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 Eddie King calls himself a ‘third culture kid’: the amount of time he spent travelling when he was growing up, has shaped him into the person he is today. His talk will be a legal perspective on virtual reality, the future of gaming and how the industry is governed. It is an issue that affects him personally, because his younger brothers are into gaming and he knows that they, along with their age group, will be the first adopters of emerging technology in the industry.

“Life is about what I can get away with”, Eddie says when he’s asked to describe himself. “I am captivated by the human condition and I express this curiosity every day with my study of comparative and international law. For me, it is about the framework which governs the crossroads of societal and cultural interaction. Having seen just a little bit of what is really out there, I am fascinated by the bigger picture.”

About his talk Eddie tells us: “As a student of the law, the idea that a sensory experience can be so accurately simulated that we consider it a ‘reality’ at all is fascinating. Virtual reality is the next frontier of legal exploration. It is incredibly important because it offers information and experience which has the potential to be very damaging. I want to get people talking about the issues of regulating virtual experiences and about their rights online in general. Every new step forward brings advantages and dangers with it. Each time society adapts to adopt the new opportunities, I want to get ahead of the problems and make sure that this technology is available to those who need it most as soon as possible, whilst keeping the risks minimal. It has tremendous educational and economic opportunity, but as I will go on to explain in my talk, there have already been instances of ‘sexual assault’ in virtual reality gaming which are not akin to any type of online abuse society has had to deal with before.”

If there is one change Eddie would like to see in the world, it would be to see a more open and honest dialogue between people. “Too often we give in to the temptation of believing in what feels comfortable, rather than to have difficult conversations. It can be hard to face the fact that one’s own viewpoint or belief is almost always imperfect, even if it is ultimately correct. It can be unpleasant to empathize with another whom we despise. People will always disagree about things, there will always be conflict, but what form that conflict takes is entirely up to us. I want to see society entertain debate and discussion before physical actions and violence. I want us to embrace a position of attempted convincing, rather than blind conviction. Problems cannot be solved with force, and those same problems cannot be solved without communication. Until that becomes more important than the primal instinct to strike out, the world is not going to change”, Eddie says.

Eddie grew up in a household that revolved around good cooking, and he takes that with him wherever he goes. “What I am most passionate about? Bacon. Although I care about food in general as well. I spend so many of my days lost in deep theories that are almost incomprehensibly vast, that it is sometimes necessary to return to the simple primal experience of excellent food. The sensory perspective offered by food is quite unique. I first tasted home cured bacon when my parents started offering it as part of the menu in their Bed and Breakfast in New Zealand and I have been passionate about it ever since. I am passionate about a great many things in my life, I consider myself a passionate person. Some of that is intellectual, some of that is superficial, but my passion for food is the closest to my heart. The process of making food is about so much more than the final product. One learns so much at each step, about the provenance of the product, the science and chemistry when cooking, the history and significance of even the simplest dish.”

Ninih Vang