Wednesday 25th May 2022

Will We Become Idiots?


“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” –Albert Einstein

I wanted to open with this quote, because I feel the invention of Google Glass is getting very close to what Albert Einstein was talking about. When Google released its revolutionary Google Glass product in 2013, the company suggested that Glass will make our lives so much simpler by making our smart phones hands-free. Because everyone was complaining how sore their fingers were getting? Because everyone likes wearing something on their face? I realize that sometimes our smart phones can be a hassle. I’m always digging through my purse to find mine when it rings or getting a sore neck from trying to hold it with my shoulder during long conversations. But does that mean my life would be simpler if I just wore my phone on my head the rest of my life?

Just in case you’re not familiar with Google Glass, here is a run down of the product. Google Glass is a titanium-framed computer. With Google Glass you can take phone calls, send texts, take photos and videos, engage in FaceTime like Google Hangouts, get turn-by-turn navigation with maps, and show the weather (Houghton, 2013). Essentially, you’re putting your smart phone on your face without any of the applications that you download after you take it out of the box. In the future, Google hopes that consumers will be able to download applications like Facebook and Twitter. If this happens consumers will be constantly connected as long as they’re wearing the glasses. Then the question comes along if that is a good or bad thing?

Being connected has many positives. If someone is constantly connected, then they are always up-to-date with what is happening in the world. They know the news, weather, and what is trending on Twitter. It is a faster paced life that involves continually reading emails, texts, and instant messages. The question I want to pose is this: does being connected constantly give us more human interaction or less?

In a radio piece from NPR, Geoff Nunberg discusses the idea of being in two places at once and if this is really possible. He uses the example of a woman at a party who purposely avoided a man who was wearing Google Glass. She felt that even if this man wasn’t going to take her picture during their conversation, he could put her on call waiting in case something interesting came across his Twitter feed. She then posed the question of why would you want to talk to anybody who was wearing Google Glass to a party in the first place? This goes back to the idea of being in two places at once. If someone is at a party with hundreds of people, why do they feel the need to check their Twitter or text someone who isn’t there? This is a problem now with smart phones, but with Google Glass it won’t be so obvious when the computer is right in front of their face.

Google Glass will drive this desire to experience something somewhere else, without having to actually be there. Nobody wants to miss a great party or a legendary home run, but isn’t half the fun hearing the second-hand account from someone else? I love second-hand stories and seeing people’s facial expressions as they tell them. When we’re listening to a friend’s story and simultaneously checking out a Twitter, where exactly are we? In a world of distraction, dominated by little screens in the top corner of our eyes.

My favorite part of Nunberg’s interview is when he notes that during Shakespeare’s time, “distraction” was a synonym for “madness.” This statement shook me to the core and I think it went back to my quote from Albert Einstein about how our generation will become “idiots” and we’ll eventually go mad without even realizing it. Granted, this idea is a bit extreme, but I don’t think it’s too far off in our future.

I’m not trying to scare anyone from Google Glass because I feel it is a great product. But the question is how far are we going to let technology take over our lives? So much that technology will play a bigger part than we will?

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