One of my favorite news programs is On the Media, a weekly review of media which is broadcasted on National Public Radio (NPR) in the States. Over this past weekend, hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield debated the current status of technology and the Internet in our lives and whether we are following the “yellow brick road” to technological utopia or hurdling clumsily toward a Terminator/Matrix-esque dystopia.
The discussion inevitably arrived on the question of Watson - IBM’s fancy new super computer with 15 terabytes of human knowledge and an itchy trigger finger that easily defeats futile carbon-based lifeforms at a game of our own creation: Jeopardy!
Does Watson’s victory signal the end is nigh for human intelligence as we know it and the coming of SkyNet? Or will Watson be the first step on the road toward a utopian blending of humans and computers?
Eventually, Brooke and Bob’s discussion turned to the creation of “The Bionic Man” - the idea that in the future, technology and humans will become blended as one. As Brooke points out, some of this technology is available today in the form of Augmented Reality, and that the idea of “Google eyes” or “Terminator eyes” is not that far off.
University of Washington professor Babak Parviz explains that even today, we have the technology, albeit “very rudimentary,” to display basic text onto contact lenses. But years down the line, as this technology develops, will humans be better off for having the world’s information quite literally at a glance?
Garfield argues that technology of this sort would allow us to filter out topics and ideas with which we disagree, placing “high tech blinders” on our view of the world. Certainly any advancement in technology such as this could potentially be used in less than the friendliest of ways, but that is to be expected at a certain degree.
We here at Layar side with Brooke, who feels that bionic contact lenses and Augmented Reality glasses “makes us only more of what were going to be anyway,” and we’re proud to be one of the companies helping to lead the way toward this vision of the future.
But what do you think? Is all of this data a good thing? And what could intelligent super-computers like Watson mean for augmented reality? If you think you have an answer, please share it in the comments or on Quora!
And click here to listen to the On the Media segment about the future of technology and augmented reality!