Get Ready To Be Augmented

Aug 17, 2016

Everyone, it seems, is playing Pokemon Go. But even if you are not playing it, the game shows us that our future will be augmented.

At one time, we could be pretty sure about where "real reality" ended and "virtual reality" began. It was clearly indicated by the edge of the monitor frame. With Pokemon Go, however, the line dividing the virtual world from the real world is becoming increasingly indistinguishable. These augmented reality applications allow us to modify our experience of the real world by projecting digital data into it.

Beyond playing games, this will have important consequences for all of us. As we encounter people on the street, for example, the camera in our mobile device can capture images of their faces, a wireless connection can allow the device to access facial recognition software residing in the cloud to find each individual on Facebook, and then this data can be downloaded to the device and overlaid on what we see out in the "real world."

For some, this operation portents a dystopic future of increased surveillance and control. Others find it to be a positive development insofar as we can now remake or “mod” reality to accommodate us. I, however, find all of this to be a continuation of what we have always done.

All of our information technologies, from language to the computer, are about projecting data into the world. This is the human project. And augmented reality is just one more step in this undertaking.

I’m David Gunkel, and that’s my perspective.