Is Google Glass the End of Privacy?

“We recently had to ask a rude customer to leave because of their insistence on wearing and operating Google Glasses inside the restaurant.”

The Seattle restaurant Lost Lake Cafe posted this message on its Facebook page in response to a highly publicized incident involving a Google Glass-wearing diner named Nick Starr. While this incident may seem silly, we are likely to see this sort of thing happen more often. After all, this incident involves big blurry issues such as how we integrate new technologies into public and private life.

“With your Google Glasses always on, sending the video streams to Google of your life and those of strangers and ‘friends’ alike, will the very notion of privacy have been finally banished from our lives?”

Jonathan Taplin asked this question in a blog post earlier this year, and then provided his own answer in an interview with Big Think. Taplin, who is the director of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at USC, tells us that one of his graduate students is working on “a simultaneous subtitled translation application for movies.” This app would allow a Spanish-speaking person to watch an English language movie and so forth. It could also aid people with hearing impairments. Who wouldn’t appreciate an enhancement like that?

On the other hand, let’s say someone is wearing Google Glass at a dinner party or at a restaurant like Lost Lake Cafe. We tend to view this application of technology as intrusive. “Am I going to regret what I’m saying?” Taplin asks.

Transcript —
I think Google Glass could be an incredible technology. One of my grad students is working at the lab is working on a simultaneous subtitled translation application for movies. So you could go into a movie and be a Spanish-speaking person and you could go into an English language movie and it would show you the subtitles on the Google Glass while you were watching the movie. That to me would be very cool. And if we could do it in seven or eight languages, that would be a fabulous application for, and maybe even for people who are hard of hearing. You could do that and it has a little, you know, bone conductor in the back of the thing so you can feel the shake of the buildings in an action movie, but also see the, you know, English subtitles so to speak.

But, that being said, I also think that if I was at a really interesting political dinner party say and someone had Google Glass on, would I be as honest and open and, you know, just completely loose, especially after a bottle of wine as I would if they didn’t have Google Glass on? I’m not sure I would because I wouldn’t be sure, well are they recording me or am I gonna get home, am I gonna regret what I’m saying? So that’s an interesting question.

Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton