Still more on robotic eyes – the seeing mannequin comes to a mall near you

OK, I’m going a bit off topic again today. We’ve talked about robotic eyes and now according to Bloomberg News and NBC News, it’s gone a step further.  Italian mannequin manufacturer Almax SpA is now selling the EyeSee mannequin.  Units go for just over $5000 and have digital cameras built into one of their eyes.  That is their eyes have eyes.

As you might imagine, a significant purpose of this is to augment store security.  OK, so maybe not the Mars Rover, but it does serve a purpose.  But then we learn that the mannequins are analyzing us and profiling us, collecting data, determining gender and race.  People report that it’s more than a bit spooky, being watched at eye level, by something anthropomorphic but not quite human.

I am reminded of a “Sunday Showcase, November 8, 1959 entitled “Murder and the Android,” where the android sheds tears.  OK, so maybe I’m the only one that remembers this Hugo award winning story.  And then coincidentally a week later, November 13, 1959 we have, or rather had, the famous “Twilight Zone” episode, “The Lonely,” where a man is imprisoned on an asteroid and out of compassion the police give him a female android companion, whom he falls in love with – has the usual Rod Serling twist ending.  And, as an aside, Android Alicia is played by Jean Marsh of “Upstairs Downstairs,” fame.

A hundred years from now the EyeSee will be judged primitive.  So where is all this taking us?  Is it just another example of an invasion of our ever waning privacy?  Or is it the dawn of new ways of seeing, connecting, and interacting?  Is it bad that a robotic eye can take data and analyze us as shoppers, but good if it observes our gate to determine if we have suffered brain trauma?  One point is certain.  We are going to have to deal with these issues as we enter a Kurzwelian age.

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