What are you going to do with your new artificial eyes? They are on the way. First as medical miracles that will grant sight to the blind, then as super-powered, customizable, networked vision for consumers.
It’s going to be a few years before they start showing up on Amazon Prime, but until then I’m in planning mode for what I will do with mine.
These will be late generation models, by the way. Completely artificial replacements for my natural eyes with fully customizable vision across a wide spectrum of capabilities not possible with biological retinas.
Here are my top ten.
1) Highlight hidden wildlife.
Whether I’m in the city or the woods, I’m always on the lookout for wildlife. Reptiles and amphibians in particular, but owls and other birds of prey are also a favorite.
But wildlife is good at hiding, and my stupid natural eyes miss so much of it. With my new artificial eyes, I will miss nothing. Well, maybe not nothing—I don’t know if my eyes can see through rock or hillsides (yet)—but they will have motion and shape recognition capabilities far beyond those of natural eyes.
2) Kittens and Donuts in technicolor.
Kittens and donuts are just a couple of examples, but I’d have the eyes highlight all the objects of particular interest to me. But highlight how? I might colorize them while keeping everything else a shade of gray.
3) Identify ticks before they get to me.
I love hiking. I love the forest. I hate ticks. Sadly, the two go hand in hand, and projections indicate tick populations are only going to get worse.
I wouldn’t have the artificial eyes show me every tick in the forest—that would be a horror film—but only the ones I’m about to come into contact with.
This is similar to the “identifying wildlife” one, but with the opposite goal—avoidance instead of attraction.
4) Identify mosquitoes and project a visual trajectory for easy crushing.
I’m probably in the 99th percentile for allergy to mosquito bites. I live in Atlanta, a 24-hour party city for these invisible vampires. It has not worked out well for me.
But with my new eyes’ predictive motion capabilities, they can tell me when and where each mosquito will be before it makes contact. Pinch here, they will say, while offering a glowing diagram in the air.
I need this. Everyone needs this.
5) Catch up on all the peak TV I’m missing.
Assuming that TV, or some version of it, is still a thing and still in peak mode when I get my eyes, I’ll give up a quarter of the field of vision in one of my eyes for a continual run of whatever I’ve missed.
Multitasking! Now I won’t miss out on anything except real life.
6) Warn me if someone I know, or have met, is close by.
Substantive conversation with real human beings is tough. Small talk is worse.
Oh hey! How are you?
Good. How are you?
Great. What’s new?
Not much. What’s new with you?
Same. It’s hot, right?
My new eyes will save me. By identifying potential run-ins with acquaintances before they happen, I can cut out an entire layer of human interaction from my life.
7) Curate a very strict list of fonts and emojis people are allowed to/capable of projecting onto my vision.
I’m not sure if we will still display actual text across vision, but I can conceive of some non-video form of chat surviving long enough to be one of the (many) communication methods employed through artificial eyes.
If so, I want a say in how it shows up. This is a frustration based on current experience. I have little to no control over how things display on the major social media sites.
I still haven’t figured out how to turn off that burst of thumbs-ups and hearts that float across the screen every time someone likes one of my posts on Facebook. Someone please tell me how.
8) Allow mapping functions to guide my physical body.
I will no longer have to worry about navigating physical space anymore. Human-directed driving will have already gone extinct, and now I can safely give control over the direction of my physical body to the real-time mapping and direction functions of my eyes.
Theoretically, I will still have to consciously choose to move my legs to get me from one place to another. But I won’t have to do the hard work of judging distance between myself and other objects, choosing when to cross a street, or avoiding obstacles.
This will free me from having to stop work when walking to a restaurant, or walking for exercise, or even walking to the bathroom. Most of my vision will be directed toward work or entertainment while a small sliver in the middle will keep me on the right path to my destination.
9) Edit out the people I don’t like or disagree with. Maybe edit out all people.
I’ve done some thinking, and I’d like to go further than the proximity warnings that save me from small talk. I’ll probably just have my eyes disappear everyone except those I already know and like. The eyes will guide me around the invisible ones so I don’t smack into anyone in the rest of the invisible human race.
Most of the time, it will seem like I have the Earth all to myself.
10) Turn off the world.
But why stop there? I’m running myself in circles trying to customize the world the way I want it. Why even see the world at all? By the time the artificial eyes become consumer ready, there will be entire fabricated universes to explore, invented by media company AI artists with super-powered capabilities.
These worlds will be incredible. Entirely realistic and endlessly complex. AI can dream now, so its future imagination has no limits. Given enough data about our personal preferences, AI will likely fabricate universes based on what we already want to see, too.
So I’ll just have my eyes take me there. They can keep me navigating my body through Earth while overlaying a fantasy existence right on top. Skip all this other stuff about editing away humans and just leave our world entirely…
Thought it was going to be all fun and games, didn’t you? Tricked you with those early ones about technicolor donuts…
For the record, I probably wouldn’t do any of these (except maybe the wildlife one). But can everyone say this? We regularly edit people out of our social media feeds, so why not in person? The “why nots” should be obvious, but “should” seems rare in the application these days.
Anything on your wish list? Your first instinct is to say you wouldn’t get artificial eyes at all, but all this presumes a world in which choosing not to puts you at a HUGE disadvantage, even at a basic survival level, so…
On a daily basis, what do you fail to see that you wish you could? Or what do you see that you wish you couldn’t? Would you turn everyone into puppy versions of themselves?
Have a lovely week.