Print Page Subscribe

Payments Perspectives Blog

Email page to a friend
Tweet this page
Share on Facebook
Share on LinkedIn
+1 This Page

Google Glass, Weirdness and the Great Trade-Off

Theodore Iacobuzio |

Towards the end of his life, the great American poet Robert Frost wrote,

In the ear and in the eye,
What you get is what to buy.

He was talking about television and radio, of course, but he didn’t know the half of it.

How could he? It was 35 years after his death that the commercial Internet came along, and it wasn’t until 15 years later that Google came up with Google Glass —though close readers of this space would have been ready for it. Google Glass are the specs that allow you to surf the web while walking around, and take photos of people and things—without permission, presumably—and perhaps identify them through facial recognition technology. Oh, and get offers and discounts in physical space.

The standard libertarian response to the creep factor inherent in the possibilities of abuse such technology entails—“then don’t buy it”—raises as many questions as it answers.

Look at the wireline Internet itself. It has become a quasi- public utility. Kids can’t do their homework, businesses can’t market or sell their goods, and soon enough you won’t be able to read the newspaper without access to the Web, which, let it never be forgotten, is dominated by pornography.

The point about pornography is that any technology is open to abuse on the part of individuals; and, human nature being what it is, some of it is impossible to halt regulate or police. It’s up to the creators and marketers of that technology to make sure protection of the ordinary consumer is built into the product’s design from its inception.

It would induce a greater sense of confidence if somebody besides Google had come up with Google Glass, and indeed the backlash, such as it is, is already beginning.

Recent MasterCard research indicates that 53 percent of respondents globally use mapping apps to find their way around: no matter what their concerns about companies using geolocation to send ads and offers their way, apps have replaced the torn atlas or ill-folded map in half of cars globally.

Consumers, in other words, are willing to trade so much access to their personal information for utility, convenience and savings. The jury is out on whether Google Glass includes those kinds of benefits. Right now the device itself looks to your agent a little bit like the ocular equivalent of a pocket protector, but stranger things have caught on.

Topics: Payments Strategy

Post a Comment