22nd January: Potential Research Question

Today we discussed potential ideas for our research question. Possibilities included the questions of government response to drug use and of human welfare vs. animal welfare. We also decided we wanted to stay away from certain topical issues such as Brexit, Trump and current international wars.

The main idea we came up with is Exploring the ethical challenges/conflicts of Virtual Reality. We will narrow our question down so that it is more succinct, but for now we can look at video games, film and TV, the latest technological updates and psychological studies based around VR.

In order to narrow down our focus, we thought about how our different disciplines might interplay with VR.

Politics: User protection and privacy, virtual criminality and other issues we might explore all relate to politics and the impact on society in some way.

Geography: Digitisation of labour – where are the minerals and materials used for creating the technology needed for VR found, and is there a negative impact? In what parts of the world does VR thrive, and will the ethics depend on where in the world it is being used?

Classics: Many video games use the ancient world within their stories (Assassins creed, God of War..), what are the politics of presenting the past in such a realistic way? Is complete accuracy important? Could history be overshadowed by virtual reality?

We also thought about general topics we can discuss when considering the conflict of whether VR is ethical or not:

  • Desensitisation of virtual reality – especially with violence/sex
  • VR in healthcare: distractions for injections, overcoming phobias, mental health treatment
  • Virtual criminality
  • User protection and privacy
  • In game trauma, PTSD
  • VR as torture

Some potential cultural representations of VR we can look at include: Black Mirror, Ready Player One, The Matrix.