Having a camera-computer on your face can look a little silly.
It can also be transformative.
At an intimate conversation at last week’s Aspen Ideas Festival, Google Glass inventor Sebastian Thrun explained his vision for the product.
If the device were always powered up, he said, it could be your “memory.”
“If we get to the point where this thing is always on … and really understand how to make it a seamless experience,” he said, “it would be as good to us individually as books have been to society.”
His logic: armed with just our brains, we’re lousy at holding information individually, and especially lousy when passing information from one generation to the next.
Because of that forgetting, he says, strange stories get passed down through society. Example: thinking that the Earth was flat, even though the ancient Greeks had known and proven that the Earth was round.
Then one of the first forms of digital information came.
“You don’t think of books as digital today,” Thrun said, “but they are digital, because you can actually copy them losslessly.”
With the book, we were able to store cultural intelligence. In this way, libraries powered the Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution.
“Today, of course, we would never want to live without the book,” Thrun continued. “What [Google Glass] could do is take your personal experience and digitize it.”
It’s as outlandish as it is intuitive. A constantly running Google Glass would act like a record of your experiences, ready to be saved and shared. Lots of inefficiencies would vanish — like, say, not being able to remember somebody’s name.
“It would be a massive change. That’s why I’m so excited about this, and I know that’s very provocative,” Thrun said. “The ability to outsource our brain to a device like this will just make us so much better.”
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