Through a Google Glass, darkly; surveillance of, by, and for the people

“The first time I saw someone wearing Google Glass in the wild, I was standing at a friend’s party at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin​—​the place where the tech world gathers each year to gleefully discover what next big “innovation” will eventually displace you,” Matt Labash writes for The Weekly Standard. “There he was in his Google Glass, which, if you’re a shut-in who’s escaped the last two years of unremitting hype, is Google’s foray into wearable face computers. Not yet released to the public (it’s currently in its beta phase, and is in the hands of developers, “Glass Explorers,” and tech-world beautiful people, such as they are), Glass essentially puts a smartphone, including camera, videorecorder, and Internet, on your eye.”

“The Glasshole, as the Glass-wearing elect are now commonly called, stood there in his lensless frames. Or not so much frames, as a titanium bar draped across his brow, to which is affixed a rectangular three-quarter-inch LED display over one eye, and a colorful plastic “touchpad” arm that rests over one ear and also holds the circuitry. Curiosity-seekers, ooohing-and-ahhhing, thronged like he was a carnival exhibit. A Glassholier-than-thou shadow crept over his countenance, his facial muscles toggling between smugness and self-consciousness. As with most Glassholes, it wasn’t entirely clear if he was wearing Glass, or Glass was wearing him,” Labash writes. “Even as both female and male partygoers crowded in to touch the Next Big Thing, he looked like a dorky android.”

“That’s android as in “robot with a human appearance,” not to be confused with the Android operating system, which powers 79 percent of the world’s smartphones (as well as Glass itself), and which Google owns. The same way it owns YouTube and all manner of reality-bending interests. The same way it owns Boston Dynamics, which makes military robotics that some think could replace soldiers. The same way it owns artificial intelligence outfits like DeepMind Technologies​, ​which some think could help outsource our thinking to computers, more than we already do.

Just because something bears the aspect of the inevitable one should not, therefore, go along willingly with it. ​—​ Philip K. Dick

The same way that Google owns you. Or at least your data, which they scoop up as you beaver away for free on their services, Googling and Gmailing and texting and YouTubing and mapping and street-viewing and book-searching,” Labash writes. “Your interests, your communications, your location, your aspirations, your porn predilections​—​it’s all right there in the data. You might think of yourself as more than the sum of your data. But the 1s and 0s don’t lie.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Spywear.

Related articles:
Spyware app can secretly take photos from Google Glass without user’s knowledge – March 26, 2014
Google Glass-wearing woman claims attack at San Francisco bar – February 26, 2014
Scoble: Google Glass is doomed – January 2, 2014
One year wearing Google Glass: ‘Look at that asshole’ – December 31, 2013
Why an Apple iWatch has better chances than Google Glass – November 6, 2013
Apple’s Siri lambastes Google Glass – August 26, 2013
Google Glass ban list grows; top 10 places banning Google Glass – August 7, 2013

89 Comments

  1. It’s a shame our country has to do this to its citizens. But. I am not sad one bit. It was completely expected. You idiots all asked for it, because you trusted the Government. If the Government couldn’t even keep their promises with the Natives, why should you trust them with your privacy?

    1. The “Government” did not put the Google Glass device on this person. You live in an extremely warped and paranoid world in which absolutely everything is a puzzle piece in your delusion. In truth, you are just another anonymous twit who thinks far too highly of your own opinions.

    2. Do you really think your gasbag opinions matter on this site? You always complain about how Whitey stole you land, and how they should go back to Yurop. What about us Blacks? Should we go back to Africa because we live on land that “doesn’t belong to us”. You are a racist of a different kind. I am sick of the blatant racism on this site. I already get enough of it in real life, I should not have to deal with it on the net.

          1. Sorry AJ, but expecting your views to be met with restrained and logical cordiality on this site is unreasonable.
            Try saying iOS 7 is ugly and read the responses. Better yet say you’re a Christian or don’t believe in man-made climate change. These dogs will eat you alive.
            Here’s a hint: If your views ever match this lot, seek professional help.

            1. Are you serious? Come on, upgrading to iOS 7 was the best decision I have ever made. It really is an improvement to the dated, iOS 6. It embraces modernity, if you will. If you hate iOS 7, that is fine, but your opinions are welcome at Android Central, where they appreciate this type of Apple iHate.

          1. Sean, you might as well know this now as later: I have purchased the MacDailyNews website. I will be posting here forever with the expressed goal of annoying you. Annoying you is my joy in life, my purpose, my aim, my vocation, my all-encompassing mania. I am looking forward to our continued correspondence and I still consider you my bestest online pal.

            1. “annoy” — For too mild a word. You sell yourself short, botvijerk. Poisonous. Nasty. Disrespectful. Verbally abusive. ‘Cancer on this forum’. These are more appropriate words. You really are one sick fuck.

            2. You managed to single-handedly destroy a discussion thread with offensive posts that are irreverent to the article. 90% of the comments in this thread are about racial stereotypes. Are you really proud of this?

            3. It seems to me that AJ is the one who brought up race. HTTT only touched on race tangentially. I’m reminded of the former friend who commented on that famous picture from VJ Day of the sailor kissing the nurse. Her response was “Rape culture”, and it said much more about her than about anyone else. These people wear their “Victim” badges everywhere they go. They can’t relate to the world or normal people except as a “Victim”. It is their identity, and the filter through which they see everything. It is their excuse for never accomplishing anything, and not expending the necessary energy to do so.

      1. What, exactly, do you know about persecution. I’m not going to play the Persecution Olympics, but I’m just going to say that both the Native Hawaiians and the Native Americans got screwed over badly. At least your kind has equal rights, and even a spot in the White House. What do we have? NOTHING! You should be checking your privliege, Miss. South Bronx.

          1. Until you give Hawaii back to the Hawaiians, all the land west of the Mississippi back to Mexico, and any remaining lands back to the Natives, and you (yes, YOU) go back to Europe, then you can kindly STFU!

          2. Not until you give Hawaii back to the Hawaiians, all the land west of the Mississippi River back to Mexico, all remaining lands back to the Indians, and going back to Europe, and never coming back. Until then, you STFU!

            1. If you jackass Hawaiians didn’t put ten jillion fucking vowels in your words, you might’ve amounted to something. Be content with Don Ho and pineapples or me and the rest of the whiteys are gonna drone ya’.

            2. Our language is all original and unique to our culture, unlike “English”, which has stolen words from the different cultures they have destroyed over the past millenia.

            3. “If you jackass Hawaiians didn’t put ten jillion fucking vowels in your words, you might’ve amounted to something.”

              botvijerk, Even within the framework of your petty and poisonous insults, you seem to be reaching a new low. Your brain is deteriorating badly. Please seek medical assistance.

            4. Most of the land west of the Mississippi was bought from France or won in the Spanish/American war.

              Most natives were nomads, following the buffalo or residing in a small region until all the game and fish were wiped out, then moving on to the next valley and doing it all over again.

              That is why all natives feel that collectively, they own the entire North American Continent, even though, at any given time, they were using very small amounts of the territory.

              It is time for them to forget their past and join the First World with the rest of us.

        1. You know absolutely jack about my life or what I’ve been through. You have no right to school me on who got screwed the hardest. What has happened, happened. STFU about it.

          1. Are you forgetting the fact that the Dutch ripped off the native Lenape tribe of their Manhattan Island for only 24 dollars of goods back in 1626? And look at that city now. That’s criminal.

        2. There is no doubt that both Native Hawaiians and Native Americans were treated very poorly. As AJ stated, the same is true of African Americans. You can easily expand the list to include immigrant ethnicities such as the Irish. If you go far enough back in history, I imagine that virtually everyone has an ancestor who was treated poorly by someone else. We need to remember that history as a lesson to strive to make ourselves better as a society in the future, to avoid repeating the same mistakes, and to learn how to look past differences and seek to work together effectively based upon the common good. However, while this is a very worthy topic of discussion in the appropriate forum, it has *absolutely nothing* to do with this article.

          Please keep the discussion on topic and the personal rants to a minimum.

      2. The post was about the fact that we live in a glorified corpocracy. It wasn’t a stepping-off point for a debate about race relations. Also, I really hope that you weren’t named after a Prince backup singer.

      3. You shouldn’t have to deal with it because you’re from the Bronx. I heard you say so. South Bronx. Yep, you said you are from South Bronx. People from South Bronx shouldn’t need to suffer from South Bronx South Bronx South Bronx South Bronx

            1. If too white means lacking freckles, then I wouldn’t make it through the checkpoint without clever face paint and a distraction staged by Steve McQueen.

            2. relax, all the guys of Scandinavian descent voted the Irish aren’t too white. They called across town to the Secret Blackie Club meeting, they were having a similar vote: Jamaicans: Are They TOO Black?

    1. This is nothing to cheer about. It goes against the very Constitutional foundations of this country.

      Think about it…people did not like the “glasses” this guy was wearing, so they assaulted him. Please extrapolate from glasses to clothes or hairstyle or accent or skin color…you name the difference. Then think about observers clapping while an assault occurs. Then feel very, very ashamed of yourselves for up-voting russ’ post and link.

      1. Not at all the same. Hairstyle or skin color has zero effect on other people. They might react because of their particular attitudes, but that’s just them doing their own internal emotional dance. Having someone hold up a video camera and tape you at close range is another matter entirely.

        1. You dodged the question by focusing on the semantics rather than the spirit of the issue, anonymous John Smith. My argument might have been a bit flawed, but the spirit of it is valid. You failed to explain why it is acceptable to assault someone under these circumstances.

          While this is not the same circumstance as a person’s physical characteristics, it is similar in the in the sense that the person was deemed objectionable by some, but not doing anything illegal. Under current law, you can carry and use cameras or camcorders in public. Google Glass is smaller than a typical camera and is worn in the form of glasses. It also offers more connectivity and computing capabilities, but nothing that is not already available on a smart phone. Right now, any number of people might be photographing or videoing you in public and processing your images through an app when they are holding their cellphones. Modern, miniaturized digital cameras can also be hidden in jewelry or other small items that you would never consider to be a threat to your privacy. What about the Google Gear watch? It has a camera, too. Are you going to assault people wearing Google Gear devices?

          I certainly understand (and share) the objections of the public to Google Glass-type devices. But this was not a locker room situation or some adult preying on children by taking inappropriate images. Think about it – assaulting a person for wearing a Google Glass device? This is America – you are not supposed to be able to assault someone with impunity just because you don’t like what they are doing or saying.

          The rapid pace of technological development has once again created a situation in which the law has not yet adapted to new methods for gathering, storing, and disseminating information. Each step in this historical road has resulted in societal distress and upheaval. We have to decide what is reasonable and acceptable in terms of the use of modern technology under these circumstances.

          It is worth noting that the pace of miniaturization will soon render cameras and other electronic surveillance and recording equipment nearly undetectable by the human eye.

          1. I think you are usually more precise in your writing, KingMel – as, for example, when you wrote that bottvinik is a cancer on this forum.

            Given that, may as well write the precise version rather than relying on someone getting the “spirit”… especially when only a few sentences are involved.

            But even given all that, I’d still suggest it is not the same. Let’s not discuss what will soon be possible. Let’s discuss what we have now. If someone comes along and sits down near our children’s playground, I’m not going to ask them to move on. But they – woman, man, white, dark, pink, green – they then hold up a video camera or activate their glasshole gear, I am going to ask them to put it away. If they don’t, I’m going to do something about it – which might include taking it off them and stomping it into the ground.

            Let’s err on the side of privacy, if anything, rather than on the side of “I’ve got the right to do whatever I want.”

            1. I was sufficiently precise – certainly more than necessary to get my point across. I am not responsible for your lack of imagination or comprehension.

              You postulate a different circumstance, anonymous JS, that would be of some concern to any parent. Regardless, the actions that you suggest (which, notably, fall short of the personal assault that was the topic of discussion) would be in violation of the law. You might be better served to proactively work to craft privacy legislation than speculating on what you might do when the event that you postulated actually occurs. Because it will eventually occur, along with a myriad of other Google Glass situations that you might imagine. I don’t think anarchy and mob violence are the best answers.

            2. “You might be better served to proactively work to craft privacy legislation…”

              Because the law is SUCH good protection, currently, against predators. No, I think I’ll stand between that person and the kids to block the video, I’ll tell them to back off while I they listen to me phone the police, and, if necessary, I’ll take their camera off them.

            3. Or, actually, they, of course, could have NO objection to me videoing them videoing the kids — and then posting that all over the Web. Yeh, maybe that’s the best.

  2. tl;dr summary:

    So Matt signs up for the Glass Explorer program, and pays his $1500 plus tax. He gets the one-on-one tutorial with a blonde. He goes home, and his wife and kids avoid him from then on. He goes out to casinos, restaurants, roadhouses. Behaves like a glasshole, provoking people. But it’s too late. He can’t even get himself beaten up—everyone has got used to being watched, by the government, by the corporations. Google execs no longer bother to hide what they’re doing. Wearables now, implants coming soon. Philip K. Dick saw it coming. Matt goes home and writes this piece of gonzo journalism, 10,000 words. Nap time now.

    1. The “journalist” completely and naively missed the point of his attack. He blames it all on the gentrification of SF by Google employees. It couldn’t possibly be that wearing a video camera everywhere one goes that is tied to a company that uses every dirty trick in the book to pry into people’s lives and activities, and sell that information to anyone with a few dollars is as anti-social as buying a property and evicting its long time residents. It couldn’t be that this clueless moron really doesn’t understand that he’s a spy for Google everywhere he goes, and that people are going to object to that. Google Glass combined with face recognition technology means there is no privacy anywhere on earth, and that anonymity no longer exists. Everything about everyone is for sale to the highest bidder. It takes Orwell’s “1984” to a whole new level. Oppressive intrusion into private lives is bad enough when the government can at least cite plausible excuses for it. When it is done for profit it becomes grotesque.

      1. Zeke, I think you meant to respond to a comment by russ, above. Out of curiosity I followed his link to the appalling article.

        Gentrification is a troubling social problem, but the central difficulty with the author’s take is his unconsciousness of his own complicity in an insidious soul-stealing racket.

        In his mind, the Google Glass he was wearing might seem a symbol of corporations callously displacing residents or defacing neighborhoods. But it was actually an offensive weapon, an instrument of theft and enslavement.

        The man on the spy end of the camera says without irony: “I was pretty shaken after seeing someone completely disregard my personal space and property without provocation.” WTF?

        1. “…without irony: ‘I was pretty shaken after seeing someone completely disregard my personal space and property without provocation.’ WTF?”

          Exactly. WTF? How clueless can someone be?

  3. We live in a world where Google works very closely with the NSA and (in turn) Wall Street. It’s like the military industrial complex but for data. It explains the high valuations of these data acquisition companies. Look up Hank Paulson’s quotes. This is not just a nut job conspiracy theory.

  4. MDN take is right – spyware.

    It’s also infoware for google – all that lovely data being sucked up to their servers to sell to advertisers.

    This decade will be remembered as the decade that human privacy and rights died because of technology – and you can thank google for that.

    I might form a rebellion to fight off Skynet (Google).

    1. the decade that human privacy and rights died because of technology

      *grumble* Not really. How about ‘The decade that human privacy and rights died through the use of technology.’

      Or maybe: ‘The decade that technology enabled the death of human privacy and rights.’

      IOW: It’s Luddite to think of technology as being a culprit of anything. It’s PEOPLE who do all the dirty work. (Same goes for any form of ‘evil’. Sorry, no more bad faeries or fallen angels to blame folks! Just us).

  5. The same way that Google owns you. Or at least your data, which they scoop up as you beaver away for free on their services

    I weened all my friends off communicating with me via GMail this week, and vice versa. I literally removed Google’s SMTP server from my Mail preferences. Not gonna happen.

    I already have total control over Google cookies. The next step is to put together a bookmark list of my YouTube subscriptions so I don’t have to log into fracking Google world in order to find them.

    IOW: You and I have only a token friendship, Google.

    1. Come. On. I’ve already discussed this with a different person on this thread. Whatever your opinion on Jony Ives’ direction, iOS is still the leader in mobile operating systems. It’s telling that iOS did not succumb to the Heartbleed glitch. My final conclusion is that you are…Just Another Android Troll(tm). All JAATs can exit through the left. The next bus to Android Land leaves in 10 minutes! Don’t be late!

      1. Don’t bother, JC. You cannot have a “discussion” with any of the regular troublemakers on this forum. The posts are nearly always anonymous, and you are often sparring with the same person under a different handle. They just like to stir things up.

        MDN has the option of limiting posts to registered users. That would eliminate most of this crap (except for botvinnik, who is actually occasionally interesting). But MDN has refused time and time again. I could post the emails that MDN has sent to me stating that they “value” the inputs from the participants on an open forum. But we know that MDN values the click-throughs far more than the theoretical value of “Zombie nation’s” posts. MDN already implemented the function for registered users. All it has to do is limit posts accordingly.

      2. See, James…it is easy to post as anyone on this forum. I could post as you, expounding upon my admiration for Zombie nation. I could make up a new name to argue with myself. It is ridiculous how easy MDN makes it for anonymous trolls and malcontents to abuse this forum, which they do on a daily basis.

  6. Wow, so much love on this board. Probably over 100 “stfu” and counting…and we are Mac users. I always thought Mac users were a civilized bunch. Boy was I wrong! Even statistics are wrong when they say ” Intelligent people uses Macs….” This board just proved that point.. SMH.

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