If you’ve spent any time on the internet lately, you likely know that Google’s latest innovation, “Glass” is already in the hands of the media and developers, and will soon be available to the general public. While the concept of wearable computers is not new – the earliest prototypes appeared over 30 years ago – Google’s sleek device has been giving privacy advocates fits since it was announced. Now that Glass is actually appearing “in the wild” as developers and media put the device through its paces, it’s getting pre-emptively banned by businesses, and in some cases, entire states are seeking to regulate its use.
As you might imagine, a device that can (relatively) unobtrusively record video and audio of anything in sight of a Glass wearer, on top of being able to access the vast data stores of Google’s indexed information, has many people understandably concerned. Cameras and recording devices are already banned in places like Las Vegas casinos, and organizations like Caesers Entertainment have extended their policies to explicitly include Google Glass in anticipation of the device’s arrival, as have numerous bars and other businesses, some merely for the publicity, but many for serious privacy concerns for their patrons and businesses.
What this means for you:
Whether or not you ever intend to use Google Glass or something similar, you’ve already been through a social revolution, and you might not have realized it. Remember when cellphones first started appearing with cameras? Remember when laptops first started shipping with webcams built into the lid? Devices that can be used to record others without their knowledge have been used in modern society for decades. Google is not the first to open this particular Pandora’s Box – the cows have long since fled the barn. Google Glass is fairly easy to spot now, but the technology will only improve (read: get smaller and harder to spot) and we will soon have wearable computers that are completely indistinguishable from a regular pair of glasses or sunglasses. We will get to a point that we will not be able to tell whether someone is digitally augmented, and societal conventions will have to adopt to the new standard, just like they have with smartphone cameras.