man walked past the department-store window. Slowed down, the gaze-tracker showed his eye alight on a
hem here, the hip-tilt on a mannequin
there, a neckline farther along.
“This is creepy,” said Mallory.
I jumped the view forward to where
the guy was now.
“No,” I said. “It’s how I first spot-
ted this pattern, in the shopping-glass
logs. Men notice women’s clothes, just
not the way women do. Same with faces
and bodies; look…”
Subject A had passed the block of
shops and was paying more attention
to the people in the busy street. Again
I rolled back and forwarded slowly, this
time filtering out glances at inanimate
stuff—sidewalk, cars, street furni-
ture—leaving the looks at people.
Subject A was straight. He reg-
istered other men with a sublimi-
nal check that they weren’t a threat.
Women he noticed quite differently:
He didn’t stare or lech, but he defi-
nitely checked them over. Now and
again he’d give a woman a second,
conscious glance. What caught his
eye could be the obvious—the sway
of a hip, say—but far more often it
wasn’t. Rather, an ear, a drift of hair, a
snazzy blouse, eyes, a cuff that set off
“This guy is weird,” Mallory said.
“He’s typical,” I said. “I’ve seen this
scores of times. Men don’t even notice
what they notice about women. It’s
more than they’ll say it is, that’s for
sure.” I brushed my palms together.
“Now for Subject B.”
I clicked a search for a woman with-
in a 500-meter radius whose profile
matched A’s data-mined tastes and—
crucially—whose own taste in men
nominally matched A. Several pos-
sibles popped up, with the street heav-
ing with shoppers, mostly young. Like
A, all had clicked on the agreement to
be included in experiments with the
glasses, almost certainly unaware that
that was what they were doing.
I picked the nearest: about 100
meters from A, walking toward him. I
flashed to A’s and B’s glasses an ad for
cool drinks, flagging-up the salience of
a Caffè Nero.
Mallory watched, horrified.
“This is sick,” he said. “I see what
you’ve done; you’ve mated the shop-
[Con TinUed froM P. 128]
ping algorithm with this dating algo-
“‘Mated’ is right!,” I muttered.
“C’mon c’mon, guys, iced coffee…”
A minute or so apart, B and A en-
tered the same café. The screen fol-
lowed A in.
“This is just so unethical,” Mal-
lory wittered on. “There’ll be privacy
issues, it’ll get hacked and become a
stalker’s paradise, it’ll freak people
out, especially women, you wait and
see, and what if people find out things
about themselves, suppose they’re gay
and don’t know it, or don’t want to
“We can stick a counseling mod-
ule on the back,” I said, abstractedly,
following Subject A’s idle gaze as he
queued. “Details, details… Don’t you
see? This is going to shape human
evolution! Just think, people’s real un-
conscious attractions are often geneti-
cally the most suitable for healthy off-
spring, but they get overridden by all
sorts of extraneous…”
Ah, yes. Subject B. There she was, at
the till, paying. Subject A had noticed
her, all right. My next step would be a
discreet message on their glasses: “A
man/woman who might like you and
who you might like is nearby. Would
you like to meet?” The usual Yes/No
blink option. The Yes had to be mu-
My finger hovered over Send.
“Excuse me,” said a voice, above the
clatter of cutlery.
A turned. The young woman beside
him in the queue looked quite unlike
subject B, and she didn’t have glasses.
“It’s your turn.” Irritated…
“Oh, sorry.” I heard his smile. He
called for a tall iced coffee, just as I’d
expected. Then he looked back at the
“And for you… ?”
“Oh, I’ll…” She looked flustered,
then smiled. “A skim mocha, thanks.”
Together, chatting, they headed for
Ken MacLeod ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is the author
of 13 novels, from The Star Fraction (orbit books, london,
1995) to Intrusion (orbit books, london, 2012) and blogs
at the early days of a better nation (http://kenmacleod.
© 2012 aCM 0001-0782/12/07 $15.00
This quarterly publication is a
quarterly journal that publishes
refereed articles addressing issues
of computing as it impacts the
lives of people with disabilities.
The journal will be of particular
interest to SIGACCESS members
and delegrates to its affiliated
conference (i.e., ASSETS), as well
as other international accessibility