Eran Kahana on “The Metaverse and its Potential Impact on Agency for Artificial Intelligence Entities”

I’m speaking on “The Metaverse and its Potential Impact on Agency for Artificial Intelligence Entities” at the Stanford University and Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous Program – December 8, 2021, 6pm (Pacific).

The August 19, 2021 Wall Street Journal article “Facebook, Roblox See the ‘Metaverse’ as Key to the Internet’s Next Phase” brought me to revisit my writings on the topic; writings that date back more than a decade ago. Now, the metaverse is not new. Those who have been writing and studying the development of virtual worlds appreciate that it represents the latest iteration thereof.

When I wrote “Germinating Seeds of Agency – Part I” in July 2010, I concluded by noting:

It is inevitable and only a matter of (a short) time that in this reimagined reality [the virtual reality], the use of some avatars will transcend the aquarium-like current environment in which virtual worlds exist. These new and improved avatars will take on the form of AiCE [the AI cyber entity]. They will get smarter in this evolutionary window; garner rights; be capable of autonomous operation in certain (initially) limited respects; be exponentially able to quickly learn and adapt to their new environment. In parallel, some users will decide to enable their AiCE to conduct business on their behalf (not just buy stuff on Amazon or eBay), use real-world money, shield their real-world identity (in the form of an AiCE Veiled Identity Agent) and bring about real-world consequences, both positive and negative in ways that are no longer confined to the virtual world aquarium. In this reimagined reality, the need for AiCE to be an Agent will no longer contain the should-factor; thus the seeds of the electronic Agent begin to germinate.

Present day technological capabilities far exceed what we had eleven years ago. And the pandemic accelerated the acceptance, if not also the appetite for virtual environments. All of these events coalesce into creating an environment where the concepts I introduced become, well, inevitable.