Will Google Glass Lead to DBZ?

scouter dragon ball z google glass inspiration

How would you feel if you were judged through the lens of a Scouter? What are the ramifications of a society reliant on Scouter technology? DBZ reveals it all.

Imagine a world in which you look at a person and see everything about them: their name, age, occupation, address, yearly income, and all other personal information. How would that affect your view of the person? How would that affect society?

Such a view may not be far off.

google glass models dbz scouter

With the invention of Google Glass and similar products, paradigms are about to shift, and simply by wearing these glasses you’ll be able to look at businesses and locations in a whole new light. Geo synchronous maps, instantaneous wireless communication to anyone in the world, and boundless other possibilities will all be displayed on the tiny monitor in front of your eye.

For example, if you look at a QR code while wearing Google Glass, you’ll be able to see the same thing your smart phone currently sees, whether that’s a menu listing or an advertisement. Now imagine if that QR code was being worn by a person. What would it display? And how would this affect your view of that person?

Would that seem like a world changing invention? Absolutely, as everything they view would now be filtered, or valued, based on the data that is presented. If there’s no data or the value of the data is unpleasant, than that person’s value will appear diminished or outright negated.

This will lead to a shift in worldview for everyone who starts to see “the world behind the glass,” to coin a new phrase. Human beings are visual creatures and everything they perceive through this glass filter will be altered, or as the inventors call it, “augmented” before it reaches the regular lens of their eye. The gradual change in perception will lead to a shift in expectations for visual experiences to be augmented, and for that data to be informative or pleasant. This ultimately will lead to a profound change in societal norms and the perception and acceptance (or dismissal) of other humans based on the data presented.

Here is a sample video of the interface in action, placed in front of a video camera.

The introduction of this technology will at first be welcomed for all of its unique novelties. But in time it will become so commonplace that to not view the world around us (other people included) through the lens of this device will seem as antiquated and strange as the idea of not having your own cell phone appears today.

QR codes are already being used in China on ticket stubs for mass transit and similar practices are being implemented in the United States. QR codes are also being added to clothing in wrist straps and jackets. It’s not far fetched to imagine them being worn directly on our skin, tattooed or even embedded partially underneath through surgery.

qr code face google glass scouter dbz

Projecting further ahead, there may eventually come an age when QR codes are unnecessary and the data can be scanned simply by viewing the person’s skin, retina, or perhaps through infrared or other spectrum DNA analysis.

But here’s the most shocking part. This idea is nothing new. It appeared in the most popular and financially successful anime and manga of all time, called Dragon Ball Z, in 1989.

The Dragon Ball Z Scouter

dbz scouter google glass goku vegeta

In Dragon Ball Z there are characters called Saiyans who wear a device on their heads known as the Scouter. Scouters look and function in pretty much the exact same way as Google Glass. You look at a person, scan them, and the data about that person is presented to the wearer. The Scouter also has video and audio recording capabilities just like Google Glass, plus interstellar communication, surpassing Google’s measly terrestrial limits.

The Saiyans are a warrior race in outer space, and they land on different planets, use the Scouter to detect life forms and gauge their “power level” (a numerical value of their fighting ability), along with other vital statistics and anatomical structure. Then they get to work cleansing the planet of all life. Typical alien fare.

dbz scouter scan farmer google glass

The sociological problem is that Saiyans weren’t born with this technology. It was given to them by a more technologically advanced alien race, and over time the Saiyans became reliant on this Scouter technology to the point where it permanently altered their worldview, of their own self-worth, and the worth of others.

This caused an obvious conflict when they arrived on earth and fought against Goku, the famous hero of Dragon Ball Z. Goku was raised with traditional East Asian values: to believe in the inherent potential of all people, to trust, have patience, and believe that people are not a fixed number. He rarely used technology and stood in direct opposition to the Saiyans’ belief (determined by the Scouter) that he was worthless and had no value. Goku saw things directly with his own inner eye, not the eye behind the lens.

The Saiyans were shocked to find out that Goku, despite what the Scouter said, had incredible fighting ability and was strong enough to defeat them. Their technology was wrong, and it cost them dearly.

Later in the series it’s also portrayed that technologically advanced artificial humans (i.e. androids) are able to scan human beings with internal scouter-like devices and pull up all the subjects personal information from a central repository, just as described above. The artificial humans don’t need an external device because it’s pre-installed into their lenses, and as Google Glass technology advances it’s not that far-fetched to imagine we will install this device on a contact lens or in the human eye (or brain), connecting directly to the optic nerve.

dbz scan androids artificial humans scouter google glass

The ramifications of a reliance on external technology are discussed further in my new book, Dragon Ball Z “It’s Over 9,000!” When Worldviews Collide, available now on Amazon and iTunes.

For example, here is an excerpt from the section titled, “Human Nature in Action.”

What does this tell us about the nature of this alien society? In a world where everyone has a Scouter in front of their eyes, everyone else will look like a number. That simple number allows them to quickly categorize others and treat them accordingly. What is a person if not that number? They’re a complicated mix of contradictions, truths and lies, strengths and weaknesses, loves and hates, and an endless supply of emotions. They’re people!

Even Goku’s father cared nothing for his son. In Dragon Ball Z: Bardock, The Father of Goku TV Special (1990), his squad mates ask Bardock if he would like to go back to Planet Vegeta and visit his newborn child. Bardock says “To see the lowest-class warrior without any promise at all? What kind of fool would make that trip?” This is what the Scouter does, it strips people of their worth and turns them into a number. A society built upon these numbers denies its own humanity. How fitting that in Dragon Ball this society consists of aliens and mutants. There is no “human” among them.

It also tells us that if we only pay attention to that which is measurable through external instruments, then we’ll become blind to the wonders of potential and possibility in all that isn’t. In life, what you see matters much less than how you see it. Worldviews change the reality of what one perceives and responds to. Conflicts arise when worldviews collide and one person isn’t able to let go of their notions or expectations built up by the perceptions they created over time. For example, Vegeta uses the Scouter’s numbers to validate his own self-worth and invalidate others. He thinks of himself as the greatest and everyone else as worthless trash, including those who are more powerful, because his father taught him that he is a superior being and the Scouter repeatedly validated this belief. Are they really trash, or is that label due to his perception?

The book poses significant questions about our society and the consequences of relying on external technology to guide us through life, rather than looking inward and relying on intuition. It also contains a full analysis of the inner psychology of the main characters Goku and Vegeta, so it’s a fun read if you’re into Japanese pop culture, philosophy or psychology.

It may even cause you to wonder where Google Glass technology will lead society, and whether or not it’s a place we want to go.

vegeta scouter dbz google glass



13 responses to “Will Google Glass Lead to DBZ?”

  1. Dave says:

    This is at one time, a very scary concept and a potential adventure. It’s like the invention of gunpowder. It can save a village, or it can destroy that village. It’s pretty much up to the village. That’s what makes it scary !

    • DerekPadula says:

      True. And I can’t help but be cynical when reviewing our history. It seems like the people who create it are the same one’s unfit to use it. Perhaps because they create it out of improper motivation, such as fear or desires, while those who can use it responsibly never really needed or wanted it in the first place. Or perhaps human beings are easily corruptible creatures no matter who they are or where they come from. See Pandora’s box, or the apple in the Garden of Eden. We will destroy ourselves with the knowledge we seek.

      • Goten Son says:

        I agree it is most defiantly opening Pandora’s Box and now the police an military have them as well. If George Orwell would have known about this I’m sure he would have included it in his thriller 1984.

  2. Cob L Stone says:

    This is very dangerous and scary technology… I don’t think the human race is ready for this but, I also think it’s bad for us period. As human beings are reduced to data more and more (through social media and technology at it’s current level), we already see some pretty serious ramifications, not all of which are good. I think porting this to a technology which makes that something that happens instantly with everyone you see is something we should very carefully consider before pushing it forward.

    I’d rather be that antiquated loser, thank you.

  3. Jason says:

    Interesting. I have read of this technology before. Honestly, I think it provides too much information about a person. Though I like how it will change our perception on people rather than what we just see on the outside.*Appearance vs Reality… I also like the idea though that maybe, we could choose what information is shown, like on Facebook & other social media websites. agree with what some other people have been saying; I am unsure if we are ready for this technology. Maybe we should just stick to what someones power level is? hmm, there is also some dangers there as well… Well, like with all technology, people create both good & bad reasons for the technology’s existence. It is still an accomplishment in technology. This is technology we have only seen in science fiction. I am happy that it is real. lol Now, how many more years to the light-saber? Oh, and a time machine?

  4. In Dragon Ball the Alien races were dependent upon the technology of scouters, but in our case I do wonder if it will go that far. As soon as google glass is able to display a good amount of information I imagine there will be a demand for somthing that blocks the effects of google glass on ones self which may inhibit google glass instead of bringing out its potential. I know I personally would want to protect my privacy. If this however does come to fruition and meets its potential one lesson we can learn from Dragon Ball is don’t underestimate somones reading, even if the scouter says there is nothing.

  5. anon says:

    This shit just blew my mind

  6. Jalal says:

    This is all so very true and scary!

    The scouter from DBZ and Google Glass from our time – they all are very similar! And theoretically it can do exactly what you said in the article, ie. seeing people’s occupation etc via QR codes! Very scary concept indeed. Really awesome thought provoking article, keep it up =]

  7. Sujay says:

    Having Google glasses may lead to the invention of scouters but i dont think its right because it would create a strong and weak category and smartness would be thrown out of the window

    • Jordan Thomas says:

      dude i’m pretty sure it’s going to be a long time before we have technology to judge someones strength just by looking at them

  8. Gus says:

    This is the most dip-shit discussion / blog topic I’ve ever seen. I read it as a joke. I like dragon ball z, Google Glasses, and technology, and this whole article offends my most pragmatic sensibilities. Sociological ramifications of Google Glasses? Sure. Drawing parallels and perspective from Dragonball? *Laughing*

  9. johnson says:

    I am looking forward for it
    can turn into best security feature
    In Dragon ballz, when radizt was killed.
    vegeta came to know this due to scouter

    look at scouter as a cctv camera
    directely linked to cops in case you are victim of a crime
    no one in thier right mind would dare to commit a crime if the victim is wearnig a scouter

    even kids in school wont be bullied without some one knowing

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