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Can you believe your eyes?

Study warns augmented reality developers of the potential ethical and social impacts on society

Bingley, United Kingdom, 26 July 2016 – In the wake of the Pokemon Go craze demonstrating how virtual reality is playing an increasing part in everyday life, a new study from Emerald Group Publishing  is calling on developers to be mindful of the potential negative impacts augmented reality devices could have on society.

In “There's something in your eye: ethical implications of augmented visual field devices” from the Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, authors Marty J Wolf from Bemidji State University, Frances Grodzinsky from Sacred Heart University and Keith W Miller from University of Missouri, explore the ethical and social impact of augmented visual field devices (AVFDs), and how the developers who change how we perceive the world visually have major responsibilities.
The field of virtual reality technology is fascinating, giving the users the perception that a world of information exists parallel to the ‘real’ world around us. However the conflicting ethical concerns that arise over the wide range of potential uses of AVFDs include philosophical perspectives on augment reality, raising the question of who controls what people using the devices see when they have partially surrendered their perception ownership. The value of preserving shared experiences also comes into conflict with privacy considerations. Ultimately, many of these conflicts center on issues of control and power on the part of the developers.

Lead author, Marty J Wolf explains: “The phrase “I can’t believe my eyes” is meant to say that something is extraordinary, surprising, and unexpected. But if it becomes commonplace not to believe our eyes due to AVFDs and policies that allow others to control what we see, society will be engaging in a risky sociotechnical experiment.

“AVFDs will have important effects on users, on those who interact with users, and on society at large. Developers should think carefully about these effects now, when most AVFDs are at an early stage of development.”

The full research article ‘There's something in your eye: ethical implications of augmented visual field devices’ is free to access until 2 August and can be accessed here:

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