sAyingsometHing

Art, poetry, digital art, photography, criticism and essays.

26 Jul 2013

On Google Glass

"Mmm!"  "How are you?"  "Well I don't know, all I can see is an alternate reality!"

Google Glass (Google Glasses) are a rather disturbing new product that allows individuals to "wear" a computer (as far as I understand similar to a smart phone) that is built into a pair of glasses.  You actually look at the screen while you look through the lenses of the glasses!  Bizarre? 

I read a Blog post where the author states; "The most important Google Glass experience is not the user experience – it’s the experience of everyone else."  Sure, he has a point.  What if you are attempting to discuss something important with the wearer and he/she is distracted by the web, or worse, recording your, potentially private conversation and posting it on the web!  Or, for that matter sending it to Google where they may wish to continue adding to their alleged database of information, see Snowden and spying.

However, for me the ethical considerations are also for the wearer of Google Glass(es).  For example; driving or crossing the road may become absurdly dangerous!  Of course the ethical considerations regarding potential injuries and the use of information/spying and the like, could go on ad infinituum!  But there are other important ethical considerations.  For example; health.  Our bodies and minds are not designed to live in increasingly, artificial environments.  Heart-disease, cancer and other immuno-deficiency disorders, such as allergies and asthma, mental health disorders (from stress to schizophrenia), diabetes, strokes, Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease and a myriad of other illnesses are caused by, or exacerbated by living in artificial environments.  Virtually plugging ourselves into a computer that we can constantly view and interact with while living our daily lives will surely increase the incidence of these disorders.  New technology tends to make us lazy, both physically and mentally.  A good example of mental stagnation is the SatNav.  How can we exercise our minds and our memories when we no longer use maps or memorise routes?  Are we contributing to the "time-bomb" of Dementia?

Do we actually want to live in a continual artificial (or semi-artificial) reality?  What are the philosophical and psychological implications of this?  Is it ethically sound to detach ourselves from reality, when reality is full of urgent problems that need addressing?  Should we encourage narcissism and escapism in the young and impressionable, when many young people have difficulties with the most basic of coping mechanisms and comprehending a complex, hyper-real existence.  Will advertising be streamed across their field of vision throughout the day, further blurring the line between fantasy and reality?  Overt escapism from reality is not an adequate way to cope with reality and, where it can be manipulated by powerful, Internet corporations, exploitation seems inevitable.

Finally, a note about the future.  We are, indeed, Cyborgs, interdependent on machinery.  From trains to Smart Phones, to electronic tills in supermarkets, we increasingly rely upon technology in our day-to-day living, where we coped and were capable of being quite content before these inventions were even thought of!  Should we allow (will we always have a choice?) these unnecessary devices to increasingly become part of our perception, our identity and our physical functioning?  How long before some kind of electronic device is permanently worn by the public?  Perhaps woven into our clothes or even attached to our skin?  Of course, this is speculation and still the stuff of dystopian Sci-Fi movies.  Let's hope it stays a paranoiac fantasy.  And let's hope we will always be able to tell the difference.


Simon

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