Wearable tech is poised to transform the way we interact with technology. With a pair of smart glasses, you can begin to feel like superman, taking photos and recording videos of anything you see, and with the almost telepathic ability to interact directly with the internet and with your own automated personal assistant.
Don’t doubt that this will happen, just so long as the cost is affordable and the tech works in a convenient way. After all, just a few years ago, how many people would have imagined that we would be carrying smartphones everywhere and that email, Facebook and other social media would be just as important as face to face communication?
Smart glasses are just the latest in a long history of creeping augmentation of our abilities by technology. Observers of technology call this transition “Transhumanism” and predict an inevitable and exponential increase in how this impacts on our lives.
Wearable technology started with the invention of clothing, and has been an indispensable part of human life for perhaps millions of years. Add haircuts, shaving, cosmetics and tattoos to the list of ways we modify our own appearances. Getting more invasive, we find medicines, dental implants, cosmetic surgery and organ transplants. And of course there’s jewellery, watches, contact lenses, and other wearable technology that we already regard as perfectly natural, even though it’s anything but.
This illustrates just how ready we are to accept intrusive technology provided that it serves a useful purpose. How much more might we be willing to accept? I’d wager almost anything, provided that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Google Glass; ingestible electronic sensors; brain implants. Who knows what might be just around the corner?
Say “transhuman” to the average Joe and he’ll think Daleks and Cybermen and mad scientists. But the technology we use has already moved us along the path from “normal human” to “enhanced human” and the pace of change is accelerating.
In many ways we are already outpacing what Star Trek envisaged for the 23rd century, with smartphones replicating the Star Trek “communicator” and adding in far more powers than Mr Spock ever imagined. After all, with a modern smartphone there’s no need to call Spock if we need to find some facts. We can google it for ourselves then tell Spock about it on Facebook.
Modern technology is changing what it means to be human, just as previous waves of technology have done for earlier generations. Increasingly we will live with one foot in the real world and one foot in cyber space. With Google Glass we’re moving towards an “always on” immersive world. In the very near future, “the cloud” won’t just be a place where we store our music collections; it will be a place where we live.