Imagine a world in which you look at a person and see everything about them: their name, age, occupation, address, yearly income, and all other personal information. How would that affect your view of the person? How would that affect society?
Such a view may not be far off.
With the invention of Google Glass, paradigms are about to shift, and simply by wearing these glasses you’ll be to look at businesses and locations in a whole new light. Geo synchronous maps, instantaneous wireless communication to anyone in the world, and boundless other possibilities will all be displayed on the tiny monitor in front of your eye.
For example, if you look at a QR code while wearing Google Glass, you’ll be able to see the same thing your smart phone currently sees, whether that’s a menu listing or an advertisement. Now imagine if that QR code was being worn by a person. What would it display and how would this affect your view of that person?
Would that seem like a world changing invention? Absolutely, as everything they view would now be filtered, or valued, based on the data that is presented. If there’s no data or the value of the data is unpleasant, than that person’s value will appear diminished or outright negated. This would lead to a shift in worldview for everyone who starts to see “the world behind the glass,” to coin a new phrase.
But here’s the most shocking part. This idea is nothing new. It appeared in the most popular and financially successful anime and manga of all time, called Dragon Ball Z, in 1989. Dragon Ball Z is the martial arts epic that swept across Japan and continued to be an enormous hit across the world for decades to come.
The Dragon Ball Z Scouter
In Dragon Ball Z there are characters called Saiyans who wear a device on their heads known as the Scouter. Scouters look and function in pretty much the exact same way as Google Glass. You look at a person, scan them, and the data about that person is presented to the wearer. The Scouter also has video and audio recording capabilities just like Google Glass and interstellar communication, surpassing Google’s measly terrestrial limits.
The Saiyans are a warrior race in outer space, and they land on different planets, use the Scouter to detect life forms and their “power level” (a numerical value of their fighting ability), and then get to work cleansing the planet of all life. Typical alien fare. The problem is that Saiyans weren’t born with this technology. It was given to them by a more advanced alien race, and over time the Saiyans became reliant on this Scouter technology and it altered their worldview, of their own self-worth and the worth of others.
This caused an obvious conflict when they arrived on earth and fought against Goku, the famous hero of Dragon Ball Z. Goku was raised with traditional East Asian values: to believe in the inherent potential of all people, to trust, have patience, and believe that people are not a fixed number. He never used technology and stood in direct opposition to the Saiyans’ belief (determined by the Scouter) that he was worthless and had no value. Why? Because Goku saw things directly with his own inner eye, not the eye behind the lens.
The Saiyans were shocked to find out that Goku, despite what the Scouter said, had incredible fighting ability and was strong enough to defeat them. Their technology was wrong, and it cost them dearly.
The ramifications of a reliance on external technology are discussed further in my new book, Dragon Ball Z “It’s Over 9,000!” When Worldviews Collide, available now on Amazon, iTunes and The Dao of Dragon Ball website.
The book poses significant questions about our society and the consequences of relying on external technology to guide us through life, rather than looking inward and relying on intuition. It also contains a full analysis of the inner psychology of the main characters Goku and Vegeta, so it’s a fun read if you’re into Japanese pop culture, philosophy or psychology.
It may even cause you to wonder where Google Glass technology will lead society, and whether or not it’s a place we want to go.