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Showing posts from 2008

How Technology is Advancing too Fast For Art

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Retro gaming is a bizarre phenomenon. Being a technology driven medium, games go through generations in just a few years. However, the differences between generations is more profound than technological advances. It seems that more advanced possibilities change the entire landscape of gaming culture. Retro gaming is a growing trend, but it is becoming hard to define. There are so many generations of games now, all differing so significantly, that the definition of retro changes according to age, tastes, and personal nostalgia. It's not enough to simply say "Retro means old" any more. The reason for this blurring of definition, is that games advanced so fast, that human creativity couldn't even keep up. To understand this, remember how old 8-Bit games had such primitive sound, yet the creators did what they could to make the sounds good. We still remember the old music with fondness, not as impressed by today's music that was created with no limitations. It

Turning VR Inside Out

This video shows how RFID can help improve control over stock inventory both in real world and virtual world situations. With the current state of virtual reality, it's unlikely that virtual supermarkets will take off. They're just too... clunky. However, one distinct possibility is a reversal. Computer controlled reality. RFID will play a large part in this. The data it will provide will change the way we look at reality. By reporting and recording our locations and activities, it will digitise us - turning us into real life avatars. In virtual reality, everything we do can be recorded. The software can record our every movement and interaction. This will soon be possible in real life, thanks to RFID and our interactions with computer interfaces. Real life benefits will get us to adopt the data collection methods without question. Contact lenses or eventually brain modifications of some kind could provide us with a computer interface while in the real world. In the mean

The Future of Tele-Coverage

I noticed with interest the difference between: Michael Anissimov's review of how Second Life and IRC affected Transvision 06 and George Dvorsky's comments on Twitter's impact on Convergence 08 . There appears to be a number of advantages and disadvantages to each medium. While Second Life allows those not in attendance to interact with the conference, it requires a lot of commitment. Resources need to be invested in an account, downloaded client software, a powerful computer with a lot of hard drive space, and a good net connection. Even if those things are not an issue, Second Life requires your full attention, you have to control your avatar, its camera, and inventory. Even for a seasoned veteran, the interface is extremely clunky (albeit powerful). Twitter on the other hand provides a very casual way to stay in touch both in and at the conference. It can be accessed in many different ways, including RSS reader, phone, browser or desktop client, as well as the

Technology - Will it set us Free?

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When computers were first invented, users had complete freedom and power, there was no other option but to allow it. However, if they didn't follow the computer's strict set of rules, the computer would break or just not work. Even in the days of Windows 3.11, computers remained obscure and frightening to the masses. Once computers infiltrated more and more of our lives, it became necessary to remove the need to for "user rules", computers had to become "user friendly". Computers were forced to shed their unforgivable interfaces in order to increase their popularity. So now, computers, when used by the general public, no longer have that level of freedom. To avoid them being used wrongly, computers simply limit the options general users are allowed to access. Then, instead of telling users how to act, they simply guide users through their processes, anticipating rule-breaking, and absolving responsibility. Users lost their fear of computers, complying

Lest We Forget

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Today I went to church. Now before you all hurl your computers out the window in disgust, allow me to explain. I'm currently living in Sweden where, due to 200 years of neutrality and peace (which according to the priest can be attributed to their secularism, a strange admission), they don't commemorate Remembrance day. However, being British, I wanted to pay my respects to the service men and women who have fought and died for me in wars past and present, so I went along to the Remembrance day service at a small English Anglican church. I haven't been to church for a very long time, I only set foot in them when family members deem it necessary to host weddings, christenings and funerals. When I do, anger sets in as I think of all the suffering they have caused, the money they have wasted, and the stupidity they continue to spread through our societies. My anger increases as priests misconstrue the facts in order to justify their existence, manipulating their flock wi

Duty Calls

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The End of the World Wide Web?

I now have a very organised and efficient way of working online, thanks to a few great companies coming together and integrating their services. First of all, I use the magnificent Firefox to access the world at large. I had a go with Google Chrome, but found it hard to live without the vast array of Plug-ins Firefox provides. And the less said about Internet Explorer the better. Firefox allows me to display my favourite bookmarks along a bar beneath my toolbar, for quick and easy access to my main websites. One such button is the "Share on Facebook" link, allowing me to share any page I find of interest instantly and easily. The whole toolbar is invaluable, although it's not a benefit exclusive to Firefox. I am a slave to the Google Corporation. Google allows me to store and work on all my documents ONLINE , meaning I rarely have to use Open Office again. (Anyone who is still paying for Micro$oft Office needs their head seeing to...) Google also provides Googl

Virtual Going Out is the New Going Out

A 'Virtual' Escape From Economic Pain: http://www.forbes.com/ebusiness/2008/10/09/virtual-world-economy-tech-ebiz-cx_mji_1010virtual.html It seems that in these times of economic decline, people don't want to forgo the luxuries that they've grown accustomed to over the years, so are choosing to indulge themselves in a virtual manner instead. There's certainly a lot to be said for staying home surrounded by cheap entertainment compared with going out and being ripped off and mugged. Could this be the future? As Virtual Reality improves, we'll be finding it replacing more and more of the "Real Life" things we currently take for granted. Why travel on dangerous, expensive, and environmentally unfriendly airlines when you can immerse yourself in a Virtual holiday? Google Earth and Google Street, not to mention other "virtual sightseeing" options have recently taken a lot of big steps towards this. Although virtual reality interfaces have a l

Otherland

Well, I've finally finished the Otherland Quadrilogy. It was the best 4000 pages I've ever read. It's shocking how it was written back in the late 90s. So many concepts addressed were way, way ahead of their time. In my article "Virtual Unreality", I touched on a few of these before I had heard of the Otherland books, but these books go into more depth that I could have imagined. Second Life, which was only released in 2003, a couple of years after the last Otherland book, appears to be our closest manifestation of the books. Concepts that have originated in Second Life were predicted in Otherland, whether the users of Second Life were aware of Otherland or not. The books are a fascinating forward look at metaverses, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. At the start of every chapter there is a newsfeed, giving a snippet of what is going on in the late 21st century world. Everything from politics to entertainment is reported on, giving the book even

User Generated Content - Empowering Everyone

User Generated Content is increasing exponentially, as is the ease of creating and hosting home made material. To get an idea of what this might mean for us in the future, we've only got to look at the best example of UGC around today: YouTube. Blogging was great, but there appears to be far more power in a video than a long winded piece of text. Home made internet radio is pretty popular, but sadly not to the extent it could be. For this I blame the lack of microphones as standard on modern PCs. YouTube has allowed people to present themselves and their opinions in a way far more effective than has ever been seen before. Who knows how this could evolve. Anyone can create relatively high production values given the right software. As it becomes easier to edit, present, manipulate, and even research content, more and more possibilities open themselves up to amateur creators. Professionally created material that amateurs could use in their own content, such as blue screen back

Extreme Multi-tasking of the Future

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As consumer choice increases, and software teaches us to multi-task, attention spans are getting shorter. TV appears to be the first casualty of this change of attitude. Simply the advent of more channels started diluting TV audiences in the late 90s. Sheer volume of choice has made people realize that they no longer need to watch what they're told to watch, that the TV doesn't have the same power over their lives any more. Even quality programming hasn't saved it, as the “On Demand” paradigm has put timing in the hands of consumers. As well as choice and control over TV content, the rise of DVD, the internet, and video games has further dispersed consumer attention. The new generations are growing up with an abundance of choice over their entertainment. This alone is causing them to demand choice and control in everything they do, something that is soon to have a major impact on our lives. With all that choice, it's hard to stay focused on one thing at a tim

Living Longer - A World of Wisdom?

 Any race that cures death will end up with a very old, wise and experienced society. Who knows what sort of implications this could have on their world. The implications of more time alone would dramatically enhance one's ability to contribute. For example, time to specialise in many fields would bring about more knowledgeable scientists, more skillful musicians and sports people, and more flexible artists. Centuries of honing and refinement would give birth to unseen talent. Throw wisdom into the mix too and you have yourself an extremely enlightened society, making today's most gifted look like incapable children. Imagine an artist who masters psychology, quantum physics and child care, and is able to integrate it into their art in a way never before achieved, using skills refined over millennia. The boundaries of magnificence would continue to be pushed to extraordinary levels. This is a world of wonder the likes of which we have never seen. With vast and varied knowl

Sharing the Universe

This last week I've been reading an excellent book. I wanted to recommend it as it is a very comprehensive and entertaining discussion about the possibility of Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. Now bear in mind that in the past week I've read 5 books, and this is the only one I felt compelled to recommend. Although written in 1998, and no mention of the Singularity per se, it does mention living machines and artificial intelligence. I was also thrilled to see a couple of mentions of the "Galactic Internet"! Seth Shostak has a very entertaining writing style that has inspired me. The book makes you laugh out loud at the profound humour whilst compelling you to read the next section. I read the book in less than a day and a half. Every aspect of Extra Terrestrials are covered, from how planet systems form (this was written before we had discovered such an abundance of ET planets), to how life begins, how intelligence forms, how aliens would evolve physically, and w

Just Another Death?

Page 9, somewhere in between another problem with public services and the latest celebrity gossip, is usually where I’ll find today’s horrific murder story. A teenager is brutally beaten and then “accidentally” killed when his attackers take it too far. They get a few months inside for man-slaughter; his family gets a lifetime of heartache. Consequently, the world balance between peaceful, loving, value creators and destructive, sadistic losers is shifted yet a little further in favour of idiocy. Yet, taking another sip of coffee, we turn the page. We think to ourselves, “There’s nothing we can do”, and continue with our daily lives. "It doesn't really affect me or anyone I know". We blame "fate", or, most fundamentally, we think "Everyone dies, he was just taken before his time". As a society, we still see death as inevitable. As a result, there is just no respect for human life. This, I believe, is why we have a situation where killing somebody

Blogger of the Week!

I'm extremely proud to announce that I've been awarded "Blogger of the week" at FutureBlogger ( Memebox.com ). The articles mentioned were the ones I'm currently most proud of; "Virtual Unreality" and "How to Destroy Humanity", but "Science & Serendipity" has a high ranking there too. Needless to say I'm very pleased to be noticed so early in the blog's life. Now for the difficult part: maintaining the standard...

Virtual Unreality

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Imagine, a life fully immersed inside a computer game where our every desire is fulfilled, and the suffering of reality is absent.   One day, we may decide that a virtual existence is a more appealing option than the real world of pain and limitations. Perhaps we could create such an amazing alternative, that reality itself becomes obsolete. Even today, without the "fully immersed" aspect, there are thousands of people who already spend more time in virtual worlds than the real one. As virtual environments improve, this will only increase. Since the early 21st century, the residents of the virtual world Second Life have been working hard to recreate real "life" as accurately as possible. Despite the virtual platform giving occupants the ability to fly and teleport, they still prefer to meticulously create staircases to walk their avatar up and down. At discos, people require the coolest dance animations and best looking clothes. In meetings, virtual charact

Alien Immortality

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Imagine we learn to read human brains down to the most intricate details. Imagine we learn to record, in detail, every action that occurs within the brain, every synapse firing, every cell interaction, every memory. Imagine if all of this data could then be stored on a computer and used to re-engineer a new, identical brain. Imagine this brain could then be put into a new body, thus creating a new version of us when we die. Imagine we knew for a fact that there was nothing after death. Imagine we live forever using this, or some other mind transfer technique. Imagine then we discover another civilisation on another planet, who is still too primitive to save minds, and who still believes that death is natural and essential. Imagine we then engineer a situation, for example we send swarms of microscopic probes to their planet to monitor, transmit via microscopic satellites, and then record their minds on our computers. Imagine we use this data to re-engineer the brains of these p

How to Destroy Humanity

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Nuclear weapons are so 20th century. If you want to bring annihilation to the planet for not conforming to whatever depraved idealism you aspire to, there will soon be many much more interesting ways to do it. Unlike nukes, these technologies won’t be reserved for elite governments.   Nanotechnology Nanotechnology presents many interesting possibilities. How about using self replicating nanoscopic robots to turn everything on the planet into grey goo? This kind of destruction would be so effective that nothing would remain of the present world. Perhaps this kind of disaster has already happened in our history? As there would be no evidence, we would never know! However, for many supervillians or religious fanatics, disassembling us to our core molecules just wouldn’t be fulfilling enough. Fear not, the destructive power of nanotechnology is limited only by our imaginations. What about swarms of predatory nanobots, programmed to hunt down and kill “non-believers” and kill t

The Galactic Internet

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  We all know how the internet has changed our lives. It's not souly because of the information it can fill our minds with, but because of the applications that it brings us. We can go shopping, check flights, make money, network with people, form movements, archive entertainment, connect businesses, and lots more. There's no knowing where the internet will take us in the next 10-20 years. What if, we were to look far further into the future? This century we are closer than we have ever been to discovering alien life. If it exists, we may well discover it in the next few decades. Far more significant however, will be the discovery of intelligent life. The implications of discovering an extra terrestrial conscious life form are immense. It will shake the entire foundations of our society. It will give us new perspectives on both the problems and pleasures of human life. Given the vastness of the universe, and the unimaginable timescales it presents us, the discovery of ali

Science and Serendipity

In the past, many scientific discoveries and technological solutions have come from a non related source of information. From Archimedes’ realisation in the bath, to the accidental discovery of penicillin, history is full of occasions where going outside the subject in question has provided answers to scientific problems. When you really think about it, in many ways humankind, technology, and scientific understanding have been propelled forward, significantly, by luck alone.    Many great individuals have been personally responsible for some of the most important discoveries of all time. Often, their discoveries were the result of sharing information with a friend or colleague from another field, who was able to introduce a new angle to the problem, opening up the eyes of both parties to new possibilities. Or, someone will change their field, bringing knowledge and experience from a previous career into the new subject and then approaching problems from a unique per