Thursday, 19 November 2009
What is it with cities?
There seems to be a rush to get anywhere. And what are people rushing to? Do they enjoy their job that much? If they’re late, they should leave earlier. Everyone can’t be late every day – can they?
Maybe they’re running from crazy people? If we don’t interact with people, we won’t need to learn about their problems (which we know, aren’t even close to the problems of those kids we see on the news, but they can’t see us through the TV, so it’s ok). Maybe people are worried that if they just stopped to talk with someone, they might actually find the answer.
All around us, things are happening. Interesting things. Yet our headphones and free newspapers protect us from it, keeping us in our self obsessed bubbles.
Are people chasing their dreams, or running from themselves?
Either way, there’ll be another train along any minute.
Image courtest Egan Snow.
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
As a (very casual) fiction writer, specifically science fiction, I have had to learn the fundamentals of creating an interesting story. In doing this, I’ve become subject to analytical observation, the kind that tends to dilute the beauty of life by trying to understand it too much.
However, one thing it has taught me is that there can be no story without conflict. I once read a book about a couple who had beaten the trials and tribulations of 80s Northern Ireland (in the previous book) and were now building a home together in the country. Everything went wonderfully for them, as the book documented their “happily ever after”. It was the worst story I had ever read.
Hollywood is a mega-conglomerate story making factory, so it stands to reason that everything they create must contain conflict in one way or another. It’s no surprise then, that we have yet to see a story of man and machine living in harmony. (Even in Short Circuit, the American military did what they do best, and created conflict..)
So it stands to reason that the average member of the general public (which of course, does not include your typical transhumanist) is afraid of our technologically dominated future. Their technophobia is justified – especially for those Californians ruled by their very own terminator.
Yet in the end, technology is happening all around us, and it’s not trying to kill us. Doors open when we approach them. Buses tell us when they’re coming and which stop is next. It might not be glamorous, but it makes our lives easier.
We’re afraid that when there’s too much reliance on technology everything will break down, leaving us with chaos. This is just the product of our Hollywood conditioning and too much exposure to certain operating systems. While of course this is a possibility, it shouldn’t limit us.
Generally, with the exception of certain operating systems, technology doesn’t go wrong. We don’t notice when things run smoothly, only when they break down. Even when things do go wrong, this is usually a symptom of planned obsolescence.
In reality, things are always more complicated than the black and white of Hollywood. Our future is destined to be improved and enlightened by technology, as well as being changed in ways we haven’t even thought of.
It might be mundane, but it could just be a happy ending.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
The first decade of the 21st century could well see the rise of the affordable and useful domestic mobile robot.
The Open Automaton Project aims to provide some of the building blocks that could make this possible.
The purpose of the project is to engineer modular software and electronic components, from which it is possible to assemble an intelligent PC-based mobile robot suitable for home or office environments.
Monday, 10 August 2009
Promises, By Starax Statosky - Image courtesy Sl-Art-NewsI was inspired by this recent TED talk about "Art that looks back at you". It seems the potential for expression of art is limited only by our imagination.
Modern technology allows for new forms of art to be created, but by this I don't just mean different painting techniques using sophisticated software, but entirely new concepts. We can now use computers, robotics, and perhaps even biological manipulations to create new expressions and to represent profound ideas.
Where chemistry created the medium of fireworks, biology can now take us on previously unthinkable artistic journeys. Extreme body modification such as this seen in bmezine, shows identical twins who experiment with transplanting each other's limbs in the wrong places on each other's bodies. And you thought your tattoo made you "transhuman".
Imagine glowing implants, far more beautiful and colourful than any tatoo, animating through your skin. Or perhaps circuitry can be connected directly to your nerve endings, performing actions such as flashes or movements when fired by your brain? Why stop at replacing lost limbs when entirely new body parts can be added, not just for functionality, but for aesthetic appeal?
Body modifications and upgrades are just the beginning. Manipulating our cells and DNA can provide all sorts of potential, from reptile skin to the ability to spin spider silk.
However, despite seemingly unlimited potential for body upgrades, the possibilities fade in comparison to the artistic potential opened up by virtual reality. We've already seen body manipulation here, this is nothing new. What is really exciting about virtual reality is its potential to rewrite the very meaning of existence.
In virtual reality, art can be represented in a more interactive way than in reality. Creations that allow interaction can achieve artistic concepts with both their interactive configuration and their feedback. For example, a large virtual book can read out poetry and vary the tone according to the actions of the user.
Yet neither the interaction nor the feedback needs to be confined by the restraints of reality. The book can be replaced by a metaphor, as can the feedback, and even the interaction. Such concepts that we take for granted, such as time and space, need not even apply in virtual art.
In this technological world, a wonderland of possibilities exist to create a whole new paradigm of art.