A shocking photograph had been revealed in early of the year: an old man with VR equipment attached to his body, was carried off the bed surrounded by several men in uniforms. The thin, seemingly unconscious old man and the laughing, sturdy men around him made a huge contrast, also made people want to ask a lots of questions: Who is the old man? Is he still alive? How did he get into such a terrible state? Who are those men in uniform?
As public opinion kept fermenting, the police soon announced their involvement in the investigation and announced the findings with astonishing efficiency: It was a photo from the social welfare organization “Virtual Paradise”, which is a nursing house like organization which provides Low-cost care services for vulnerable groups.
In their publicity, they describe themselves as „a non-profit charity, providing extremely affordable care to those in need.“ They are often able to offer half to one-thirds of the price of a typical care provider. For a long time, people have been having difficulty understanding how they could keep the organization running with such low prices. Rumor has it that they may have the financial support of an anonymous tycoon behind them.
And now it’s all clear: the secret to cheap prices is to force their residents to stay in the virtual world for an extremely long period of time. Police investigation reports indicate that it is „a common thing“ for their residents to spend more than 20 hours a day in the virtual world, and sometimes “even for days”. Such a policy greatly compresses the organization’s labor costs and maintenance costs, and the price to pay is “treat their residents like they are not human, but plants“
The police investigation report has triggered an uproar. At the Legislative Yuan, the Legislators regardless of party affiliation, quickly reached a consensus and passed the „Metaverse Standards Act“, or „M-Law“ for short, a few days ago, amidst the boiling public opinion. The Act establishes a series of criteria that apply to the metaverse. The most central of these is the direct limit of 8 hours per day that each person can spend in the metaverse.
At the same time, some opponents of the criticism pointed out that the rapid passage of a law in such a hasty and sweeping manner is „very irresponsible“.
With the implementation of the “M-Law” last month, some social issues that were not originally considered have begun to make an impact.
The Legislative Yuan held a meeting this morning and passed the third reading of the “Metaverse Standards Act（M-Law）” with the unanimous consent of the legislators from both sides of the aisle.
The legislation of M-Law has maintained a high level of public discussion since the infirmary incident broke out earlier this year, and supporters of the legislation have always maintained a high level of social volume.
This legislation mainly responds to the social event of the elderly being forced to enter the metaverse, and provides in detail the conditions and operating rules of the metaverse. Proponents claim: „We have seen the use of Metaverse creating slavery in the Digital-era; we have learned how harmful overuse of the metaverse can be to our mental and physical health. We need to legislate to solve this problem once and for all; it is the war on drugs of our time.“
The most significant and central provision of the Act is the 8-hour daily cap on metaverse use per person. „A certain time limit allows people to return their attention to real life,”said the legislator Ms. Ma Lin-Shu , “and fundamentally eliminates the dangers of Metaverse overuse.”
With the passage of the law, supporters gathered outside the Legislative Yuan to cheer.
The Legislative Yuan passed the Internet bill on August 16, with minor amendments to the version. According to the analysis of scholars, the 8-hour daily Internet usage limit has triggered extensive discussions in various sectors.
Legislativor, Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee Chairperson, Brainwave Control Scientist Dr. Ding Gua-Gua told our reporter, “M-Law” is the most important law since we entered the mata-era, and its historical significance is no less than that of the Labor Standards Law.
“M-Law is the eight-hours day of our time.” Said Dr. Ding.
Dr. Ding also mentioned that, according to a recent study conducted by National Chien-Shih University, it is necessary for humans to have a certain amount of time for real-world activities every day. Subjects became significantly healthier after stopping or reducing the use of mataverse. “This legislation is based on solid scientific evidence.” He said.
But not everyone thinks the same way as Dr. Ding. Social activists Vivian Lau told us, „The lawmakers passed the law hastily under the pressure of public opinion, ignoring the fact that for some socially disadvantaged groups, the metaverse is not a mere entertainment, but an important necessity to maintain their everyday life.”
In the face of such criticism, Dr. Ding told our reporter, „The various restrictions imposed by law are the result of experts in their field weighing the pros and cons. We know that our society was running smoothly ten years ago when there was no metaverse, let alone now when we have eight more hours to log in every day. Remember, we are human beings, we live in the real world, and no one is an exception.“
Let’s imagine: you’re an athlete in your golden age, breaking your own records on the waves day by day, destined to have a bright future – and it’s all changed by a car accident.
And that’s the reality for Mr. Eliot.
Mr. Eliot, who is unable to move freely in reality, not even speak, was having this interview within the Metaverse through his avatar.
It has been almost twenty years since the car accident that caused Mr. Eliot’s quadriplegia. The accident was a huge blow to him: „I had basically lost all my hope of continuing to live at that time. I couldn’t move at all, and the only thing I could do every day was to lie in bed and roll my eyes – I didn’t even know there was any possible way to end my life!” Mr. Lee told us.
Ironically, when Neuralink began testing their brain-machine interface, Mr. Eliot’s was selected because of his „perfect“ situation. And became one of the first permanent residents of the metaverse. “The metaverse has completely changed my life and given me hope to continue living.” He said.
Now as a full-time Virtual-Surfing instructor living in the metaverse, Mr. Eliot’s is a founding father of this emerging sport. Virtual-Surfing is a sport that combines real-world surfing skills with virtual world characteristics, allowing athletes to surf in extreme conditions which unimaginable in the real world. It is a sport that tests the athletes‘ skills to the extreme, as they are free from physical limitations.
“His vast experience has contributed significantly to the development of the sport” said Ms. Ashley,“We can even say that without Mr. Eliot’s , Virtual Surfing would not be here today!”
However, when the M-Law was promulgated, Mr. Lee spent most of his days stuck in bed.
“I don’t know what to said. This is the most retarded law I have ever seen.” Mr. Eliot’s paused for a moment, “ Fuck the goverment. Fuck those idiot.”
Let’s just get right to the point: This legislation is totally irresponsible and presumptuous.
Our legislators have completely failed to consider people other than „normal“ or „standard“ people. They simply define good and bad in black and white and then brutally ban them from use – forgetting that there may be a group of less-than-standard people in the world.
If you are an able-bodied person, then you can easily and happily accept only 8 hours of access to the Metaverse each day. But what if you’re not? What if you are a person with Motor Neuron Disease? What if you are too old to move freely? What if you are a child who lives in a remote area and has to walk three hours to school every day? For these people, using the mataverse is not just about entertainment, it’s about choosing how they want to live their lives and protecting their basic human rights.
Yes, I would say that it is a basic human right to use the metaverse for a particular group of people. This right cannot simply be taken away in the name of „addiction“ or „protection“.
Disclaimer: This is a fake product webpage. It was conceived and designed in the course of a workshop taking place in September, 2022, in Taipei, Taiwan. This project was created by Joanna Cheng, Allen Huang and Tian-Hung Wang.