So what’s Utopianist about some fairly snazzy, semi-affordable spy glasses that allow their users to furtively record video of the goings-on around them? And then stream that video directly onto social media websites? The same sort of thing that makes Wikileaks a Utopianist project: It’s the idea that once everyone’s aware that they’re living in a world where people’s actions are apt to be recorded or noted, we’ll start behaving better as well.
While Wikileaks applies the principle to governments and corporations, gadgets like this stand to bring us further towards a transparent society in the more mundane spheres of our lives. With a tap on its side, these glasses can record up to 3 hours of video. Singularity Hub has the details:
The Roy Orbison looking Eyez will feature a 720p HD recording camera, microphone, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, 8 GB flash memory, and three hours of battery life. Using an iPhone or Android app you can transmit what your Eyez record directly to the web, or you can save and upload it later using a microUSB port.
Here’s a promo clip of the glasses from ZionEyez, the start-up company developing them:
At $150 a pair, these glasses are cheap enough to become invaluable tools for journalists in volatile regions, especially those living under regimes who restrict free speech and press — where being seen recording video can be dangerous. Just earlier this week, I argued that giving citizens and journalists access to hand-held cameras could be a powerful tool in exposing violent or corrupt behavior in otherwise lawless or oppressed communities. Police and military authorities, for example, certainly limited their brutality during the protests in Egypt and Tunisia for fear that their deeds would be captured on cell phone cameras and transmitted to the media.
Products like this will no doubt cause an outcry in places like the United States, where we still take our privacy rights quite seriously. And as usual, the notion of more and easier surveillance will draw the inevitable comparisons to Big Brother — and certainly, the notion that our deeds could be surreptitiously captured by strangers, even friends, without our knowledge is an uncomfortable one. But some would argue that given the amount of surveillance we now face by the state, the amount of information we willingly volunteer about ourselves to corporations and on social media sites anyways, pervasive video-taking goggles seem like a natural stage in the evolution towards something like David Brin’s transparent society.
It’s certainly Utopianist in principle: good citizens in transparent societies should have nothing to hide from Bond-like spy glasses.
Image credit: ZionEyez