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Vint Cerf defends Google Glass innovation over privacy concerns

05 Sep 2013

Google’s chief internet evangelist, Vint Cerf, has defended the firm’s augmented reality Glass project from privacy concerns, claiming its innovation potential far outweighs these issues.

Speaking on Wednesday at the Telefonica Campus Party event in London, attended by V3, Cerf argued that it represented the next stage in computing and held huge potential for improving people's lives.

“Google Glass is a very important new development. I know there’s been a lot of debate and discussion about Glass and privacy issues and the like but I want to give you a sense of why it is so important,” he said.

“It’s an opportunity to experiment with what happens when you allow a computer to become part of your sensory environment. It sees and hears what you see and hear and it can apply its power and the power of the internet to make use of information in context.”

He gave the theoretical example of a blind man trying to communicate with a deaf man, in a foreign language.

He said Glass could recognise foreign voices and translate it to the wearer's language, while also being able to interpret sign language and relay this message in text too. He acknowleged, though, that sign language interpretation was a little way off yet for the device.

“This is a very powerful opportunity to see what happens when computer power is made available within the context within which you operate.”

His comments on the privacy discussions that have surfaced around Google Glass relate to questions posed by numerous government regulators about how exactly the tool will work with regard the collection of data and facial recognition profiling.

Recently, regulators in nations including Australia, Canada, Israel  and Switzerland sent a document to Google chief executive Larry Page asking how he would ensure data protection laws would be upheld by the product.

While speaking at the event on Wednesday, Cerf also called for the creation of an internet fire service that could tackle security 'blazes' when they occur to minimise the risk of exposure to other firms and users online.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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