Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Google Glasses - Help for Prosopagnosia Sufferers

If you read the titles your probably thinking, I wonder what that is. Well Prosopagnosia is a brain disorder that means you lack the ability to recognise faces. The potential facial recognition software and the usability of Google glasses provides some real help to those who suffer from this. It also opens up a valid debate about technology and the linear view of the media in reporting on such advancements. 

Privacy campaigners would have you believe that perhaps the use of this technology would be to invade the privacy of people you encounter, to stalk people or a myriad of other immoral uses. What they fail to realise is that this kind of technology is clearly helpful to many who may suffer from a huge number of different neurological conditions. Various parody videos would have you believe the main function of Google glasses is to stalk women in bars or ignore girlfriends when on a date but in practical terms there is a valid use for this type of technology.

Imagine the benefit to those who cannot recognise faces to have a name appear in writing on encountering them, this would pull down all kinds of social stigma that is attached to these types of disorders. There is also a real benefit in those suffering amnesia or degenerative memory conditions like Alzheimer's who would have the ability to recall memory, in both written and pictorial detail. Of course the first step would be the development of the technology on a platform that is open sourced to developers who can then utilise the tool to fit the needs of the audience they are hoping to benefit. 

The flip side of the argument is that technology that puts a barrier between yourself and the real world is perhaps going to increase mental health conditions which become more apparent when disassociating yourself from the real world and real people. This is not to be ignored, technology addiction is a serious problem not just from the isolated party but also to wider society which suffers from the lack of input of residents who would rather isolate themselves behind a computer screen as a valid form of communication. Using technology to create lists and reminders may seem like an easy and useful tool but without proper cognitive training your brain is likely to revert to reliance on your technology rather than forcing yourself to improve your cognitive ability. This is where conventional medicine and treatment need to keep pace with the technology and lifestyle choices of people, techniques to help keep focus on counteracting any negative impacts these technological enhancements may have.

The resulting outcome is in fact that technology advancements are not inherently evil, they are not invented for a specific reason but perhaps along the way build a momentum as more interested parties identify the opportunity that exists in their invention. This group of interested parties won't all be good and ethical parties, they may indeed have rather immoral plans for the technology. Like anything in life the item itself and creator of the item cannot be held responsible for the misuse of the item, they also cannot be expected to be beholden to all the different uses for the product. In the same way people use everyday objects to threaten, maim and murder the makers of a Lamp can't be held responsible. Technology should be embraced and the benefits should be highlighted to ensure the technology is advanced in a direction that can add real value to our lives.