Sitting on a flight to the Texan outpost of Houston, I was pleased that the person sitting next to me was not a cigar-chomping, deodorant-free KKK member with a penchant for political discourse and the most troubling TV show in world history, "Wipeout."
Half way through the flight, though, I discovered that had my seat companion been of a difficult personal or political persuasion, I will soon be in the position to eliminate them.
He posits a very interesting and near future in which "augmented reality" technology will allow us to have visually displayed before our eyes location-specific data, telling us all sorts of things about those we encounter on a daily basis, whether we actually know them or not.
Apparently, Sony is already working on devices that you will wear like shades, devices that will stream all kinds of fun and fascinating information across your eyes.
"Look! There's a Ralph Nader donor who hasn't washed his shirt in a week!" "And over there! Yes, its the best friend of the mother of that girl who went mad at you for singing 'I Will Survive' at her daughter's wedding!"
Cascio wonders what people will choose to do with these systems, as they will offer excellent defenses against spam.
"Conceivably, users could set AR spam filters to block any kind of unpalatable visual information, from political campaign signs to book covers. Parents might want to block sexual or violent images from their, and political activists and religious leaders might provide ideologically correct filters for their communities," he said.
He also suggests that we could simply eliminate the presence of people with whom we disagree: "You don't want to see anybody who has donated to the Palin 2012 campaign? Gone, their faces covered up by black circles."
I know some might find this prospect titillating, but I have breaking news on this subject. This augmented reality editing is already happening. It's called California.
Please, come live in my state for a while and see just how deftly people eliminate the mere existence of those who disagree with their views- and I am talking about people from all sides of the social and political spectrum.
Somehow, Californians live in their own mentally gated communities, denying the very presence of those with whom they have a problem and pretending to be in an alternative world, often with a little pot and a large smile for company.
While Cascio hopes for more tolerance and respect, the reality is that augmented reality technology will merely, for once, be following human behavior, rather than leading it by the nose, eyes, and fingers.
Can there possible exist a technology that will make us more reasonable? Now that would be worth investing in. Perhaps I will find some Texans who are already working on it.