Chalk it up to a recent reading of Dave Eggers' satirical novel The Circle, but I'm skeptical of Google Glass for more than reasons of style. I can hear the cries of Luddite as I write this, but I'm wondering to what extent we really want to live in a world where EVERYTHING can potentially be recorded.
Google Glass will evolve. It will not remain the dorky, cyborg-ish thing it is now. Google will eventually move to embedding its technology in eyewear that is indistinguishable from your average pair of prescription specs or sunglasses. I'm not the first to ponder the implications of this, and I'm guessing I won't be the last.
For now, at $1500 and available only through Google's vetting process, Glass remains a novelty and at the margins of consumer awareness. But Mountain View's wearables are expected to make an official launch sometime in 2014. My question: What then? What happens when the technology does become invisible? Will these things be regulated? Will there be places they're not allowed?
On the whole, I embrace technology and its evolution as the natural extension of the human propensity for tool making, but I really do think there's a conversation that needs to be had around the implications, and possible nefarious uses, of a technology like Google Glass and other wearables. When combined with the ubiquitous connectivity provided by today's wireless networks, Google Glass could enable a crowd-sourced surveillance state unlike anything the world has ever known.
My colleague, Ben Munson, says my concerns are overblown, saying that Google Glass and other wearables like it, don't represent any more of a threat to privacy than your average smartphone. After all, he reasons, we don't walk around recording everything with our smartphones, right?
Well...I hope he's right, but I think this is different and it really does set up a slippery slope. Any kind of wearable product that can anonymously record our actions has the potential to fundamentally change society as we know it.
Ex Google chief Eric Schmidt has long admitted that his company’s web-based services do record and store your information. His response to those worried about being monitored: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
What are the implications of blindly accepting that kind of twisted edict in an age of technologies that can track and record nearly all aspects of our lives?