The Star-News


Beware the future

Sat, Feb 25 2012 12:00 PM Posted By: Carlos R. Davalos

It's hard to remember the last time I was excited about a piece of consumer technology.

The iPod? A glorified mp3 player which in turn was a glorified Walkman/casette player. Big deal.

Smartphones? Nifty I suppose, but if I wasn’t in “media” I would be just as content with a cell phone that only made calls.

Kindles, Nooks and electronic tablets — expensive paper weights.

Given my tepid reactions to the gadgets that are supposed to make our lives better, it’s no wonder I’m not thrilled by what’s on the horizon. But to be anxious about it? Is it a consequence of aging and curmudgeonliness or are my misgivings founded in a legitimnate concern that we’re screwed?

The New York Times reports that by year’s end Google will be selling glasses that display information on one of the lenses.

Think of the Google glasses as eyewear with a mobile computer screen. Practical applications may include map overlays for directions, tourist information about landmarks and neighborhoods and, perhaps, facial recognition.

Of course, the hidden benefits — to marketers, cops and weird people — are the ability to gather information about you and me as we mind our business walking down the street.

Excuse me if I’m not thrilled about these creeper peepers becoming a reality.

While the idea of having an eyepiece that transmits real time data to me is fantastic, it’s one of those developments

I’m wishing would have remained the stuff of science fiction.

Aside from being tracked by a satellite, which after all would be required if you’re seeking directions:

Do you really want to share the freeway with some guy who is watching ESPN on his eyeglasses?

Do you want to be bombarded  with ads as you see the sights in San Francisco on a weekend getaway?

Do you want that stranger walking toward you to know who you are because his glasses let him use facial recognition software that’s linked to Facebook so he can determine if you’re a friend of a friend of a friend?

Lastly, do we want legislators in one more aspect of our lives as they try to manage privacy issues, public safety and the free market? I don’t.

The idea of having a Terminator-like eyepiece was a cool one when I was younger. But as I got older I realized not everything cool was necessary or even worthwhile.

Technology and gadgets can be fun to consider in the abstract, but when they become reality and they bump into the messiness of reality, that fun is short lived.


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