Virtual Reality (VR) as stated by Newquist is a technology that enables users to enter computer-generated worlds and interface with them through sight, sound and touch. With the uprising development of the VR gears, several concerns regarding the effects of VR on moral issues and its effectiveness in the development of technical skills have been raised by the public.
Negative effects of VR
Gaming in VR is an expanding multi-millionaire market and it is only a matter of time before all the gears are easily accessible to all the young users at an affordable price. Statistically in United States last year, 74% of gamers are under 14 and most of the violent games sold were not suitable for age under 18. Albeit age restriction, there is no assurance that ensure denied access to the mentioned games for underage gamers. The problem with VR is the users are forced to watch and confront the violence as it happens. In Idaho, United States (2014), a case was reported involving a young boy killing his family under the influence of a game’s character. Such case proved that violence games are too much nowadays and with the VR technology is expanding, this is only going to cause more harms than any goods. The key issues are whether the violence introduced in the virtual world might affect the behaviour of the users to behave unethically? Should the VR gears be age restricted or is it morally defensible?
Kant duty ethics stated that, a human being have a duty to treat other person with respect. It can be argued that a virtual person is not a real person, thus needless to be treated as such. As most of the VR games promote violence, it can be said that it will encourage users to do bad things to each other thus contradictory to Kant’s moral principle.
In terms of developing technical skills, there are few drawbacks worth highlighted. To provide realistic military training while mitigating risks, VR are incorporated as a substitute for real life physical military training. This however increases the possibilities of security threat from the exposure of information and communication in deploying the virtual environment (VE) for training purposes as currently most of the developments for VE are made via an open-source technology. This means that theoretically there are chances of high value military information being leaked since any developers can basically access the database.
This also applies to the VR training in medical sector. As mentioned by Haque and Srinivasan in their study of the VR surgical simulators, there are possibilities of the simulator unable to properly replicate the tasks or tasks environment required in handling patients. This might lead to negative training or the development of false sense of security in the skills acquired that could theoretically lead to harm.
The ethical cycle of consequentialism is defined as the doctrine that solely judges the morality of an action based on its consequences. In this case, one may argue based on the evidence discussed that the negative consequences of VR supersedes its positive consequences.
The question remains whether or not VR to be made age-restricted and its suitability for all levels of society?
Positive effects of VR
The growth of e-sport recently has affected the lives of young gamers to make gaming as a career. The booming in professional gaming industry represents gaming is not just for leisure nowadays, but it is one of the careers that the player can develop into. For instance, the prize pool for The International Compendium in August 2015 is $18.4 million won by Team Evil Geniuses with the youngest winner aged 16. In order to develop this industry, VR with incorporation of bio-sensing evolved the gameplay experience by introducing the player’s movements to trigger the response. The assimilation between the ‘old’ gaming system with bio-sensing broaden the field for professional players to develop with; agility, strength, energy. VR is also able to provide leisure activity for young adults especially for rehabilitation of physical and intellectual disabilities. A study to the young adults with cerebral palsy shows that all participants indicated the games introduced were fun to play.
In regards to the development of technical skills, VR also can be used in medical application as the purpose of medical training, diagnosis and surgery planning. The use of cadavers during training can be replaced since their use will raise moral and ethical issue for some people plus its high cost to obtain and maintain. Besides, a proper surgery planning beforehand also can be made with this technology in order to prevent any mistake or error occurs in the real surgery, which might cause someone to lost his or her life. Based on surveys conducted among 16 medical professionals, it was about 73% agreed that this technology will be benefited for medical training.
In March 2013, it was reported that seven enlisted Marines were killed and eight other service members were injured due to the ‘human error’ during training at Hawthorne Army Depot, United States. With VR, the training can be done in the simulated environment repeatedly and safely with complete equipment like tanks and guns. Besides, the new recruits are typically aged of 16 to 24 due to people in this range are used to play video games and have the interactions needed. Moreover, the performance of the recruits can be carefully monitored and the recording can be played back so that they can see their performance in extreme detail. Thus the training would be highly effective with low cost training tool.
Hedonism states pleasure is the most important intrinsic good. Pleasure is subjective from one person to another, it can be anything that provides happiness and freedom to individuals. From the perspective of hedonism, VR maximise net pleasure to the users for instance, gamers can use VR as the means to achieve a new level of euphoria, medical practitioner can reduce mistake in their operation and risk can be mitigated for military recruits.
23: Ahmad Kamal