The Next Glass Ceiling

March 3, 2011

More than five million people have seen this video already. I wonder what they thought of it?  This is Corning Glass’s view of the very near future:

The thought that materials science melded with computer science can create so many conveniences for us is certainly attractive; who wouldn’t want some of those things? Well, me for one. And the problem is the hoary old chestnut of cost versus convenience.

I’m not talking about the financial cost here (though the technology gap between rich and poor is always to be kept in mind.) No, the cost I am talking about is in personal freedom. Look at the apps displayed. How are they controlled? How do they know it is you making the app request — even for such a mundane task as raising the virtual blinds on the window (do you want just anybody being able to do that to your windows? I’m guessing not, so the system has to know it is you somehow.)

All that access control means the system will always know where you are, for example, and it can always figure out what you are doing. And it means that whoever controls the system also knows those things, always knows where you are and what you are doing. I don’t care for that one bit. I’ll happily give up all of the video’s “advances” in exchange for not giving up any more personal control and privacy than we already have done.

We’ve come this far without talking walls and glass-block phones. I’m happy with that.