April 14, 2012

#Google riffs on #Kaku ... and #Huxley and #BraveNewWorld

Ross Douthat gives us his overview of Google's Project Glass, which appears to be the search giant's riff on Kurzweilian futurist Michio Kaku's Internet contact lenses. The first three-quarters of this is almost certainly Douthat's best column ever. I don't agree with everything in it, but I think he's certainly right to raise the issue of social dystopianism, even if it's overblown.

I think it is overblown, but, contra the Clay Shirkys of the world [mentioned by name], it's not nearly as overblown as they claim. Douthat's onto something. And, beyond the dystopian, anti-cokmmunal angle is the one of pure egotism, and the money to drive early purchasers of something like this type of technology.

Sadly, Douthat doesn't go into that, and hence, his last one-quarter of the column falls short.

He, probably rightly, worries about what the government might do with this, while saying it's probably not a lot.

But, like all big-business friendly, big-money friendly conservatives, on such a dystopianly empowering technology like this, Douthat's playbook comes entirely from George Orwell and "1984" and not at all from Aldous Huxley and "Brave New World."

The hell with Washington, which probably couldn't manage the flood of data. What about Google?

Rather than Google spitting out Groupon type coupons on your smartphone, what if they pop out on your eyeballs' viewing area? Or Google says, "based on previous Google Glass viewing, you should buy this." Just imagine what Marky Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook would want to do, speaking of anticommunitarianism in the "real" world.

Douthat could have done soooo much more with this. And didn't. You actually maybe should be MORE scared than he is.

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