Saturday, March 2, 2013

april-rainer asked: Interesting post about Google Glasses. On one hand, I agree with you! There's something off-putting and cyberpunk-dystopia about the concept as whole. On the other hand, I'm not fully convinced that it is a new violation of privacy. Tiny devices that record video, or just audio have been around for ages. If someone cared, it wouldn't really be that hard to record you without your knowledge or permission and post it on the Internet. [con'd]

[continuing from my previous ask] The more I’ve learned about privacy and secrecy in a technologically advanced world (I work in computer security), the more I realize that nothing is really private or secure. That sounds like a bummer, but on the other hand, what keeps most of us very safe indeed is that we are, on the grand scale of things, fairly boring. If Google Glasses because widespread, think how much random crappy video there would be. No one could watch all of it.

first of all, that post was a quote rather than my own words, although i do agree with the post it originally came from.

it’s definitely true that it’s already possible to find a hell of a lot about people very easily, even without ~futuristic technology. i mean, thirty years ago you could tap phones and bug people’s homes and offices. a hundred years ago you could hire a detective to follow someone around and find out all their secrets. nowadays you can make use of social media and official/private databases to find out people’s personal info. but IMO, that is completely different from google glass.

although violation of privacy is part of the reason why google glass has the potential to be incredibly skeevy, a bigger part is the way it would totally change the way people interact. for example, nowadays you can hold a completely normal conversation with someone holding an iphone, even though an iphone technically has the potential to be recording your every move. but because google glass is right there in front of your face (and is designed to record whenever you tell it to do so), it’s immediately noticeable. so whenever you’re talking to (or existing anywhere near) someone wearing google glass, they could be recording you. or they could be checking their email, whatever. so first of all you’re gonna be paranoid that whatever you say and do is going to be recorded for posterity (so you’d BETTER BE CAREFUL and double-check everything before it comes out of your mouth! and make sure not to fall over or do anything embarrassing), and secondly you can’t really know if someone has your full attention.

it’s not so much about google glass being a step up in terms of “surveillance culture” so much as how incredibly uncomfortable it could make people feel.

also, the idea of being safe through being boring is kind of close to “the innocent have nothing to hide”. basically, it would completely suck to know that everything you do in your day-to-day life, from complaining about your boss to telling white lies to your parents to checking someone out on public transport, is potentially being recorded by strangers. it’s totally neurosis-inducing.

Notes

  1. april-rainer said: Hmm, yes, fair point. I admit, I don’t *want* to interact with someone wearing google glasses either. :-/ But then, I don’t like interacting with people who are staring at their smartphones, and that’s becoming culturally acceptable.
  2. hellotailor posted this