Google Wants to Be Inside Your Head.  Really

| Particle Debris

Nothing stays the same. Trends in technology continue to accelerate. Even if you hold back, you're dragged along at an accelerated pace. It's only a short leap from wearable computers to having them in our head permanently. What does this say about our future?

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I think many people, myself included, often fantasize that we can control the pace of technology in our own life. We do that because something about technology offends our sensibilities, so we try to pick and choose. Perhaps the thing that bugs us is a loss of privacy or some kind of dehumanization brought on by computer technology. Or maybe we think it's excessive surveillance.

Those of us who have grown up with the computer revolution since the Apple II are still formally educated in the spirit of the human culture. Great novels. Human aspirations. The sacrifices of parenthood and war. Romance. Remarkable heroes. Walking on the beach in silence and admiring Nature's work.

Superimposed on all these very human things, all during the computer revolution we have experienced a variety of technologies that unnerve us.

  • Our computers and smartphones are under assault by hackers who want to steal information from those devices for their own financial gain.
  • Google Glass demonstrations unnerve us because it can record 720p video on a moment's notice.
  • We give Facebook details of our lives to share with friends, and Facebook uses that information to earn billions of dollars by selling it. Privacy settings are an illusion.
  • Soon, our cars will drive us around with the help of GPS and other technologies, and you know what that means—at some point, it'll require a special, hard-to-get permit to have the authority to drive yourself.

It might be possible to slow the pace down in your personal life, but all that means is that you're increasingly ostracized from society, and that means we can feel marginalized. For example, imagine trying to buy something at the Mall in a few years with cash instead of the requisite Internet-enabled smartphone, or applying for a passport without a computer.

And then we hear about people who keep a smartphone on the nightstand, so that they can wake up all through the night and respond to messages. This is why some basic human values about life, work, family and vacation are both under assault and also prized possessions. There's a brisk business in advanced coping mechanisms.

Wearable computing, whether it's implants, Google Glass, or smart watches will accelerate this pace. Here's a glimpse of what Google's Larry Page has in mind for us. "What Google Glass aspires to be." Google in your head will give you everything, but also take away everything. And, no—no one will be able to stem that tide singlehandedly.

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Tech News Debris for the Week of August 26

Of course, there is also money to be made countering some of the undesirable trends mentioned above. "How Apple Could Lead the Next Big Tech Trend–Security As A Service."

And there's also money to be made by shifting the emphasis or a clever utilization of some of those technologies for good purposes. "Doctor transmits surgery via Google Glass."

Plus, there's collateral damage to companies that don't keep up with the wave of technology developed by the industry as a whole. "Ballmer: The Good, The Indifferent, The Bad and The Analysis."

And then there's this one, with a title that's absolutely perfect: "Apple's Post-PC Fall begins, Microsoft's doesn't."

Remember when I recently surmised that the history of the human civilization is that when one great mind passes, another soon comes along to succeed -- and surpass it? Here's some interesting insights into one of those minds. "Google’s Larry Page on Why Moon Shots Matter."

After all this frenzy, we arrive at Labor Day. Time for one last walk on the beach.

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Beach scene via Shutterstock.

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Comments

skipaq

There are already things you cannot buy with cash. That trend will continue. I mentioned to a friend the other day that technology would someday come as implant gear. That thought is creepy. More so when you think about what some companies would do with it.

mrmwebmax

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John,

Great Friday highlight of my online days as always. I always looko forward to kicking off the weekend with Tech Debris, then easing into it with a Saturday morning Macalope fest. smile

The Ballmer article you linked to was one of the best I’ve read, but alas only Pt. 1 out of 2. Unless I missed a link, I’m assuming Pt. 2 isn’t out yet? If the latter, any word on when we can expect to read that?

wab95

John:

Just a quick response to the ‘What Google aspires to be’ piece.

It is not uncommon, when something new is proposed, for people to react with aversion and horror at the prospect of this new technology being unleashed in the wild. However, such horror is generally the product of imagining how this would play out under current real world conditions, and not those of a new but very real world. By this, I intend a world in which forces as yet not in play, perhaps not yet extant, are brought to bear.

Among these forces include new legislation that limits or defines terms of use of this new technology, competition in the industry, new safety protocols to harden those new systems against abuse, integration with current technology; and two more that are often over-looked, practical limitations on technology use and emergent culture or etiquette on new technology use - both of which define how people actually use the new technology, rather than how it is initially envisioned or marketed. In truth, this last force tends to expand rather than contract options on how a technology is used, but it can also take it into completely unanticipated directions, that in turn, relegate the original concept to a subordinate role.

All this is simply to say that, as we survey the prospects of any new or emergent technology aghast, we should bear in mind that, given our penchant for self-preservation, if any new technology comes with adverse affects, anticipated or unforeseen, we do respond, even if slowly and reluctantly at first. Today, however, in the post-PC era, that response time from the public has outstripped that of either industry or the regulators tasked to oversee it, thanks to social media and our interconnectedness. My sense is that, before Google Glass, or any similar technology with the potential to erode our privacy by orders of magnitude more than it has currently been eroded, is commericalised or wide-spread, industry, legislators and end-users alike will come under swift and enormous pressure to conform to socially-acceptable practises, as defined by the vocal public.

Good picks by John Kirk and Johnny Evans.

jeffff

“It’s only a short leap from wearable computers to having them in our head permanently.”
Wearable computers are trivial in comparison to implants with similar functionality. A short leap? Not with our current rudimentary understanding of the human brain and our conjectures about consciousness. Today’s internal brain/computer interfaces are at the Sputnik stage.

John Martellaro

wab95: Typically I’m not alarmed about something like this because I am convinced it will come to market right away.

Rather, I see it as a reflection of the thinking of the executive and how it will affect new products in the short term.  New products that don’t offend always have a little bit of that hazy, perhaps dubious future built into them—with the idea that the technology can be continuously expanded and brought to fruition.

Call it camel nose under the tent technology.

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