Augmented World Expo: ETC Presents the Dark Side of AR

The ETC@USC’s Phil Lelyveld gave a presentation on the dark side of AR at Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara on Friday. His goal was to raise awareness of some fundamental issues now, before there is resistance to change from established AR and VR business models. Phil began by describing how the AR and VR landscape is integrally linked to the Internet of Things (it feeds data to the AR/VR experience), artificial intelligence (it will shape the end-user experience and avatar behavior), and to a lesser degree, robotics (the relatable face of the AI).

As described in the AWE program: “We are in the process of redefining reality; erasing the boundaries between the real and the virtual. We are building experiences under the assumption that we are doing the right thing … or at least that the technology is morally neutral.”


“We are plugging them into AI resources that we barely understand. But there is a political, social, and moral underpinning to every approach to coding and world building. To date there has been a lack of thoughtful discussion of the intended and unintended consequences of what we are building. Let’s at least raise some questions to get the debate started.”

During his presentation, Phil raised three dark-side issues: lack of adequate security, exponential increase of personal data gathered, and embedded bias and psychological manipulation in the AI that may go undetected for a long time.

In each case, Phil referenced work on possible paths to solutions. He closed by saying that these are not problems; they are known elements of an emerging system and should be part of any planning discussion.

“We are defining the starting point and ‘training set’ for future generations” he said.

Phil’s presentation deck is available online. The video of his presentation should be available on the AWE 2017 website around June 15.

Jesse Schell: Predictions for VR and AR in 2025, VentureBeat, 6/6/17