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2013-05-28

Google Glass and Human Adaptability

Science has yet to determine if our adventurousness and risk taking behaviors are genetic, psychological, neurological, or a combination of all three.  Some rather enjoy jumping off a bridge with nothing but a glorified rubber-band between them and dashing their grey matter on the ground below.

Most of us, though, prefer to play it a bit safer, and inherently have a resistance to change born from the comfort of the familiar.

When pagers began to leave the hips of Doctors and be used by the younger generation to keep in touch some thought it ridiculous.  After all, if you wanted to talk to a friend just call them at home, right?  Then cell phones became pervasive and there were those who were reluctant over fifteen years ago because the idea of always being available went against the current societal norms.

Yet now we live in a time where we use the term 'being off-line' as an almost nostalgic term referring to a time where there were no Twitter updates, Texts, or many other of the notifications that pop up constantly on our smart phones.

The one thing humans are is very adaptive.  A decade ago there were no smart phones or apps or having the internet in our pocket everywhere we went.

Currently there are many vocal opinions about Google Glass, a device that is still being tested and not even available to the general public.  And yet, public opinion seems overwhelmingly concerned about privacy.  Which is a bit odd.

After all, we think nothing of somebody in public holding up their smart phone (who could be recording you).  The issue seems to be more that Glass is, quite literally, in your face. Right there, several feet away, that clunky silver bit on the frames holding up the screen covering the eye of the person you are talking to making them look like some sci-fi pirate.

For less than $200 anybody can purchase a pair of sunglasses that look normal aside from the hidden video camera in them which will allow them to surreptitiously record conversations or girls bums with no real repercussions.  In the last year school officials used the built-in web cams of student laptops to spy on them in the privacy of their own homes.  And if you are in almost any public setting, invariably if you look up you will see the shiny black domes of cameras that constantly record you.

Perhaps we just accept such things because there is no face to be associated with all of the security cameras, and yet with something like Google Glass that face is right in yours.  Literally, right there, just a few feet away, the clunky silver frame holding the screen and covering the eye of the person you are talking to making them look like a sci-fi pirate

As a society, as with all new technology, we will adapt and rules of etiquette will be defined and accepted in the use of Google Glass if some later version of it becomes actually useful to the general public.  Right now it is more poised to go the way of the Segway — nifty idea, but not really usable.

And in the near future, when technology has reached the point where cybernetic eyes are possible, we will be discussing how their use can be abused by creepers or government agencies.  How we have no real privacy, how such technology is too invasive to be used, and that there should be some kind of regulation requiring anybody with cybernetic eyes to have a flashing red light in their iris to let you know you are being recorded.

Or they will just become a part of everyday life and we will adapt and ignore their existence in much the same way we do not notice security cameras, people pointing cell phones in our direction, or that notification you just got that you probably should not check in the middle of work but you probably will.