Doctor Who Meets Google Glass

08 Apr
April 8, 2013

What will you do when the intergalactic evil takes over Google Glass.

In this week’s season opener of Dr. Who on BBC America, we learn that (SPOILER ALERT) evil protagonists can monitor the Doctor’s activities by capturing all of the images on all the cameras in the world using wifi technology.  Using image recognition and their huge databases, the protagonists can track the Doctor around London and sense when their hideout is in danger.  (“I do love London.  So many cameras,” says the the deliciously whacked Miss Kizlet.)

At first, I thought about the outrageous science.  Bah!  How could a central service capture all of the images from cameras around the world using wireless technology.  Who would allow that!

Welcome, Google Glass.  We have the technology today and it is in our midst.  Instead of a camera, you have eyeglasses with a screen that allows you to search the web.  Data is closer than your fingertips.  Email is a whisper away.  Yelp! while walking.  And, you can document your life with photos and video just by saying “Glass, take a picture.”

Google Glass had one of the most effective roll-out campaigns for a new technology that I have ever seen.  To make it sexy, they paraded models wearing Glass at New York Fashion Week.  Early test models were given to cool implementers.  And, then, there was the If I Had Glass Campaign (#ifihadglass campaign) in which people lusting for Glass could explain what they would do with them by Tweeting 50 words or less.  Of course, Tweets are public and the excitement builds.  (My favorite was from LeVar Burton who played the visor-wearing Geordi LaForge on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  He said, “#ifihadglass It would be a downgrade. -Geordi La Forge.”

Great marketing.

But, is this now the extreme of privacy concerns.  Can people just take your picture or a video without even taking out a camera?

Imagine if the U.S. Government announced that it would provide cameras to anyone who wanted them.  It would even give access to the internet with the cameras.  All you needed to do was to agree to have all your images copied to a national database that could be mined.  Take all the images you want — without asking permission of those around you.  Do you think there would be an uproar?

Well, it isn’t the U.S. government,  But, it is Google.  (Which, by the way, seems to have better computers and integrated databases than the U.S. Government.)

No Glass

Last month, Seattle’s 5 Point Cafe, became the first known organization to publicly ban Google Glass.  The No Glass logo was developed by Stop The Cyborgs, a London-based group that says it is “fighting the algorithmic future one bit at a time.”  You can download your own signs.  My sense is that we will become more concerned as these videos start showing up on Google Plus.  (There are a lot of parody videos already.  Watch: How Guys Will Use Google Glass.

As a new technology guy, I am eagerly looking to try on Google Glass for the first time.  As a privacy guy, I am concerned.  We may not be waiting for the great intergalactic evil.  And, the informal Google motto may well Don’t Be Evil.”

But, as the good doctor tells us, “Be Afraid.”

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