Sunday, May 12, 2013

Will You Be A Glasshole? | Techcitement*

Will You Be A Glasshole? | Techcitement*

Some point in the late 1990s during one late Sunday night in Brixton, South London, I was waiting on a bus to go home. A guy came up to me, mumbling. I became nervous. Was he a nutter about to stab me? He had a hood on and it was drizzling lightly, if I recall correctly.
The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
William Gibson, Neuromancer.
It turns out the nutter was talking on his phone, on a headset or an earpiece. I couldn’t see it, it was dark and wet, and the device was concealed in his clothing. While crazy people wandering around Brixton was nothing new, people walking around talking to themselves was a recent development. Mumbling, shouting, swearing obscenities. Mobile phones were everywhere. I couldn’t take the train to work in the morning without some loud-mouthed jerk yelling about how he was “Gonna be there in five minutes” and how kippered he was after last night’s drinking.
A few years later, Bluetooth headsets appeared.
Now, a decade later, there are numerous opinion pieces in countless magazines around the world, wondering “Do Bluetooth Headsets Look Stupid?” (yes) and how they can negatively affect your driving (talking on a cell phone and driving is totally like driving drunk, which is a TOTALLY PROVEN SCIENCE FACT.)
There’s a subtle piece of body language that allows you to walk through crowds unmolested. Lifehackerran a brief piece on it, reprinting from Reddit:
When I walk through large crowds of people, to avoid walking into anyone, I simply stare at my destination. I look no one in the eyes. People actually will watch your eyes and they avoid the direction you are going. If I look into people’s eyes as we are walking into each other, we are sure to collide. You have to let people know where you intend to go with your eyes. It always works for me, try it!
Not everyone reacts favorably to new technology. While on holiday in Paris last year, Steve Mann was assaulted and forcibly ejected by McDonald’s employees after trying to remove his EyeTap glasses. Bear in mind, the Eye Tap is physically connected to Steve’s skull. This wasn’t the first time the staff at Paris’s McDonald’s have acted like modern technology is some kind of alien monolith, so there’s a precedent.
I have worn a computer vision system of some kind for 34 years, and am the inventor of the technology that I wear and use in my day-to-day life.
Although it has varied over the last 34 years, I have worn the present embodiment of this system (pictured below) for 13 years. This simple design which I did in collaboration with designer Chris Aimone, consists of a sleek strip of aluminum that runs across the forehead, with two silicone nose pads. It holds an EyeTap device (computer-controlled laser light source that causes the eye itself to function as if it were both a camera and display, in effect) in front of my right eye. It also gives the wearer the appearance of having a “glass eye”, this phenomenon being known as the ‘glass eye’ effect (Presence Connect, 2002).
Ray Kurzweil, noted futurist, described the McDonald’s incident with Mann as the first ever attack on a cyborg.
Cyborgs not only disrupt orderly power structures and fixed interests but also signify a challenge to settled politics, which assumes that binary oppositions or identities are natural distinctions.
Donna Haraway, Cyborgs
McDonald's staff reacting to modern technology, yesterday.
McDonald’s staff reacting to modern technology, yesterday.
 At Google’s I/O conference last year, when a team of skydivers gave a live relay from the built-in camera on the glasses to the audience below, Google introduced Google Glass, the company’s immersive augmented-reality wearable technology. Google Glass happens to looks uncannily like Steve Mann’s EyeTap.
This man has his device BOLTED TO HIS SKULL.
This man has his device BOLTED TO HIS SKULL.

Last month, Google rolled out its Google Glass website.
“Using Google+ or Twitter, tell us what you would do if you had Glass, starting with the hashtag #ifihadglass.”
Winners get to spend $1,500 on a pair.
People have entered a competition so they win the chance to spend $1,500.
Software developer Andre Torrez could probably make that back inside of a week:

Already, Google Glass has had its share of criticisms.

Thank goodness I didn’t attend Google’s Glass Foundry event back in January. If so,  I wouldn’t be writing this now because of the NDA I would’ve been asked to sign. If any of those attendees fall into a manhole as a result of distracted walking, Google would only pay them $100. These events have spawned countless Glasshole sightings around New York and San Francisco, including Sergei Brin (Google co-founder) riding the subway wearing a pair.
His eyes were eggs of unstable crystal, vibrating with a frequency whose name was rain and the sound of trains, suddenly sprouting a humming forest of hair-fine glass spines.
William Gibson, Neuromancer
Brandy was spotted at Mountain View’s Googleplex wearing them.
Brandy was also spotted at Mountain View’s Googleplex wearing them. Pictured because she’s far prettier than Sergei Brin.

That’s not before San Francisco bar co-owner, Tom Madonna of Shotwells posted on Facebook about the Glasses, which in turn prompted King of The Angry Nerds, Robert Scoble, to praise the device. Scoble might have then gone on to demand metal legs.
I’ll be one of the heaviest users of Google Glass in the world. I’m excited by getting them. But there are times and places where I expect that I’ll be asked to take them off. There will be times I ask other people to take their wearable computers and recording devices off too.
So, if you are a bartender, you better watch out. Those of us who will be wearing Google Glass are often influencers, rich, and willing to change OUR behavior when it comes to spending our money, time, attention. Hint: I tip well and drink a lot of expensive Scotch (although I’m trying to cut down, which the Glass will help me with too).
Too bad for Scoble if his Google Glasses are attached to prescription lenses. I wonder what his interaction would be like with Steve Mann, who requires special tools to remove his EyeTap. Or would Scoble fly into a scotch-fueled rage and act like a French McDonald’s employee?
The Atlantic went into more depth on Tom Madonna’s Facebook post, going so far as to interview him, eliciting more details of what had actually happened:
‘When you buy a new phone, it’s in your pocket, but this, you’re wearing something on your face. Anyone that cares what they look like is not gonna wear Google glasses. That’s my opinion,’ Madonna said. ‘If you are super nerdy and you like to show off that you’re in tech and smart and all those things, I can see you probably wearing Google Glasses, but you are probably in a bubble or … new. We’ve all heard all this stuff. Like, this guy moved to SF and he comes to the bar. He’s from Scottsdale and he’s using all these [tech] words. I had to stop him. I said, ‘You sound interesting and different in Phoenix, but you sound boring here. You are cliche.’
What’s the worst that could happen though?

How about being picked up in a bar by some drunken glasshole using the awful SceneTap app because you’re his chosen demographic? Or a criminal who’s used PittPatt’s software to data-mine your Facebook or dating site pages to disarm you because they know too much about you such as having knowledge of your address, phone number, and workplace?

TSA Agents could be able to wear Google Glasses whilst scanning crowds, using facial recognition software like Polar Rose, PittPatt, or to pick out likely offenders from the No-Fly List. Becausefacial recognition software isn’t perfect, maybe the TSA could tie into the TrapWire system.

Throw in some technology that Microsoft has patented for Kinect, allowing the company to target advertising based on your emotional state.

How about eye-tracking software that allows advertisers to more accurately sell you products based on your gender while wearing Google Glasses? Remember, Google is a company that has stopped ad-blocking apps for Android and advertising is its number one source of income.

Or you could just let Adam Harvey do your makeup.

Or you could just let Adam Harvey do your makeup.


Will those that become enamored by Google Glass be Like countless others who walk around waving $500 pieces of technology around like magical black mirrors preventing harm or sit by the doors of city buses using iPads or MacBook Pros as iPods who are then surprised when they get pepper-sprayed or punched in the face to have their products stolen, eliciting no pity from passers-by? What will they do when their $1,500 Google Glasses attract the attention of thieves?

Are you going to call those same police officers looking up your murky criminal record from the Cloud as they question you? Rio de Janero’s 2014 World Cup police will roll out exactly this kind of technology.

Or how about your boss calling you in for a meeting to talk to you about your performance while looking at pictures of cats on Cute Overload?

What about the thought of YouTube descending into WorldStarHipHop video chaos, where every video has some clown yelling “WORLD STAR!” over the events?

How about ruining stand-up comedy? Or movies? Or plays? Do you think the Alamo Drafthouse will have to update its no talking or texting rule to include a ban on Google Glasses?

What’s to stop people from using Glass to record movies, stream previews direct to the internet, or ruin punchlines for audiences waiting to see a comedian’s latest tour? That’s already happened. Patton Oswalt has had run-ins with people recording new, try-out pieces in small, intimate shows. Doug Stanhope has more pro-active suggestions,

People bootlegging shows on cellphones and putting material out before it’s finished is a problem for every comic, but compared to all the upsides of what the internet has done, it’s a fact of life that we’ll learn to adapt to even if it means finding these people and killing their families in front of them.

In these scenarios, of course, we’re simply imagining bad situations, but these many speculations aren’t even the worst-case scenarios. Edward Champion came up with a detailed list of 35 more on his blog,Reluctant Habits. We’ve already seen number seven, an increased risk of violence.

Oversharing and checking in. Foursquare, Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr all tell people where you’re not with geo-tagging. Please Rob Me lays out the problems with oversharing. (Argument 21, according to Edward Champion.)

Before Glass, this was already a very legitimate concern. In 2010, The Daily Beast‘s Lisa Riordan Seville reported on how Foursquare inspired strangers to stalk people. Seville describes how social media strategist Carri Bugbee checked into a restaurant on Foursquare. The hostess came over to Bugbee, telling her that she had a telephone call. Bugbee answered the phone and was greeted with a male voice who found her Foursquare check-in and told her that she shouldn’t use the service because people could learn where she lived. Then he called her a ‘stupid bitch,’ among other insults.

Google has explicitly said that it won’t employ these technologies on the company’s products. Just Picasa. For now. And opting in is an extremely effective as a deterrent, right? Never mind that Facebook sets profile pictures to be visible by default, and Google+’s demands that people use their real identities,which works so well, especially given Vic Gondutra’s history of flip-flopping and bowing to external pressures in deference of people’s personal lives. The Electronic Frontier Foundation states the casebetter than I.

It is well within the rights of any company–Google, Facebook, or otherwise–to create policies as they see fit for their services. But it is shortsighted for these companies to suggest that ‘real name’ policies create greater potential for civility, when they only do so at the expense of diversity and free expression. Indeed, a shift toward crafting policies requiring “real” names will have a chilling effect on online free expression.

However, where technology gives, it can also take away. Apple has been beavering away on a method toshut down your iPhone’s camera feature, reports

Apple has been working on a plan that will allow concert halls, sporting arenas and other venues to install infrared sensors that will detect iPhones going into camera mode and promptly disable the device’s ability to snap a shot or film a video. Explicitly, the patent states that it will use new technology to ‘capture a second image that includes an infrared signal with encoded data’ and from there could shut-down a phone’s recording capability or else introduce a compulsory watermark.

Suck it, you bunch of Glassholes.

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