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For my story plot to start it needs to exist a widespread technology that through a software update or patch can be (ab)used to filter out copyrighted material from perception. My idea was a neural implant that gives enough advantages and is convenient enough to be adopted despite the obvious risk (like smartphones in our reality), but based on this question Is my proposed neural implant feasible? may be completely impossible.

My question is what kind of tech that can be voluntarily adopted by a large share of the population would it be needed to make this happen in the near future (early 2030s)?

Constraints/details

  • Implants are preferred but not necessary as long as getting rid of the device is difficult.

  • This tech is not mandated by government or adopted through coercion, people need to have embraced it more or less voluntarily but may not know the risk (fear of missing out and threat of becoming isolated or unemployed, again like with smartphones are ok).

  • When the tech was developed the filter was not the main purpose, it came as an afterthought.

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    $\begingroup$ My new augmented reality glasses are great, but there's some kind of glitch. I can't even see this question while wearing them. Also, almost every book in the bookstore down at the mall is blank. What's sort of creepy is that the movie posters at the theater are all plain white and say things like OBEY, CONSUME, and REPRODUCE. I hope they get this fixed soon. $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2022 at 13:37
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    $\begingroup$ @ Escaped Lunatic Silly, dontchano you have to pay for the subscription service to see these things? You don't get anything for free anymore. Only the ultra-rich get to see the beauty of nature. Better than charging them admission to an art gallery. You charge them admission to 'life' and 'reality'. Like charging people for the air they breathe or the water they drink. $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2022 at 14:00

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Smart glasses with augmented reality technology (a product that exists in our world, but with niche uses) could be programmed to filter out copyrighted visual works. One could also imagine headphones which do a similar effect, but for sound (though I don't know of anything doing this IRL). Getting these effects for the other senses is much harder, but also fewer copyrighted works are delivered via these media (is it a big deal if people can pirate books written in braile?).

The other problem is blocking out all copyrighted material. Machine learning algorithms are making rapid progress at identifying things from visual/audio data. At present, one would have to train an ML model to recognize specific things to filter out, but it's not hard to imagine that, with advancements in computing power and ML techniques between now and then, someone might figure out how to make a system in which all copyrighted works can be indexed, and then any incoming sensory data can be scanned against that index. Such systems are also too slow to do real-time filtering on human sensory data, but it's easy to imagine that this would improve, too.

These devices are only kept on through voluntary actions by the wearer, so how do we get people to keep them on? Through a mix of social pressures and psychological manipulation.

Such devices could be used to easily be anywhere and with anyone, without having to even be in the same space. They could be hooked up to news feeds, giving you the latest in current events, celebrity gossip, fashion, &c. They can make video games, online videos/livestreams, porn, &c much more immersive than with modern technology. If you're looking at or listening to anything, they can provide you with all the information in the world about it, at your fingertips.

If you combine all of these reasons why people would want to keep using these with the technology being run by some company which tries to make use of it addicting (like many modern-day social media companies), you can get a world in which most people never take off their smart devices because they've become addicted. This definitely won't get every single person in the world, but you'll could feasibly get most people in developed countries using this tech.

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    $\begingroup$ This is actually very similar to what I was thinking! Glasses could even include bone conduction earphones in the frames to manipulate audio and act as shutters against bright lights. The addiction aspect is great for making people reluctant to remove them. Even more if they were used for authentication and tele-health with iris and retina scanner blocking access to accounts or calling emergency services to people who remove them. $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2022 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ @OmarMoralesRivera neat idea, I didn't think of bone conduction earphones, but those combined with microphones could enable cancelling incoming (copyrighted) noise without having an extra piece to place over the ears. $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2022 at 0:33
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    $\begingroup$ You can also coerce people into keeping them on if important data that people need to know in order to comply with the law is only shown in AR - for example, rendering traffic lights only as AR objects would require that all drivers wear headsets. $\endgroup$
    – Tim C
    Sep 3, 2022 at 18:25
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Smart glasses

They already exist, these modern ones are just a lot more effective. They can use sound waves to nullify sound, and use ultrasound waves to turn off parts of the brain. It's 2030, so it's not gonna be especially complicated, but they can shut off most pain, or unwanted sensations like smell.

They are the replacement to smartphones, freeing up your hands to interact with the world. They have trackers for everything you can want and make life vastly more convenient. They also now serve as passes. Due to a lot of terrorism and plagues in the 2020s, most locations now require you to identify yourself to show you're vaccinated and aren't a member of any dissident groups.

They are also all made by a single corporation. An aggressive series of behind the scenes merges has led to all tech companies being owned by one corporation. When they update their software, anyone who takes them off will lose all that convenience and be unable to move anywhere in public or interact with any of their ubiquitous technology.

Accept the censorship, or die of starvation and thirst in the city.

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I am going to go with corneal implants and cochlear implants since they are already being done.

Except that these devices are connected via Bluetooth or NFC or other wireless technology to the cellphone network. No need to wear earbuds or glasses. The connection is 24/7, always on, always available.

Subsequent iterations of the device that give them universal appeal and mass market penetration involve upgrades that add functionality to allow telescopic vision and enhanced hearing. See anything at a distance, like permanent binoculars or infrared vision, and hear even the most subtle sounds, and enhanced frequencies (ultra-high frequencies that currently dogs can hear?).

Now, everyone has perfect hearing and vision with access to the Internet and the cell phone system. Google/Siri/Alexia are always with you. Not interfaced with your brain, but working through your normal senses and already existing sensory pathways. You do not 'instantly know' the data you are searching for, but it is presented to you in normal fashion, like you were reading it in a book or hearing it in a lecture, but the data recall is instantaneous. It is more natural, and therefore more acceptable and less 'intrusive' and 'intimidating' than direct connection to the brain. It is just an extension of what we do now.

Everyone, of course, would want it because of the enhanced hearing and vision. The attraction for everyone is 'perfect hearing, perfect vision', without wearing glasses or a hearing aid. The downside is that everything they see and hear is from the camera in the implant and the microphone in the ear implant.

On the other side of the coin, the marketers want it because of the huge potential for advertising. Everyone is now wearing a billboard, 24/7. Perfect for channeling advertising through. The advertising revenue would be beyond even Facebook and Google combined.

So once everything visual and auditory is now presented to the person through these implants, and not direct transmission to the retina or cochlea, everything the person sees and hears is filtered through the implants.

The 'filters' are originally presented to the population as something that flags, but does not filter out, false or incorrect information, or pornographic or R-rated stuff, like the V-chip. Since this chip is implemented in EVERY device, and switched on/off by the user (parent?) demand, it could unobtrusively start filtering out 'viewer content' the user has not paid for through subscription, like media companies now filter out the channels they get depending on the subscription level. That is, you have to pay for a subscription to MetaNetFlik before the implants let you see this content on ANY screen or sound system, anywhere in the environment. But once you have the paid subscription, the streamed content is tailored to the environment and local you are in. Pokemon GO goes with you everywhere, no need for a device.

Not quite the 'copywrite content' filter, but easier to implement. The database is better defined. It is a 'paid content' filter.

Technically, most of this is possible today. If it becomes a consumer 'hit', then fast-track development would be driven by the advertising revenue it could generate, just like FaceBook and Google Search developed so rapidly. Anything to capture the advertising dollar gets giganormous investment.

And just like google or FaceBook, because of the potential huge profits, the potential for abuse is enormous. Big money always attracts big larceny.

The thing is, it is completely imaginable and believable. No 'suspension of disbelief' of the technology necessary. Maybe not 2030, that is only 8 years away, but certainly 2035 and on. The smartphone phone took about this long to mature. The hold-up would be the lead time necessary for the surgery and the surgery clinics to go through the regulatory approvals necessary and the training of the doctors/surgeons/technicians for the medical side. This is not something you go to the mall on an impulse to buy.

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High definition video codec, just inside your head

Even the best displays fall short of human perception. Full dynamic range of the eye, stereo vision and 360° view can only be achieved using a neural implant. This implant detects hidden code embedded in media content and replaces the view with much higher resolution one directly in the brain. Those without the implant see just regular low resolution video on their blurry 4K screens.

Obviously it is a must have or you'll never forgive yourself for missing out the immersive, AI-remastered re-runs of Friends.

Now, the implant already has the ability to recognize codes embedded in content and interpret them to present the higher resolution version. To hide the content, you can encode a blank image to all copyrighted content. Or exploit some vulnerability in the code parsing to install more advanced filter into the implant.

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