Colombian Judge Holds Metaverse Hearing, No Legs Permitted
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Colombian Judge Holds Metaverse Hearing, No Legs Permitted

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11 months ago

A civil trial hearing in a union's lawsuit against Colombian police was held in Meta's very cartoonish Horizon Worlds was called a success, but the tech leaves much to be desired.

Colombian Judge Holds Metaverse Hearing, No Legs Permitted

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Really, when you're suing the police, the last thing you want is to have to struggle to be taken seriously.

And how seriously can you take a court hearing in which no one has legs?

That's a question that was, to an extent, answered earlier this month when a Colombian court held a civil trial hearing in Meta's Horizon Worlds metaverse, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been pitching hard as the evolution of Zoom meetings.

That's despite a wave of ridicule over the 90s-era graphics of the Horizon Worlds selfie Zuckerberg posted last summer. And the torso-only avatars aren't helping.

Nor, one would think, would avatars which are largely expressionless at this point — although Meta is working on that — which would seem likely to be a big problem in cases where judges or jurors are trying to determine if someone is telling the truth or lying.

Can It Be Done? Yes

On Feb 10, Magistrate Maria Victoria Quiñones of the Administrative Court of Magdalena, held a hearing in which the Union of Integrated and Specialized Transit and Transportation Services of Santa Marta (SIETT) was suing the National Police and the Ministry of Defense.

The hearing, set in one of Meta's Horizon Workrooms, was actually the idea of the plaintiff, legal information site JD Supra reported.

"The use of this type of immersive technology aims to make current procedural trends effective, as it allows the presence of the same virtual space, even when people are physically in another place, without leaving aside the procedural guarantees and the principles of digital justice," the Magistrate ruled.

While participants could join in with regular video call technology — which looked like they were on a TV screen in the 3D courtroom — those with VR headsets could use avatars that can be customized to look (vaguely) like them.

The point being that it would be a more immersive experience than the Zoom hearing that became widely used and accepted during the initial COVID outbreak.

Of course, it led to skeptical Twitter comments about participants joining as dinosaurs rather than themselves.

However, Zoom meetings are hardly immune to that kind of technical issue — recall the older, tech-unsavvy Texas attorney who couldn't figure out how he'd gotten a kitten-face filter on, or how to take it off.

And given the nature of a courtroom, the ability to ensure the right person is behind an avatar probably needs some more work before the court proceedings can find a more permanent home in the metaverse.

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