Ted Rall: Google Glass RIP, Sorta Kinda

google glass guy
Written by Ted Rall

Ted Rall on the semi-death of Google Glass.

aNewDomain — Google Glass, RIP.


For those who have been living under a very heavy, large rock as of late, Google Glass were/are dorky “safety glasses”-style specs that allow you to execute primitive smartphone-type actions with movements of your eyes, like take photographs and get directions.

Today Google has either killed the project entirely or, at bare minimum, put it on significant hiatus. The current model will be discontinued, as will the Explorer program that allowed software developers to buy them for $1500.

google glass orange featured

The original model is gone forever, even though “Google says it is committed to working on the future of the product, but gave no timescale for the launch of any new version,” according to the BBC. “Google has tried to present this announcement as just another step in the evolution of an amazing innovation. But make no mistake – Google Glass is dead, at least in its present form.”

Technology, I have always believed, is neutral. Radiation-based chemotherapy saves lives; depleted uranium bombs take them away. Whether tech makes our lives better or worse depends on what we — or the powers that be — choose to do with it.

Another assumption of mine: Choosing not to pursue technological innovation because you worry about its ramifications is pointless. If you don’t follow the science, someone else will. Again with the nuclear metaphor: If FDR had followed Einstein’s warning that atomic research would lead to terrible destruction, it would have been highly unlikely that Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan would have followed suit, and where would we be then?

I still believe both of those things.

Aside from the obvious appeal of feeling like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the first Terminator movie, using your glasses to direct your life, get the weather, send a text message or whatever you desire, all without moving a muscle, might sound great. And there are plenty of applications for Google Glass (which, by the way, always struck me as a confusingly stupid name) – like field surgery, for example. On the other hand, there will always be assholes — there’s no politer word, but Glassholes was cute — who would use it inappropriately. Like, for example, to take photographs of people at a nude beach.

A lot of people find the device creepy.

This puts glass wearers in a position of control,” notes Scientific American. “They can take pictures and videos, post things online and even possibly use face-recognition apps to identify strangers in a crowd.”

I, for one, have little interest in someone “recognizing” me at my local watering hole, where I prefer to be left alone to nurse my drink or hang out with my friend, than forced to engage in a discussion about, say, this article.

And I really don’t want them to upload my reactions to YouTube. Privacy may be all but dead, but I’m holding on to what little is left by hook and crook.

google glass guy

Google supposedly hires the smartest guys in the room (and a few of the women), yet their collective “genius” was taken by surprise at the negative reaction to Glass. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Sebastian Thrun, a former Google X executive who was involved in the early stages of Glass, said the team was surprised by the negative reaction and privacy concerns. ‘The word Glasshole was a surprise to me. None of us had thought about that,’ he said. Google is also trying to address privacy concerns in its next generation Glass. The company is considering adding a light to show when the outward-facing camera is recording, said Brian Ballard, chief executive of APX Labs, a wearable-technology startup that develops software for Glass.”

Personally, I think it should be attached to a hat whose propeller starts spinning the second the camera goes on. But that’s me.

For aNewDomain, I’m .

First/Featured Image: google-glass-12” by Giuseppe Costantino via Flickr Creative Commons

Second Image: Google Glass” by K?rlis Dambr?ns via Flickr Creative Commons