Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Google Glass Questions and Concerns

The tech community is all excited about Google Glass, the computerized spectacles that "augment reality" --  by enabling you to obtain internet information about your surroundings -- and to clandestinely take photos and video.

Huffington Post asks, "Will we be wearing Google Glass, or will it be wearing us?"

Only a tech lemming would consider questions and criticisms paranoid, privacy fanaticism, regressive, Luddite, or hostile.

On the other hand, corporations tend to find questions and critique counter-productive to sales hype and viral marketing. Too bad. Intelligent consumers don't swoon over every product the corporations command us to adore.

When I expressed some concerns about Google Glass on a GooglePlus comment thread, a typical negative reaction toward me resulted.

It's bizarre that if you step aside from the frenzy and simply ask a few questions in a non-hostile manner, some tech fanboys get upset and accuse you of "hating new technology". Anyone who knows me, knows I am an early adopter of new tech, but I'm selective in what I get excited about.

In that GooglePlus comment thread I stated:

Google Glass is very different from aiming a camera, video recorder, or smart phone at someone. In those cases, you can be aware that someone is recording you. With Google Glass, you won't be aware, especially if you don't know the capabilities of the glasses.

Privacy issues, concern about how Google Glass can damage optic nerves and eye muscles, concern about how the glasses could be dangerously distracting, and how the glasses could cause people to be overly dependent, so they can't function in reality without "augmenting" it -- these are topics worthy of discussion.

I've never said Google Glass was "odd". Nor did I suggest that I "hate" it just because it is new. This argument is a typical tech orientation.

"You don't like the atom bomb, just because it's new and you have trouble adjusting to new technology".

Ronnie Bincer then replied to me:


Your points of concerns are valid, however the way you are phrasing them makes it seem like you hate the idea of new technology coming out. If that's the case, I would encourage you to leave the Internet as soon as possible. (In fact it may be too late for you!)


I replied to Ronnie:

I love new technology when it's benevolent. I frequently beta test and analyze the usability of new technology.

I 'have said nothing that could be construed as technophobia or resistance to scientific progress.

Much technology is neutral and depends on how it is used, but some technology is inherently malevolent (like atom bombs and chemical war weapons).

What I don't like is people conforming to the Technological Imperative as described by my friend Professor Langdon Winner in his book "Autonomous Technology" -- people fanatically embracing all new technology, without asking questions and exercising critical thinking about ethics, health impact, environmental concerns, etc.

The Technological Imperative states that what can be made, must be made, and humans must adopt to it without questioning.

This leads to technological dystopia, as we see with drones, ubiquitous surveillance, GMOs, nuclear weapons, torture chambers, chemical and biological weapons, toxic pesticides, air pollution, arsenic in ground water from mining processes, etc.

Nevertheless, hardcore tech lemmings, who ecstatically embrace every new gadget that comes along, will not tolerate any tough questions, criticisms, cautionary advice, or expressions of concern. You're either caught up in the frenzy or you're perceived and treated like an enemy.

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