Wednesday, September 11, 2013

As grotesque a vision as has ever seemed plausible

And, for the next few years, 
advances in smartphones and 
tablets will continue to be 
subtle and iterative, driven 
by the twin processes of sim-
plification and connection. 
The advanced Touch ID finger-
print sensor built into the 
5S’s home button, while a 
seemingly basic technology 
(it replaces your password 
with your thumbprint in a 
handful of very specific ap-
plications) is a perfectly 
representative feature. Today, 
it’s merely a convenience, 
since putting your thumb where 
it goes a hundred times a day 
anyway is less annoying than 
typing in a password. But it’s 
also a step closer to the day 
when we no longer have to remem-
ber or store dozens of passwords—
a fundamental reinvention of the 
way we approach identity and com-
puter security on a daily, even 
hourly, basis. It breaks down one 
of the barriers between humans and 
our machines.

As if hailing the invention of eyeglasses, cleverly bobbing on the bridge of the nose so effortlessly, their correction of vision is almost spontaneous, the geek for The New Yorker gives us a thumb-rest of innocuous integration with a quite different world as it is: the one constructed of choices repeated, all day long. And what is this breaking down of "barriers," may we guess, but facilitating fingertips favouring that pattern? Could I commission an optician to convey to me a confessional screen in Prince of Wales tweed, I'd send it out for cleaning once a year and still save on battery life.

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