Are we entering the Augmented Age? Maurice Conti suggests we are, the next era of humanity is dawning upon us and it is the age in which humans augment their lives with machines, in real time, cyborg-like. Consider the timeline, he suggests.
Mankind had spent several million years in the age of hunter gatherers, where almost all food was obtained by foraging. Though this way of life constitutes 90% of human history, it is rare today. Then came the age of agriculture about 10-15 thousand years ago when when not everyone needed to focus on food production, skills became specialized and societies became more complex.
Then as art, culture and science flourished, we had the age of exploration, enlightenment and eventually the industrial age, where we began producing on the mass level. This changed production and social structure significantly, driving a wedge between classes and lifestyles grander than it was previous. The industrial era was very lucrative and advantageous to the progress of society, over the last several centuries. Then, around 1970, we gave way to a new era, with the advancements in computational abilities and broad communication, we entered the age of information. Several decades later, are we on the brink of a new era – the augmented age? So soon? Moore’s Law would suggest yes, that technology advances at an exponential rate.
Well, what can we envision ourselves doing with Augmented Reality technologies? Currently, Microsoft HoloLens is leading the foray into partnerships, here are a few examples.
NASA (website) is bringing Mars to Earth taking “realm of imagination to the mind-bending domain of mixed reality.” (Mixed reality is another word for AR, see XR). Not only is this for entertainment and available at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complez in Florida, available for guests to “visit” a few different locations of the Red Planet, but it is also for productivity. Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) collaboratively design rovers with individuals outside their physical proximity, as they see them as a hologram.
Project SideKick is collaborating to bring science fiction to science fact teamed up on a project that empowers astronauts aboard the International Space Station. They provide virtual aid. A Pair of MS HoloLens are scheduled to be onboard SpaceX’s seventh commercial flight on June 28th.
Training is an obvious solution, as you can replicate physical items without them actually needed to exist. Think about he shipping costs and fuel we’ll save! Then again, paper consumption is up several hundred pounds even in the wake of our internet revolution. Maybe we will just be upper consumerism. Oh no .
They say more will change around the way we do our work, than as we have in last two thousand years. Let’s start with the initiator of a new employee, their training. Training will be altered, maybe in costs, maybe just in procedure, but we can definitely expect it to increase the value of “webinar”. These trainings for the corporate level will be vastly improved upon and we can also expect personal communication on the smaller business level to improve. See here design Japan Airline Engine Example. More monotonously, you can have an augmented reality work station: – Holographic work station.
There are many other applications for the technologies from assisting to put our wild fires to navigating brain surgery, and corporate trainings, but what about the independent? How will this adjust our personal experiences with our day? Such applictions will foster the most widespread adoption and dependence of the platforms and this major alteration is within the next few years.
Coaching and Instruction
HoloLens already is using AR for training purposes, but what if we take this out of the corporate environment. Soon we will have YouTube-like coaches who in synthetically physical space advise, encourage, instruct, demonstrate and provide all the assistance a physical bodied coach would (with the exception of being able to pinky-lift that last rep of you bench. Their presence will be ghostly!
Travel and Review
I could imagine a travel application that has all the sights, information and reviews from a credible resource to available upon voice command and eye gazes. Say you’re walking down a street and a restaurant catches your eye. Without lifting a finger, you’ll scroll reviews, ratings and the menu, even book a table for that evening and auto message your friends the details.
Click, snap, photo, upload, comment, like, love, link! All with your eyes and mouth. The social media experience has invaded the attention of people in unexpected proportion and now it is about to double down. Of the biggest limitations social use has is the rudeness of taking your attention away from your peers to hold your phone, point, aim, focus, snap, one more, ok, save, edit, filter, comment, tag, post. The entire time your hands tied and head is preoccupied. But, not for long – your counterparts won’t even realize your focus shifted to your AR images and they won’t see your holograms either, to be tipped off the way they can see your phone screen.
Sure, it seems like we’re inching ever closer to cyborg societies. We’re already augmenting our lives with our technologies. Think about what you keep on your hip: wifi, Bluetooth, GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter, magnetometer, thermometer, with HD Display, gaze detection, HD cam, touchpad, mic and speakers.
Now all that tech will be on our faces? Reading our eye gazes? What other biometrics are next? Breathing rate? Pulse? You can infer lots from this data. This can be a slippery slope if we let big companies turn our personal, biological being into their sales material. Star Trek Biometrically controlled app here, proving the concept is already implemented.
CAUTION !! **Do not turn over your bio data without good reason** Talk about terrible identity theft!
As we consider how great it will be to see a restaurant or a shop in our AR window we instantly get information about it we must consider the other side of the coin of a head-mounted-computer being able to recognize imagery. The computers will know the location and enough situational details to provide data that is most probably the information you’re seeking. Well, how much does this recognition technology seep into personal information like voice and facial recognition? If my computer recognizes your voice, I can have your Facebook profile pulled up next to your actual talking head automatically. Maybe I have a software that is real-time fact checking your words to your public profile. You said you were where last month?
There is a dystopia imagined by the writers of Black Mirror called “Nosedive” which harpoons social media platforms by portraying a world where everyone is ranked out of five on every interaction. The scary thought here is that your rating could be used against you, but what if not just for social platform status, but in the rest of life, too? Difficulty getting a job? A loan? Finding a mate? Conspiracy theorists fear that is what Sesame Credit in China has for an end game, mass control through social policing.
Like any advancements it is not the technology that is bad but the people who use it. It is the responsibility of us all to be forth coming and honest with the applications of this new technology, just as we all did with PCs and the web. Like, comment and share your thoughts! The conversation is for everyone!!