At the most recent Google I/O™, an annual conference in San Francisco at which Google unveils its latest technologies to the development community, Sergey Brin made his grand entrance via Google Hangout. From ten thousand feet in the air. While sky diving. How did he pull off such a feat? He was wearing Google’s latest and most highly anticipated creation, Project Glass.
The mythology surrounding the announcement of the Project Glass devices began a few months prior, when Google X, a secretive and highly experimental division of Google, released a promotional video depicting a world of “augmented reality” where surfaces, spaces, things, and people would be digitally overlaid by maps, encyclopedia entries, and social media information. Project Glass, as Google has portrayed it, will further tie together our already interconnected world, putting at our fingertips a potentially limitless amount of information in a manner unlike Molly’s implants in Neuromancer by William Gibson.
Although most of the functionality portrayed in the promotional video remains to be implemented by the developers who eagerly shelled out $1500 for the first version of the devices to be released next spring, the Sixth Sense project in MIT Media lab has shown that Google’s “augmented” reality is not actually far from it.
However, Project Glass-like augmentation comes at a cost. As it is, students like myself have trouble resisting the distractions of the internet, going onto news and social networking sites during class instead of paying attention to the professor at the front of the room. What is to prevent the same behavior from bleeding into the rest of our lives? How can we prevent our human interactions from turning into an aggregated exchange of tweets, check-ins, and likes? When we start relying on technology to mediate our interactions by providing us with the content of those interactions, we begin to cede not just our thoughts, but the very interactions themselves.
Update: Really relevant article from CNET on “How Google is becoming an extension of your mind“
(This post is taken from a reading response for my English class “Science Fiction and the Technologies of Identity,” taught by Professor Alfred Guy)