Google Glass is project to be launched from the lab of ‘Google X’ for the masses. But maybe you thinking “this just another gadget”?
Well, when you start to put the pieces of the puzzle together you too may start to think this is a step along the way to ‘think and search’ capabilities for the Google Search engine, telepathic machines and the creation of human connections in very new ways.
Since the announcement of Google Glass in 2012, I’ve been sharing just about every video, every article and just about every picture fly past their stream.
For those that don’t know, ‘Google Glass’ is a device that you wear, like glasses, which allows you to e.g. send emails, take pictures and video, join Google hangouts, follow directions on a Map and, well, just about anything that the developers have the imagination of creating.
Check out this quick video for a better idea.
So, as you can see, ‘Google Glass’ overlays reality with ‘content’ and acts as a kind of interface between two worlds…
So then, what is augmented reality?
Definition: (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. (reference)
In other words, we can add a layer on top of what we see.
I truly believe Google Glass will act like a bridge between two worlds – the real world, and the virtual (or ‘mirror’ world). But this type of wearable technology will lead us into a new age of boundary crossing. In (I’m guessing) about 15 years time the conversation about privacy will start to shift into a whole new phase when tech that enables individuals to communicate with machines and people using ‘thought’ comes on the scene commercially. But we are getting ahead of ourselves, let’s first look where we are today…
The current age: Before-Glass (for most of us)
When you see someone holding a phone, or a camera in their hands you assume they are taking a picture. As such you either decide to politely step in, step out or simply photobomb it like a boss.
Whichever way, the individual very often (but not always) has decided whether to be photographed or filmed.
With Google+ we saw the start to a new phenomenon however, in the form of live video streaming straight onto YouTube from a phone or wireless device. So not only were people being filmed, that content would appear on YouTube (currenlty ‘live’ for everyone to see as the default) and be stored as ‘publicly’ available a lot of the time.
The future: After Glass
With Google Glass, the potential to have the world, and hence the people in it, streamed straight from the real world into the mirror world (as Steven Levy calls it ‘In The Plex’) suddenly becomes more likely as people no longer are ‘holding’ anything – the glasses are simply sitting unobstrusively on the streamers face.
If this technology takes off, people will increasingly stream the world in and it will be seen as the norm.
People criticising ‘Glass’ have almost certainly not entered the ‘stream’ of Google Plus, with its seriously quick feedback loops and incredible level of felt experience through human connectivity.
Once you have experienced what I mean, you ‘get it’ – Google+ is a different kind of experience.
When you see ‘Glass’ as a bridge between two worlds, the ‘real world’ and the ‘mirror world’ (as +Steven Levy called it in ‘In The Plex’) then you start to really get it.
Google Glass is not just a gadget, it enables connecting between ‘things’ on even more. When you add in apps like the one in the link, with far more to follow I am sure, you can stream real life and have it uploaded straight onto your YouTube channel. More here.
Add in hangouts-on-air integration and, well, the bridge connects the two worlds even more. It was possible with phones and tablets, yes, but this gives us the freedom to be, in a new way. I think it is exciting, with some challenges ahead. When it comes to change maybe it will be a case that first people will ridicule – Saturday Night Live, included – then they will oppose (even with legislation of ‘you cannot where those here/there’) and then it will become integrated into society with appropriate cultural responses.
We have to know, the, that Google Glass is going to be part of the Google Plus experience. As such, let’s consider the role of Google+…
The role of Google Plus and the social layer.
Since Vic Gundotra described Google+ as adding a ‘social layer’ over the Google products and services, we can see that with Project glass we will be able to add more meaning to the world around us i.e. we will be able to add a layer based upon the people with whom we are interacting.
This layer will, in turn, be “our layer”. As such, let’s take a quick look at how Glass works…
Different people will have a different layer and on the simplest level, if we are walking down a steet and thinking of finding a good restaurant, it will be great to see what our friends say about places we are considering.
Also, if we are travelling we will be able to access more people quickly who are in our circles in a certain location, ask Google for a translation of a word or phrase into a foreign language, access our emails without having to fiddle with our phones etc. And all of these things will be available to us very soon. But there is something else as well, ‘Google Glass’ is a project that has come out of ‘Google X’
What is ‘Google X’?
“Larry and Sergey founded Google because they wanted to help solve really big problems using technology,” said Sebastian Thrun
Larry Page says, “I just feel like people aren’t working enough on impactful things. People are really afraid of failure on things, and so it’s hard for them to do ambitious stuff. And also, they don’t realize the power of technological solutions to things, especially computers.” Steven Levy “In the Plex”.
One of the biggest problems we face on this planet is understanding other people’s points of view; many a war has been fought over different ideologies.
Firstly, you may like to check out their site to know more…
From the February 2012 event, Solve for X:
“Each of the speakers shared surprising visions of how breakthrough technology can be applied to huge problems – and maybe just change the world. In our format, after the talk, we break into groups so that everyone then can contribute brainstorm ideas to both evolve and test these visions.”
Focusing now on Mary Jepsen’s wonderful talk here:
As you can see, the brain/mind interfaces are starting to come together.
I would guess one of the easiest (I know, I say ‘easiest’) initial new technology we see to appear will involve ‘Think and Search’ whereby the inner voice (auditory) is turned into ‘Search’. This is just a step up from Voice Search that we have now on an Android device, expect that instead of verbalising the sounds, we simply think the sounds and that in turn becomes inputed into Search – the results potentially being show on a screen i.e. something like Google Glass would work rather well.
From there we may like to input the information obtained from Google Search directly into the brain, but that would require a little more research (although it was indicated in ‘In the Plex’ that this is the ideal.)
But for now, to have ‘Think to Search’ the first bit would just be to access the internal dialogue i.e. the voice in your head (auditory).
Research is being done all over the world in this area. Check out this article and video below on how a telepathy machine reconstructs speech from brain waves.
I started to wonder if this could create mind-to-mind communication. Or, in lay terms, telepathy.
That would be a very interesting bit of wearable tech, when the time comes!
How would such a machine work?
So, just for fun, here is a sketch of how a telepathy machine would work:
Stage One – Output thoughts
Next, you know those images in your head? Well, they can be outputed them onto a screen as well. Mark sure you check out the video from Jepsen’s talk above to see what is being done.
If you are feeling lazy then here is the 30 second version:
The images on the right on the screen are recreated from brain activity when someone is shown the left hand movie clips. Early day, but in time it will become much more of a match.
Stage Two – Input other people’s thoughts
Once you can transmit the thought (image or sound) to a machine, the next stage would be to “send that to a person’s mind”.
An interface such as Google’s project Glass fits in well – the images could be shown on a screen in front of you, or you could hear the auditory aspects ‘said’ to you…
In time, such glasses could, for instance, show the image of the thought and a person could interact based upon that. If you think of “a cat”, no matter what the language, you converse with anyone speaking any native language. This is because the thought comes before the linguistic coding. A cat could appear on the glasses screen and someone will then be able to experience it as the other person’s thought. Incredible!
It could even go a step further, and for this, one would “have to receive” the information in the brain directly. I don’t really know how that works, so will leave it to the neuroscientists.
But maybe sharing ideas just by thinking is not very far away…
Stage Three – Group think
This got me to thinking…what about if you were to receive multiple “communications” at the same time? And then we enter the world of sci-fi…
Do you recall the character of Professor Xavier from X-Men?
He could experience every thought in the world when he was plugged into the machine – Cerebro. There would need to be the very cool looking devices that fit on each person’s head, but hey, they can solve that issue later!
Stage Four – Interconnecting mind-to-mind via a global communications platform
Imagine there is a platform that connects people, in selected groups all on the same screen… Oh, hold on a second, that sounds a little like Google+, especially with the hangouts with increasing numbers of people I say this a little tongue in cheek but last year Chee Chew did host one with 30+ people…
This whole concept would enable, just like Professor Xavier, people to access each other telepathically. Ok, they weren’t all receiving in Cerebro, but it was probably in Beta.
Interestingly, the employment by Google of well know futurist, Ray Kurzweil’s, having founded the Google and NASA backed Singularity University, certainly adds a twist. He believes we are reaching a technological singularity that will transform what it is to be human…
Thanks to Jason Joseph for putting me onto this movie.
The integration of consciousness with machine is something right up his street and people sitting on the porch i.e. Google Hangouts, would become a ‘virtual global porch’ of interconnected minds. And we are well on the way!
This is all speculation on my part but as I like to consider trajectories of technology I thought it may be fun to share. After all, with Google X, “X is a solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem….what if we redefine X as a challenge, an opportunity for radical thinking…the stuff of science fiction”…solving world problems…and doesn’t mention the X-men once!
What about privacy?
Ok, back to the present…
In a recent article in the Guardian we saw the discussion begin, and be sure it will continue.
When people are streaming other people’s lives into hangouts and onto YouTube, then of course people may be concerned. But like After Glass (AG) is starting to move us into a new phase of being human and with that, everything will start to change. Behaviours will be shaped through this new understanding, people’s awareness being altered. This is bit may well need exploring more in the future but for now, I cannot wait to explore using Google Glass and whilst the issues are going to be thrown up time and time again, the capability for this is already there (people can use their phones to stream into Google hangouts already). The debate really should be on whether humanity is ready to take the leap into a new dimension – I know I am.
So, in summary, I see Google Glass as something truly incredible simply as it is a stepping stone to later, far more advanced models. Perhaps we are at the start of a process that enables mind-to-mind communication that may not be that far off in the future. This would be telepathic as well as empathetic (feelings) but I haven’t differentiated the two here. (It could actually be the entire Internet, of course.)
The question of what people have going on in their minds, well that is an issue for the meditators to consider. Oh, if people could control that, then experiences of higher states of consciousness could also be shared. But all this is way off in the future, for now, check out ‘How it feels with Glass’ in with the video below: