Google Glass may well be the future of connected technology. While people once quipped “who would want to carry a phone with them everywhere they go?” (yes, I am old enough to remember a world before the rise of the cellular phone) most of us could not live without our smartphones today. Some are skeptical of the success of Glass, given its unusual and not entirely fashionable appearance, but all indications are that it will be one of the most wildly popular tech gadgets since the iPhone when it is finally released to the general public early next year. But will Google Glass add to our lives or further strain our human interactions?
A recent Saturday Night Live sketch poked fun at early adopters struggling with head motion and verbal input issues, but will the rift created by Glass be even wider? One of my personal pet peeves is going out with someone who spends their time with you text messaging and posting on Facebook? And whether you do it yourself or not, the lure of using various smartphone functions while driving is well known despite the obvious dangers. So how will we react when we have a constant stream of customizable data flowing directly into our field of view? Will conversations that trail off into nowhere become the norm? Will real life, without the augmentation of Glass, become the unthinkable hell that losing a smartphone is today? Only time will tell.
For my part, I think the less well thought out side effects of Glass will be the most entertaining. Yes, just like the Internet quickly shifted from its intended purpose as a repository of encyclopedic knowledge and means of sharing information with those in remote locations in its early days to an endless stream of 24 hour pornography and gross consumerism, so too, I predict, will be the fate of Google Glass. Augmented reality ads will soon become the norm everywhere we go, the adult entertainment industry will undoubtedly come up with a plethora of creative uses for the technology, and privacy (already becoming a thing of the past) will slip into utter nonexistence when every moment of your life might be recorded by any number of people throughout the day and every web-accessible detail of your life can be accessed with a nod of the head. As Google Glass (and its inevitable copycat products) evolve to become more subtle and easily concealable, the nefarious uses of the technology will grow as quickly or faster than the legitimate ones.
Google Glass will undoubtedly usher in a brave new world of connected technology, but as with every emerging technology, its unintended consequences can be as much a part of its legacy as the intended ones.
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