The notion of being filmed without knowledge of it happening is enough to make most uncomfortable. This could be something that becomes increasingly more common with the rapid development of smart glasses such as google glass. The increase in smart glasses technology is allowing manufactures to produce glasses that are sleeker and unnoticeable to the public. This poses many ethical issues regarding privacy and safety. In this article, we will be looking at the positives and negatives of smart glasses.
Advantages of Google Glass
Utilitarianism is a principle where an action is considered to be morally right if it provides the greatest number of happiness for the greatest number of people. It measures a consequence of an action against one value including human satisfaction, happiness or well-being. From a utilitarian perspective, the company which exploits Google Glass into their industry would be able to save over a billion dollars in the next three to five years.
It is thought that the tool will be widely commercialised on a large scale for public usage within 10 years. Many significant impacts are expected from this upcoming technology especially in manufacturing industries where the glasses could virtually assist new employees when performing tasks. This could open opportunities to partially replace on-site training with virtual training by utilising the device.
The principle of utility can be applied when using smart glasses to assist communication where an effective interaction would ordinarily be prevented due to language proficiencies. This particular matter urges the invention of smart glasses where it can translate a foreign conversation and suggest an appropriate response in the same language. This would be extremely useful when traveling to a foreign country.
Kantian theory stresses that any rational person should be capable of judging one’s action whether it is morally correct or not through reasoning. In 2008, It has been reported that satellite navigation system causes up to 300,000 accidents in Britain. Navigation apps such as Google Maps and Waze can incite similar tragedy due to the drivers performing sudden manoeuvres or changing direction recklessly when following the devices’ directions. The action of using online navigation which causes a catastrophe is not morally acceptable as it leads to death and property losses. However, the online navigation user should be held accountable for their carelessness instead of blaming the tool.
With the visual navigation system feature integrated into smart glasses, the navigation system is considered much safer. Not only the drivers do not need to take their eyes off the road if they need directions but the headset will also tell the user precisely which street to turn on, in addition, to displaying a map of your surroundings right in front of your face, hence reducing the number of accidents due to online navigation. Furthermore, users of smart glasses could replay footage of accidents and other crimes they may have witnessed to prove their innocence if required. This could prove to be a large step towards making society safer.
Disadvantages of Google Glass
The main ethical problems for smart glasses arise from issues involving the privacy and safety concerns. Members of the public that are being filmed by wearers of smart glasses could feel uncomfortable and not consent with this. They may not even be aware that they are being filmed due to being unable to identify the difference between regular and smart glasses in many cases. Therefore, smart glasses could be considered an invasion of privacy to the public.
Some of the safety concerns about smart glasses include the possibility of wearers recording confidential information of others without them knowing. This could then potentially lead to identity crime or fraud if the wearer made use of the information they had recorded. The wearers themselves could also be at risk if the device was hacked or stolen. The information obtained from a “first person view” of; where they store their car keys, their pin codes, their home address etc. are now vulnerable. The hackers/thief could then use this information to target the wearers by blackmailing them.
Users of smart glasses may experience difficulties in social interactions when they are filming due to making people uneasy and awkward about being filmed. We feel that the user has an ethical responsibility to inform the person they are talking to that they are being filmed. However, there’s no guarantee that every user will abide by the Kantian theory and have the same feeling of obligation to do what is sensible thus disagreeing with the freedom principle.
At the time of writing, companies are continuing to develop smart glasses and some of the features are of concern. If the developers decided to develop smart glasses with some feature restrictions, we feel they could be successful but that leaves the question of who is going to decide on the restrictions? This would then pose new questions as the potential customers may no longer be interested in purchasing smart glasses and ultimately, smart glasses could be labelled unsuccessful for the manufacturers and end up as a failure.
Due to smart glasses being a desire rather than a necessity and the prediction that only a few people will be able to afford it, should we satisfy the minorities happiness by sacrificing the majorities need for safety and privacy? Hence, defying utilitarianism. From common sense, the potential of misusing the technology is high so could pose a risk to members of society and questions whether society would benefit much from the development of smart glasses considering the wide array of technology in the market that is already on offer.
Overall there are negatives and positives in the advancement of smart glasses technology. Taking a utilitarianism approach to the ethical issue of smart glasses would suggest that the privacy and safety issues of the masses could outweigh the potential positives of smart glasses. A Kantian view would be that if all the users used their smart glasses as intended in a morally appropriate way then there should not be an issue.
Group 52: Wan Zanhir, Ahmad, Hamdan, Sani, Ben Dale