« Danger, Danger! | Main | All Money is Fantasy »

Atlantic: Filtering Reality

My second article for the Atlantic Monthly hits the shelves this week, and can now be found online. "Filtering Reality" looks at the political implications of augmented reality. It's a theme I've explored before, but the Atlantic editors asked me specifically to do this topic.

You don’t want to see anybody who has donated to the Palin 2012 campaign? Gone, their faces covered up by black circles. You want to know who exactly gave money to the 2014 ban on SUVs? Easy—they now have green arrows pointing at their heads.

You want to block out any indication of viewpoints other than your own? Done.

This will not be a world conducive to political moderation, nor one where differing perspectives get along comfortably. It won’t take a majority of people using these filters to poison public discourse; imagine this summer’s town-hall screamers on constant alert, wherever they go. Yet this world will be the unintended consequence of otherwise desirable developments—spam filters, facial recognition, augmented reality—that many of us will find useful.

It's a much shorter piece than my previous Atlantic essay, but hopefully the readers will find it just as provocative.

(Top Image: by "Gluekit" as illustration for the article; it's a variant of my original artifact image, below.)

Handheld Augmented Reality


One Jack Vance novel featured a town with "green" and "purple" populations. Neither was visible to the other. It was psychological; they just tuned out anybody wearing the wrong color and got really irate and puzzled if circumstances forced them to recognize reality.

I really like the bit in your last sentence about not encouraging "muddy centrism". Respecting and listening to other views is one thing, but moving everyone to the perceived middle has never been an appealing idea to me. Especially given that the "middle" is pretty far to the right, these days. (I think you addressed that idea in another post, about shifting the center, yes?)

Very cool piece indeed, Jamais. Ironic how the web is enabling an even more insidious cocoon than any Unabomber cabin.

Post a comment

All comments go through moderation, so if it doesn't show up immediately, I'm not available to click the "okiedoke" button. Comments telling me that global warming isn't real, that evolution isn't real, that I really need to follow [insert religion here], that the world is flat, or similar bits of inanity are more likely to be deleted than approved. Yes, it's unfair. Deal. It's my blog, I make the rules, and I really don't have time to hand-hold people unwilling to face reality.


Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered By MovableType 4.37