movement, ambient technology, and cyborg anthropology

Over the past few months I’ve spent a lot of time trying to be very conscious and active about how I am “steering” myself. To surround myself with content that is unique and creative. A lot of my strategy is to look deeply at people and their history. It’s not easy to identify creative people without studying a dense amount of information about people.

There’s a lot of really great philosophers and inventors in this wiki page: I’ve been going through this list and learning about the core ideas and history of these people.

As technology increases we will need to know less and less information. We can look at deskilling, or to use another example, the invention of writing allowed us to be more accurate without having to keep things in memory. With asynchronous digital information systems (like an online reservation system) we don't need to even observe the information until it is relevant to us. The transformation of human processes to an asynchronous format is technically feasible and most business and personal processes have already transformed to this model--the only thing keeping the others is organizational culture. But transformation of asynchronous user interfaces is still something that hasn't really been revolutionized yet.

I think in the future we'll be seeing less and less screens. Screens will always be useful but only as a diagnostic tool like an oscilloscope. Screens are a way to see inside the computer. Future computers won't really need it because AGI will make software much better than humans could. Future software will be able to predict what we want to a greater and greater accuracy.

There will be more and more generic physical objects which replace smart phones because they can do more and dynamically synthesize a user interface. These devices won’t need screens. User interfaces won’t be designed in a static way. But each user experience will be tailored to the specific user. This is already being done but it’s not very good yet because our use of information is limited and user experience design is not yet thought about in the same way that we think about everything else.

Eventually we will arrive at a set of useful human UX primitives. The Human Computer Interface AI will learn how to organize not just our device but the environment to best fit our needs. A future “miPhone” could learn how to best interface with a specific blind user without having a directly programmed interface. This is ambient technology. We don’t need to interact with it for it to do useful things for us.

Enter the miPhone. The miPhone doesn’t have any distinctly recognizable form factor because it is always morphing to fit the context of the environment and needs of the user, but it is always distinctly recognizable by the feeling it emits. When held in a hand, or hands, or feet, or as a helmet, or even when it hovers over the user to carry their shopping basket, the user always has a feeling about where their miPhone is because it emits a slightly pleasant feeling. Like the warmness of honey without the taste.

The miPhone might start with beeping to lead the user along a path to the grocery store. The miPhone constructs the environment along the movement path that the user will experience. As it detects a dog along the path (before the user does) it will emit a smell or frequency which makes the user think about dogs—oh the user doesn’t like dogs because the user’s physiological state changed in a negative way. The miPhone then interacts with the dog that will make the dog not approach the user—Oh no there is a car approaching, the miPhone reacts to the environment and moves in a way that assists the user to become even more aware of the impending vehicle.

The future city will not be defined by a group of organizations but it will be even more dynamic and locally democratic. One example of the local-democracy of today could be how we allow people to book meeting rooms in a public library. For the time that the occupants are using the room they can manipulate the room to fit their specific needs. As long as they restore the room to the condition they received it in there is really no problem if they have a silent paint-ball war or something like that. In the future, smart devices will constantly be shifting the landscape as people move around and temporarily inhabit different spaces.

In an atemporal world, life is be driven by “happy accidents”: interactions caused by the interaction between humans, smart devices, and the growing relationship of everything to everything else. Time will still exist but it will become increasingly irrelevant with the growing irrelevance of space.

well… I’ll leave this post short but I’ll keep ingesting the writing of Venkatesh Rao