Hard lessons for the virtual future – POLITICO

Policy note: We will be away this Monday for Memorial Day, but we will return to your inboxes on Tuesday, May 31st.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the smartphone has changed the perception… well, being human, be it the ubiquitous messaging technology or being able to travel without a road atlas.

Tech companies are hoping to change our lives again, now with the help of virtual reality technologies, which means a new hardware arms race. Meta continues to develop new headsets as Apple plans run your own competing points. Microsoft is selling its HoloLens headset as Device “Industrial Metaverse”, and smaller companies like Qualcomm as well as magic jump are included in the game.

However, the US is still trying to figure out how to deal with the regulatory challenges that smartphones have created.

Widespread geo-tracking, networks functioning like walled gardensand quasi-monopolistic app stores that charge high access fees they have all become major challenges for companies like Meta and Apple as they become a mobile-centric business. Meanwhile, users have to jump through hidden hoops to protect their location from advertisers.

In a metaverse where a huge new arrays of personal data will be collected, it is completely unclear how these problems will simply get worse – or what new ones may appear in their accompaniment.

So what did regulators miss when smartphones went from high-tech novelty to everyday necessity? And how can they do better this time?

President Bill Clinton argued in the 1990s that the government should light adjusting touch when it comes to new technologies, it’s best not to get in the way of innovation.

VR has already passed this phase according to Jeff Chesterexecutive director of the non-profit Center for Digital Democracy, who says “the bottom line is that [tech companies’] the business model is mature and you need to regulate accordingly.”

Even if the elements of VR technology are fast, cheap efficient GPUs, network connections with low latency and high throughputand the headphones themselves are still evolving, Chester and other tech critics argue that the problems with companies’ advertising-based business models will continue into the headset era, along with the problems they create.

“We haven’t solved the privacy problem, we haven’t solved the competition problem, we haven’t solved the human rights problem, and somehow we expect them to get better in the metaverse,” he said. Tom Wheelerformer Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, now Fellow of the Brookings Institution.

At the dawn of the smartphone era, Washington was most concerned about the impact of technology on the real analog world. – distracted driving, mental health problems, even their impact on sleep patterns. By the time regulators began to get serious about behind-the-scenes issues like privacy and monopoly, the technology was already ingrained..

This time around, big companies are expecting more control and are trying to get ahead of it. AT long essay published last week, Meta President of International Affairs Nick Clegg promised to “ensure that industry standards or regulations take into account the interests of the civil and human rights communities.” But his essay provides little as a recipe other than a vague call for cooperation with regulators and even competing technology companies.

Wheeler, the former head of the FCC, is skeptical. He warned that tech giants could vertically integrate their products even more than they already are, and of the “historic potential” of headset makers to control every step of the process, selling both hardware and software to users and even earning commissions. from outside developers who want to sell software on their app store, as Apple has done for years on its App Store.

It would seem that the history of mobile technology could repeat itself – and even several times – with the dawn of the era of headsets.

But it’s not the 1990s anymore. Some observers, like CDD’s Chester, see reason to hope that the ship can be managed with the help of a growing backlash against technology on the Hill and tough regulators like the FTC chairman. Lina Khan currently in leadership positions.

“These companies have the ability to manipulate people,” Chester said. He referred to the spread of technology called neuromarketing,“Where physiological and neurological signals are monitored to measure and predict consumer behavior. VR headsets are already tracking intimate biometrics like eye movement and heart rate.

“Some of these things should either be left out of the discussion or adjusted,” Chester said. “You don’t have to test people’s subconscious to figure out how to get them to do what you want them to do.”

Staten Island could be the last of New York’s five boroughs population, political influence and cultural reputation.

But it outperformed the rest in at least one department: if the plans of the local development team come to fruition, the district will be the first to have its own fully functional analogue of the metaverse.

The NYC Meta project, brought to life by the three Tabacco brothers, construction business owners and serial entrepreneurs, one of whom starred in the reality show Matchmaker Millionaire, and the other two briefly earned notoriety in the tabloids as Occupy Wall Street counter-protesters – designed to turn Staten Island into a “bridgehead for move all of New York to the metaverse. ” Which entails, among other things:

  • Selling NFTs as digital documents starting as low as $10.
  • Virtual promotion of real-life borough president Vito Fossella to “Mayor of Staten Island”.
  • Auctioning a virtual copy House of the Godfather

Unfortunately, the experience of eating a piece Pizza Joe and Pat will remain out of reach, at least until some never-before-seen innovation in flavor modeling is achieved.

Stay in touch with the entire team: Ben Schrekinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson[email protected]); Konstantin Kakaes (ur.[email protected]); and Heidi Vogt ([email protected]).

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