I find this picture, from Jonathan Kalan for the New York Times, with a wicked-looking scar running across the back of a nine-month-old baby, particularly haunting. The sheer brutality of attacking a baby up close and personal in this way is unfathomable to me. I also realize that it is only because I can view this image that I cared enough to learn about their plight, despite the fact that many in the world face worse conditions.
It is the visual nature of humans that gives me hope the Google Glass era will make such events extremely rare. For those that don't know, Glass is the wearable smartphone Google has developed and it represents a paradigm shift for personal security and human rights.
Cellphone images and internet connections have already provided unique insight into outrages, but they still require a person to take the phone out and record. A user has to predict when an event will happen. Google Glass, on the other hand, could be used as a black box for your life, with the capability to record as you go.
This means that with the right apps, Glass would instantly upload videos right to the cloud if the user yells 'Help!' Even if the device is destroyed, the data remains. Going back to the attack on the baby, what if the mother or neighbors could provide a real time upload of an attack, with the faces and vehicles of the attackers clearly visible? Removing anonymity from attackers makes Glass and similar technologies a massive game changer.
You could even imagine expanding the idea Google has funded for tracking poachers. What if you could call in your own personal drone to follow an attacker and figure out who they are, and where they live. Imagine if a girl in Afghanistan can call for help when she is attacked for attending school and a video of the attack is uploaded and a drone follows the attackers to their homes. The attackers no longer remain anonymous and societal pressure coupled with extreme images of the attack can hopefully be used to reduce such behavior.
The benefits of Glass would extend to everyone around the planet. Even in big cities, attacking someone wearing Glass provides a high probability the attacker will be recorded and the video preserved as forensic evidence. Most defensive weapons (gun, knife, etc.) have a major flaw. The attack has already started by the time you reach for them. By contrast, Glass was already recording before the attack started. This doesn't mean traditional defensive weapons don't have value, but Glass greatly increases the risk of attacking a user, far more than even a visible firearm would.
Glass will introduce new privacy issues, but we have managed to deal with smartphone cameras in every aspect of our lives. The big upshot is that Glass will be the ultimate weapon to bring to a gun fight.