Sunday, June 26, 2022

NOT OKAY Virtual racism will be rampant in the metaverse if it’s built only by ‘white men’ like Mark Zuckerberg, an expert warns

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The INSPECTION on racism in the metaverse grows among experts.

The tech industry as a whole faces setbacks due to its lack of inclusivity — particularly when it comes to employing women or people of color.

And now experts say this lack of diversity will feed into both the development of the metaverse and the user experience.

Historically, technology companies and products have been developed by mostly white and male CEOs.

However, if this trend continues, it could perpetuate online abuse targeting minorities and people of color, CNBC reported.

“If you don’t have people at the table who have suffered a history of harm or abuse, or who have certain things to live with, then don’t build platforms in a way that protects those people.” Jeff Nelson, co-founder and CTO of Blavity said.

“They build platforms that can be used by people who want to harm others, [and can] do this on a large scale.”

The Pew Research Center found that black and Hispanic workers make up only 7 percent and 8 percent of computer workers in the US, respectively.

According to Freada Kapor Klein, a founding partner at venture capital firm Kapor Capital, via the LA Times, the problem may be related to a lack of access and support.

“If we make the same mistakes that we made with social networking and Web 2.0…then we’re just bringing that problem into this new space,” remarked Nelson. “So it’s absolutely a problem.”

In a separate UNESCO study from 2019, researchers also concluded that many problems in the tech industry stem from a lack of diversity in the teams developing our everyday technology.

“It’s not always malicious bias, it’s unconscious bias and lack of awareness that that unconscious bias exists, so it’s perpetuated,” Allison Gardner, a co-founder of Women Leading in AI, told the New York Times.

Research has shown that internet users and gamers are exposed to strong racist rhetoric, harassment and bigotry.

Furthermore, although widespread, little attention is paid to the problem.

This is further made possible by anonymous online identities, according to a 2018 study published in the American Psychological Association.

“Creating worlds within the metaverse, creating content, creating art, all of these things are endeavors that are important to us as we think about the metaverse and ensure blacks are fairly represented in this future,” says Nelson.

Tech giants are also trying to tackle the problem, with companies like Facebook spending millions to increase diversity within their company and Metaverse developments.

“As companies like Meta now begin to think about that future, we have an opportunity to build the Metaverse with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) from the start,” wrote Maxine Williams, Meta’s Chief Diversity Officer, in a blog post im February.

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