Augmented reality will make us fearless

Our lives will be different beyond imagination with AR

When consumer smart glasses become common, my forecast is 2020, they will change how we behave, and how the world behaves toward us. 

When you examine the root cause of bigotry, belligerence, and bullying, it all (and other social symptoms) trace back to fear. Anxiety, apprehension, and apathy are also rooted in fear. 

Think about the anxiety you feel when traveling in a foreign or strange place. It’s compounded if you can’t speak or read the language. Just trying to get from point A to point B can be stressful. Think about how your nerves tingle when confronted by the police, regardless of the reason. And think about how you viscerally react to strangers, especially of a different culture. That’s all driven by fear. We have fear as an innate part of our survival mechanism, but in a heterogenous social environment, that fear can be misplaced and dangerous. You can even extend fear as the basis of the desire for what is commonly called privacy. And the desire for privacy is rooted in fear of embarrassment, disclo-sure, and misrepresentation. 
Let’s start with the easy ones first. 

Image credit: http://reallifeglobal.com

Assume you are at a roundabout in Tokyo with six feeder roads, and no street signs, metro signs, or any other geo-locator cues in your native language (which isn’t Japanese for this example). And, you not only have to get somewhere, but you have to be there at a certain time, which is rapidly approach-ing (it’s true, the clocks DO run faster in Japan). You can stop passersby and ask for help, and the Japanese are one of the most polite and helpful people you can meet, but it may not work; or you may be a little shy. But what if you were wearing a pair of normal looking glasses and in your field of vision you could see exact left-right-forward directions to your destination. Wouldn’t that eliminate your anxiety? Make you confident, and hopefully get you there on time? 

Now assume you were walking down a street in lower Manhattan, or some other major, large, metropolitan city in the world, and a police car pulled up beside you, the policeman gets out (as his partner is on the radio), and says, “Sir.” Just reading this probably send s chill. You’ve done nothing, why is he stopping you, and why does he rest his hand on his holster? You are being intimidated and you feel fear; even more so if you are a person of color. 

But what if you were wearing normal looking glasses that were recording everything you saw, heard, or said? If there was an altercation, and you survived it or not, there would be a record of what actually happened. There could be no ‘he said, ‘she said.’ Your aug¬mented reality glasses become what is known as the honest witness. And think of how the police would behave if they knew you were making such a recoding, which they would be doing too. Now your fear is abated—not your caution, because it’s still a potentially dangerous situation, but you are no longer alone. 

My other favorite example is also set in a city, this time you are at an intersection, and about to cross the street when your augmented glasses flash (or perhaps whisper in your ear, “that is a dangerous area, you are advised to avoid it.” 

How would you live your life differently if you had nothing to fear? – Anonymous

Now you are walking down the street, after a nice dinner, and it’s late, when two men are ap-proaching you. Your augmented glasses see them, and give you all the information from social media and other publicly available sources. The glasses will, if alerted by the characteristics of the men, ask, “Shall I call 911?” And again, how will the men behave if they know you have identified them and can instantly call for help? 

As augmented reality, smart glasses are embraced and known about people’s behavior will change. If you knew your actions were public, how would your behavior change? Is that an invasion of privacy? Do you want to do things that are not socially acceptable and so therefore don’t want public scrutiny? Is privacy, as it is currently defined, possible, even desirable in today’s over crowded, and contentious world we live today? 

Augmented reality will change our lives, I think for the better, if we can just get over our fears. What do you think?

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