Revisiting Augmented Reality – The Potential Downsides
I tend to be an unabashed fan of technology and the benefits it has, which leads to occasionally overlooking some of the downsides. As for augmented reality, I like to think of the ability to never forget people or faces, to always know where you are going, to have the information about buildings and stores at your fingertips (or corneas), and to efficiently catalog information that is not worth remembering.
Having said that, it’s interesting to think about the downsides. My biggest worry with AR and other technology that identifies people and matches against potentially known criminals is false-positives. I can imagine the challenge of trying to explain that the facial recognition software has made and that you’re innocent. However, AR only highlights the need for proper safeguards, as this situation could happen in today’s world.
Here is an extreme example of how AR could offer some special information, such as recent purchases or homeowners travel plans, which could easily be exploited:
However, simple breaches of privacy and location awareness that are implied by this graphic can and will be easily overcome.
Another usual complaint about AR is the usual anti-technology rant about being less human. But I’d challenge us to think about what makes us human. It’s not our limbs, evidence by growing number of people with advanced prosthetics. It’s not our ability to remember random 10 digit numbers we need to input when we want to reach a friend. It’s not about memory at all, that’s a tool we use to think and analyze what we need to do in the moment. Augmented reality augments memory and information more than anything.
Other than false identification (which can already happen) and burglary (which is easy to prevent with privacy and information controls), what’s out there that AR will actually negatively impact? I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but I will try to be more open about the challenges and negatives of technology, and this is a general theme I’ll likely be revisiting.