When copying machines and printers were invented, the industry worried about copyrighted material being copied/printed in droves, driving the legitimate business into ruins. That did happen, to some extent and continues to happen too.
When music and movies were converted to digital formats, entire industries suffered due to piracy. The internet made the piracy even worse and new industries spawned out of the potential (streaming).
Hold on to this line of thought.
Here’s another line of thought.
When we had only landline telephones, quite a few films have used to tactic of a 3rd person eavesdropping into a conversation by picking a connected instrument.
When email was new, we worried about those email services reading our private emails. We even worried about Google reading our emails because they place contextual ads in our emails! We have become indifferent to this now.
Now, most digital voice assistants have proven to be listening to us almost all the while even without invoking them with a keyword. In fact, digital voice assistants and smart devices are already increasingly being used in courts as witnesses!
See/listen to this WIRED report on this fascinating subject.
Now, let me connect both the lines of thought.
The next evolution in personal computing devices, beyond computers and smartphones is widely expected to be smart glasses. Way too many science fiction books and shows have explored this potential and Google already launched and withdrew their famous glasses. Apple is widely expected to launch one soon, with a LiDAR scanner, but not a camera, to begin with, for privacy reasons.
But imagine the power of smart glasses with a camera.
But it could potentially read and record (and send back to mothership) everything you see, much like how our phones record (for assorted purposes) everything we do in it – what we read, view, interact, click. But with glasses, the kind/amount of data that could be observed by the machines could be exponentially higher.
Every book/paper we read could be scanned and contents extracted with character recognition.
Everything we watch could be recorded. Entire movies!
Every face we notice on the road could be recorded (and used later in court to prove someone’s presence somewhere?).
Our eye movement could be recorded to extrapolate our interest levels in something we are observing/reading.
The potential is exponentially more intrusive than what smartphones can only begin to dream. With smartphones, we need to consciously point the camera at something. With the smart glasses, they could ‘watch’ the world on our behalf all the time!
There are positives too, no doubt.
Apple Glasses is supposed to automatically adjust for our eye power, without us needing to wear prescription glasses ever!
And the potential with entertainment is immersive and expansive! Social networking may never be the same again!
Imagine the possibility of sharing your view with someone else in another part of the world, in another time-zone! That would be unlike any screen-sharing you have ever seen/done! It’d be world-view sharing of sorts!
But still, despite the positives, I’m more interested and worried about how big tech. would exploit this potential. We may start to worry about it and protest in the first 1-2 years, but by year 5, we may simply resign to fact that this is what will anyway happen.
Considering we are still only grasping at the straws with regard to privacy and internet/smartphones, we are perhaps heading into far more stormy seas when it comes to smart glasses!
Photo courtesy – AppleInsider.