Quicker than George Orwell's ink could dry on the page, "1984" introduced the world to a whole new level of paranoia that's kept us looking over our shoulders for the last sixty years or so. From the "Red scare" of the 1950s to Presidents justifying unjustifiable wars in the 21st Century, to the Patriot Acts's reduction of citizen rights -- right up to today's CCTV cameras surveilling us à la 'Person of Interest,' Big Brother has carved out a permanent foothold in our society.
American surveillance of the public using CCTV, or closed-circuit television first appeared in 1973 in Times Square, New York City. The NYPD installed it in an attempt to deter crime occurring in the area. In the wake of 9/11, its use spread across the country. In the UK, the first recorded CCTV installations were initiated throughout Scunthrope in May 2008. Today, the use of video surveillance has become common-place throughout the world.
With Google's 'Year of Glass' upon us, tens of thousands of early adopters will effectively become human mobile CCTV cameras. For the uninitiated and those oblivious to the hype, Google Glass (note the singular) is a headset that superficially resembles a pair of spectacles and is equipped with a small mobile computer, a camera, a microphone and a tiny refractive display that projects virtual screen in the wearer's field of vision.
The computer is networked via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and can be activated either by touching the headset or by voice commands, as in: "OK Glass, take a picture."
The issue of issuing Google Glass users license to assume the role of Big Brother is troubling. Not only would those who could afford to wear the pricey goggles (purported pricing is $1500 for the first iteration) be invading the privacy of others, hackers could easily compromise that data for themselves as well.
In this video clip, even the online tabloid TMZ finds fault with the Orwelllian implications of Google Glass. Here Mark Dice tells TMZ's producer Harvey Levin how invasive this device appears to be…
In a Guardian report, Charles Arthur noted that the "augmented reality glasses could be compromised by a hacker who would be able to see and hear everything the wearer does… and may be able to exploit the Google Glass 'root' capability, allowing them to take control of the device's output."
Jay Freeman, a Santa Barbara-based programmer theorized that, "once the attacker has root on your Glass, they have much more power than if they had access to your phone or even your computer: they have control over a camera and a microphone that are attached to your head."
"A bugged Glass doesn't just watch your every move: it watches everything you are looking at (intentionally or furtively) and hears everything you do," adds Freeman
The only thing it doesn't know are our thoughts. And wouldn't Google pay a hefty price for that portal of knowledge? Remember the world's largest search engine is at the root of all this innovation. Surely you don't think they are inventing Google Glass solely for the good of man. The ultimate goal here, IMHO is to build 'intuitive search' into's its search functionality. The more Google anticipates what one wants to search before they even type in any keywords, the more it has control over our profile preferences and decision-making -- and the more they can mark-up and sell that valuable data to advertisers.
So are we 'scroogled' or willing pawns in the Big G's master plan to rule the digital age as it's big brothers' ultimate BIG BROTHER! Tread through that looking glass lightly, my friends... tread lightly!