Conversation Starter: Ethics and Augmented Reality

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Technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) are emerging today in fields such as healthcare with wearables opening a new channel of data for patient care and research and consumer electronics with smart fridges, thermostats and other connected, programmable appliances. Now imagine a future where these technologies work seamlessly together creating a personalized, customizable world. Pulling from real-time health data, purchasing habits, tastes, and more, this augmented reality (AR) promises a completely personalized display for a person at any given moment. However, as AR advancements become an integral part of everyday life, there are certain social and ethical implications that must be addressed. In Engadget’s recent Public Access article Mixed Reality, AI, and Randomness, Jay Iorio, Director of Innovation at IEEE Standards Association, raises important ethical questions that must be considered as AR/VR technology matures.

Answering and considering social and ethical questions is becoming an integral part of technology development. Concerned with how technology impacts the world and how the application of technology can improve the world, the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (IEEE SSIT) formed to address questions beyond the technical aspects. As Jay states in his article, “the ethical questions raised by this convergence of emerging technologies are unique in history,” so it is important to invest time and start the conversation now on ethics and augmented reality.