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.