Ban Google Glass

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As this article appears online, several hundred Explorers are living their lives testing Google Glass. In the last week, we’ve had the courts in California dismiss charges against a driver. The justification for this judgment was the lack of evidence the device was switched on. Just wearing a pair of spectacles is not a criminal offense. But if the device was switched on. . . well that would be different. It’s the same when it comes to copyright infringement. A cinema recently called in the cops and then the National Security Agency — not because there was a terrorist in the house. A person with a ticket who wanted to watch the movie was wearing Google Glass and could have recorded the movie. This would have been an infringement of the copyright. That threat to copyright was a threat to the economic wellbeing of America and justified the NSA’s involvement. Guantanamo also acted:

You may have heard of Wyoming. It’s one of these largely empty pieces of land with the occasional town and long roads going nowhere important. Senator Floyd Esquibel has just introduced a bill to ban all devices such as Google Glass. He justifies the potential ban this way. If someone was watching television while driving, this would be a crime. So if the mobile device can replay a recording of a movie, it should be a crime to wear it while driving. The temptation to watch the movie, or to do anything else online like read emails or use an app to navigate would be too much for most tech-savvy drivers. They would all soon be surfing the net or downloading the latest music from iTunes.

Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia and Wyoming are of one mind. All their lawmakers are currently considering bans on Google Glass and comparable technology. Why bother? Here comes the statistic. In 2012, there were 421,000 injured in crashes where the use of mobile technology was a factor. The NHTSA monitors the trend and says this was a 9% increase over the number injured in 2011. When asked for a comment, Google simply said it provides technology to connect people to the world around them and not to distract them from it.

That’s nonsense. All mobile technology connects users to a world of distraction. It does not have to be a movie or music. It can be any piece of software designed to do a job. It does not matter whether we call this software an app or a package, if people can use it, it’s a distraction. Yes, it’s useful to be able to use an app to find a parking space or to be able to avoid a stretch of road where there’s been a crash, but if the app engages the driver’s mind, it’s taking the driver’s attention away from the road and potential dangers. It does not matter whether the technology is “hands-free”. Once it engages the driver’s mind, it’s a distraction and use of any distracting technology while driving should be a crime. Safety should come before a driver’s convenience or entertainment.

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  • The problem is cognitive. Anything that distracts the driver from the
    task of driving is potentially dangerous. But if the distraction is
    particularly relevant to the activity of driving or the purpose of the
    journey, more of the driver’s attention may be diverted to the message
    and away from the need to remain aware of the driving and the
    surrounding road conditions. The statistics already show distracted
    driving becoming a more common cause of accidents.

    In my view (and not through Google Glass), the optimum
    solution is to reduce distractions. If that means banning all forms of
    technology, in-car, hand-held, or wearable, I’m all for it. I don’t
    believe you can take a product, place it in front of someone’s eye, and
    then expect him or her not to look at whatever it’s displaying. Human
    nature has a strong focus on curiosity. The more you hype the utility of
    Google Glass, the more you are tempting people to use it when they
    should be focusing exclusively on driving. Banning sounds like the right
    answer to me. I would be interested how you believe Google Glass can be
    made safe for drivers.