Pictures Escaping From Behind Glass

This post is about a collision of two tech-tectonics, recent instantiations of which are:

1) Google Glass


2) Talk of Iceland attempting to ban internet porn.



1) I was raised on a farm. My parents were matter-of-fact about sex, how it worked, what it was for etc. People who feel they need to “protect”their children by lying to them about sex, need to go live on a farm FFS.

2) Internet Porn is damaging… and it appears to be more damaging to children than adults. I’m not talking about the participants (where it may or may not be), I’m talking about the users… where signs are, it can be.

I’m not talking about morality, I’m talking about dopamine-trigger addiction.

3) “Porn” is impossible to define. At one end there are people literally being tortured and killed. At the other, there are entire genres that are indistinguishable from family photographs, and the only thing that makes it porn is the context. So who decides what is/isn’t porn? A bunch of old people? We’ve tried that, and they always censor art first.

And in between is every gradient of “lifestyle choice” you can imagine. Google “wool fetish” and look at the pictures. Is that porn? Who gets to decide?

Iceland’s pro-censorship politicians seem to think that porn is all violent… which isn’t true… I’m willing to bet that other forms of entertainment (games, movies, books) have a bigger % of violence than porn. It’s the sex they’re getting hung up about, not violence… and while there may be some merit in looking closer at the how porn affects people’s brains, pretending it’s about violence is dishonest.

4) Anyone advocating “censoring adults to protect children” needs to be sacked on the spot.

5) Any government deciding that it needs to take on parental duties on behalf of the general public, needs to be sacked on the spot.

6) Any government attempting to legislate morality needs to be sacked on the spot.

7) You cannot censor the internet without owning the root… and therefore functionally breaking it, and creating the digital apparatus for police-statehood.

In a nutshell, no matter how bad internet porn might be, it will never be as bad as governments using it as an excuse to try to control the internet.

So… I think there needs to be much clearer understanding, and more research into the neurochemical effects of porn… and for this to be widely and honestly communicated to the public. A bit like the opposite of what was done with the failed war on drugs. We need honesty.

We need to treat all drugs as a health issue rather than a criminal issue… and I’m rapidly coming round to the idea that internet porn could well shape up to be a drug-like health issue as well.

Think you’re not addicted? Try giving it up for a month.

Google Glass

Nothing so unstoppable as an idea who’s time has come?

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if google bungled this one. They’ve bungled a lot of their bright ideas in the past. Right now the glasses are chunky, and likely to provoke Segway Syndrome… as in “Look at me everybody, I’m a dork”… but this will change. There are already contact-lens variants in the pipeline.

If they don’t bungle it though… or if someone comes along and does the same thing, only better, then it’s potentially a really big change. What it is, is… powerful sensory augmentation. It literally creates photographic memory in it’s users… and potentially, the ability to see at resolutions or lighting conditions that are beyond normal human capacity, and to focus on things in peripheral vision. I think the augmented-reality aspects of it will be secondary to this… though they might make us even more “Always On” than we already are, and that’s already pretty toxic.

There are a couple of ramifications to this:

1) fuck google “owning” (or even storing) people’s visual memories. I’m not using these things if that is the requirement… and it’s likely to be something they try to foist on us. Unless our data is completely private, and out-of-bounds for ANY authority, then we’re all turning into little CCTV cameras.

2) The universal panopticon just took a massive swing (in fact probably THE massive swing), in favour of The Blue Spaghetti Monster. Bottom up sousveillance.

I read recently that the reason the reason for the proliferation of dashcams (in Russia and elsewhere) is as a check against police corruption. This potentially gives everyone an always-on dashcam. It has serious ramifications for corruption.

I think that’s potentially one of the biggest ways this technology will be disruptive. It upsets power-gradients. It upsets authority.

3) It’s going to be used for porn.

It just is. Letching at girls/boys is going to become (for a while) a money-spinner for some people, and a hobby for a lot of others… and who can honestly say they won’t rewind to take another look at that girl/boy they saw this morning? Everybody will do it – it’ll become the ultimate tool for unrequited love, and like porn, it will be impossible to delineate between what is sexually-voyeuristic, and what is not.

For a lot of people, this will be The Reason, they buy this technology.

4) We’re going to need new etiquette surrounding privacy. New forms of politeness.

I’m pretty sure that if someone finds out that someone is wearing these things, they’ll stop talking to them. That’s kindof what happens now if you shove a camera in someone’s face. People freeze up. It’s not entirely impossible that these things will fail because their users become ostracised. This technology could fail because people simply don’t like being around people using it… their friends at least. Authority will love it… until they find that it’s being used back at them, then they’ll flip out.

5) Bars, brothels, courtrooms, cinemas etc etc will try to ban them, but if they’re the size of contact-lenses, they won’t be able to for long. Corporations and government institutions will simultaneously love and hate them – as I say, they upset power gradients.

6) “IP”?


And so on.

Mainly though, I can see a major collision between google glass, and hysteria about child-porn… which people are already pretty hysterical about. American teenagers are finding themselves on sex-offender registers because they have naked photos of themselves. In the UK, it is illegal to look at sexually violent pencil/pen drawings. Different jurisdictions throughout the world have different ideas about what is/isn’t “allowable”… but the internet has pretty much rendered all of that moot. Then there’s child-porn, which is being used as a political tool, and the public horror/fascination with which is cynically used to sell advertising in tabloid newspapers and television. It’s the witchcraft of today. Simply to be accused is to be found guilty… which isn’t to say the damage isn’t real, but the reaction has been hysterical, and (like “IP”) is being used as a trojan-horse for state surveillance and censorship.

With Google Glass, regardless of intent, people are suddenly going to find themselves with images of other people’s kids… and the only thing that’s going to separate that from the more voyeuristic genres of child-porn is the context. If you walk down a street wearing Google Glass Goggles, it’s going to happen, and there ain’t a whole lot anyone, including you, can do about it. You can’t stop other people doing it; you can’t stop your glasses doing it yourself.

It’s something we’re going to need to get our heads around… fairly soon. And I would suggest growing the fuck up. Taking photographs is not the same as capturing people’s souls… I will concede it’s tricky though. On the 6pm News here in NZ tonight was a “story” about someone using a micro pen-camera to take photos up schoolgirls skirts… and yea, that should be illegal… but where do you draw the line? to say that privacy (or whatever) has been breached? Before the act of taking a photo can be said to have “a victim”?

Here’s a point of principle: It should never be illegal to look at pictures. If the pictures are of something illegal… then they’re evidence. The crime they’re portraying should be illegal; looking at the evidence should not be.

I’d draw a line a paying for photos of a crime though… if in so-doing, you’re creating a market for the crime… in a sense, paying for the crime to take place. But just looking? No… that’s just a whisker away from having “Illegal Ideas”. It’s not up to the state to tell us what we can/can’t think; what we can/can’t say; what we can/can’t see.

It’s only a matter of time though… before there’s a news story that goes “The killer was found to have thousands of images of the victim that he’d collected using google glass”.

Watch this space.


“Pictures Escaping From Behind Glass” is a reference to the way computer interface has developed… Google Glass combined with Leap Motion and Occulous Rift could completely revolutionise interface… but “voice commands” probably aren’t going to happen. That’s just silly.