The divide between the digital and the real world will soon become increasingly blurred as a result of the Metaverse’s rapid development.
That’s the verdict of Professor David Reid, who explored the opportunities and risks presented by the Metaverse and its relationship with Artificial Intelligence (AI) during his Inaugural Professorial Lecture at Liverpool Hope University.
Reid, who is a Professor of AI and Spatial Computing in the School of Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering presented his thoughts in a lecture entitled ‘The Undiscovered Country’.
The Toxteth-born academic, who was involved in the early development of the internet, discussed how the Metaverse and AI are implicitly linked and how this fusion could have significant consequences for humanity.
Professor Reid explained how, just like the internet, the Metaverse has the potential to develop in surprising and potentially dangerous ways.
“AI and the Metaverse are both likely to be very influential in all of our futures,” he said.
“They will bring opportunities, but also unanticipated consequences if we don’t all think seriously about the decisions we make today.
“As the Metaverse evolves I see Mixed Reality throwing up problems we haven't encountered before and soon the divide between the digital and the real world will become increasingly blurred.
“Eye tracking systems could be used to monitor what literally catches your eye in the real world. Face tracking systems could be used to monitor your emotional response to what you see.
“Apart from the obvious personal security implication, such Mixed Reality systems may be used to actively obscure or emphasise what people can see.
“This could be used to subtly modify their behaviour in the real world."
Professor Reid has worked at Hope for twenty years, having joined as a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science in 2002 and is currently the Research Lead for the School of Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering.
Previously he worked at the University of Liverpool, where he obtained his PhD in 1995 with a thesis entitled ‘Browsing in Hypertext’, which, ahead of Google’s launch in 1998, was a very early attempt to rank web pages using AI.
He also created the first online shopping mall in the UK - and only the second the world had ever seen - the ‘MerseyMall’.
Since joining Hope, Professor Reid has made a significant and widespread contribution to learning and teaching within Computer Science.
He has taught and developed courses at undergraduate, Masters and doctorate level, creating a technical, highly research-informed, scientifically-oriented, and relevant set of programmes.