A New Era of Communication… A New Era of Ethical Questions

Gravitational waves are “…ripples in the fabric of space and time…” (Cho). They occur when “…a whirling barbell-shaped mass, such as two black holes spiraling together, radiates ripples in space-time… [As the gravitational waves travel through space] at light speed, a wave stretches space in one direction and squeezes in the perpendicular direction, then reverses the distortions” (Cho). LIGO equipment has proven the existence of gravitational waves, opening a whole new field of opportunities for communication technology. With this discovery organizations can investigate “…the adaptation of gravitational radiation (GR) to communications. GR is unaffected by obstructions… and thus offers a promise of world-wide, ground-based communications and navigation systems” (Department of Defense). Communication technology could be greatly improved around the world with LIGO’s discovery. However, one concern would be the militarization of new GR communication technology.

While LIGO does not present the same issues a satellite like Landsat did, there are still ethical questions involved about surveillance. If discoveries at LIGO result in a GR-based communication, the military will most certainly step in, as the Department of Defense stated that “[t]he size of the GR [communication] system needs to be militarily useful.” Militarization of this type of improved communication could raise ethical dilemmas about surveillance because countries with the ability to harness and create this type of system would be at a serious advantage. This GR communication system would likely allow industrialized countries to perform illegal surveillance much easier than they can today. Not all surveillance would necessarily be illegal, but, no matter what type of surveillance is conducted, there are still serious questions about the ethics behind the type of surveillance a GR communication system would allow. It can be thought of in terms of invasion of privacy in our individual lives. However, instead of an individual’s right to privacy, this type of improved surveillance could infringe on a country’s right to privacy, raising ethical and legal issues.

One thought on “A New Era of Communication… A New Era of Ethical Questions

  1. I agree with your reasoning. The development of these new and powerful communication technologies not only provide the means of un ethical surveillance but the cooperate privatization of this unethical surveillance. In a world where different countries have different traditions and cultures, we infringe on those cultures when privatized companies use these technologies to scope new resources, or investigate valuable information to be used for profit. And having many of these companies sitting in our backyard, providing us with consumer goods; Its hard to not support these companies. As the world gets bigger, so does it get smaller, and there will be a line where we’ll have to draw to protect right to privacy and the right to expand. I thought your reasoning was very interesting and brought up these kinds of essential questions. Thank you!

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