Face computers are coming. Now what?

This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. Here is a collection of past columns.

If technological predictions come true, we will soon wear computers on our faces and connect to immersive realms of people and virtual places, perhaps mixed with the real world around us.

(I don’t want to use the buzzword “metaverse” here, because ugh. This sci-fi term has been applied to anything and everything that we should just call the Internet. But that’s part of what I’m talking about.)

I am both worried and excited about the potential of the next generation of technology that could further blur the lines between computers and us, and between online and real life. I can get into the idea of ​​glasses that allow me scroll through restaurant menu items and I feel like the sizzling burger is in front of me, or in a headgear that lets me exercise next to a virtual lake in Patagonia.

No one can predict how long it will take for this imaginary future of the Internet to come true and become widespread, if it ever does. But if computers on our faces and more realistic digital realities come for us, let’s start thinking about the implications. now.

I don’t have a comprehensive guide to good humans for the Metaverse. (Ugh, that word again.) But I know that instead of letting Mark Zuckerberg or Apple CEO Tim Cook decide the etiquette, ethics, standards, rewards and risks of our potential new technological world, we must do it. .

The way we use technology should not be left to companies that imagine electronics and software. It should be up to us, individually and collectively. It can happen through deliberate thought and careful design, or the lack thereof.

I am writing this now because Apple would have plans to present its first computers for the face in the coming year.

Apple seems to imagine that its computers are facing – similar to Microsoft’s HoloLens, Snap Experimental glasses or the faulty Google Glass – will mix virtual images with the world around us, sometimes called “augmented reality”. Imagine watching a car engine repair video as a guide overlays diagrams on the fan belt you are trying to repair.

Apple has a reputation for making emerging technologies a mass market. We will see, but it is clear that there will be a lot of activity and Warning in front of computers and immersive technologies in all their forms. (Counterpoint: Some tech experts have predicted the rise of face-to-face computers for most of the past decade.)

What I want all of us to do, whether we’re not bothered by VR or love it, is start deliberating on where we want to focus the promise of this technology and limit the risk. .

I’m aware of what went wrong when we let technology take over us and tried to figure out the details later.

Partly because of a reluctance or inability to imagine what could go wrong with technology, we have websites and apps that follow us everywhere we go, and this sell the information to the highest bidders. We have automakers who sometimes protect us with smart technology that helps compensate for human frailties, and other times seem to exacerbate them. We have the best and worst aspects of human interactions online.

We should be thinking about this stuff now, before we all have supercomputers on our faces.

what we want this technology? Can we imagine schools, offices or virtual reality comedy clubs? What do we want from the next generation of the immersive internet for our children? Do we want to drive while our headgear is projecting tweets into our fields of vision? Do we even want bridging the gap between digital and real life?

It might be misguided to set standards and laws around technologies that could take many years to become important. But tech companies and technologists aren’t waiting. They are now shaping their imaginary future of the Internet. If we don’t engage, it puts companies in the driver’s seat. And we saw the downside to that.

With the holiday season approaching, we want to hear from our readers about new ways you are using technology (apps, social media, websites, gadgets, or more) to help you plan your trips, parties, shopping, or vacation. family time. Tell us about an app or site you use while on vacation and what makes it useful, or what technology you stopped using and why. We may publish a selection of responses in a future newsletter. E-mail [email protected].

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