Prison Company Patents VR to Give Inmates Brief Taste of Freedom
When a company files a patent chances are that there are products in the works or already being tested that use it. So the recent patent by Global Tel Link Corporation for a system that would allow an inmate to "for a brief time, imagine himself outside or away from the controlled environment" is very real and quite serious.
Perspectives: Paradise on Steam
Survivors of a nuclear bomb explosion are very few in number, but in this experience you are put directly in the path of the world’s first hydrogen bomb detonation on the Enewetak Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Feeling the devastation and destruction first-hand is something we’ve all experienced in countless movies, but seeing it in VR along with hearing the stories of people still living there had a different effect on us that no movie could reproduce.
TORMENTOR | Steam
Though this hasn’t been released this game worries us a bit, putting you in the role of a person administering torture for profit and exploitation of victims. The premise is not worse than some of the modern horror franchises but VR places the audience in the role of active participant, and has a different psychological effect than a movie like Hostel could ever achieve.
We should be talking about torture in VR
The other side of knowing all of the benefits VR provides is the possibility of the harm that the medium could inflict if applied improperly. Merging “enhanced interrogation” with the known psychological effects experienced in VR could be truly terrifying. Though there are more than a few calls for an overall VR code of ethics the timing is perhaps more dire than we thought.
Virtual Reality as Punishment
This paper tries, and we feel succeeds, in defining the current theories of punishment and retribution within a society can manifest through experiences within VR. We truly appreciate the thorough research and perspectives considered, moving from the most basic concepts of revenge and retribution all the way up to considerations of humane punishment as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In issue 51 of the newsletter we highlighted some of the companies putting VR in the hands of law enforcement to better train officers in crisis management and de-escalation tactics. During our research for that issue we encountered a disturbing article about how American prison companies were also looking into VR as a means of punishment and control. We’re pretty sure that’s fairly unethical, and pretty far outside even some of the most widely considered XR manifestos venture to discuss.
In this issue we’re sharing some of the information we’ve found over the last year whenever our browsing ventured down the path of punishment or interrogation through a virtual experience. There won’t be any how-to style references (though we’re sure you could find them if you look in all the wrong places), but hopefully this issue will leave you with an appreciation for the technology being in the hands of fairly compassionate content creators.
Thank you for reading and subscribing, and we'll see you next week!
— Other Realities Directory | Other Realities Journal | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube —Other Realities