It was inevitable. It arrived before the hoverboard. It arrived before the self-lacing shoe. It arrived before the time traveling Delorian.
Someone was going to produce a HMD for the general populous.
And then, in short order, of course, someone was going to invent cyber-creepy ways of abusing it en masse.
“Habit converts luxurious enjoyments into dull and daily necessities” – Aldous Leonard Huxley
Google Glass intrinsically represents another simple trade off between our individual private selves and that of the conveniences of a multi-connected cyberverse.
Remember when sneaking the latest clothing mail order for the lingerie section was enough soft core exposure to constitute a scolding from one’s parents? Now the indulgence of NSFW well surpasses carrying around a hidden Playboy in one’s briefcase or slipped under one’s mattress to the point where streamed straight to your Glass while on your commute, further pushing porn into the ‘addiction’ category.
The reality is, that phenomenon quite innocuous actually. Surreptitiously viewing, well, anything was immediately inevitable, entirely predictable and too overly-simplistic in nature. As usual, porn leads the way, this time on Glass, but they aren’t doing anything unexpected, yet. Still the worse that will probably come out of it will be a lot of distracted people viewing stuff when they should be paying attention to the real world happening around them
It’s the ability to use the camera where things get interesting quickly. Again, however, not for the obvious concern that now another set of eyes is watching, another camera recording your every move. By the time Glass gets anywhere near the tipping point of adoption most people’s lives will already be recorded nearly non-stop. When you add together every camera-ready mobile device, security cameras, spy drones and the like there really isn’t much left in your day that isn’t captured already.
It is the facial recognition feature co-joined to search has the potential to really turn heads (yes, pun intended).
Sure, the smart contact feature probably is a convenience we’ll look back and wonder how we ever lived without it? As our need to know anything about anyone becomes ensconced by APIs linked to infinite databases rather than dependent on the inaccurate recesses of our memory it’ll be the same as we wonder how we live without other technology, former luxuries, we take for granted like cell phone, cars, cooktops and climate control dwellings. Then again, will that always be an advantage to all? Seems like an awesome luxury to have, at the moment.
While mingling in a bar potentially one could map your face to your OKCupid profile to determine what kind of ‘friendship’ you’re interested in, then to your Instagram where there’s a photo of your favorite drink and other interests to ease striking up the initial conversation and finally, to your FourSquare to determine where you check in for plotting subsequent encounters. Creepy, right? And that’s without even using much thought. Imagine what someone who was malicious already came up with.
The what if scenarios go well beyond the Atlantic‘s rules for Google Glass Etiquette which were both simultaneously amusing to read and somewhat frightening to consider even needed to be said. At some point will the ubiquity surpass that of cell phones were it won’t feel like a violation of the illusion of privacy we hold dear that such etiquette wouldn’t be necessary?
Probably. It is the direction we are headed, however soon we get there is yet to be determined. The rate of technology is far exceeding our conceptualization of it’s ultimate impact. For every convenience it creates we do indeed lose a little of our personal identity, and ultimate, our need to actually communicate.
We’re already mostly to this point. No longer does one have to physically go to a store and interact with another human being for a recommendation and complete a purchase. A few simple taps on a keyboard and this can all be done sans human interaction. Debatable as to the efficiency of it all (no algorithm has ever provided a better music recommendation than my fellow audiophiles or recipe than my foodie friends) but the perception is it is a benefit to the vast majority of end-consumers.
Glass potentially takes us that much further away from the small talk of it all. Introductions are essentially no longer necessary as you’ll know nearly everything available on any given person just by Glass recognizing them at some point.
How boring will the bar we visited before be then? Don’t worry about the creepy guy, just image this being normal: The bartender know your 21 because your face matches the state ID directory. You won’t need to order your drink because your entire purchase history pops up in their Glass vision as the next match in the automated facial recognition search. A quick cross reference with your Twitter feed tells them your general mood and an indexing app then tells him which drink you most likely want based on your order history as related to that mood. Payment is extracted through your already on file account link matched to the bar and your ugly mug (face, yes, again, pun intended). There goes the bartender being your psychotherapist cliche, since there’s no reason to talk to this point nothing might ever be said. The bartender moves onto the new guests.
In the meantime, since you already pre-authorized this, Google Glass has checked you in at the bar to your favorite social network sites and updated your status’ appropriately with your location and drink preference. Since you’re not “with” anyone and your fellow barflies aren’t lubed up enough for chatter quite yet either, it’s pretty quiet overall on both the real and cyber world. Those who know you already having matched your face to your Twitter feed to know you’re having a bad day and are avoiding you (probably the same as what the bartender did, no one wants to talk to a downer, especially one getting lubed on a double of vodka on the rocks with a twist). You’d initiate talking to them except you’ve done the same referencing their feeds to find out essentially everything going on with them so there’s not much to necessarily be discovered.
Instead you take a sip of vodka while you look around the room and initiate a search for the single people who’s dating profiles say they are interested in casual sex based on the faces the recognition app detects. Hopefully, you think to yourself, you’ll remember to clear the browsing history of this search so your significant other doesn’t catch your eyes / mind wandering. You don’t bother to introduce yourself to anyone new because none of their profiles seem interesting and after doing the same search on LinkedIn you don’t find anyone you determine that might be helpful networking for a new job (note to self clear that browsing history too in case your boss borrows your Glass). You try another search again Meetup in case someone shares your obscure interest in barefoot running on city park trials in December while pacing yourself listening to Tori Amos mashups, but no matches come up. Since Glass recognizes that none of the in house entertainment is currently playing your sport team’s match and you haven’t initiated a new search yet it suggests watching the game that just started so you tune in further insulating yourself from social interaction.
Before you get too lubed up Glass reminds you to go home. Tab’s already settled up but you’re awarded some checkin points which get you a discounted drink for your next checkin as a reward with a coupon for some food at a partner restaurant. Stepping away from the bar you leave as silently as you came in, focused on the personalized map home now displaying the coupon redemption location and some other suggestions of places you can check in on your way home, should you so chose. Maybe you will stop at this one place that give you extra teleportation miles whenever you drop by.
Ok, it’s another extreme case. I hope, anyhow. But you get the idea.
On the one hand you’re hiding from everyone with the minimized interaction while on the other you’re hiding from no one since everyone knows everything about you. Again though, it’s not (just) about the communication, it’s about how the info is used. In the first example to stalk someone, in the second to decide who, if anyone, to converse with.
Imagine going for a job interview and the interviewer being able to cross reference your face against all of the self-shot and voyeur nudes posted on Tumblr? Potentially embarrassing if ever one possibly leaked or, rather, your doppelganger were more laise-faire than you about their body. Imagine who else might be looking at that now. Or are they capturing an image of you with Glass as you speak? Maybe you’re clothed in but an app allows them to create the NSFW, 3D version of you. They’re viewing it while conversing with you. How’s that for voyeuristic gawking? No need to take Glass to the rest room. There’s already lots of software available for the conversions already, just not integrated into something as dynamic as what Glass can be.
You’re probably thinking, “well, couldn’t there just be a Glass blocking app? Something to limit other people’s Glass from accessing information about me?”
Inevitably Glass blocking apps will follow but, by then, the etiquette may already be reversed. Then there’s that awkward “why are you blocking me” moment when you’re trying to be understated and old fashioned private when the social expectation is that’s not polite. Social norms change all the time, so this isn’t so far fetched. At some point, Glass, like everything else, will just be another dull, daily necessity.