In 2020, Facebook Reality Labs announced our Responsible Innovation Principles to guide our work as we build the next computing platform. We crafted these principles to ensure we build products that are designed with ethics, privacy, safety, and security at the forefront. While these issues have been top of mind internally for years, our goal with these principles is to further operationalize our approach to building responsibly. These principles are just a starting point and will continue to evolve. We also know we cannot do this alone, which is why “Consider Everyone” is one of our four Principles. We are committed to working with third parties and engaging experts in ethics, privacy, safety, and security across the AR/VR community to determine the acceptable uses of these technologies.
As a part of this commitment, we announced two requests for proposals (RFPs) to research the impact of AR, VR, and smart device technology. Today, we’re excited to announce the 13 awardees of our two FRL Responsible Innovation RFPs, who will each receive $75,000 USD in funding for their research.
Augmented and virtual reality have the potential to change the way we work, learn, and connect with each other. However, because many elements of the technology needed to build this future do not yet exist, we recognize that we cannot address the challenges of advancing this nascent technology alone. With these RFPs, we hope to work with researchers to inform and influence how we build our products.
Our first RFP, Responsible Innovation Principles: Consider Everyone, aims to accelerate research on how user and non-user (those who do not own AR/VR devices) experiences differ across social groups and cultures, including communities outside of the US. Based on our third Responsible Innovation Principle, “Consider Everyone,” we want to understand the unique implications for bystanders who are members of an impacted or vulnerable group, and how expectations of privacy change across public, quasi-public, and private spaces across the globe.
Our second RFP, Social Experiences in VR Environments, is focused on understanding user interaction and user safety in social VR experiences, as well as how these experiences impact users, especially teens. While fairly robust research exists in regards to social interaction on 2D platforms, we hope to drive similar progress in the fields of 3D and virtual reality social interaction. We want to understand the lessons from 2D social platforms in social interaction and social psychology that apply to 3D immersive environments and how to ensure user safety in social VR environments.
These RFPs will help us ensure the FRL Responsible Innovation Principles are applied in practice and help us answer questions about the global impact of our technology in partnership with research and academia.
We received over 115 proposals from more than 100 universities in 25+ countries. Thank you to all the researchers who took the time to submit a proposal, and congratulations to the 13 award recipients.
The Responsible Innovation Principles are only meaningful if they are actionable. That’s why collaborations with third parties and external experts to develop best practices and frameworks are so important. We look forward to working with the awardees to accelerate research and better understand the unique implications of AR and VR technology for users and non-users alike.