Beyond Google Glass: 2034

Beyond Google Glass: 2034

Summary: What happens if we progress to a culture dominated by augmented reality and lifelogging?


Late April, 2034.

In decades past, they had called it spring. But at 95+ degrees outside of Eva Konsumer's tiny studio apartment in downtown Miami, it sure felt like summer. In fact, Eva could not recall during her 25-year-old life when it wasn't blazing hot in April in Miami.

(Image: Google)

Unless there was a compelling reason to do so, these days, it was best to stay indoors where the concrete block construction and the industrial air conditioning systems could regulate temperature to a much more hospitable level. And down in South Florida, with the heavy sun, the UV alone from the hole in the Earth's ozone layer could cook you. Skin cancer city.

Like many of the new, ultra-dense apartment buildings in Miami, Eva's small studio had no windows, but she could see everything going on outside if she wanted,in completely polarized, sun-filtered ultradef crispness.

Of course, for a measly $8,000 a month, especially as a grad student studying environmental law at the University of Miami, you couldn't expect an apartment that was right on the beach. But it's not like anyone really cared about having an ocean view anymore because you could have an outside view of anything you wanted.

Hong Kong Harbor or New York City's Times Square at night. Tokyo's Roppongi district. Cairo. The International Moonbase at Tycho. Or the view outside the colony dome at Curiosity Station on Mars.

Like many young residents of Miami, Eva chose to live in a sparsely furnished flat. Its four walls and all of its cabinets were painted absolute "augwhite", with no hangings of any sort to adorn them. Lighting was an array of cool white dimmable OLEDs, integrated into the ceiling and corners.

She had her roll out bed/couch, her coffee table, her comfy chairs and stools for the breakfast bar in the kitchenette. And that was more than enough for any single girl going to school. More than enough for anyone, really.

She preferred to do most of her work on the comfy chair, unless it was one of those few times a month she had to drag herself to campus and actually meet her professors and fellow students for planned teaming events.

The University of Miami was a bit traditional when it came to their 80/20 telecommuting rules. Her best friend telepresences from Miami to MIT, and they don't have such policies.

Uncle Josef and Aunt Mindy felt all of this was a bit odd when they came to visit from New Jersey last month. They didn't understand the all-white, decor-free apartment. They didn't understand why she only went out to see her friends.

They even offered to give her some of Eva's grandmother's paintings to "lighten the place up", but what would she do with them? She could just simply have the Augplant display them anytime she felt like it since they were imaged in 32K so long ago.

She loved Uncle Josef and Aunt Mindy, even with their old-fashioned notions of how to live. They absolutely resisted getting Augplants when they became commercially avaliable about 10 years ago, instead choosing to stick with those antiquated modular tablet and smartphone systems, which few folks outside of senior citizens or children under the age of 13 use anymore.

And those huge 100-inch IGZO screens that hung on their walls in their home in New Jersey. The old cloud ThinTerms with flat panel monitors on... Desks. My God, what a waste of energy. How ungreen. How unproductive.

Of course, even if they wanted an Augplant or an AR monacle (what was that once called, Google Glass? The kind she saw in old vids?), they both would need to get corrective eye surgery as well to fix their macular degeneration, and sharpen or even replace their lenses.

Most old folks didn't do that. Not unless you were like, I dunno, someone like Mark Zuckerberg. Who had his done a while ago.

Eva's parents chose to elminate eyesight problems, among a number of other issues, from her genome before she was born. On her 13th birthday, her mom brought her to the local Gammazoft Augmentation Implantology clinic.

Eva remembered being scared of the operation, but her mom assured her everything would be ok, and that she needed this in order "to have an advantage". They gave her a general anesthetic and she went to sleep.

It was a long time ago, but she remembered waking up an hour or so later in a recovery bed. The nurse was sitting down on a chair looking over her. She had an itchy pain on the back of her head, and there was some hair missing when she felt back there. 

Why remember though? She could see it as if it had just happened moments ago.

"Personal Lifelog, playback, primary wall display. Time index zero plus five seconds."

"Playback: September 15, 2022. Logstart."

The large "window" in her apartment that was showing a live 34th-floor view of downtown Miami faded into a video playback of the moment she first started lifelogging. The day she got her augplant. 

The video began with the nice Cuban nurse. She was pudgier than she remembered. Butch, even. What was her name?

"Don't worry sweetie, it will grow back. The cut will heal quickly; we used a cauterizing laser and a skin growth accelerant to seal it. Now, I want you to quietly say the word 'display'." 


"Gammazoft Augplant OS 9.3.2. Lifelogging enabled," is what Eva heard. Inside her head.

Then the world came to life. Everything had a label. From here on, there were answers to every question. 

She looked up at the nurse. Above her head were all sorts of statistical details. Elizabeth Hernandez, RN, age 36, graduate of the NOVA University of South Florida Nursing School with a specialization in Augmented Reality Implantology. 500 level 1 SocMed connections, Lifebook account @augnurselizzyh. Wife Janet Hernandez, age 34, Miami-Dade County director of product marketing at Gammazoft.

The list scrolled on and on. A dizzying array of information, just from one person.

There was also an icon for "Lifelog Request" on her chest. Eva pointed to thin air and touched the icon. The nurse smiled.

"Oh no, hija, there's a lot of patient confidental material in that. I can't even show Janet those things. But if you'd like, I can show you how we did your procedure. My life is boring anyway. There's so many good ones you can follow. Just ask her. Do you like her default name? Auggy?"

"Yes, I think."

"Well, you can change it anytime you like. She can tell you and show you all sorts of things, too. Do you see that wall over there?"

"Umm, yeah, it's white."

"Well, it doesn't have to stay that way. Reach out and touch it."

An interface appeared in thin air. It was kind of like the one she had on her tablet, but it had many more options than just email, social networking, and apps. And it was pre-configured with her cloud profile. She could see her friends in there. 

"Where's mom?" Eva said.

"She's in the waiting room shopping. Or logwatching. Why don't you see? Say, logwatch livestream Susan Konsumer, alias mom."

Eva said the words. It was like magic.

"Logshare enabled, Konsumer, Susan G, Newalias Mom, livestream," is what she heard. Then she saw ... She was her mom.

She was now sitting on the couch with a large display floating in front of her. It was the Gammazoft product catalog, a list of groceries. She could see her mother's hands flipping through the meat section. And then she started talking in her head.

"I'm shopping, honey. But see, you can get to me anytime you want. Your dad wants steak this weekend, so we'll have to go pick up the food at the depot tonight instead of Prime delivery."

"Wait, you said anytime? What about when you and dad are ... Ew! Gross!"

Susan laughed. Eva could almost sense her turning red. If she looked at the vital signs widget, she would have probably noticed a momentary jump in galvanic skin response and blood pressure.

"I have logshare set to 'private' for that, silly. Only your dad can see it."

"Oh. But where does it all go?"

"The family Gammazoft logstore account. We have 300 petabytes per year, and we currently pay for 10 year extended vaulting."

"So do I share with you, then?"

"I've already asked the nurse for your log to be shared with me and dad. If you want to share with your older brother and sister, that's up to you. But I have yours set for parental control with us until you are 18. What you do after you're an adult is your own business."

"So what about other people's logs?"

"If they've set them to public, or if they grant you access, you can review any kind you want. But your father and I are going to get an alert if the logcontent is explicit. You should probably only browse stuff that is age appropriate for you anyway. Like vids and your schoolwork.

And we're going to review your privacy settings until you understand how it works. Remember what happened with your sister's best friend? Everyone in her extended circles got to see what happened on that terrible date of hers. That guy was a complete creep. Tens of thousands of people saw the entire thing go down on Lifebook. Very embarrassing for her."

"Yeah, everyone in school was talking about that. So I can get Jody Bieber's lifelog?"

"Only chapter excerpts. He heavily edits it, and he'll make you pay for the extended material. And I'm going to get a bill for things like that, so I'm going to have to authorize your purchases. There's plenty of free lifelogs though, because they get monetized through Gammazoft's advertising network."

"Can I turn off the monetization? I see a lot of ads in front of you. What's this Erectile Enhancement-on-Demand implant it says that dad should get? And it says his testosterone levels are too low. What is that, anyway?"

Susan sighed. Kids.

"There's specific services we've subscribed to in order to reduce monetization exposure, but eventually, you'll tune out a lot of the ads. It keeps costs down to have them. When I'm driving, the augplant handles information presentation to reduce distraction. When you get your learner's permit, you'll have this as well."

"So, the logs... You have access to mine."

"Yes, for your protection. I want to make sure you're not getting into trouble."

"What about when I'm in the bathroom?"

"I'll know when you're in there and I won't look, obviously. Who wants to see that?"

"Besides you and dad ... and whoever else I give it to ... who else can see my logs?"

"Law enforcement, and the government if they feel it is warranted. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) expansion act of 2016 extended its access to lifelogs. You'll learn those things when you get moved to a class with other augplanted children soon...

"And of course, Gammazoft systems perform analytics on your logs and other metadata to give you trend analysis, which, of course, is for your benefit. Your apps and services will have the ability to interact with those reports. It's a great tool to go over what you might not remember, or not even notice on a day-to-day basis. Auggy will tell you many things that you should know."

"This is a lot of stuff, mom."

"I know sweetie. But you'll be happier. You don't want to be like the notaugs. Look how difficult life is for them." 

"Can we go home now, mom? I'm tired."

"You can always go home, now that you're an aug, sweetie."

"Personal lifelog, halt playback."

Topics: Emerging Tech, Cloud, Google, Hardware


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Seems Jason likes Sci FI

    Good choice, If you'd like to see another vision off the cloud future check out Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga. It takes the cloud all the way!
  • Forgot to add!

    Also his books takes the concept of Google glass all the way as well, With out the glass!
  • Book tip

    a) great article!
    b) I'll be the first in line to get any such thing.
    c) If any of the ZDNet reader liked the article, you should get the almost identical book "Rainbows End" by Vernor Vinge, which greatly expands this idea. For more technical, but equally well-written Sci-Fi, read "Accelerando" by Charles Stross.
    • True names

      If you'd also like to read a visionary novel on our current web and MMOs written before the Internet became ubiquitous, try Vernon Vinge's True Names
  • Definition of hell

    This article supplies the definition of "hell on earth".
    Paul B. Wordman
  • Even if the tech gets there, I question if it will be popular.

    Humm - ok.

    My opinion:

    Even if Google Goggles or implanted stuff becomes popular, I'm not sure "lifelogging" will.

    Already, we absolutely have the capability to stream video 24/7 - check out Ustream. And we have the tech too, via all kinds of mobile devices.

    So - are people really doing it?

    Not really. There's a lot of wildlife, security cams, and news channels on Ustream, but not anything similar to lifelogging as described. In fact, I couldn't find any during my attempt to find them, even though Ustream certainly allows for such a thing.

    In fact, even Ustream itself isn't all that popular - it's certainly not on the radar of ZDNet or other tech blog.

    Even if Google Glasses or similar things become popular, I don't think people will want to lifelog.

    So my vote is that even with the right tech, lifelogging's not gonna be a thing. I don't think such a thing meshes with human nature.

    And oh, yeah - I seriously doubt people will want to use implants if there's no way to turn them off. At least with glasses, you can take them off if you really don't want to use them. Implants are far more permanent.

    I wonder if people will even accept implants if the technology makes it possible. There's no law of physics that says that everything possible is embraced by society.

    And I seriously doubt that implants will happen much in 2034 - the tech simply won't be there. I'm thinking this is more on a 100+ year scale, not a 20 year scale. Maybe even longer.

    The problem isn't really technology - the problem is knowing enough about the brain to make the technology possible. And our knowledge of the brain is nowhere near where it needs to be in order to develop a proper interface.

    . . . and in 20 years, I *do* hope that the issues of CISPA and advertisers are resolved. Hopefully on the side of the consumers.
    • people already wish they had implants

      "I wonder if people will even accept implants if the technology makes it possible."

      Have you seen the amount of girls and even adult women who wish a breast implant so they have bigger or somehow modified breasts? And lips? And stomach? And butt? And intraocular lenses? It is incredible the amount of artificial substances they want to wear, even if surgery is involved.

      So, a chip implant in the eye, in the brain... surgically it would make no fear to a lot of people. Add to this the practical advantage they would get, advertising from all sides... and it is done!
      • In those cases . . .

        "Have you seen the amount of girls and even adult women who wish a breast implant so they have bigger or somehow modified breasts? And lips? And stomach? And butt?"

        The point of those implants is to look sexy, not geeky. And none of those implants have recording devices or even electronics in them. They're not reflective of how people may feel about implants containing electronics.
        • what looks geeky

          If you wear an implant it does not look geeky, it looks as nothing because from aoutside you see nothing at all.
    • Somewhat Agree...

      I think that some sort of lifelogging will become popular, but more for personal reflection and legal defense rather than for general public consumption. The simple fact is that even the lives of extremely popular people are just not that interesting, and most of the interesting things that do happen are staged. Many things are better in the telling, and a real time unedited cut of life would probably play things much further down than most people would be willing to believe... which is kinda sad.

      I also wonder how my kid's and grand kid's generations will deal with this kind of tech if/when it becomes available. Personally I would love some sort of implant in order to control and interface with computers, programs and content, but it would be a whole other thing to have it disclose details about me to other people. And I think myself as somewhat progressive for my age group because I grew up with computers while most of my peers did not have a home PC until high school. But you look at kids who are currently 12-16 and they have an extremely different outlook on life. I grew up where if I was on camera I knew it because the camera was a big bulky VHS shoulder mount that my dad lugged around. If that camera was taken out of it's case then it meant that it was a big deal, and while we were generally good kids, we were on our best behavior for video. Kids today grew up with much smaller and stealthier cameras which have transitioned to HD phone cameras which are literally everywhere, and they are much more accustomed to being filmed. You have those who react by being above reproach so that they can never be 'caught' doing something, and those who just don't care and do whatever they want, whenever they want. The very idea of their life being logged is not so foreign to them, and I bet that if nothing else they would like to have it simply so that they can have some sense of control over their life's content.

      Human nature is an interesting thing. I have the privileged of working at a neat little nonprofit where we refurbish computers for low income families, students, and seniors. Somewhere around 50% of our customers are first time computer owners, and ~10-20% of our customers are first time computer users. Let me tell you, it is nothing short of amazing to watch someone during their first 30 minutes of ever using a computer. They all get extremely frustrated because of all of the things that they can't do that they think they ought to somehow be able to do just because 'everyone else can do it'. But the simple fact is that in that first 30 minutes of training on the computer they are confronted with a whole new set of words, and ways to use words, which is entirely foreign to them. Plus they have to get use to a mouse, and a keyboard just looks like an absolute mess when coming at it for the first time. It is a huge learning curve, and very few things in the real world prepare you for using a computer for the first time, and I am always super impressed with how much they pick up so quickly.
      On the flip side of that I have a kiddo that recently turned 2, and it is amazing to me what things he picks up on. He already knows how to use a screwdriver (admittedly not very good with one yet, but if you leave him to it long enough he can get it done), and last week he figured out how to use the DVD player on the computer to watch one of his shows (as we stream most content he had only seen us use the DVD player a few times). At the age of 2 he can figure out technology, and he demonstrates a general understanding of abstract ideas, and yet he cannot figure out how to talk yet. External technology is more native to him than figuring out his own body. I keep wondering when he gets older how he will deal with camping and having to contend with a world where the only tech is what he can muster up using his own 2 hands. I find it relaxing, but I would bet that he will find it to be empty and noseless to live in a world with so little stimulation.
      Anywho, the point is that mankind adapts to it's surroundings, and is adept at taking up new tools to bend it's surroundings to it's will. We are very good at navigating the sticks and carrots of life.

      As to the social aspect of this technology being against human nature... you might be on to something there, but I think it a moot point. Technology is merely the application of man's intelligence and will creating a world that mankind wants to have. If people like the tools available to them but do not like the ball and chain attached to the tool, then someone will either design a better tool without the limitations, or else they will find a way to circumvent the effectiveness of the unacceptable ball and chain (most likely replacing it with a new one). Either way, the tool will find a way into the mainstream eventually, and I think there will be a lot of draw to this kind of internalized tool.
      Daniel Meek
      • Hi Daniel

        In my experience two year olds have no patience to finish anything they started, and normally a screw driver in a toddler's hands is a deadly weapon.

        So a two years old who can not speak yet, but is focused enough to work with a screw driver is not a what I see every day.

        I suggest you keep a close eye on him.
      • The question is, then . . .

        "Technology is merely the application of man's intelligence and will creating a world that mankind wants to have."

        The question is, then . . .

        . . . is this the world we want to have?

        We are in a rather unique position where we are not adapting us to our surroundings, as much as we are adapting our surroundings to us.

        I firmly believe that we should be viewing technology as a tool for humans to use, not humans as a tool for technology to use.
  • so silly

    "What about when I'm in the bathroom?"

    Unless there is a morrow in front of you, all you see in the bathroom is a white wall in front of you.

    Jason, you are so full of yourself.
    • Never look down?

      So you never look down when you are using the bathroom?

      If you say, "Of course not", check for yourself the next time you go.
  • wake up folks

    What about my right to privacy? You all know it is illegal to record any one voice and image in the united states with out permission right? You do know this don’t you and did you ever think of who this is really for? Let me tell you it is not for civilians. I t being develop for law enforcement and the military.
    • Voice yes, image no

      It is typically illegally to record someone's voice without their knowledge (and usually permission), but typically not their image; otherwise all security cameras would be illegal.

      There are exceptions, however, such as areas where photography is explicitly prohibited, and areas where they is an expectation of privacy.
      • you cant a business can

        read the laws don't spill carp off the cuff.
  • Illegal privacy infringement

    This would be illegal in much of the world because you would be recording others. It should be illegal here. We do not have a right to privacy written explicitly into the constitution. We should. This may be the scariest and most disgusting article I have ever read, and it could easily happen.
  • Reminds me of Arthur C Clarke and Stephen Baxter's, The Light of Other Days

    BTW, you need to do better research in the medical field.
    A local anesthetic does not put people to sleep, it merely deadens that particular spot of the body. You want them unconcious, you use a general anesthetic. On the other hand, doing a neurosurgical implant is more likely to need conscious sedation instead of general. You want the patient awake to test connections, but with no memory of the trauma or pain (prior to entry into the brain, the brain itself supposedly has no pain receptors.)
    • I always get the two confused.

      Corrected the copy, thanks.