Face computers are coming. What now?


This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. Here is a collection of past columns.

If the technical predictions work out, we will soon have computers on our faces and latch onto immersive areas of virtual people and places that may be mixed up with the real world around us.

(I don’t want to use the catchphrase “Metaverse“Here because um. This science fiction term has been applied to anything and everything that we should simply call the Internet. But that’s partly what I mean.)

I am both concerned and excited about the potential next generation of technology that could further blur the lines between computers and us, and between online and real life. I can come up with the idea of ​​glasses that let me Scroll menu items in the restaurant and feel like the sizzling burger is in front of me, or in a hat that leaves me Exercise next to a virtual lake in Patagonia.

Nobody can predict how long it will be before this imagined future of the internet comes true and becomes mainstream. if it ever does. But when computers come on our faces and more lifelike digital realities hit us, let’s start thinking through the implications now.

I don’t have a detailed handbook for good people on the metaverse. (Ugh, that word again.) But I know we have to do it instead of letting Mark Zuckerberg or Apple CEO Tim Cook rule the etiquette, ethics, norms, rewards, and risks of our potentially brave new technology world.

How we use technology shouldn’t be left to the companies that make electronics and software. It should be up to us, individually and collectively. This can be done through conscious thinking and careful design, or the lack of it.

I’m writing this now because Apple allegedly plans introduces its first face computers next year or so.

Apple seems to imagine that its face is computers – much like HoloLens from Microsoft, Snaps experimental glasses or the Google Glass failed – virtual images will merge with the world around us, sometimes referred to as “augmented reality”. Imagine watching a car engine repair video while an instruction sheet is superimposing diagrams on the V-belt you want to repair.

Apple has a reputation for mass-marketing emerging technologies. We shall see, but it is clear that there will be many activity and Attention on face computers and immersive technologies in all forms. (Counterpoint: some tech experts have made the rise of facial computers for most of the past decade.)

I want all of us – whether we’re not making a fuss about virtual reality or loving it – to think about where to focus the promise of this technology and where to limit the risks.

I am aware of what went wrong when we let the technology flood us and tried to figure out the details later.

Partly out of unwillingness or inability to imagine what could go wrong with the technology, we have websites and apps that Follow us everywhere we go, and the sell the information to the highest bidder. We have automakers who sometimes and sometimes protect us with clever technology that compensates for human weaknesses seem to make them worse. We have the best aspects of human interactions online and the worst.

We should think about it now, before we all wear supercomputers on our faces.

What to do? weather do you want from this technology? Can we go to schools, or offices Comedy Clubs in Virtual Reality? What do we want from the next generation of the immersive internet for our children? Do we want to drive with our headgear tweets in our field of vision? Do we even want to Bridge the gap between digital life and real life?

It might be a mistake to set standards and laws around technology that take many years to grow. But tech companies and technologists aren’t waiting. You are now shaping your imagined future of the internet. If we don’t get involved, companies are in the driving seat. And we’ve seen the downside of that.

Before the holiday season, we want to hear from our readers how to use technology (apps, social media, websites, gadgets, or more) to plan your trip, parties, shopping, or family time. Tell us about an app or website you use during the holidays and why it helps, or the technology you no longer use and why. We may publish a selection of the answers in an upcoming newsletter. E-mail ontech@nytimes.com.


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