Snowden Warns of Promise and Peril of Augmented Reality AppsSnowden Warns of Promise and Peril of Augmented Reality Apps

November 18, 2016 - 2 minutes read

app developers

Even NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden bumped into people playing Pokemon Go in recent months — but his take on the runaway app success story is as sobering as it is inspiring. Although he hasn’t played “a whole lot of Pokemon Go” personally, Snowden spoke via the iconic Beam Pro robot at the Real Future Fair to share his perspective on the peril — as well as the promise — of augmented reality apps.

Said Snowden, augmented reality combined with artificial intelligence and deep data will be able to “tell you how to get to the hospital or a job interview … but also tell you about your political history, what’s going in the country, who lives where, where a meeting is, where you have influence,” and etc.

While in the long run San Fran app developers expect to see augmented reality leap to smart glasses, smart lenses, or other yet-to-be-envisioned screen/life integrations, for the meantime the reason Pokemon Go was such a success is precisely because it eschewed these sorts of futuristic specialized devices in favor of the one everyone has in their pocket anyway: the humble iPhone (or Android).

Snowden also was quick to draw parallels to how these mobile technologies affect his political situation. Said Snowden, “we are witnessing the end of exile as an effective tool of political repression.”

In the near future, meeting and sharing space with people worldwide will likely be much easier, making it very difficult for any government to truly lock any one person in or out of the cultural space of a country. In the long run, that “cultural space” could be even more important than the physical one — something we app developers already saw during the election season and through the spread of groups like ISIS on social media.

As some even argue that social media and mobile technology defined and decided the election, Snowden’s remarks at the Real Future Fair can tell us one thing: borders will matter less and less, and reality will offer much, much more than meets the eye.

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