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[REPLAY] Stanford’s Symposium on “Existing Law and Extended Reality”

On the 5th of January 2023, Florence G’sell, head of the Digital, Governance and Sovereignty Chair at Sciences Po took part in a Research Symposium at Stanford Law School. Supported by the Knight Foundation and the Minderoo Foundation and co-sponsored by Stanford Law School and the Cyber Policy Center. The event consisted of panel discussions by industry experts, researchers and scholars from the field. 

The age of virtual and augmented reality is here.

New virtual reality and augmented reality (XR collectively) developments are poised to reconfigure commerce, enterprise, education, and entertainment. McKinsey projects that the metaverse could reach $5 trillion in value by 2030. In the wake of investment, it is clear that this new wave of spatial computing is more than a fad or a mere gaming platform.

As legal scholars, it is vital to examine how XR hardware and immersive experiences may impact users and their communities. What do we know and what is still unknown about how XR interfaces affect our bodies and minds? What is next in product development? How should neuroscience and behavioral science guide the formation of XR regulation, policy, and law?

Like the internet before it, the metaverse will be governed by preexisting legal regimes. How will IP, privacy law, torts, and criminal law apply to the metaverse? What are the foundational questions that need to be considered, especially with passthrough XR, hybrid web-verse interfaces, and new financial systems? What novel challenges will emerge from users’ behavior in immersive experiences?

Early efforts at social VR experiences have been beset by harms like sexual harassment, hate speech, and digital assaults. Who should make the rules for virtual worlds — regulators, creators or platforms? How should this differ from social media content moderation regimes? What possibilities exist for intra-platform and cross-platform governance?

Finally, nations will be expected to interact with the metaverse, just as they maintain online presences and exercise oversight over online activities. How will XR activity impact offline governance? What are the possibilities for trade, cybersecurity, international relations, and civic services? What role should the industry take in self-regulation? Will XR be covered by standards for artificial intelligence and responsible innovation, and if so, how should this be implemented?

Professor G’sell participated in the panel “Regulating Virtual Worlds” where she was joined by Professor Susan Aaronson (Eliott School of International Affairs, Director, Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub) and Professor Daniel Castaño (University Externado de Colombia). The panel discussed the complexities of regulating technologies and the important considerations particurlaly from a European perspective.