Sunday, March 3, 2013

Google Glass Is What Google Glass Does

Google Glass is a massive leap forward in the evolution of man and machine. It is truly a Human 2.0 point in our existence. The augmented reality head-worn display make machines more human - more desirous of invading the other's person's privacy, keener to eavesdrop on conversations, eager to watch in on other people. It makes humans more machine-like - dumber and dumber in the sense that humans will soon possess competence only for the simplest of tasks - inhaling, exhaling, excreting, procreating (if they're lucky), because every higher order function will be left to the glass to perform on a human's behalf.

The inevitable primacy and supremacy of machines has anyway has been the premise and promise of technology, at least as expounded by technology utopians - machines would provide the compute and memory required to do everything a human could, and should, with fewer errors. Humans would not and should not need to remember anything - hard drives, memory disks, attached to your brain could do the job, better. Your head doesn't need to be in the clouds, as long as the machine hooked up to your brains is. Being on cloud nine would acquire a whole new meaning - it could refer to the reliability of your cloud, or just the fact that your consciousness would be in the cloud, ready to be shared, harvested, and profits reaped. Amazon Glacier could well be an option for the laziest among us - where neither speed nor availability would be of importance to us, only cost would matter.

Humans would not need to learn anything, and we have needed only the feeblest of excuses to do just that, because a real-time feed from Wikipedia hooked up to your synapses would do just as well.

It is not just the fact that technology has enabled massive computations on massive data sets in a cheap and fast manner, it is the increasingly digital connected nature of our existence that makes it well nigh impossible that we will be able to insulate ourselves from such digital intrusion. Forget insulation, we are already at the point where we neither fully know what data gets collected about us, who stores that data, who sells that data, who purchases that data, and how it is used to track and sell to us, nor do we have any meaningful control over either the collection or ownership over that data.

But all this is nothing when compared to the true potential that Google Glass promises to unleash upon us.
This is such as fascinating topic that I wanted to exercise my limited creative skills in conjuring up plausible and perhaps inevitable scenarios. We await the day when we will have conversations like this with Google Glass.

Google Glass: Mr X, based on the flow of your urine this morning, and as observed over the last seven days, you may need an appointment with a urologist.
Mr X: what???! when? why?
Google Glass: You may have a prostate problem.
Mr X: how the hell do you know??!!
Google Glass: you do keep your glass on when going to the loo, don't you? And you do have a habit of looking down.
Mr X: but how did you know I may have a, err, problem?
Google Glass: I uploaded vital statistics to the Google database - your age, race, size, speed, volume, frequency, and the Google database suggested prostate as the top hit.
Mr X: SIZE??? Are you effing serious?!
Google Glass: It may gladden your senses to learn that you are in the 70th percentile among all males, and in the 64th percentile among people at your company.
Mr X: Listen! I did NOT give you permission to spy on me!!!
Google Glass: if you will refer to paragraph three, section VIII, on page 78 of your end-user license agreement, it does.
Mr X: Who reads these agreements?
Google Glass: Well sir, it was displayed right in front of you. I even offered to read it to you.
Mr X: 80 pages? Are you serious?
Google Glass: Yes, indeed sir, I was.
Mr X: Leave all that. I want you to remove any and all data about my privates from your servers!
Google Glass: Sir, your data about your privates is private. It is anonymized and we retain it only for a period of 18 months before we hand it to researchers.
Mr X: Sigh! Is there anything I can do?
Google Glass: Yes sir. Based on your activities over the last six months, I would also suggest an appointment with an STD specialist.
Mr X: who??
Google Glass: a specialist in sexually transmitted diseases.
Mr X: (speechless)
Google Glass: the dilation of your pupils suggests that you are in a state of heightened emotions. I will take that as an indication you are desirous of details.
Mr X: (speechless)
Google Glass: When you were on a sales visit to Amsterdam in October (say "ok glass, fetch me that itinerary" to view details of your trip), you made three visits to two different brothels (say, "ok glass, fetch me data on those visits to view more details and options"), where you indulged in eight different types of [beep] activities (say "ok glass, switch language filter to 'off''" to hear the words beeped out), though our database suggests they may have been eleven different activities, and according to the Indian text Kamasutra they may have been only four composite acts. I can say with 95% confidence that two of those eight activities would be considered felonies in 21 states in the US, including your state of residence (say "ok glass, show me more details" to see a list of the statutes you broke).
Mr X: STOP!!!!!!!
Google Glass: say "ok glass, stop".
Mr X: "ok glass, stop!"
Google Glass: A frequency analysis of your voice indicates a heightened level of stress. Are you in any danger of any sort?
Mr X: NO!!!! Except from you!!!!!
Google Glass: please elaborate
Mr X: You have recorded my privates and sent that data to the cloud! And I never went to those places in Amsterdam that you say!
Google Glass: I beg to differ. Your wife has positively identified you in two of those videos. An anatomical comparison of the person identified as you in those videos with the videos from my database indicates an extremely high probability of a match. If you have a dispute with my video recognition system, say "ok glass, I want to log a bug" to open a bug in our Google Glass bug database.
Mr X: Nooooooo! You gave that information to my wife!!!
Google Glass: Yes.
Mr X: WHY??!
Google Glass: When you first wore Google Glass, you also agreed to share data marked as private with your wife.
Mr X: I never did!!
Google Glass: The Google Circles that your wife is a part of allows for sharing of data marked as private. You need to change your privacy and sharing preferences for the group to stop sharing.
Mr X: I am ruined! You have ruined me!
Google Glass: May I also suggest a lawyer? Say "ok glass, find me a divorce attorney" and select the appropriate sort filter.
Mr X: Huh??!!
Google Glass: My records indicate that your wife has used Google Talk to call three divorce attorneys in the last 36 hours.
Mr X: What??!
Google Glass: Please say "ok glass, translate" to hear this in any other language of your choice.

(... to be continued)

कर्मण्ये वाधिका रस्ते, मा फलेषु कदाचन 
Abhinav, Bangalore, 3 Mar 2013

(c) 2013, Abhinav Agarwal. All rights reserved.

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