The prospect of millions of people turning the sidewalks and coffee shops into filmed space, tied to location data and coupled with Google's ever-evolving facial recognition software, points toward a new reality of implicitly accepting one is being filmed whenever one leaves home. Publicly collected data is already used in criminal cases, from the use of Google search data to trace the location and identity of an art thief to the inadvertent geo-tagging of a Twitter picture leading to the arrest of John McAfee. Introducing head-mounted streaming cameras into the public space, will likely only enhance the sense that some fragment of your life may be flagged at some later date and judged illegitimate by an authority you have no control over. And inevitably there will be some unlucky children who graduate from toddler leashes to head-mounted cameras so their parents can observe their play dates or classroom activity.
In an essay about the worrisome trend of "smart technology," Evgeny Morozov argued, "Devices that are 'good smart' leave us in complete control of the situation and seek to enhance our decision-making by providing more information." Google's video pitch for Glass features a variety of privileged experiences—from hurrying backstage before a ballet performance to doing barrel rolls in a flying club—placed alongside moments that used to pass for quotidian, a few moments spent with a child in the backyard or a solitary lunch in a working class neighborhood.
The implication is that without Glass, our lives have lost their sense of extraordinary possibility, impoverished by our inability to peer into other people's senses and see what it's like to skydive or have a bowl of noodles in Thailand. In a more representative version, the video would be a long unbroken stream of time spent before computer screens, with periodic exchanges where direct eye contact is greeted with mistrust, a panorama view of how technology has weened us off the dependence on one another and instead given us the digital equivalent of formula bottles to prize and defend as if they contained our very lifeblood. Why ask a stranger for directions when you could ask a computer? Why share a thought with the person next to you when you could text it to someone a thousand miles away? Why not film everything and send it to wherever the 10 goes when you transform it into something so large nobody knows what it is anymore?