The coming controversy

Brian Ho

Image courtesy: Social Media Today

Computing has gone from a dumb terminal to being smart, artificially intelligent, and self-sufficient. My Android phone, for example, recognizes where I am, knows when I am headed to Penn, and knows how long it will take me to get there. It also recognizes my interest in politics and keeps me updated on the primaries. The device recursively learns about me as my habits change.

Similarly, wearable technology has even more access to our lives than we can imagine. The Fitbit fitness band and the Apple Watch are both examples of this, and could potentially enable a new tech trend such suggested by Frog Design. That trend is the use of biometric data (ex. a person’s heart rate) to determine how they feel about everything from a movie to the food at a restaurant. Frog Design suggests that the data would be aggregated. However, I doubt this will last long. Marketers will learn to use the biometric data to directly market to individuals.

Another coming wearable trend is headsets such as (the now failed) Google Glass, and the not yet released Microsoft Hololens. With outfacing cameras constantly seeing what we see, apps may be designed to extrapolate patterns in what we look at. For example, if you keep seeing an outfit you like and your biometrics confirm that, you might start to see ads for similar items. You may ask Siri to show you things you want to buy, it may ask you if you want to buy without prompt.


Image courtesy: Shopify

Some people may love this integration, but others may find it invasive. At what point does it become invasive to have technology always on and always watching? My glasses help me see, but if I have technology attached to them, will I be able to access environments with “no cameras” signs? Even when such signs are not in place, other people may want their privacy protected. Facial recognition is already active in your Facebook app when you upload a picture. Even without people being in your network, they still could be detected in an image.

I am certainly not the first to bring up the concern regarding this social concern. Some of the same arguments were made in 2014 for Google Glass. However, artificial intelligence and wearable tech are now developed to a point at which significant controversy could occur. So here’s the question—as life becomes more integrated, will you make a decision not to use the tech due to privacy, and how long will you actually be able to avoid the tech? Just think, while it is a ways down the road, human brain integration is on its way, too.


This entry was posted in artificial intelligence, Big Data, Google, machine learning, Privacy, technology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The coming controversy

  1. sydhavely says:

    Absolutely spot-on post–well-written, balanced, and insightful.

  2. Pingback: Harnessing your brainwaves for collaboration | U Penn Social Book

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