Ethical and Social Issues in the Information Age

Part of the series Texts in Computer Science pp 211-229


New Frontiers for Computer Ethics: Virtualization and Virtual Reality

  • Joseph Migga KizzaAffiliated withDepartment of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Tennessee

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This chapter discusses the new developments and consequences of the virtualization technology and its implications on our participation and how the technology informs our behavior based on our traditional moral and ethical values. In a more detailed way, we define virtualization as a process which embodies both abstraction and reconstruction and as it creates a sense of complete participants’ immersion yet with autonomy of participants to vary their chosen new environments to suit individual likings. As defined, virtualization, therefore, conjures uncertainty and fear not of the environment but of the individual who partakes in the activities of the environment. Our discussion of both social and ethical issues that arise within and outside the environment focused on two types of virtualization: computing resources virtualization and virtual reality (VR). We note that virtualization is also bringing about easy creation of new human identities in the new virtual environments which makes authentication more difficult but at the same time creating unprecedented potential in self-creation and self-presentation. We note, however, that while these benefits may bring new opportunities and new potential that may empower individuals to new levels of creativity, these unparalleled opportunities of virtualization may come at a price to society.