Is Anonymity in the Metaverse possible?

A recent study from the Berkeley University of California demonstrates “the extent to which biomechanics may serve as a unique identifier in VR, on par with widely used biometrics such as facial or fingerprint recognition”.

Using innovative AI techniques, Berkeley’s researchers have analysed more than 2.5 million fully anonymized metaverse data recordings, drawn from more than 50,000 ‘Beat Saber’ Virtual Reality (VR) application players, and found that individual users could be uniquely identified with more than 94% accuracy using only 100 seconds of motion data. While the study stresses the need to enhance security and privacy awareness in relation to these platforms, it acknowledges that “it is not clear, without further investigation, whether these results will generalize to other types of VR applications”.

Defined as “an interoperated persistent network of shared virtual environments where people can interact synchronously through their avatars with other agents and objects”, the metaverse is being recognised more and more as the next generation, three-dimensional version of the internet. According to a document released on January 23rd, 2023, the publication of an initiative on virtual worlds by the European Commission is expected in May. The purpose of this initiative is to ensure that the metaverse will reflect EU values, protect fundamental rights and foster business innovation.

While longstanding debates have been taking place in Brussels on the classification of certain usages of AI systems as high risk, the first session of the citizens’ panel on Virtual Worlds is taking place in Brussels 24-26 February 2023, which will be streamed live. Two more sessions are also expected to be held 10-12 March and 21-23 April.


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