Hyperrealism in VR – restriction needed?

Think of VR that is being used in psychology as treatment for anxiety, PTSD etc, could it also cause problems?

following this fb post describes quite good what I tried to bring into discussion some time ago:

This is something I wondered a long time. How realistic is too realistic. Say we get hyper-realistic graphics in a VR game. What would be crossing the line? You take a hostage in VR get him on his knees, he begs for his life. You shoot him in the head, blood splatters everywhere. Is this too far? It maybe ridiculous but I’ve killed a person in GTA 4 and can still remember how they died. I was a teenager playing and adults game… age rating on games most of the times gets laughed at. If we had amazing graphics and a messed up situation, how would we make sure it doesn’t mentally change someone, or would we just not create it in the first place?

Does anyone remember the movie “Brainstorm” from 1983?

In this movie researchers developed a system of recording and playing back people’s experiences. Once the capability of tapping into “higher brain functions” is added in, others can literally jump into someone else’s head and play back recordings of what he or she was thinking, feeling, seeing etc. at the time of the recording.

Of course the project quickly spiral out of control, because others started abusing it for morally questionable purposes, as the government discovered the huge military potential of the technology.

They started producing mind torture recordings and other psychosis inducing material. Also when one of the researchers died, the experience was taped.

There was this one scene where a kid “experienced” one of the torture tapes and it caused a mental breakdown. In most cases usage of VR games and maybe horror “movies” will not impact anyone. But there is something to be aware of: the interaction. As soon people start to “live” dark sides out in VR that are crimes in real life, it will not become just creepy. I talk about murder, rape, stuff like this. Watching a movie is just consuming. Experiencing it, is something different. Once I was playing with some friends counterstrike and the whole group dynamics went out of control. So when VR can be used in psychotherapy, it can even do opposite things. Maybe even conditioning someone, brainwash them?

Technology should be our friend and helper, technology is a tool. A knife can be used to kill or to operate and thus to save lives. This should be remembered in tech discussions. Everything has its purpose and can be abused as well.

We can easily argue that we have nothing to do with it.
In reality, we will never get over it, if the shadows of our actions catch up with us. The more software and hardware determines each aspect of our lives, the more important it becomes for developers to take a position and ensure that ethics can be found in each of our code lines.

As innovators, technology enthusiasts, decision makers, we have a commitment to make our lives easier, not harder. Personally, I welcome every technology that brings me to the next level, but we are often also one of the last lines of defense against potentially dangerous and immoral practices.

Progress can not be stopped. Progress has no direction, it is up to us to use technologies sensibly. The belief that progress is always good is just as wrong as the belief that it is always bad. New technologies are not always a step in the right direction; it is up to us to analyze new products, to evaluate them and not to use them when in doubt.

For this reason, we do not need any prohibitions or restrictions, but the enlightenment and courage to evaluate these uncertainties.
It is up to us to be responsible and to shape the future positively.