Magic Leap Concept Explained

YouTuber Vance Vids has begun doing a series of video explaining what is probably the most exciting Augmented Reality technology on the horizon- Magic Leap and what we know about the Florida-based company that Chinese and American corporations like Google and Baidu are dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into. Everyone who’s seen it says this technology is the future, so how does it work? Vance Vids explores what we know so far:

 

Everyday Augmented Reality

Futuristic smart glasses

One of the issues with running a general blog like this is that is has no real focus. It serves as a catch-all for whatever I feel like writing about or talking about, but it has no real direction to it. That’s one of the things that’s made it hard to write for on a regular basis- when you can write about anything, you tend to write about nothing.

However, something I’ve always been fascinated by is the power of Augmented Reality, and with the recent release of Microsoft’s new Hololens system, I’ve come to believe that we’re on the cusp of seeing this technology literally transform our lives and the world around us. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch this:

As a result, I’ve decided to start a new blog centered around Augmented Reality and how it’s both developing and transforming people’s lives. If you ask any of my media studies students, AR is something I won’t shut up about, and have been talking about for years, so I thought “why should just my students suffer?”

Everyday Augmented Reality will basically be me collecting news about Augmented Reality and things related to it and occasionally commenting and sharing my own thoughts and ideas on this next stage of media evolution. Everything the Smartphone did to society will be nothing compared to what AR will do, and Everyday AR will be where I watch it all happen.

Come join me and watch the show. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, and we’ll definitely wonder why!

Rob

P.S. This blog isn’t going anywhere, and will still be updated from time to time. I need to talk about non-AR things sometimes too!

The Stories of Ken Liu

One of the hottest names in Science Fiction today is Ken Liu, a Chinese-American programmer, lawyer and writer who seems to jump into everything he does with heart and amazing dedication. He has won the Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy awards more than once for his short fiction, and recently announced he’s going into Epic Fantasy with his debut novel The Grace of Kings due out next year from Simon and Schuster’s new genre fiction imprint Saga Press. He’s a rising star who blends both Asian and Western sensibilities into his work, taking advantage of both to produce unique works.

I first encountered Ken’s work when the sci-fi and fantasy blog Io9 shared one of his stories, The Perfect Match, that was published in Lightspeed in 2012. While not a perfect story, it extrapolated the idea behind Apple’s Siri to its logical and disturbing conclusion with the personal assistant Tilly in a way that really caught my attention. I have since recommended his work to many of my media students to read as a glimpse into the future, because I think he’s captured it all too well.

Today, after hearing about Ken’s new novel, I wandered to his personal website for more information and was delighted to discover that he has placed 14 of his published and award-winning short stories (and more!) up for anyone to read for free on his website. So check them out, and learn why the name Ken Liu is on lips of both many a fan and publisher alike.

Rob

How Powerful Are Algorithms? | Idea Channel

Information Determinism. Scary stuff! Sadly, it sounds pretty reasonable. Think about it this way- we become like characters in a console RPG like Fable where every choice we make is locking us into a path because the Algorithms that are looking for key data indicators are channeling us this way and that.

Every time we make a choice, or a search, we’re slowly building a giant pile of data that will be used in certain ways to determine what we’ll be shown and where we’ll be sent online. Facebook is using these systems to even determine who our friends are, since our News Feed is being modified to just show us the people it thinks we most want to interact with based on our interactions with people. This will only get worse and worse with time, as the internet we see will become more and more customized to us and our tastes in an effort to keep us using it as much as possible. (To sell us stuff and make money from us.)

Not sure how to counter this, except maybe not using Facebook or other social networks, using Duck Duck Go for searching, and maybe proxies. But, if you want to use the Net at all for shopping, you have to log in somewhere, Ebay, Amazon, it doesn’t matter. And you will leave a trail, and they will use that data to try to sell you stuff, here, or in the future, it will happen unless you’re an ultra secretive and ultra-passive user.

A better route might be to give them too much confusing and conflicting data so they don’t know what boxes to stick you in. Or, since you know they’re watching, give them data which manipulates them to give you what you want. After all, if you show interest in a book with your Amazon account logged in, and then wait a week or two, you’ll get an email offering you the book at a greater discount. With a little knowledge and patience, you can use the system more than its using you.

Rob

Fukushima–beyond urgent

Well, this is sufficiently terrifying.


LiveLeak.com – Fukushima–beyond urgent.

If Fukushima had a full meltdown with radiation spewing into the air, I’m not sure what I’d do. Then again, I’m not sure what any of us could do except try not to be downwind.

 

The Population vs. Productivity Paradox

This is one of the most fascinating discussions I’ve listened to in a while, and also one of the most sobering. Take the time to listen to this episode of the Cracked podcast, it’s 100% worth it, although a little unsettling in its conclusions. You don’t expect to get something this deep and thoughtful from a “comedy” podcast, but here it is…

Listened to it? (Really, go listen to it, it’s worth the time.)

Okay, now my own thoughts.

I think Jason’s pretty much 100% right, and while I wouldn’t quite call it a “hive mind”, I do think that societies function as organisms on a greater level than the individual which have their own goals and responses. The idea that societies produce the kinds of people they “need” makes sense if you look at it from this perspective and the children of each generation are shaped to suit the needs of that society by social forces.

Of course, his conclusions are pretty uncomfortable. When I first heard what he said, all I could think of was Mega-City One from the old Judge Dredd comics. Despite how the city is often portrayed post-1980’s in the comics, the original idea behind the city was that it was a city where everyone’s basic needs were taken care of by the state, and so the whole population existed in this everlasting condition of slight boredom. The city was essentially a warehouse of people who existed to exist, and this produced bizarre social trends and cultural movements which the comic played for darkly humourous social commentary.

However, looking at it with a more logical eye, I think the society he proposes might not be the worst option. Heck, as he says we pretty much do this already, we just call it something else. Those with ambition work, while those without ambition would just spend their time doing whatever it was they enjoyed and keeping out of trouble. Here in Canada we almost do this already with our extensive Welfare system, which many Conservatives harp on all the time and say we need to be rid of to “force them to work”. But the truth is we already have an “official”  unemployment rate hovering around 7%, and the true rate is probably much much higher (the government manipulates the numbers so they don’t look bad), so if we were to force all those “welfare bums” out onto the street what work would there be for them? Do you want hundreds of thousands (or possibly millions) of unemployed, starving and desperate people dumped out into our society? How’s that going to benefit social stability?

Meanwhile, as he says, all those “welfare bums” put 100% of what the government gives them back into society and keep our economy going, so why should we begrudge giving them what they need to survive? If anything, it’s the rich people who hoard their money that actually take money from the system and work against the economy by not putting most of what they make back into circulation.

What’s the alternative anyways? We either give people what they need to live, and let them choose what to do with their lives, or we have a large excess population that is poor, increasingly desperate, and progressively on the verge of social unrest until revolution finally does happen. And when it does, everyone will lose- rich and poor.

Then again, it would solve some of the overpopulation problem. As Jason says, society has a way of correcting these things on its own.

Rob

 

 

This 6-Foot, 330-Pound Robot May One Day Save Your Life

WOW! The future is here. Scary and cool at the same time!

This 6-Foot, 330-Pound Robot May One Day Save Your Life | Danger Room | Wired.com.

Phoning It In

I often think that we are merely becoming mobile data terminals, sub-cells of a greater internet brain that exist more in the virtual world more than we do the actual real and physical world. Perhaps this is irreverable and our destiny as a species, but it’s still sad to watch sometimes.

I’m as big a technology nerd as anyone, and I love my iPhone too, but there are times when I wonder if I’m not spending too much time interacting with media instead of people. What am I losing by putting my phone away and actually enjoying the company of those around me? Why do I always have to be entertained or occupied? Is it so hard to exist in the moment?

I grew up half of my life without the internet, but now it’s almost unfathomable for me to think about living without it. I can only imagine what it’s like for those who have grown up with it their whole lives, and in a personable and portable form that lets it be with them constantly in an everpresent way.

Some people in the comments on that video say that Google Glass will solve the problem, but I suspect its upcoming release will make things so much worse. Right now our phones are at least something that we physically have to take out and manipulate, but Google Glass will be always there, handsfree, and omnipresent.

http://www.imaging-resource.com/ee_uploads/news/811/google-glass-borg.jpg

For now, I do what I can. I try to do things in the real world when possible, and not always be listening or interacting with my phone. I try to enjoy the peace and quiet, and I try to be with the people I’m with. I don’t always succeed, but I feel I have to try. My technology should be something that I use as a tool, something that services me, not something I’m a slave to.

Balance in all things.

Rob

The Gate Short Film – YouTube

Nifty short amateur sci-fi film. Excellent FX work.

“The Perfect Match” by Ken Liu

A nifty short story about social media like Facebook, and where it’s all headed. Definitely worth the read:

___________________________________________________

“I thought I told you I didn’t want that thing installed,” she said as he stepped out of his apartment. Her voice was garbled through some kind of electronic filter. In response to his questioning look, she gestured to the camera over Sai’s door.

Talking to Jenny was like talking to one of his grandmother’s friends who refused to use Centillion email or get a ShareAll account because they were afraid of having “the computer” know “all their business”-except that as far as he could tell, Jenny was his age. She had grown up a digital native, but somehow had missed the ethos of sharing.

“Jenny, I’m not going to argue with you. I have a right to install anything I want over my door. And I want Tilly to keep an eye on my door when I’m away. Apartment 308 was just burglarized last week.”

“But your camera will record visitors to my place, too, because we share this hallway.”

“So?”

“I don’t want Tilly to have any of my social graph.”

Sai rolled his eyes. “What do you have to hide?”

“That’s not the point-”

“Yeah, yeah, civil liberties, freedom, privacy, blah blah blah . . . ”

Sai was sick of arguing with people like Jenny. He had made the same point countless times: Centillion is not some big scary government. It’s a private company, whose motto happens to be “Make things better!” Just because you want to live in the dark ages doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t enjoy the benefits of ubiquitous computing.

He dodged around her bulky frame to get to the stairs.

“Tilly doesn’t just tell you what you want,” Jenny shouted. “She tells you what to think. Do you even know what you really want any more?”

Sai paused for a moment.

“Do you?” she pressed.

via Lightspeed Presents . . . Presents… “The Perfect Match” by Ken Liu.