If you didn’t know, Google is working on a prototype set of eye glasses that are networked, potentially giving users an “augmented” brain, making a multitude of communication forms and information instantaneously accessible. Google co-founder Sergey Brin admitted at a conference in July that the project has a long way to go, but the project’s ambition is huge.
This would fundamentally changes how we experience day to day life. Constant multitasking. Constant information overload potential. Constant screen time. Is this what we want? Is this a development that will benefit anyone? If so, how?
As blogger Hugh Cutler has commented on one of my previous posts, the technological imperative–the idea that new developments are good for society and must be developed–is one that not enough people have questioned. Hugh feels as if it can be done, it will be, no questions asked. He seems to be right, especially with powerful companies like Google and Apple currently driving human behavior and culture in ways unimaginable several decades back.
I’ll admit I’ve benefited personally and professional due to technological developments, but at what point do you step back and draw a line in the sand? When do you say enough is enough?
The first words you encounter on Google’s Project Glass site: We think Glass helps you share your life as you’re living it; from life’s big moments to everyday experiences.
Sorry, Google, I have no desire to share my life any more easily than I can already. I already have enough information to sort through and distill. If Project Glass comes to mass market, and people can more easily upload images and stream live video while mowing the lawn or enjoying a plate of nachos at the local Mexican restaurant, then I won’t be the one attempting to find the information. If Project Glass becomes an affordable reality in 10 years, I won’t be lining up outside of Best Buy anxiously waiting to purchase my headset.
Is this a compelling vision to you?
To me, this is complete overload.
Techradar speculates what Google Glass could mean, or not mean, in the future:
OK, what will I really be able to do with Google Glass? Is Google Glass a vision of the future?
Nobody knows. The idea is to deliver augmented reality, with information that’s directly relevant to your surroundings appearing in front of you whenever you need it. For example, your glasses might tell you where the nearest decent restaurant is, book your table, invite your friends and show you how to get there, or they might provide work-related information when you’re at your desk.
What information we’ll use it for, if we use it at all, remains to be seen: like Apple’s Siri, it’s a technology with enormous potential. It could even end up in contact lenses: one of the Project Glass team, Babak Parviz of the University of Washington, recently built a contact lens with embedded electronics.
I own an iPhone 4s, and I rarely depend on Siri. I find my phone useful, but not so useful that I feel any need to talk to a robot. Google is betting that enough people will desire even more connectivity and information not only at one’s fingertips, but on our heads, with sensors reacting to our movements.
When do we cease to remain human when our lives are augmented or changed drastically by technology? Though written in 1999, Bill McKibben’s book Enough: Staying Human in the Engineered Age was one of the first texts that challenged my thinking about technology and humanity. It is highly relevant today. It’s so easy to be blinded by the new and shiny. It’s so easy to embrace the latest innovation. It’s not so easy to step back and think about whether or not tech. innovations contribute to a high quality, more fulfilling life. As in other facets of life, we must learn to say “enough” and weigh the pros and cons of our decisions with regards to new opportunities for more, new, and “better.”
Will you line up to buy Google Glasses? Will you wait and see, and then make up your mind? What do you think of the idea of the technological imperative?
Will do. Thanks!
The line between human and computer will continue to be blurred, unless there is a critical mass of people who don’t want to be “enhanced” in this way.
Teens certainly have an easier time communicating via a screen than face to face, but I think it’s true for some adults, too…I wrote about this a while back–check it out when you get a chance:
I personally think it’s disturbing and fortunately, I have the choice on whether I’ll use it or not so I won’t. It seems like more and more, in this Western society, we are becoming more accustomed to technology in a way that it is slowly making us turn robotic. If you look at a lot of the younger generation who were born with the internet booming, they oftentimes have an easier time texting someone than talking. I really hope and pray that we always remember our humanness and our spirituality through it all. Innovation is amazing but like you said, at what cost?
Thanks for stopping by Marcus. I think you’ve generally summed up my mindset regarding “wait and see” and making sure a balanced approach to gadgets is considered!
I think Google Glass is really neat. I love my phone and tablet for the productivity features more than the social features.
I agree that it can consume someones life and would then be a bad thing for that person. The key is to learn how to use it appropriately.
A little a rain won’t hurt, but a lot can kill you. The same goes for most things in life…technology included.
I myself will not line up for the glasses but I don’t line up for anything. I’ll wait and see how it can be used best…then I’ll decide if it is worth it for me.
That being said…it doesn’t seem too far from the humans depicted in wall-e. Mindless drones. Slightly scary.
I showed it to students today–certainly a mixed reaction from “that’s cold” to “no way!” and “think about how bad texting and driving is…imagine the accidents!”
I agree with you, I will definitely not be buying Glass! I might try it out once for the experience, but I do not think it would enhance my experience of the world. If anything, it would be distracting from what is really going on around me and being able to fully experience it. I saw this quote: “The conscious part of your brain (calculations, analysis) can only process 40 bits of information per second, while the subconscious mind (responsible for controlling your physical body) can process 11 million bits of information per second.” 11 MILLION bits of info per second from your body… which is why it makes sense to “trust your gut.” How can you even feel or listen to your body or RELAX when you are overloading your mind? You can’t. I think new technology that focuses on the mind-body connection is cooler, like the Emwave (http://www.heartmathstore.com/cgi-bin/category/emwave2-products?_oskwdid=9348078&_engineadid=14937626838&gclid=CIjwvMLro7ICFcRM4AodBXgAuA). I haven’t ever tried it, but I think the benefits of technology like this have a more deeply beneficial purpose than Glass.
That’s kind of creepy actually. It made me think of the Bruce Willis move “Surrogates,” living a fake life.
enough is enough!