Ex-Google Exec Says Metaverse Raises ‘Scary’ Question About User Monitoring


Fox is set to host a song contest show next week called “Alter Ego” in which contestants do not play as themselves but as digitally rendered avatars.

The launch follows a summer of hype for the Metaverse, an immersive online experience across all technology platforms that Mark Zuckerberg told The Verge in July as Facebook’s (FB) “primary focus.” Nvidia (NVDA) CEO Jensen Huang had said a month earlier that the economy of the metaverse would one day overtake that of the physical world.

But the metaverse raises a “frightening” question about surveillance, as participants will conduct daily conversations and activities in an environment owned by the online company, says artificial intelligence expert Kai-Fu Lee.

In a new interview, Lee – who has worked as an executive at Google (GOOG, GOOGL), Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT) – acknowledged “a lot of enthusiasm” for the use of AI technology in the metaverse. But he warned that the new frontier could compromise user privacy.

“In the metaverse, there is a tricky and perhaps a little scary question,” says Lee, co-author of a new book called “AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future”. “The Metaverse Programmer, the company that builds the Metaverse, will actually listen in on every conversation and watch every person.”

“It can make the experience very exciting, because it allows you to see what makes you happy and give you more of it,” he adds. “So what is the notion of privacy in a metaverse?”

AI-related privacy concerns have become a major issue around the world. The UN human rights chief on Wednesday called for a moratorium on the use of AI, citing applications such as the government’s deployment of facial recognition software.

“AI technologies can have negative, even catastrophic, effects if used without sufficient consideration of how they affect the human rights of individuals,” said the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. man, Michelle Bachelet.

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at an Oculus developer conference while wearing a virtual reality headset in San Jose, Calif., October 6, 2016. GLENN CHAPMAN / AFP via Getty Images

Kai-Fu Lee has been at the center of AI development for decades, since contributing to the development of speech recognition and automated speech technology as a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University.

Since 2009, he has been CEO of Sinovation Ventures, a technology-focused venture capital firm in China with more than $ 2.5 billion in assets under management.

Despite privacy concerns, Lee said using AI in the Metaverse will help achieve a realistic simulation of everyday life, while adding otherworldly elements that increase the value of entertainment.

“In the truly natural metaverse, we’ll be conversing using our language and body language, and AI can of course provide an ability to understand that,” he adds.

“There will be people who are themselves, but there will also be other beings that you know, pets and aliens and games and other people,” he says. “AI will be a part of it.”

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