If you’ve ever studied infomercials, you know the whole business is based on back-end sales. It’s not the product you buy for $19.95, it’s the products they can hook you into after you spend the $19.95.
So it is with Google Glass. It’s all about the apps that’ll be attached. .
Glass gives the wearer short-hand reality as he taps in. That’s what it’s for. The user is “on the go.” If he’s driving his Lexus and suddenly thinks about Plato, he’s not going to download the full text of The Republic to mull while he’s crashing into big trucks on the Jersey Turnpike. He’s going to take a shorthand summary. A few lines.
People want boiled-down info while they’re on the move. Reduction. The “essentials.”
This is perfectly in line with the codes of the culture. Ads, quick-hitter seminars, headlines, two-sentence summaries, ratings for products, news with no context. Stripped-down, reduced.
Well, here is a look into right now. A student at Stanford is developing a Google app that “reads other people.”
From SFGate, 8/26, “Google Glass being designed to read emotions”: “The [emotion-recognition] tools can analyze facial expressions and vocal patterns for signs of specific emotions: Happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, and more.”
This is the work of Catalin Voss, an 18-year-old student at Stanford and his start-up company, Sension.
So you’re wearing Google Glass at a meeting and it checks out the guy across the table who has an empty expression on his mug and, above your right eye, you see the word “neutral.” Now he smiles, and the word “happy” appears.
I kid you not. This information is supposed to guide you in your communication. The number of things that can go wrong? Count the ways, if you’re able. I’m personally looking forward to that guy across the table saying, “Hey, you, schmuck with the Glass, what is your app saying about me now? Angry?” That should certainly enhance the communication.
Or a husband, just back from his 12-mile morning bike ride, enters his Palo Alto home, wearing Glass, of course, and as he looks at his wife, who is sitting at the kitchen table reading a book, sees the word “sad” appear above his eye. “Honey,” he says, recalling the skills he picked up in a 26- minute webinar, “have you been pursuing a negative line of thinking?”
She slowly gazes up at the goggle-eyed monster in his spandex and grasshopper helmet, rises from her chair and tosses a plate of hot eggs in his face. YouTube, please!
But wait. There’s more. The Glass app is also being heralded as a step forward in “machine-human relationships.” With recognition services like Google Now and Siri, when computers and human users talk to each other, the computers will be able to respond not only to the content of the user’s words, but also to his tone, his feelings.
This should be a real marvel. As you’ve no doubt already realized, the emotion-recognition tool is all about reduction. It shrinks human feelings to simplistic labels. Therefore, what machines say back to humans will be something to behold.
Machine version of NLP, anyone? I’m predicting a surge in destroyed computers.
You think you’ve observed predictive programing in movies? That’s nothing. The use of apps like this one will help bring about a greater willingness on the part of humans to reduce their own thoughts and feelings to…FIT THE SPECS OF THE MACHINES AND THE SOFTWARE.
Count on it.
This isn’t really about machines acting more like humans. It’s about humans acting like machines.
The potential range of human emotions is extraordinary. Our language, when used with imagination, actually extends that range. It’s something called art.
The counter-trend is in gear. No matter how subtle the emotion-recognition algorithms become, there will always be a wide, wide gap between what they produce and the expression of humans.
The most profound kind of mind control seeks to eliminate that gap by encouraging us to mimic technology. That means people will think and feel less, and what they think and feel will mean less.
The machines won’t say, “I’m sorry, I can’t identify that emotion, it’s too complex.” They’ll say “sad” or “happy” or “upset” or whatever they have to say to give the appearance that they’re on top of the human condition.
Eventually, significant numbers of people will tailor their self-awareness to what the machines point to, name, label, declare.
Thus, inventing reality.
The wolf becomes a lamb, the lamb becomes a flea.
And peace prevails. You can wear it and see with it.
Eventually, realizing that Glass is too obvious and obnoxious and bulky, companies will develop something they might call Third Eye, a chip the size of half a grain of rice, made flat, and inserted under the skin of the forehead.
Perfect. Invisible. Of course, cops will have them. And talk to them.
“I’m parked at the corner of Wilshire and Westwood. Suspicious male standing outside the Harmon Building.”
Which means any past arrests, race, conditions noted in his medical records, tax status, questionable statements he’s made in public or private, significant known associates, group affiliations, etc. And present state of mind.
The cop: “Recommendation?”
“Passive-aggressive, right now he’s peaking at 3.2 on the Hoover Bipolar scale. Bring subject into custody for general questioning.”
No one will wonder why, because such analysis resonates with the vastly reduced general perception of what reality is all about.
People mimic how machines see them and adjust their human thinking accordingly.
Hand and glove, key and lock. Wonderful.
As the cop is transporting the suspect to the station, Third Eye intercedes:
“Sorry, Officer Crane, it took me a minute to dig further. Suspect is business associate of REDACTED. This is a catch and release. Repeat, catch and release. Printing out four backstage passes to Third Memorial Rolling Stones concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Apologize profusely, give subject the tickets, and release him immediately.”
“This arrest and attendant communication is being deleted…now.”