Fifty years ago it was "the medium is the message". Now it's "the subject is the object".
"Stop the Cyborgs" an anonymous group dedicated to opposing Google Glass has emerged on the Web. The site says its raison d'etre is "fighting the algorithmic future one bit at a time", and claims to be the first organised manifestation of the spreading determination to ensure that Google's spy specs won't get the same easy ride through the regulatory environment as the company's Street View cameras did.
"Stop the Cyborgs" say that Google Glass technology will permit wearers to record video and audio via the spy specs without the subject of that eavesdropping ever knowing that such intrusion into personal liberty and privacy is taking place. Recordings will go from Google Glass to the cloud (the devices cannot store the data they filch and record) and from there to, well, who knows, where exactly? One thing is for sure though, government agencies and corporations will be only too keen to get access to such data and use it for their own ends.
Google already has form in this regard. Back in May 2010, it was revealed, much to the Cookie Monster's anger and embarrassment, that routinely it had collected and stored payload data from unencrypted Wi-Fi connections as part and parcel of it's Street View photography.
Google claimed the data collection had been"accidental" but it hadn't. Code has been written specifically with the intent to eavesdrop on and capture data from unprotected Wi-Fi addresses. The fallout from that illegal surveillance is still sifting down like dandruff onto the collars and shoulders of Google's grey-suited execs as cases wind their way through the world's legal systems and Google continues to be penalised for its arrogance and law-breaking.
As the "Stop the Cyborgs" site says, "These [intrusion] concerns go beyond privacy. There are serious consequences for human society. There will no longer be any distinction between the ‘digital world’ and the ‘real world’. People will make decisions and interact with other humans in the real world in a way which increasingly depends on information that Google Glass tells them".
It adds that, as a consequence, "Gradually people will stop acting as autonomous individuals, when making decisions and interacting with others, and instead become mere sensor/effector nodes of a global network. There will be no room for multiple identities, hypocrisy or experimentation. There will be no space in which you can escape your online profile and the system will be controlled by a small group of corporations."
And finally comes the stark warning of a world, very, very close in the future now, where "privacy is impossible and corporate control total." We're on the verge of it and it has to stop. The entire point of Google Glass is to make Google even more money by selling every last scrap, jot, tittle, bit and byte of data it gathers to advertisers and retailers.
Enthusiasts and apologists for Google Glass, or those who think opposition to the technology is exaggerated and ill-informed, say that there are already millions of concealed cameras out there recording anything and everything they can without us being aware of it and the world hasn't ended. That's hardly the point.
Those hidden cameras, be they in shop, airports, on the streets or wherever are not yet able to search the Internet in real time to access information about the individuals being filmed and then feed that addition information back to whomsoever the viewer might be.
So far the video shots cannot be accompanied by an entirely unauthorised by biography of the 'subject' along with facial recognition data, financial history, place of residence, religious and/or political affiliations etc. All of this would be possible with data uplifted to the cloud via Google's sinister spy specs.
At least with smartphones a user must hold up a handset to make a recording, thus rendering the action visible to the subject and so giving him or her the opportunity to do something about it.
That nice young Mr. Zuckerberg, the lad said to he have his finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist and thus a man to be valued above gold and pearls claims to know that, in our heart-of-hearts, the hoi-polloi and proles (that means me and you. Well, me anyway) really don't want privacy at all, they want to be part of the revolution, they want friends, chums to whom they are permanently linked-in, they want to be movers and shakers, part of it all, even though the "all" is a digital mirage behind which remorseless exploitation lurks.
It was Marshall McLuhan, who, back in 1964, famously claimed that "the medium is the message". I say that in 2013 we are moving into a world where the "subject is the object". Corporations are doing anything and everything they can to use data, often provided freely and naively to them by private individuals via social networking sites, to capture, 'own" and hold people in permanent commercial thrall. And what governments will do will be exponentially worse.
It's the word "own" that corporate concept of actually owning a subscriber, customer, individual that gives the game away. The ownership of an individual or individuals by a company, agency or any another individual is the very definition of slavery, and we are freely making slaves of ourselves by allowing others to use us in this way.
One thing can be guaranteed is that for Google Glass refuseniks it won't be long before the burka becomes the clothing fashion of choice around the world, for women and men alike. At least under all that cloth and thick mesg it may be possible to retain some sort of privacy and anonymity away from ever more intrusive surveillance technology that is presented to us as a boon but that will enslave us all in the end.
And hopefully some clever bod will find a way of weaving RF jamming technology into the fabric. Just a thought.