The Slippery Slope of Technological Integration

by Matt Klassen on March 15, 2013

When the modern telephone was first made available to the public in the 19th century many were sceptical about its necessity and concerned about risks involved in its use. In fact, many refused to adopt the telephone over fears that talking on the device was an inherent privacy risk, that one might catch a disease from the person on the other end of the line, or that talking with a machine might adversely effect community relationships—strange how two of the three remain legitimate concerns today.

The point being, of course, that its often difficult to introduce new paradigm shifting technologies into a given culture, as such change is often accompanied by rising uncertainty and fear over how it will alter the comfortable status quo.

So it’s no wonder that many are approaching Google’s revolutionary Google Glass eyewear project with the same sort of scepticism and concern, fearful that augmented reality wearable technology may in fact augment our reality; changing how we interact with others, how we access information, and leading down a slippery slope to more pervasive threats such as addiction and anti-social behaviours. But is there really anything to worry about?

The answer to the question “Is there anything to worry about when adopting Google Glass?” is the same answer to the question about whether there are concerns when adopting any technology; and it’s ‘absolutely!’ On a philosophical level, I find it vitally important that all of us consider the impact that technology has on our lives before we adopt it, noting both the positives such integration can bring and the negatives such advancements can create.

Simply put, despite what many think, technology is not a benign component of our lives, but something that exhibits a great deal of influence over how we think, act, and interact with others. As I’ve said before, consider the role the clock plays in our lives, a simple device designed to measure the passing of time that has come to control practically every facet of our existence, or more recently the smartphone, a hand-held computing and communication platform that many now wonder how they ever lived without.

Technology changes us, so before we scoff at those approaching the search engine giant’s Google Glass project with scepticism and fear, perhaps we should recognize that uncritical adoption is just as illogical, and likely far more deleterious.

In fact when you hear Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s comments back in 2010, when he declared, “We want to make Google the third half of your brain,” perhaps there’s good reason to be wary of this burgeoning technology. There has been the longstanding concern that dependence on technology robs us of our humanity, and while perhaps not to the levels shown through dystopian science fiction media, perhaps there is some truth to that notion, that the more we integrate technology into our biological processes the more we start to resemble the machine’s we create.

There is also the pervasive fear that wearable technology like Google Glass will simply exacerbate the disruption mobile technology has already wrought on privacy, relationships, and social etiquette, with many decrying loud phone talkers, constant texters, or Siri-lovers as only the beginning of this social upheaval. As CNET writer Dan Farber writes, “now they will chatting via Glass and recording whatever the Glass sees and sending it back to the Google cloud for targeting and anonymized data mining.”

In the end, I can’t help but think that eventually wearable technology like Google Glass will overcome these initial concerns and spark mass adoption, but perhaps in the not-so-distant future when cyborgs rule the earth, we’ll wonder why we didn’t take a second to think a little deeper about the slippery slope of technological integration.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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Google Glass Shouldn’t Have to Worry about Privacy (Yet) — TheTelecomBlog.com
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