Smart Contact Lenses, Do They Threaten Our Basic Rights

Emerging technology is usually interesting and exciting but are we often more focused on the dazzle of the technology while overlooking its potential risks? Let's take for example the recently unveiled smart contact lens project that can seemingly provide a wide range of potential benefits that may include glucose monitoring for diabetes, treating color blindness, and assisting those who develop presbyopia. The technology could even evolve into becoming integrated into a virtual reality or gaming device. Only a few examples are mentioned here but there could be countless advantages to using smart contact lenses, however what are the possible risks associated with them? How could this technology be used to exploit an individual's or corporation's rights to privacy, security and freedom? Just because an individual has the right to use a technology does it mean that we should ignore how it can be maliciously used?

Let me try to put this technology into perspective. Imagine going to the convenience store after a long day's work. You are there to pick up your favorite adult beverage. Once you find your beverage you stand in line and wait to be served at the cash. As you impatiently stand there you decide to try and expedite the purchase process by having your credit card and license ready to hand to the cashier. Unbeknownst to you, while standing in line with your card in hand, there is a gentleman standing behind you wearing smart contact lenses with the ability to record. He carefully focuses on your financial and personal information hoping to later review the recording and compile the information to be used for nefarious activities. Cautious as you are remaining aware of your surroundings you handle your cards in a vigilant way, hiding any prominent numbers or personal info limiting risk. As you finally get to checkout you quickly and carefully hand your credit card to the cashier for review and processing, avoiding any prying eyes. Unfortunately you are oblivious to the fact that the cashier is new to the job and that he has a history of petty crimes. The cashier, also wearing smart contact lens has devious intentions. This scenario isn't isolated to convenient stores, gas stations, and supermarkets, what if there are questionable people using this technology at banks or worse yet within government agencies? This technology, which was created with the best of intentions in mind can now be exploited to leverage identity and credit card theft, or even espionage.

The above may list worse case scenarios when it comes to personal and intellectual theft but what about other more intimate infringements that this technology can be used for? For instance, people with depraved minds could use it to seamlessly record you or your loved ones unassumingly in the most intimate of settings. Once they have the recordings there is virtually nothing that can stop them from personally using it, sharing it, or posting it to social media channels.

Technology and innovation is fundamental to progress but it is essential to analyze the entire scope of use that the technology provides. It is crucial to take a deeper look at the strengths and weaknesses along with any opportunities and threats it may offer. Although new technology is welcomed and it may introduce many advantages it is important to remain critical and circumspect of it. To paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, one person's rights end where another person's begins.


Bucky LaFountain
July 24, 2017

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