Edward Snowden Envisions A ‘Beneficial’ But Potentially ‘Dark’ AR Future

by Charles Singletary • November 17th, 2016

Edward Snowden is the infamous former CIA computer professional that leaked classified NSA information in 2013. His leaked reports about global surveillance inspired a great deal of conversation that continues to this day. Snowden has asylum in Russia currently, but many publications and companies speak with him to get opinions on different things.

It’s no surprise that someone wanted to get his thoughts on Trump’s election as the new President of the United States and that’s exactly what Fusion did.

The live conference with Snowden tackled the future of surveillance with a focus on a post-Trump nation and his perspective from exile. Eventually, he was asked about the different types of augmented reality, his preference, and whether he’d played Pokemon Go. He hadn’t, but he did still share some thoughts on the game’s mass appeal.

“The most accessible [types of AR] are the ones we don’t require additional equipment for,” he says. “The reason Pokemon Go was so successful is it allows us to interact with these new dynamics without requiring additional equipment we don’t already have.”

He attributed the experience to a “window into a side of the world that we haven’t seen before”, a statement that can reflect both augmented reality and virtual reality alike. Augmented is more often a specific filter for our world, but it makes sense.

He soon after went into a dialogue about AR’s implementation outside of entertainment, like showing street signs on a road where signs don’t physically exist or a political history relay that answers specific questions. His imagined AR scenario took an area and, via AR, you had answers about where you are, where meetings are, what’s happened there recently, whether a police killing of an unarmed individual had happened there, who influences the area, and more.

“Suddenly, when you have access to information, you realize you were not just looking at the world in a different way, but relating to it in a different way,” he explains. “These have very powerful beneficial possibilities but also very dark possibilities.”

Snowden continues by discussing potential pitfalls of that type of data being available in AR, harassment, and abuse being prime examples, but also the long-term potential ramifications of a more regularly utilized set of augmented reality glasses constantly overlaying what you see and whether it’d be a blessing or curse. Much like how he closed out his segment on AR, we have no idea where the technology will go but we’re at a point that we can influence political understanding and augmented reality’s direction greatly, hopefully for the better.

You can watch the full conference here.

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  • Johnny B Knimble ✓ ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    I thought Snowden IS Russian? I’m was only in the sixth grade when this guy went back to Russia after spying on the USA, why doesn’t he just enjoy the money he made, his life back in his homeland, and stop yammering on about America…old people – sheesh! Your 15 mins is over dude.

    • Emesis

      Stay in school junior. Reading comprehension would be a good subject to concentrate on.

      • Johnny B Knimble ✓ ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        I don’t get it, all I can really remember about this guy is he stole stuff that didn’t belong to him, went to China or somewhere to try and sell it, then ended up in Russia where he continues to gain fame and fortune over what he did…break the law. So I’m just saying if he really were an American why’d he do it in the first place since nothing he predicted was even remotely similar to the lies he created to get folks all spun up? Confused in LA.

        • Shouldn’t you be on Breitbart or something?

          • Johnny B Knimble ✓ ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            I didn’t realize it was a closed choir practice.

          • With you it’s more like feeding time at the zoo.

          • Johnny B Knimble ✓ ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Sweet…you represent all that your generation has to offer – bitter angry rhetoric, no actual contribution to society, just rude irresponsible infantile commentary – be proud – it’s what you’re good at.

          • “Ook, ook, ook”


    • valorius

      Clapper, is that you?

      • Johnny B Knimble ✓ ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        Trolling me are you Nancy?

        • valorius

          I’m sorry if the truth hurts princess.

        • valorius

          I’m watching you. Just like the NSA.

          • Johnny B Knimble ✓ ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Your watching me will have as much impact on me, as the NSA spying on our enemies has on you. NADA…go for it at 14K comments, you apparently have a life to waste.

          • valorius

            I retired at age 45. Aint I lucky?

            The NSA must think we are the enemy, since it is spying on EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN EVERY SINGLE DAY.

            Even apologist morons like you.

          • Johnny B Knimble ✓ ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            I’m not the one who’s paranoid and thinks people are spying on them. Plus I have nothing to hide, like most Americans my life is an open book. I’ve sat on a plane for 12 hours many times listening to others tell me their entire history, unsolicited. Only the paranoid believe in the Bogeyman.

            I’m living the dream in the Texas Hill Country, happy as a clam with hands. Nobody has come knocking to take anything away from me, not my fourth amendment rights, no worries about my country blackmailing me, nobody is going to “roll me up & toss me in the back of van never to be heard from again”. I don’t believe there are Black Helicopters hovering overhead to spy on me at night and I don’t think 9/11 was planned by the USG…All very laughable stuff to me…but then the key difference is I live in a world of reality where REAL STUFF makes all the difference in one’s beliefs. Try it sometime, you might find it refreshing, if you can take it all in without looking for someone else to blame for you worries.

            You go on and worry Goldilocks, about the bears, about whatever you want…no skin off my teeth and years from now I’ll hit you up with a note to find out if you ever found your Utopia.

          • valorius

            Today’s breaking news: YAHOO scans all incoming emails for the US government.

            Paranoid. Good lord people like you are truly amazing.

          • Johnny B Knimble ✓ ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Problem is you don’t understand the what the meaning of the word “scans” means.

          • valorius

            In this case it is a synonym for invades. Or breaches.

          • valorius

            Perhaps you wont mind if i come over to your house tonight and scan the contents of all your drawers?

          • valorius

            BTW, there are numerous helicopters over every US city with military grade FLIR operating round the clock every day of the week. They say “POLICE” on the side of them.

          • Johnny B Knimble ✓ ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            I bet they are black too…eeeewwww scary!!!!

          • valorius

            White and blue. In plain sight.

  • For now AR and VR are technical innovators’ playground, but in the future, when they will be more mainstream a lot of problems with arise: just think a moment about what SPAM and banners can be in AR and VR…or ads: Immersive ads can be really convincing. The most scaring factor is data collection: with AR headset worn all the time, companies will know everything of us… that’s the real dark concern