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Musings: Is augmented reality going to make life better?

By Jane Hagl & Lauren AguirreApril 19, 2017

Musings: Is augmented reality going to make life better?
Musings: Is augmented reality going to make life better?

L: Augmented reality seems to be all the rage with tech companies these days. It’s not the same as virtual reality, where programs create complete virtual worlds. Augmented reality layers digital information or objects on top of our real world. The most famous and popular example of augmented reality in 2016 was Pokemon Go. Now, both Facebook and Snapchat are getting in on it for social media use.

J: It’s cool as a game, or in social media, or even in any type of media. I would even say 3D movies were the predecessors to current augmented reality. But do we really need another element of tech that disconnects us from reality?

L: All of this right now is in the experimental stage. I think the more practical and useful applications of augmented reality will come when something like Google Glass gets off the ground. You can see directions without having to stare at your phone or get information on store hours without having to Google. I don’t think this will disconnect us from reality. It has the potential to connect us to it even more.

 

I don’t think this will disconnect us from reality. It has the potential to connect us to it even more.

J: That’s what they said about social media— pointing at Facebook. I don’t know about that driving thing. People get in wrecks just turning their head for a few seconds. Siri and other AIs provide assistance. You can already get turn-by-turn directions, order flowers a year ahead for your anniversary via AIs, and automate emails. I mean, how lazy can we get?

L: I don’t think this is about laziness. Technology will always evolve. You can get turn by turn directions and there are some experimental apps that provide heads-up displays. But I was picturing walking directions in the corner of my eye. I always feel a little unsafe glancing at my phone to make sure I’m heading the right direction. With a heads up display, you could see the information while still paying attention to your surroundings. It’s about layering information on top of reality. Sure, it’s more convenient, but it could also make things safer for a lot of people.

J: Or we can do the old-fashioned thing and figure out where we going before we leave the house. Technology will always evolve and in a lot of ways, it’s really great, especially when it comes to medicine, vehicular safety, mechanical features, sustainable production and other aspects of society that it can improve for the better. But when it gets down to the little things, I haven’t gotten on board with technology doing everything for humans.

L: Augmented reality can't get you authentic friendships or find a spouse for you. Until many many decades into the future, technology will never be able to replace a genuine human connection. It will only open more and more doors to connect you with more and more people. It's not doing everything. It's just making some things a little more convenient and maybe even safer.

 

We’ve already been gifted with vast amounts of information, tech that makes life easier and convenience. But has it made us better people? 

J: It’s not just about human connections. It’s about taking the time to do the small things. When people get used to having everything at their fingertips, we tend to be less considerate, more self-centered, and less patient. The more thoughtless and patientless the world becomes, the less kind the world is. We’ve already been gifted with vast amounts of information, tech that makes life easier and convenience. But has it made us better people? Humans can’t even handle social media messaging.

L: There will always be people who misuse it. That’s just an unfortunate fact. Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I view it as freeing up people’s lives to give them more time to do important things. There’s a reason people hire personal assistants. Imagine a world in which everyone can do the “little things” quickly so they can get to the big important things much faster.

J: Most people with personal assistants are Real Housewives and actors. The little things are important. Little things show personal attention to life. If you look at how most relationships fail, it’s because the little things went on the wayside. Sending thank you notes, responding to RSVPs, taking time to learn and study subjects are important. Just because you can bring up info up in two seconds doesn’t make you smarter or help you develop critical thinking skills. Most people replace learning with googling.

L: With more technology, I don’t think the value of personal attention will decrease. If anything, it will become even more valuable. I was referencing menial or tedious tasks no one likes to do. I’m sure everyone will still appreciate thank you notes and responding to RSVPs. Those are personal connections. Googling can’t replace the value of a degree. But with the wealth of information online, it’s great that you can learn a small fact quickly. Knowing how to be skeptical will greatly increase what you can get from all of the information on the internet. It’s just a tool. Everyone can use it differently.

J: Reality says otherwise. You’re too optimistic. Facebook is the perfect example of how a tool meant to connect ended up negatively affecting people’s ability to communicate clearly and more authentically. It’s not about if we appreciate the little things, is that we forgot to do them. It’s more about the psychological effect technology has on people and companies.

 

Maybe you’re too pessimistic. Technology is made by people, so it’s not perfect.

L: Maybe you’re too pessimistic. Technology is made by people, so it’s not perfect. We now recognize that media literacy is an issue and so we can take steps to address it. Facebook became popular because it was the first social media network that let you control who saw what you posted. It was an experiment. I think we should still be careful to control how much tech can affect our lives, but if we don’t experiment with new ideas we’ll never progress. Both good and bad ideas come from experimenting.

J: At this, point it’s not really up for discussion. It’s the direction we’re heading in. But any experimenting ought to be done thoughtfully. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t want to appear as a hologram in a remote room, but caution never killed anyone.