BEAMING is a four year FP7 EU collaborative project which started on Jan 1st 2010. BEAMING raises a number of ethical and legal issues that are familiar from existing virtual reality and telecommunications technologies.It also raises several novel issues.
BEAMING is the process of instantaneously transporting people (visitors) from one physical place in the world to another (the destination) so that they can interact with the local people there. This is achieved through shifting their means for perception into the destination, and decomposing their actions, physiological and even emotional state into a stream of data that is transferred across the internet.
Simultaneous streams of data from the destination site to the visitor’s perceptual apparatus, and from the actions and state of the visitor to the destination site, cohere together to form a unified virtual environment representing the physical space of the destination in real-time – a destination that now includes the beamed people. BEAMING will endow this process with physicality.
The visitor’s actions at the destination site can have physical consequences; the actions of local people at the destination site can have physical consequences for the visitor. The visitor may be embodied at the destination site as a physical robot, and yet be seen by the locals virtually in human form.
The project brings technology researchers together with neuroscientists in order to develop and understand this complex but far reaching technology. The profound ethical and legal issues raised by a (near) future world in which this will be possible are considered in a dedicated workpackage.