinions and decisions.
- Cybersecurity: Not only could avatars be used to create new forms of identity-related crime, but critical tasks, like surgery, that become dependent on immersive technologies, could be at risk of extortion.
- Anti-social behaviour: Trolls could go from intimidating with words on social media to physically intimidating people in a virtual world with avatars. What’s more, antisocial behaviour that is normalised in a virtual environment can creep into real-world behaviours, Accenture warned.
“We are entering a post-digital era where emerging technologies such as XR are driving the next waves of innovation and growth,” said Marc Carrel-Billiard, senior managing director of Accenture Labs and global lead of Accenture’s Extended Reality group. “XR will be core to enabling these opportunities, but we must address the risks posed by today’s technologies and design XR tools and immersive experiences responsibly.”
Future XR tools will depend on reliable and widespread connectivity. To learn how businesses are preparing for the impact of next-generation internet connectivity, download our Next-generation connectivity report today!