Facebook is a company that has faced numerous lawsuits and Congressional inquiries over its handling of sensitive user information. It stands accused of having undue, unchecked influence over politics, social issues and facts. It has routinely failed to stop bad actors from using its systems to lie, cheat and steal.
And yet, more than 2 billion people log into Facebook every month. The only reason developers can even attempt a feat as ambitious as LiveMaps is because Facebook generates enough data points to sustain the creation of a second, digital, planet. Even with the cold knowledge of the company's security and privacy shortcomings, we're still using Facebook.
By this math, we're going to use LiveMaps, too. Though the concerns behind Facebook building a planet are more extreme than anything lodged at the company today, the benefits of a working AR system are also more obvious. Today, Facebook users are willing to give up at least some privacy in order to connect with people, follow sites they like and scroll endlessly through the ramblings of former friends and colleagues. If AR works the way Facebook envisions, we'll use it to navigate our daily lives and turn to it at every step for information, connection, entertainment and employment. How much intrusion and subterfuge will we be willing to endure, to experience the comforts of Reality 2.0?
Facebook is one of a handful of companies with enough data and resources to make AR happen on a massive scale. Google could easily take another crack at it, or Microsoft, or maybe even Amazon. However, planet-scale AR is never going to happen without the cooperation or complete direction of a tech giant. With the emergence of mainstream AR, our reality will be distorted by a for-profit organization, guaranteed.
Things aren't so different today. Major technology corporations already influence our everyday decisions through large-scale data collection, advertising deals and subtle online nudges, but AR will push these ideas to the extreme. It's easy enough to delete the Facebook app from your phone; it's much harder to opt out of reality. Especially when that world has more information, job opportunities, communication tools, entertainment options and silent data-collection nodes than the one you're currently inhabiting.
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