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If I had Google Glass... #ifihadglass

Note: This post is over 2 years old and may now be out of date. Some of the links not work anymore.

(3 minute read)

If I had Google Glass I would want to recreate the Darknet glasses featured in Daemon Inc. by Daniel Suarez. The Darknet is a network of people connected through the internet, coordinating activities using an RPG-like HUD visible through the glasses each member wears. Members can leave virtual objects for each other in different parts of the world. They can look at any individual through the glasses and instantly access that person's personal data, including name, age, address, financial net worth and other details. Members can also see another person's "reputation" score or rating as given to them by other Darknet members, thus turning this into a currency in a way in that this score can be trusted. If you haven't read the book I highly recommend doing so, as well as the sequel, Freedom.

So why do I want to recreate such powerful glasses with Google Glass? well, I would personally love to be able to look at someone and instantly get their personal details up on my display. The ability to do this would help towards teaching people the importance of not sharing every minute detail of their life with the internet and wider world. But perhaps, as Eric Schmidt famously said:

"If have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place".

Either way, to be able to look at someone and instantly see who they're connected to (e.g. a line above their head going to another person if they're Facebook friends) and get a compilation of all the information about them that's out there - like how Google shows you an info pane on the right-hand side when you search for well known people - is for me a tantalising prospect. Google already provides a database of information about almost everybody who's on the web as well as method for searching that database reasonably efficiently. You just need to know who to search for.

You could take a photo of the person through Glass and upload it into Google Image Search. But the image search won't be looking for other images of that person, just similar looking images based on colour proportions and other features. You might get lucky and Google might even suggest who it thinks that photo contains. But most likely it won't really work. No, far more effective would be able to upload the photo into Facebook and get it to recognise the person. Facebook already tries to suggest tags for photos but it's restricted to be between friends. Given Facebook's driving motto of "ever decreasing privacy" I'm sure they will do the right thing and give us a tagging feature which will suggest a name whether we're friends with the person or not. And given that nearly a billion people are on Facebook the likelihood of getting the correct name for our photo is high.

So that's our target's name sorted (well, at least their Facebook name). We can hoover up any other personal information the target has made public on their Facebook profile as well as getting their list of friends. We can look at their friends' public info and try to deduce further details about the target themselves (given that they're likely to have similar ages, interests, locations and/or educational backgrounds). We can also grab other photos the target has made public and stick those into Google Image Search to see if we can find the same photos in other parts of the web which will give us even more info on our target, e.g. their geographical home location.

Just through Facebook and Google we can find out a whole lot of personal information. But In Daemon the operatives can also see a person's net worth floating above their head. In the real world financial information is harder to come by, and especially so for high-net-worth-and-above individuals. Save for hacking into a financial portfolio or something similar where can one publicly access such details? If the target is a company director, especially if they're a public limited company (PLC) director, then we can find out what their share holding is and perhaps even what dividend payout they received recently.

I think to start with just the ability to recognise the person you're looking at through facial recognition algorithms and then to be able to fetch and collate all available public information about that person into the display would be very useful. In fact, just something like this is probably a good business idea in itself and reminds me of Rapportive.