Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Google Glass and the End of the World

I’m sure a lot of you have some idea what Google Glass is, but for those who don’t, check this out:

And for those of you that didn’t watch the video even though I told you to, Google Glass essentially refers to a pair of augmented reality glasses being developed by Google that pretty much do everything a smart phone does (and more!), except you wear these on your face.

Anyway, what actually concerns me about this project is a recent statement issued by Google Creative Lab creative director Alexander Chen in which he states that Google Glass marks the beginning of a new era in technology.   He explains, “…I hope that technology disappears more and more from my life and you forget that you're using it all the time instead of feeling like you're burdened [by it].  I hope it becomes more like the water running in our house and the electricity running through our buildings:  we use it when we need it and then we forget about it for the rest of the day and just enjoy being people."

As I read this, The Twilight Zone's theme song immediately began chiming in my head, along with visions of machines taking over the world.  Barbara Warnick warned us this would happen in her explanation of transparency, after all.  She says that when we lose sight of the technologies we use, we also lose sight of their implied meanings.

What do you guys think?  Is Chen’s statement a prophecy for the end times, with Google as its catalyst?  Or do you also share Chen’s vision?


  1. Oh goodness. I was freaked out enough by the Google Glass video. When I heard Chen make that statement in the other one, I felt some genuine fear. I, for one, do not want technology running my life. Even more, I don't want to forget that it's doing so.

    As we rely more and more on technology, I feel like we lose more and more of our independence and our self efficacy. I used to laugh at my dad for telling stories about how all his buddies at work use blackberries, and he uses a notebook because he won't be the guy who's in trouble when the thing malfunctions, or the power goes out, etc, etc, but more and more I'm beginning to agree with him. Not to the extent that I won't use a cell phone, a laptop, or a digital, planner, I just don't want to be so integrated with technology that I forget I'm using it and don't make an effort to learn things myself instead of relying on technology to tell me everything I want to know.

    Google Glass would be fine as long as you realize the role it plays in your life, and the same for any other kind of technology, from my point of view. In conclusion, I don't know if Chen's statement prophesies the end times, but I certainly agree with Warnick that we should try not to lose sight of the "implied meanings" of the technologies we choose to utilize.

  2. Do I think Chen's statement is a prophecy for end times? No, I don't generally think anything is bad enough as that.

    Now, do I share Chen's vision? Not at all.

    I think it's too easy to get wrapped up in technology, and forget that at the end of the day, none of it matters. I suppose this sounds a little morbid, but the more structures I create in my life with technology, the more stressed out I get. It blows my mind that there once was a time when the only "clocks" people ran their lives by were sunrise and sunset. Now, with our technology, we have created structures of organization that are not only restrictive, but damn hard to break out of.

    Technology like Google Glass scares me, because it's one more step away from doing what's natural (as much as that may make me sound like some kind of enviro-hippie). My question is what do we lose when we try to make ourselves more artificial? Will we ever forget that we are just as much subject to the world as any other living organism?

  3. I just want to say that I love how I learn something new-like Google Glass-every time on these blog posts. Okay back to your post. When first watching the video I was interested in the technology mainly because it reminds me of the book Feed by M.T. Anderson. The whole concept reminds me of the young adult book actually, where technology is so integrated into our minds and daily activities that without it we are useless in most ways. And it fascinates me.

    Now I want to say that I would not (at least I hope I wouldn't) partake in using this technology for the reason of Chen's vision. I don't want to get lost in technology anymore than I already have(though I know that will change as I advance in the career I want to go into, but I can still dream). I think technology is great and advances are just as great and are inevitable. I just think that Warnick's warning is a good one to keep in mind as we continue to get more lost in technology as a society. We need to remember why these technologies are important to us to use.

    Overall I don't think Chen's statement is the prophecy of the end of times nor do I necessarily agree with it. I think he represents what how many people feel about technology and where he sees we are already headed in the future. Sure something bad can come out of it, but I don't think it will be as bad as we think.

  4. I don't get a Skynet vibe from Google. I agree with John; it would take a self-aware AI bent on ending humanity for me to think that we're screwed. However, if you're wary about Google, you're not alone. This video highlights several reasons why we should be wary.

    As for Chen's vision, I don't agree with him. I don't think that an invisible digital technology will lessen its "burdens" on us. I think it would render us less critical of the technology and we might just become complacent with its burdens.

    That being said, I'm actually pretty excited about Google glasses. I finally might be able to scout my enemies' power levels!

  5. I'm not particularly concerned with Google Glass signaling the end of times, but I do think it will have some important affects on the line between public and private discourse. When you are wearing a video recorder on your face at all times and can record things so discreetly, even "private" discourse can be made public quickly. We will have to see how this technology develops, and how people react to it. One state already has a law about driving with Google Glass in the the works. This Huffpo article discusses places that have already banned the gadget.

    Which begs the question, will Google Glass even become popular enough for these problems to even become an issue?

  6. I think Google Glass is going to be one of the many technologies that never takes off. In the digital age where technology is king people seem to think that every single new technology is going to have as profound an effect on society as the latest big technology. But the truth is is that some technologies may be crazy inventive and super-high tech, but they never take off because they are not desirable. The advertisers try to make it seem like that every new technology is going to be the new iphone, but this is not true. I think Google Glass will be one of those very advanced, but useless technologies and it will eventually die. Honestly, would you wear Google Glasses?

  7. I think it all sounds realy great and like we are makign progress as a culture, but like a lot of the people who commented statements like this scare me. I don't want to become so reliant and used to technology that it seems to disappear from my life. I already hate that I can't go anywhere without my cell phone and I don't even have a smartphone.

    I think this will probably fizzle out as not that many people are going to wear the glasses all the time and it's easier to carry around an iPhone, but if it were to take off I can see it leading down a scary road. How long until a chip is implanted into our brains and we do not need to learn anything anymore because the knowledge is right at our finger tips?

  8. I hate to be the douchey guy quoting Nietzche, but what the hell. I think this fits here pretty well.

    God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. Yet his shadow still looms. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?
    —Nietzsche, The Gay Science

    Part of me feels like our ascendancy through technology IS the natural order of things. It is our evolution. This class hasn't taught me to fear all technology, but has taught me to fear technology that is utilized mindlessly. I'd like to think that as long as we're all aware of what capabilities we possess through technology and can distinguish those from abilities that we possess "naturally," we'll be okay.