Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stay Glassy, San Francisco

Google Glass Explorers at the Stanford Hotel Meetup in March

This past Friday, April 11th another Google Glass Explorer, Kyle Russell, was unfortunately assaulted and robbed for wearing his Glass in the "wrong part of San Francisco," as he reported in a Business Insider article on April 13th. I can't help but wonder that if maybe the SFPD had taken action by now in response to the Google Glass incident on February 22nd, that maybe this wouldn't have happened, or at least not so soon thereafter. Especially not in the same geographical location, and at that, certainly not in the heart of the San Francisco Silicon Valley Bay Area again. At the same time, regardless of and across all industries, including those in tech, many find the cost of living in the Bay Area economically challenging, and Google Glass has come to represent a symbol of privilege.

While protests in San Francisco are an old and embraced tradition for addressing social and political grievances, it is quite troubling that the recent tech backlash has devolved into random assaults against techies. While there are many policies and social inequalities that could be better addressed by our government and all industries, I believe it is wrong to saddle the technology industry specifically with so much of the responsibility and weight. Advancements in technology have contributed so immensely to our human progress and standard of living that I believe we sometimes forget and take much of it for granted. And while it is easy to target an industry in which one hears about new billion dollar deals on a monthly basis, there are many other big industries and deals, and creating a scapegoat and targeting random tech users isn't going to solve any of the underlying socioeconomic issues or benefit the cause.

With Google opening up Glass acquisitions today to anyone who would like to buy them, Google Glass is slowly but surely taking steps towards mass market acquisition and the erosion of its privy tech club status. Now anyone who wants to spend $1,500 on one of the smallest and most high tech computers can do so. And contrary to things that I've read recently in the press, a Glass representative informed me today that they do not plan on lowering the price any time soon nor do they have any mass market release date set. And while $1,500 is expensive for a phone, it is not expensive for a computer or the next generation smartphone. Having Google Glass is more a representation of ones choices and values, as can be attributed to Mr. Russell and myself, rather than an elite symbol of extreme wealth. Soon Glass and wearables will just be a quality attributed to the American status quo, and just like smartphones, set forth another social and technological global transformation.

Google Glass and the wearable era will reveal an even more in depth dimension of reality, create a deeper and more intimate layer of global connectivity and interactivity, multiply our ability to create and access media and information, and further erode previous boundaries and conceptions of the centuries past. And most exciting, it will bring us all one step closer to every techie and sci-fi lover's dream of artificial intelligence, and augmented and virtual reality.

So if you ever saw some Glass Explorer and wanted to steal it and rip it off their face, because they had access and you did not. Or if you once didn't understand everyone's enthusiasm and love for their smartphones, and thought you didn't need or want one, until you got one, then think again and get excited because here they come! Welcome to Glassy times.