Friday, September 13, 2013

The Compromise of Innovation

With technology companies attempting to innovate more and more, the compromise between making projects great and respecting people’s rights is becoming increasingly difficult. One company on the forefront of technological innovation is Google. With the recent releases of the StreetView addition to Google Maps/Earth and the emerging device known as Google Glass, Google is blurring the lines between the physical and virtual worlds through the use of public data.
            But this is where the commotion arises. Is this data really public? Is a picture of your house (taken from a public road) your data or may Google use it without restriction? However, this same commotion arose when Google Earth was first released. People were appalled that an aerial photo of their property was now available to the public. Luckily, Google pursued their innovation as Google Earth has been influential in many aspects of success across the world.  So the question is, should Google address these concerns or continue on until people give up their right to this aspect of privacy?
            Meanwhile, Google is under fire for privacy concerns related to their wearable computer Google Glass. The main privacy concern is in regard to the camera which can be activated by a user’s voice command or by keystroke.  Many people have voiced concerns over the access the Glass users have to stealthy cameras. But why is this a concern now? There have are cameras everywhere on phones, in surveillance, in wearable devices, and even in watches. What is the big concern over a new device that includes a head mounted camera? Why are some establishments (such as restaurants) banning the use of Google Glass on their property?
            I, along with Google, agree that this data is public use. And this right to privacy is between the user and the subject. Google is not infringing on anyone’s privacy by creating a device that can capture photos and videos easily. It is the user’s fault if they infringing on others’ rights to privacy.

1 comment:

  1. The question about ethics and technology is a big one and you have highlighted one interesting issue. Let's face it, we don't have much left that can be completely private in terms of where we live, what we do for a living, and what we do and how we act on the internet. However, we still do have control over how we act towards other human beings.I think you are right - it is not Google infringing on rights, it is the users who are using Google Glass to infringe on the rights of others. I think it is just simple courtesy to ask someone if you can take their picture or their name in a public place. Of course, if you are doing it without them knowing it, that's another thing. But it seems that Google Glass makes it appear obvious and that makes people very uncomfortable. It's like the hat rule - it's considered not polite to wear a hat inside a restaurant, a classroom, a church, an office - perhaps we should think of Google Glass as the same.