The patent is 29 pages long and all in Korean. That might the reason why Samsung’s Smart Contact Lenses went unnoticed for several years. Now, it’s out.
The product, from the get go, is a potential privacy nightmare. The lenses are equipped with a camera, display, an antenna, and sensors (the actual processing operations happen in your smartphone.) This might still sound like science fiction, but there are existing products that already have similar capabilities, like Samsung’s lenses for monitoring glucose levels in people with diabetes.
Remember the controversy around Google Glass’ built-in camera? Well, these new lenses would be practically invisible. If you’ve seen the British series Black Mirror, you might remember an episode that is precisely about the ability to record every single second of life. A couple, and affair, and evidence that cannot be unseen… The series also features a woman literally blurring someone’s face, forever, which could also be possible in these lenses thanks to a projected overlay from the display.
I am all for technology, innovation, and bionic powers, but I cannot deny a camera hidden in lenses exudes creepiness potential. It’s one thing to have augmented reality feed you information you wouldn’t be able to access otherwise, and another to have everything you (and others) see potentially recorded and distributed. The repercussions are just enormous, and every new example I can think of is worse than the previous one.
When the question of privacy arises, what follows necessarily is a discussion about consent. We know we are technologically ready to execute such a product. The thing is: Are we even able to have that conversation? I cannot but wonder what changes something like this would bring to the way we relate to each other (undoubtedly, smartphones and computer have done this already, and we are still catching up with the consequences of such a drastic new paradigm – with more or less success.)
“Before the prospect of an intelligence explosion, we humans are like small children playing with a bomb. Such is the mismatch between the power of our plaything and the immaturity of our conduct.” Nick Bostrom about AI
Smart contact lenses = life memories selfies? (“oh guys, remember my 1st birthday? Here, let’s look at it.”)