I’m glad that someone has identified the privacy implications of the newest “cool” technology. We should not go blithely into what’s cool and hip.
The really interesting aspect is that all of the indexing, tagging, and storage could happen without the Google Glass user even requesting it. Any video taken by any Google Glass, anywhere, is likely to be stored on Google servers, where any post-processing (facial recognition, speech-to-text, etc.) could happen at the later request of Google, or any other corporate or governmental body, at any point in the future.
Remember when people were kind of creeped out by that car Google drove around to take pictures of your house? Most people got over it, because they got a nice StreetView feature in Google Maps as a result.
Google Glass is like one camera car for each of the thousands, possibly millions, of people who will wear the device – every single day, everywhere they go – on sidewalks, into restaurants, up elevators, around your office, into your home. From now on, starting today, anywhere you go within range of a Google Glass device, everything you do could be recorded and uploaded to Google’s cloud, and stored there for the rest of your life. You won’t know if you’re being recorded or not; and even if you do, you’ll have no way to stop it.
And that, my friends, is the experience that Google Glass creates. That is the experience we should be thinking about. The most important Google Glass experience is not the user experience – it’s the experience of everyone else. The experience of being a citizen, in public, is about to change.
Just think: if a million Google Glasses go out into the world and start storing audio and video of the world around them, the scope of Google search suddenly gets much, much bigger, and that search index will include you. Let me paint a picture. Ten years from now, someone, some company, or some organization, takes an interest in you, wants to know if you’ve ever said anything they consider offensive, or threatening, or just includes a mention of a certain word or phrase they find interesting. A single search query within Google’s cloud – whether initiated by a publicly available search, or a federal subpoena, or anything in between – will instantly bring up documentation of every word you’ve ever spoken within earshot of a Google Glass device.
This is the discussion we should have about Google Glass. The tech community, by all rights, should be leading this discussion. Yet most techies today are still chattering about whether they’ll look cool wearing the device.
Oh, and as for that physical design problem. If Google Glass does well enough in its initial launch to survive to subsequent versions, forget Warby Parker. The next company Google will call is Bausch & Lomb. Why wear bulky glasses when the entire device fits into a contact lens? And that, of course, would be the ultimate expression of the Google Glass idea: a digital world that is even more difficult to turn off, once it’s implanted directly into the user’s body. At that point you’ll not even know who might be recording you. There will be no opting out.
Will self-organized, ad hoc networks of computer wearers, mediated by privacy–protecting agents, blossom into a renaissance of new wealth, knowledge, and revitalized civil society, or will the same technological-social regime provide nothing more than yet another revenue stream for Disinfotainment, Inc.?
The privacy–protecting agents are missing. There is no opt-out. Given this week’s decision by the Supreme Court to toss out the lawsuit over NSA warrantless wiretapping, the possibilities extend beyond revenue, entertainment, and information.
- The Google Glass feature no one is talking about (creativegood.com)
- Google Glass: Is The ‘Next Big Thing’ The End Of Privacy As We Know It? (huffingtonpost.co.uk)
- Google Glass could get a dose of style from Warby Parker (venturebeat.com)
- Internet Marketing Firm fishbat says Google Glasses are a “Headache” (prweb.com)
- Google Glass spotted at MWC (reviews.cnet.com)
- This is what wearing Google Glasses is like (deathandtaxesmag.com)
- Sergey Brin talks Google Glass at TED conference (slashgear.com)
- What it is like to wear Google Glass [Video] (9to5google.com)
- Google Glass – No More Rumours; It’s Real (reviewsongadgets.com)
- On Privacy and Google Glass (michsineath.me)