Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Who are the John Connor's of today?

Now if you haven't followed the Termionator series or it's television based prequil, you may be wondering just who is this John Connor. John Connor is the savior of the human race in the upcoming battle for our survival against the hordes of killer robots controlled by the anti-human Artificial Intelligence Skynet. Well that all seems pretty fantastic, right? Well maybe it is, but it's just too prevalent an archetype in today's zeitgeist for it to be considered merely fantasy.

In an Human Computer Interaction class awhile back, I asked the question that this blog entry calls it's title.... So who are the John Connor's of today. At the time I was worried that I was a lone wolf surrounded by another crop of technophiles who couldn't imagine the downside because they were all planning on making bank by making the good technology do good.

In class I was redirected to Martin Heidegger a German philosopher who was a critic of technology in his later years... wikipedia paraphrases his perspective thusly. "The essence of modern technology is the conversion of the whole universe of beings into an undifferentiated "standing reserve" (Bestand) of energy available for any use to which humans choose to put it."

I ran into Heidegger previously when reading Avita' Ronell's The Telephone Book, Technology, Schizophrenia and Electronic Speech. When I first came across this book it kind of blew my mind and went over my head at the same time. It's definitely slated for summer reading.

Other relevant books are 2 by Jerry Mander, "Four Arguments for the Abolition of Television" and "In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations". Somehow I have found my self as an anti-technology technologist.

I recently connected the Unibomber with the John Connor question and began to read some of his manifesto as well as watch some documentaries. One German documentary in particular really stood out... it's Lutz Dammbeck's "Das Netz" (a review can be found here.. it can also be found on youtube...
What was interesting about that film is that it is one of the only works I have found that connects Kaczynski with some intellectual grounding. Some of the interviews are amazing.

Another great find in critics of technology area is Evgeny Morozov. I encountered him debating with web 2.0 guru Clay Shirkey during some research. It's nice to know that everyone looking at new technology are not just cheerleaders.

Here's some Morozov links:
Evgeny Morozov on privacy

Evgeny Morozov critiques Jaron Lanier's book

Evgeny Morozov vs Clay Shirky

Jaron Lanier

So one of my early hero's in the field of arts and technology is Jaron Lanier, the Virtual Reality guy who helped invent the power glove. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Lanier back at the first CyberArts festival in Los Angeles in 1989. I was there with sculptor D. A. Therrien and the crew of Comfort Control Systems, a machine art performance art group, of which I was a member. When I met Lanier, I was awestruck by this big dredlocked guru who exemplified counterculture fusion with arts and technology. As the years passed after the conference, and virtual reality disappeared as an industry I always wondered what happened to him.

Well I recently discovered what he's been up to. After an interesting HCI class discussion about who are the John Connors of our generation, I found that Lanier may be one. He recently published his first book called You are not a Gadget. While I haven't read it yet, I have read a lot about it, including a review by Eugeny Morozov. Apparently Lanier hasn't drunk the web 2.0 Koolaid and has come to the conclusion that the modern internet is deforming us humans. I plan on picking iit up when I get a break.


I'm going to an augmented reality industry conference in June!!! This is very exciting for me for a few reasons. First off the conference is being keynoted by my favorite cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling. I managed to meet him before when he walked into my cafe at Survival Research Laboratories event we hosted in Phoenix at the Icehouse in 1996.

What I think is important for me about Sterling's interest in AR is that it is a great synchronicity for me. I grew up reading his books and am now by independent means entering into an industry that he has become a spokesman for. This just one reason for the excitement.

I've been involved in the game industry for over 4 years now as an instructor... Recently in the past year I've returned to ASU to pursue a masters in computer science with a focus on games and everything is point me to AR games... The GaLLaG project is basically AR gaming, so I've been daydreaming about lots of different AR games to make. I'm hoping to write up a few of them and pitch them to some of the up and coming new companies.

The event also features talks from game designers Will Wright and Jesse Schell. Will Wright is a game designing superstar I get to discuss regularlly in my classes and Jesse Schell has been blowing up this year because of a talk he gave at DICE2010 in February. I'm planning to prepare a list of questions for everyone as well as pitch my work.

There should be lots of start up companies there as well as plenty of workshops geared at startup companies. In some respects, I'm working on starting a game company this year so it's a great conference for me to go to.

Here's the schedule for the conference:

Here's an amazing Sterling lecture on AR from last year:

Video: Bruce Sterling's Keynote - At the Dawn of the Augmented Reality Industry from Maarten Lens-FitzGerald on Vimeo.

Here's a poster from the SRL show from 1996 at the Icehouse

Monday, May 10, 2010

artist interpretations of AR

Any new technology that captures the attention of artists is often of interest to me... these folks can usually be divided up into 2 categories, the technofiles and the distopians... Surprise... I'm mostly drawn to the distopians...

When technologies are new though, it's hard to tell the difference between the two camps as the newness of the technology can simply dazzle us into amazement... One artist I have recently been digging is the video and design artist Keiichi Matsuda. Here's an example of his work... This piece is called "Augmented (hyper) Reality: Domestic Robocop".

Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.

Really beautiful work... When I show students, they are blown away... Their first question is "Is that real?" I always have to laugh. I say of course it's real, it's a video by Keiichi Matsuda. What I'd like to mention about this example is that it looks possible, that it could be the future... it's a bit over the top, but why shouldn't it be... Artists can and should hit us over the head occasionally so we are blown away... Otherwise, we may never think about the future before it's upon us and we're trying to remember why we got that chip put in our head in the first place.

Here's a link to Matsuda's website:

Here's another example of his AR work The Pusher:

The Pusher / The Entertainment from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.

a couple of ted talks on augmented reality

As a regular part of the AI classes I teach, I like to show related ted talks to my students. Since augmented reality is a big part of my research interests, I always include a few AR examples.

First up is Pattie Maes one of my AI hero's from MIT and her student Pranav Mistry's work, The Sixth Sense.

The sixth sense is basically a low-cost wearable AR rig that uses a projector and gesture recognition technology. It's a great hack to use portable projection. One of the cool things about this work was that it pieced together off the shelf parts into a low cost application... what a great job it would be to just think about how to put basic parts together to make radical new applications... The audience reaction is kind of like the shock of recognition that new leaps forward are possible and affordable if we are smart. It's not that I expect to see people everywhere pawing at the air in the near future but I don't think I could have seen the cell phone coming with it's half conversations polluting the landscape either.

Not to be too negative though, the sixth sense is a breakthrough in demoing that AR is just around the corner, that there are multiple workable approaches to the challenges of visualization and interactivity, and that we're ready to be blown away.

The second ted talk I wanted to mention was Blaise Aguera y Arcas's demo of Microsoft's new Bing maps...

So Blaise's talk was about some cool features of the new Bing maps. It's nice to see new work coming out of Microsoft research... Some of the things I like are: the 3D renderings in the map... I imagine being able to play games in map spaces and have those connect with live players and gps.... then of course there's the mapping of user generated content to the maps, images and even live video... now I can imagine some of the biggest challenges here will be in moderating this content... how will it be done? will people do this for free? will they be given feudal rights to maintain certain public spaces or will it be another job for cities and companies to perform... kindof like virtual landscaping or graffiti busters.

The bing maps kindof brings up more questions than it answers... like bandwidth... they were using a 4g network, but what happens when everyone want's their videophone? What about first amendment rights? is bing map space public space? or is it private property? Just wondering...

catching up on the blog

I'd like to apologize for not posting more regularly to this blog... It's my intention to adopt this method to publish some of my findings, however I have instead been accumulating a list of things I intend to post :)... now that the semester is close to the end, I'll endeavor to get the stuff online.

Here's that list:
farmville article - beyond the beyond
sarcastic gamer site, parody videos
ted talks of recent import
-6th sense
-bing maps
-augmented reality asian video guy
living sasquach
ai club
digital plague update
zombie faces
digital plage database schema
iphone video code
augmented reality conference
my schedule
ai club
predictably irrational
team 8 update
phoenix burn
artlink project
art collector game
iphone club
ai panic site
warren ellis grind site
database lit project (the unreliable archivist)
background research for our paper
-native american photographs
background research for my game
xbox natal and milo parody
social intelligence

Timothy Bickmore
-social intelligence
artificial empathy
-better interface with access to the doctors
-japanese companion robots
-what role does individual latitude play into the mediatation
-are doctors really the authority?
-as you test different hypothesis do you have an overall guiding vision of the change you hope to manifest or is it more

piecemeal governed heavily on where the money is coming from or direction from your advisors?

is there an agent for the doctor, an agent for the patient and an agent for the pharamaceutical company?

can the agent be designed to be buffered from market interests? drug companies upselling doctors

drug level indicators? who controls are they based on actual measures?

Michael 23 Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 2:27 AM
To: Michael 23
steampunk link

In the video below, Carnegie Mellon professor and ex-imagineer Jesse Schell lays out a vision of the future in which our lives become, essentially, one big RPG.

Lee Sheldon - game designer mentioned by Schell jesse schell

steampunk exhibition

steampunk clothing

Fred Rogers (of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” fame):

“I got into television because I hated it so. And I thought there's some way of using this fabulous instrument to nurture those who would watch and listen.”

“I believe that those of us who are the producers and purveyors of television -- or video games or newspapers or any mass media -- I believe that we are the servants of this nation.”
[Quoted text hidden]

Michael 23 Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 10:06 AM
To: Michael 23
clay shirky
"Here Comes Everybody"

awesome bit about the effective size of groups

What this means is that there are native disabilities of groups past a certain size. That organic, self-forming groups where everybody is talking to everybody everybody else, simply break down at large scale.

Fred Brooks "The Mythical Man Month"

Sebastien Paquet
ridiculously easy group forming

-sharing as a platform

4 rungs in the ladder

collective action

sign up for delicious for web research

"every url is a latent community"

origin of flashmobs
Wassak harpers magazine
The first flash mob was created in Manhattan in May 2003, by Bill Wasik, senior editor of Harper's Magazine.[4][7] The origins of the flash mobs were unknown until Wasik published an article about his creation in the March 2006 edition of Harper's.

group book social network
where people can be in small groups 2,3,5,7,-23
facebook ap

how to use blender to make a steam punk spacecraft

steampunk buildings

Habitat Machines by david trautrimas
pricing structure

found him... Tom Banwell

look for the old spiral staircase behind thaiger restaurant

steampunk home blog

model train steampunk double pizza
[Quoted text hidden]

Michael 23 Mon, Apr 12, 2010 at 9:37 PM
To: Michael 23
ipad bashing

pee wee gets an ipad

does it blend?

Evgeny Morozov on privacy

Evgeny Morozov critiques Jaron Lanier's book

Evgeny Morozov vs Clay Shirky

On Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 10:06 AM, Michael 23
[Quoted text hidden]