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?