Tom Carpenter over at Future Digital Life rebuffs Sterling’s claims that writing science fiction about AR is just writing about another medium like cinema or the internet:

What we are seeing in the marketplace and in the research labs are gimmicks and toys and games.  We have many examples of AR that stir the imagination.  I, for one, have been promoting these applications of AR for many years now.  But is AR a technology that has truly changed the way we work and play and live our lives?   Not at all.  The yellow line in an NFL game is the most common way that AR has touched the masses.

And once a technology becomes reality, why should science fiction cease to care about it?  I speak not about technology as a prop or the furniture of the story (to use a term by George RR Martin), but to write about the story as it revolves around the technology, changing people’s lives by their use of it and thus showing the technology through the lens of human behavior.

Carpenter makes the further point that augmented reality is akin to virtual reality, which is a technology in an even more primitive stage of development. The big take aways are that simply because a technology has landed in its earliest forms does not mean 1) there isn’t a long, long way to go in terms of ubiquity and immersion and 2) that science fiction is about how that technology changes lives. The advent of the internet does not stop us from imagining new ways to use it in science fiction.