Here are two cool examples of augmented reality apps/prototypes that are already out. The first is a really fun one from GE's futuristic Ecoimagination campaign. By making a print-out from their site and holding it in front of your monitor it brings the animation out of the box and into your room. Here's the Future is Awesome's Duncan Rawlinson demonstrating it with the print out attached to his mobile.
Here are some other DIY examples that illustrate it further 1. 2. 3.
Another very cool, though early incarnation technology that gives us a hint of how we'll be interacting with information in our physical environments comes to us from the MIT Media Lab - demoed at the recent TED conference (via Wired).
It's "a wearable computer system that turns any surface into an interactive display screen." Definitely has some of that early stage Minority Report feel to it and I think when looking at these two examples it's pretty obvious that this world will be here sooner than most people think.
Since the recent appearance by Jeff, Garry and Alvis on The Speculist Blog Talk Radio program (click on Speculist meets MemeBox), I thought they and other Future Bloggers might find the below discussion stemming from a subsequent program of interest.
Phil Bowermaster has a post up at The Speculist examining the state of the progression of human society from it's present structure to one more closely tracking the various expectations stemming from the concept of The Singularity:
[The following is an expanded version of an e-mail I sent to Stephen in response to some reflections he had on our most recent FastForward Radio -- that show with guest Joseph Jackson discussing the possibility of a post-scarcity world. I think Stephen was going to post some additional thoughts, too -- to which I would have added comments -- but time's up!] ...
My issue is more practical. By what means could we possibly get to the kind of society he's describing? The assumption seems to be that it would be the federal government (or the Earth government or -- my fav -- the Committee of Robot Overlords) doing the distributing. But we don't have a working model of how a government can guarantee the material welfare of its population without ripping its economy to shreds and putting individual rights on the back burner. That doesn't mean it can't happen, but Joseph doesn't have a model of how we would get there, or at least he didn't articulate one Wednesday night.
I sympathise with Phil's dilemma, unfortunately Mr. Jackson's lack of specific insight isn't unique to him; nobody really knows how we get to "there" because we still haven't really articulated the starting point for the needed change(s) to progress from with any sort of degree of engineering specificity. It's all well and good to simply proclaim the need for a systemic advancement, but what specific mechanism achieves that to actual advantage - and to whom? It seems a bit solipsistic perhaps, but market pressures actually are the least disruptive mechanism to stimulating that process. This doesn't make for speedy adoption of course, but does assure wide-spread acceptance of the process within the production industry(s) generally once the never-ending search for competitive advantage resorts to such comparatively radical technological innovation. Until business profitability (with it's concomitant influence on tax collections) forces executives and governmental legislators to commit to some technology there will remain resistance to doing so. Despite the potential for individual developments altering the current production structure and economy, the likelihood of such a development actually forcing early change is slight for a variety of reasons - only some of them technologic in nature.
The now-publicized curriculum of Ray Kurzweil's newly launchedSingularity University (SU), a very necessary institution that aims to "assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity's grand challenges", yet again reveals what I have come to call the Transhumanist Ego Bias (TEB), which results in the Hard-Tech Attribution Error (HTAE) that Jamais Cascio so eloquently describes in his Flunking Out SU critique.
Transhumanist Ego Bias: The TEB is a tendency among transhumanists to force their objective vision of the future to fit with their subjective expectation of the future. Many of the futurists and outright transhumanists that I have come to know and respect over the years suffer from this. (I too came down with it for a spell when I first encountered the awesome power of Moore's Law and other hard-tech diffusion curves.) It's as if they 1) expect the future to create a magical utopia into which they project their unchanged present-day personalities, 2) can't or don't want to credit the dumb masses (their detractors) with the ability to perform amazing operations (social computation) critical to acceleration, and/or 3) are so focused on the post-human age / life-extending digitization that they fail to adequately consider what it will take to get there.
Hard-Tech Attribution Error: It's no accident that brainiac, hardware-focused, early-adopter types who formulated their core outlook prior to the explosion of social media structures like Facebook, Wikipedia and Digg tend to focus on the "hard" sciences in lieu of recently blooming areas such as group intelligence, emotional intelligence, coordination, and communication. The social side of the equation is not as obvious to those that haven't studied it closely, lived it or worked in fields that rely on social networks to make a living. The result is that the social component of acceleration (despite a few courtesy nods to Intelligence Amplification [IA] over the years) is seriously undervalued as a driver.
The Singularity University, which our own Alvis Brigis got an early scoop on, was made official today. The venture has the support of Google, NASA and an All-Star team of the singularity cognoscenti. The announcement received widespread coverage in the media from the likes of Businessweek, AP and Forbes, which demonstrates just how far this meme has come over the years.
I'll never forget a great night owl session at the first Accelerating Change Conference held by John Smart's Accelerating Studies Foundation in 2003 with Ray Kurzweil holding court and about 20 of his most ardent fans (many of whose works I had read) in attendance. Eliezer Yudkowsky, Ben Goertzel, John Smart et al were listening in earnest to what Ray had to say and it was pretty cool. I heard sometime later that it was also a treat for Ray to have been in such an intimate setting with such a knowledgeable and passionate crew.
The future you hear about on the news is not what it appears.
Yes, the 'electric car' is coming, but do not be fooled by first generation ideas being fed into the mainstream media.
The short term challenges are probably being understated as the transition will take many years to unfold. But the long term disruptive changes are more profound than anything you might see on a 60 Minutes special featuring battery car owners in California.
Electric vehicles are likely to change our energy grid, roads, cities and suburbs in ways that are hard to imagine today.
Software - Drive by Wire & The Digital Driving Experience While stodgy Wall Street Journal Op-Ed pieces continue to characterize electric cars as expensive, wimpy cars- there truth is that electric drive systems offer a lower cost manufacturing platform and a flexible software based driving experience.
Establish software and location based services to vehicles, and you create a foundation for revenue streams based on mobility services in a 'wired and connected vehicle'. (Not to mention 'pay per mile' funding streams for transportation infrastructure instead of paying per gallon taxes.)
Companies like Johnson Controls, Microsoft, Intel, Bosch (et al) are developing 'drive-by-wire' software and microcontroller solutions that can make a car sound and feel like a Ferrari, a Mini-van, or Sedan with the push of a button. There is a huge upside in software-service sales that the digitize the driving experience.
Storage: Vehicle to Grid (V2G) & 'Skateboard' Vehicles on Sidewalks
Quantify: To determine, express, or measure the quantity of. - Merriam-Webster
Why do we compulsively quantify?
An army with a map of the battle terrain is more formidable than an otherwise equal opponent without access to that knowledge. It can more quickly make decisions that will best optimize its chances for success. So it's no surprise that good mapping, or quantification, has been essential to human warfare, and that armies nowadays work to create the most comprehensive real-time maps that technology will allow.
But quantification isn't just essential to effective warring (unless you view life as a perpetual war or game). It's also critical to human decision-making on all levels. Whether we're taking short-cuts on the walk home, contemplating a new diet, planning to send our kids to college or writing software code, we're making these decisions in the context of systems maps (aka quantifications) that we run in our brains. Thus we can reduce the amount of Space, Time, Energy and Matter that we waste (a process related to what Evo Devo philosopher John Smart calls STEM Compression), avoid situations that threaten our well-being and generate max value by taking advantage of opportunities to control resources and our environment.
In short, quantification is an essential component of knowledge and leads to efficiency as we strive to survive, multiply and thrive.
Furthermore, quantification appears to be "rigged" into the game of life. As organims evolve and life's complexity increases, new species with brains capable of greater quantification and abstraction emerge at a regular clip. Over time, these organisms discover ways to expand their knowledge by communicating (actively or passively) information to one another and letting the network manage their quantifications and decisions. Then, eventually, the higher-level organism figure out how to extend their knowledge into the environment through technology that allows them to communicate and retrieve it more easily than before. This is accomplished directly through technologies like language, writing, or classical maps, and indirectly through the hard-technologies like spears, paint, and paper that critically support knowledge externalization.
To my mind, it seems likely that wherever life is found in the universe, it is required to steadily improve its ability to manage knowledge, lest it be overtaken by chaos or other organized life. This, of course, requires the systematic quantification of its complex environment.
Will OLED screens kill paper? Or converge to strengthen the human cultural bond with paper?
What if the future 'death' is not paper, but book inventory?
That is what 'on demand' printing businesses hope will be true. Their strategy is to target the problems of inventory (e.g. excees; 'long tail' demand), not paper.
The OnDemandBooks Espress Book Machine (EBM) can operate 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and produce over 60,000 books per year with minimum supervision. And HP is reported to be developing a massive MEMS printer that can deliver thousands of book pages per minute.
The key question is: when will 'on demand printing' come up from the bottom of the Hype Cycle.
If you enjoy futuristic gadgets and evolution then this Saturn-commissioned steampunk commercial should be right up your alley (hi-def version here):
Though I'm sure it's primarily intended to wow, I enjoy the robotic take on evolution because of how it removes the emotional animal component and places the emphasis on basic form. It's very transhuman in spirit. Unfortunately the sky does not open wide to a transcendent singularity at the conclusion of the video, which would have made it super-viral among the growing singularitarian community, but I'm sure that we'll see newer, more philosophically advanced car commercials in the near-future. ;)
With the steadily worsening economic climate taking a toll on most large technology companies, IBM is a rare exception to the rule. Just yesterday the industry stalwart announced an impressive (especially under the circumstances) 12% rise in net Q4 profits, the bulk of which can be attributed to CEO Sam Palmisano's strategic transition to cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS), both of which were initiated years before these sectors grew hot.
The New York Times attributes this to IBM's "global reach and its mix of businesses", reporting that "about 40 percent of its revenue and 60 percent of its profit come from products and services sold on a subscription basis as licenses or contracts that are renewed every year or so." This means that IBM can charge higher prices for its work while former head-to-head competitors like Intel, Sun and Seagate are caught up in hardware price wars that drive down prices - no surprise as chips and components are commoditized.
This belief is further reinforced by IBM's intelligent use of web communications (blogs & easy to follow videos, an expertise that Google shares), its vision of planetary technology and information development (see the video below)...
GE announced recently that they were partnering with the Transformational Medical Technology Initiative to develop the Biotic Man, a "physiologically based virtual human." The collaboration has the backing of the U.S. Dept. of Defense.
The Biotic Man will be based on computer modeling and has the potential to speed up the drug design process significantly. The project is aimed at providing a quicker response to biological threats on the battlefield and will advance the GE Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic software tool. The tool employs computational models to measure drug response in the body far in advance of clinical trials.