Synthetic images and virtual reality: Techniques and issues of society
What is a synthetic image? How is it produced? What use is it? What impact do the new imaging technologies and the confrontations between the real and the virtual world have on our society? This report reviews different features of synthetic images, for example the technical, industrial, commercial, legal, psychological, political and other aspects. A revolution is taking place. The potential for developing and using these technologies is extraordinary. However technology is evolving faster than our attitudes. Paradoxically, it is precisely as images are taking an increasingly important role in our communications society that it is becoming less and less reliable, because digital technology allows us to create the image we want, with the result that we are likely to consider the image as no more ... than an image in fact, not necessarily with any link to reality. The image professionals are maintaining a certain reserve with regard to this situation. All that remains is to widen the circle of the "experts". This is not without certain difficulties, so fixed are our ways of thinking in a culture that popular common sense expresses by the old adage: "I only believe what I can see". In order to tackle this revolution in the best possible way, OPECST recommends an "image" learning process: educating, raising awareness, ensuring action, "acting so as to understand reality, and acting so as to understand the virtual world". OPECST would like the public at large to consider these issues and the possibility of establishing a national committee on computer ethics; this would resemble what has happened in bioethics, another field characterised by the rapid expansion of knowledge and technology and their impact on the relationships between man and society.
Short title:
Synthetic images
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Project leader:
Office Parlementaire dĀ“Evaluation des Choix Scientifiques et Technologiques of the French Parliament (OPECST)