What does worry me about the future, is governments having total knowledge about every single person, no matter what they are doing, who they are, and what service they are using. Do you really think they will need Google for this? Sure, in a way companies like Facebook and Google are making their jobs a lot easier. But do you think this will matter when they will have quantum computers? They will be able to get signals from a billion actions you've done on the Internet, regardless of what service you used. Gmail and Facebook usage will just be some of the signals.
And what happens when governments have total knowledge about everyone, whether it's legal or not? What happens when the governments can predict with quantum computers the potential of committing every type of crime for every single person? Maybe you have a 0.0000001% to be a terrorist. Maybe a 1% chance to beat someone, and maybe a 5% chance to smoke pot. Do they arrest you now, or do they wait until the quantum computers predict it's 10%?
These discussions about privacy breaches from companies seem like mainly a distraction from the real issues to me. It reminds me of the outrage of gun owners who "want to defend against an oppressive government" and "protect the 2nd amendment", but don't make a sound when the government cancels the 4th, 5th or even the 1st amendment. Or the 6 months outrage of the media over Benghazi, while covering the AP spying story for like 3 days.
Google can't physically harm you or destroy your life. Governments can. I would worry more about that. A lot more.
The movie Minority Report revolves around that idea (in case you haven't already seen it).
Original short story by Dick: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Minority_Report
A few weeks back I think, there was a story on HN about a mobile App that would help you in boycotting companies and products by scanning the product's bar code while you are in a grocery store. I immediately thought, "Wow... this would be much better as a Glass app that just puts a big X over every product you reach for whose purchase would support a company which acts in a fashion contrary to some user defined view! Or even if the product has ingredients that are incompatible with your child's allergies!"
And the app WOULD be better if it operated like that. The issue is that you can take that a step further right? You, as a manager in a corporation, could look at resumes and have a big X come up whenever you look at one from some guy with bad credit. Going even further you could have a big X come up whenever you look at one from a guy with questionable comments in the online forums he participates in. You see, he tried to hide behind pseudonyms, but it was all noodled out by a new service running ultra powerful analytics software on ultra powerful computing grids. Or the analytics service may go quantum, who knows? (And all that wouldn't even be necessary if your ISP is the same as the analytics service provider. Like if you use ... say ... Google Fiber.)
Material point is this...
now your job prospects have been impacted.
That's not all though...
You see, our hypothetical guys are, understandably, bummed about not getting that big job. So they go to the local bar to listen to a local band and relax for a while. Only the people in the bar see a huge "KKK" or "New Black Panther" label over the guy who made all the questionable comments on the internet. (Via a new dating service that most young women have decided they need because, let's face it, it's dangerous out there.) Don't misunderstand me, the service also operates in a good way. For instance, an ex-convict with the rape conviction would have VERY bad luck because the Glass would put an "EX CONVICT: SEXUAL ASSAULT" label over him.
The interesting thing, however, is this... wherever you are, these labels can potentially be displayed via facial recognition software combined with you telling your name to the guy looking at you through the Glass. The grocery store, the health club, your kid's school play, etc. All because of some comments you may have made on CNN forums a decade ago about say ... Hurricane Katrina victims. Or immigrants. Or white people. Or asians. Or men. You get the picture.
It's critical to realize one very important thing... and that is that there is no technology, in my limited recollection, that's ever failed to be developed on ethical grounds. This is why I tell young people whenever I get the chance, take great care in what you post on the internet. The content... even the TONE of the post could contribute to your "profile summary" in a detrimental fashion. This stuff really will affect your future a lot more than many people realize. And in a great many more WAYS than many people realize.
And that leads them to make questionable assumptions...
like assuming Google, or the information on the internet in general, can do them no harm.
My take is that the more that is laid bare, the easier it will be for all of us to finally become completely truthful and finally eliminate once and for all the different masks we wear allowing us to all be where we are most comfortable.
So right now there is some person who is secretly leading a double life with a separate family and is also secretly into Pokemon and loves listening to Justin Beiber. No one knows about this because they hide their music in a hidden folder, go to sporting events and take a visit to Argentina once a month to visit the second family while ostensibly on "business."
This person would be mocked, disgraced and the like for their thoughts and behaviors by different disparate groups.
If instead this was all made open to everyone there would be a social demand that would likely end up synching that persons interests and desires with their actions.
I am ok with ending social mores and hangups.
No not at all.
In fact, I specifically mention that having more information readily available works out to one's BENEFIT in many cases. Like the girl who might otherwise be taking a risk on a dangerous guy. Or the grocery shopper who gets immediate feedback that a certain cereal will aggravate her child's allergies.
My only point is that this information cuts both ways, and we should be teaching young people how to operate successfully in this new information context.
The fact is, if you, me or anyone else sees a black guy with a "New Black Panther" label over him... we will deal with him in a different fashion than we would deal with a black guy without that label. And for our own safety... we should. Similarly for "KKK". This is the reality of the information context. It will not change humans at the core... it will only change the amount of information available to... and analyzable by... the human.
In other words... I doubt mores and hangups will go away. Mores, hangups, fantasy and wonder are what make up the Human. And it is important for people to be mindful of all of the potential issues they may run into when dealing with the Human in an age of ubiquitous information.
True statement. Hence why a group of us are trying to transcend that humanity.
Tech is anti-harm and or technodeadly gun. Lack / control in context means fighting to give programming our lives more than a technical meaning.
If we want psychotechnological tools bridging heart and online, we need to find time to talk more than power and paranoia, and add more mentally healthy methods to our programming commits.
Commitments to giving technology a meaning as a lifeline, begins with supporting deeper programming, deprogramming technicality and nuance left out by profit.
Deprogramming psychotechnological tools sciencing ideas of power for people who hurt, is real.
A major technical problem, life's reality problem..
Tooling real life guns v. life aware tools, together, finds us interconnecting unit-tests with reality-tests with reality-cared..
Psychotechnological tools can care to remember and understand, as well as dominate and aggress, so is it maybe about balancing complex emotions - with complex problems - with complex technical gears?
Wearing Glass can be caring as well as wearing Glass can be baring.
So real as I fear technology, I fear people without technical senses, so I feel we need equally care.
Maybe technology can be more sensitive .. so maybe people can be more sensitive?
-The idea of using an avatar to mask your true physical appearance. This seems like an appealing idea since changing your avatar on a settings panel is easier than keeping well-groomed and presentable. Perhaps citizens of the Google Glass world no longer feel the need to stay healthy and attractive? Could this level the playing field and take sexual attractiveness out of the picture altogether? Never again would someone be "out of your league." Will all our loving relationships be calculated and planned based on some OkCupid-esque compatibility algorithm? Perhaps a side-effect of this is a higher rate of sustainable marriages and a decreased divorce rate. So not completely bad and creepy.
-The way the author claims "You know you have free will, but don’t feel like you need it." I've felt for a while that the more realistic dystopian future is closer to Brave New World than to 1984, in which people willingly give up their freedom rather than have it snatched away from them. Instead of saying "You know you have free will, but it doesn't really feel like it," Pananberg opts for the phrasing "don't feel like you need it." It seems to suggest that free will in a Google Glass world is a burden, and that giving up that freedom to a benevolent intelligence just feels easier.
Either way, when I finished the article I pressed the "like" button, sending the event to my Facebook Timeline so that all my friends can stay connected with the things I find interesting and so that Facebook's Hadoop clusters can factor it into their advertising algorithms, allowing the company to more intelligently display products I would be interested in buying. I'll tell you one thing, that no longer includes Google Glass.
Nothing about the scenario in the article actually suggests a loss of free will - if anything it suggests a gain of super-free will in which people are more able to have their desires fulfilled by accentuating and enhancing what the real world can offer.
At the end of the article, it depicts the people taking off their Glass only to find the real world bland and uncomfortable, quickly returning to the relative comfort of the virtual reality they've grown dependent on. These people can no longer cope with life on life's terms. If that's not a loss of free will then I don't know what is.
That's probably what creeped me out about Wall-e's distopian future more than anything else. It's the embodiment of what was described in this article, without the happy ending...
The audience A Brave New World was written for probably didn't think that their countries faced existential threats or that much could happen that would radically change the world order. Reading texts around the early responses to the Great Depression you get a sense of a great dissatisfaction with the status quo, and that advocates of both fascist and of communist policies thought their biggest threat was the obstinance of the status quo rather than revolutionary change in the "wrong" direction. The dystopia of A Brave New World seems to have come about by a gradual but unstoppable transformation.
The 1984 audience on the other hand would accept a larger domain of world-changing possibilities, but perhaps have been conditioned to war, and have acknowledged that habituation toward a perpetual state of war was a tool for autocratic government, just as much as a government unchallenged by external threats had freedom to become autocratic. Though the 1984 world has war depicted as distant and a routine part of life, it was a key part of the story, and difference between the two stories might be summed up as the difference between a peacetime dystopia and a wartime dystopia.
You can probably find both trends in our own time. The people who dream of "9/12" as a better world, see the spirit surrounding national trauma as amenable to getting their way. Then on the other end, when you hear congressmen discussing regulations on the internet, they get hysterical about the lack of deference people creating new stuff have. I suppose the congressional smugness around how everything would be okay if we didn't have disobedient progress is more an example of what radicals in the 1930s feared, but it does typify the challenges that peacetime societies face.
Anyway, that was a long way to get at the point that I agree with you that A Brave New World is a more plausible scenario than 1984 right now at least. However, what you described as appealing struck me as pretty specifically what made A Brave New World a dystopia.
Sexual attractiveness is a part of sexual attraction. Furthermore it is a source of pleasure and enjoyment for people, not just a way that they are excluded. In A Brave New World sexual relationships were very low effort—and I think that was the problem. Even if the algorithm were good enough not to just link you up with someone who is similar, but also found traits that are good complements, the unpredictable process of meeting someone who may not be perfect for you and the struggle and effort involved is pretty important.
>Sexual attractiveness is a part of sexual attraction. Furthermore it is a source of pleasure and enjoyment for people, not just a way that they are excluded. In A Brave New World sexual relationships were very low effort—and I think that was the problem. Even if the algorithm were good enough not to just link you up with someone who is similar, but also found traits that are good complements, the unpredictable process of meeting someone who may not be perfect for you and the struggle and effort involved is pretty important.
I completely agree and would prefer it to stay this way (although my dating skills could probably use some improvement). While writing my comment I was trying to avoid too many kneejerk value judgements and instead explore the possible outcomes of the described scenario. But yeah, like you said, all that uncomfortable stuff is really important, and sexual attractiveness is generally an indicator of good health and reproductive viability, so disregarding it would seem unwise.
Actually, I want this.
I always hate it when I enter a party and the violent cacophony of five or even ten simultaneous conversations hits me at once. And even when I find a group of people I can stand, there's this awful noise all around. It would be pretty awesome if glass could not only find the people for me, but also actively filter everybody else, so I can talk in relative quiet.
Sounds like you want all of the social without the part where you interact with society.
Just a thought.
What exactly is the purpose of being here if all you are doing is somewhat stochastically deciding between a few sterile choices presented to you by a computer? Why bother interacting with people who's life experience is basically just ads and the most agreeable-seeming things they elected to participate in from their preferred social network?
How utterly fucking boring.
It's enough to make me want to live in a cabin in the woods with nothing but a 28.8 and some old Irix box to keep me and my dogs company. >:(
All you are doing is being empowered to ignore things which don't match your advertising profile most closely, being empowered to ignore things outside your comfort zone (in 10 years, I'm sure this will be popular with the yuppies in SF who would like to even more easily ignore the homeless refugees of gentrification).
A basic part of the human experience--of being a complete person--is learning how to interact with other people who may or may not be easy to get along with, and exploring new things and perspectives on life. Nowhere in this vignette is there a suggestion that the Glass will help you learn to interact with other people (because it is set to minimize the presentation of those you aren't predisposed to get along with) or encounter new things (that aren't carefully cultivated by the big data engines).
Let's not even go into the privacy concerns here (because clearly nobody gives a chrome-plated fuck about that anymore), or the unfortunate, darker sides to this.
I think that statement about getting along with difficult people being a basic part of the human experience doesn't have to be true. It just happens to be part of the human experience now. And in any case, while the story didn't offer any glimpse of Glass helping you to encounter new things or learn to interact with other people, there's no reason why it couldn't.
As though you aren't stochastically deciding between a few sterile choices presented to you by your chain of previous deterministic actions
Must be one of those freaky avatar conventions going on in the same hotel.
And I gotta say, they throw the best damn parties.
That sounds very plausible to me, and we're already seeing it on a significantly smaller scale.
I assume that one could not wear Glass in the future yet still have online profiles (which others would perhaps still be able to see with facial rec. via their Glass).
Instead, it's a candid admission that Pandodaily is a timesuck of low value linkbait, and that from this dystopian vantage point the article views a more hopeful future.
Kind of like modern food is toxic and unhealthy, but hey it's cheap, there's lots of it and well... It doesn't taste that bad! Thanks but no thanks, I'll stick to lean meat, fish, seeds and berries even though it costs me twice/thrice the money let alone preparation. And it can't be preserved as well. But whatever, fuck the dystopian future. :)
The real dystopia comes with privileged groups being able to block recognition.
While taken individually, many of the technologies presented in the story seem to be useful or even fun, the world they create is inescapably bland. And it's the inescapability of it that makes it so awful. While on the surface these theoretical advances provide value, they also potentially destroy the possibility of serendipitous interaction, of meeting someone incompatible, of having your perspective changed, of connecting with someone intimately.
For me, the "problems" being solved by the tech in this story are much of what makes life worth living. While building technology, I think it's important to consider the effects and side effects of these things, and to focus on technology that improves and enhances our lives, rather than takes them over.
That sounds amazing! I would probably filter it to give me specific results because I'm not as interested in some of those things than others.
The first is that the services we use today (Yelp, Facebook, Google, etc.) will continue to be the dominate services of the future. Of course, the author probably just used these names for convenience instead of inventing new companies, but I have a feeling that the apps and services we'll be using 10 years from now don't exist today.
A more pressing false assumption is that all of these services (or whatever services are being used) will harmoniously work together. Though we have pretty strong inter-service collaboration currently (such Yelp telling us which restaurants our Facebook friends like), it is not that often that these platform relationships exist and even less common that everyone will be using the same interconnected services.
Finally, the assumption that is both the most necessary for this reality to be our future yet is also the most dubious is that with the dawn of quantum computing, algorithms will be able to properly interpret and predict human behavior. Thus far, algorithms fail pretty miserably at this (when was the last time you actually wanted to buy something suggested to you by Amazon?) and although the future resources available will have the capacity to interpret human behavior, it will be much farther in the future before we really will be able to utilize these available resources.
I still believe that always-on wearable computers with a constant information stream is where the consumer technology industry is heading (I've been saying this for years, and I don't necessarily think that Google will be the ones to perfect this formula). However, before we reach a society like the one predicted by this article, we (as computer scientists and mathematicians) need to become much better at interpreting and predicting human behavior. I think the first step in this is to understand how the brain works, which is probably going to be the most exciting facit of biomedical research in the coming decades.
"You know you have free will, but don’t feel like you need it."
Which is odd, considering that the protagonist of the tale has done nothing but make choices throughout the whole story.
We used to call it news media ;-)
Then throw in this: http://www.economist.com/news/business/21578360-brain-work-m...
Perhaps the first group will dwindle faster than we think.
Would there even be loudspeakers in such a world? If we all wore computers with earpieces, there would be no need for sound amplification as we know it now. I, for one, would welcome the end of music played over loudspeakers in public places, chosen according to someone else's idea of what music the masses would like.
Simultaneously being 0 and 1 at the same time? Solving problems faster than imaginable?
Is it possible to understand the ideas behind quantum computing without having a physics degree? Is there a good layman introduction somewhere?
If you have 0 and 1 as inputs you have to try all possible combinations to get all possible results and choose an optimal one.
If you have all possible combinations of 0 and 1 at once you can just use the optimal solution in one step.
«For under the firm measure,
The crude, too, is useful,
That the pure may know itself.»
-- Hoelderlin, The Titans
In a sense, we see two very crude tools: public surveillance via legislation or public surveillance via a device (which some "market") apparently demands. In all of the ways we have come to know and love, these are both problematical departures from a reality alluded to in the Internet Declaration of Independence.
The old ways of thinking are an impasse. You must understand that the old ways of thinking are an impasse. In Heidegger's terms, such an impasse can be described by the fact that [we are the sign that is not read]. Moreover, that we are still not thinking, yet we are underway to thinking.
«And let not much-current habit force you into this way,
to let roam sightless eyes and noise-cluttered ear
and [tongue*], rather discriminate in reflection . . .»
Debord may service as a modulation of Hedeigger's foreboding:
«The self-emancipation of our time is an emancipation from the material bases of inverted truth. This “historic mission of establishing truth in the world” can be carried out neither by the isolated individual nor by atomized and manipulated masses, but only and always by the class that is able to dissolve all classes by reducing all power to the de-alienating form of realized democracy — to councils in which practical theory verifies itself and surveys its own actions. This is possible only when individuals are “directly linked to world history” and [dialogue*] arms itself to impose its own conditions.»
Heidegger is a bit more optimistic, as he essentially must be:
«"What is called thinking?" At the end we return to the question we asked at first when we found out what our word "thinking" originally means. _Thanc_ means memory, thinking that recalls, thanks [interjecting "Likes"!].
But in the meantime we have learned to see that the essential nature of thinking is determined by what there is to be thought about: the presence of what is present, the Being of beings. Thinking is thinking only when it _recalls_ in thought ἐόν, That which this word indicates properly and truly, that is, unspoken, tacitly. And that is the duality of beings and Being. This quality is what properly gives food for thought. And what is so given, is the gift of what is most worthy of question.
Can thinking take this gift into its hands, that is, take it to heart, in order to entrust it in λέγειν, in the telling statement, to the original speech of language?»