As a kid, one of the TV shows that I used to watch with great interest was this series called the 'Automan'.
The story revolved around a computer programmer and a police officer by the name of 'Walter Nebicher'. Walter worked at the Local Police Department's Computer crimes division.
Originally, Walter started out as a regular police officer, working on tackling crime on the streets. Walter's boss, Captain Boyd did not fully approve of the work he had been doing and hence, Walter was relegated to the Computer Lab. A demotion of sorts?
Here is an excerpt from the opening/introduction from the TV show (also shared below int he video) and as narrated by the main character (Automan).
"... Walter must fight crime in his own way – in the computer room. That's where he's an expert. Fortunately for me, Walter's advanced knowledge of electronics led him to experiment with what is known as a hologram.
If you are reading this and you haven't seen the TV show, then you should check out the clip shared above before reading any further. This brief intro will give you a good idea of what the show was about and the right kind of background information about the two main characters.
Yes, in order to build the story and the narrative, there was the supporting cast, like Captain Boyd, Roxanne and Lt. Jack Curtis. However the majority of the TV show revolved around Walter, Automan and cursor.
Which brings us to cursor
Cursor was this flying and buzzing construct. Basically a hologram. But a hologram that would serve the function of a conduit between the real world and the digital world.
The really awesome thing was that Walter, as in a biological creature, could then hop along for a ride in these amazing inventions. That cursor had the ability to be able to provision these devices into the real world in a matter of seconds. These inventions and creations somehow made a transcendental leap from the digital world and into the 'real world'.
As a kid growing up in the 80's, we did not think much about the underlying technologies too much. All we really cared about was that this was a really cool TV show and we just wanted to see the good guys win.
Now that I look back, it's amazing to see how life imitates art.
Today we have:
Automan has been on my mind for quite some time now. Considering the rapid pace of technological change, I thought it prudent to recollect some of my memories from the 80's and document them in this blogpost.
A question for my readers: Has there been any TV show/content made during the past 10 years that inspires kids to take up careers in STEM related fields in the near future?
And these packets are structured in a specific format.
Data flows in packets.
Amongst other things, the purpose of packaging data in such a way, is to ensure:
Now when it comes to the transmission of information, we've seen some remarkable innovations when it comes to the medium.
But, I suspect that the following may have been overlooked:
Use cases (*Not* in the order of the Rules showcased above):
Overall, at this point in time the web and technology in general is a very visual medium. There are at least 3 other mediums and a whole range of potential and diverse experiences that can be powered by making use of these other mediums.
New and diverse forms of interactions are possible. But I suspect that we either need to re-write TCP/IP or create a completely new protocol.
P.s: I am using this new theme that makes the 'Title' go all CAPS. I like the theme, but not the all-caps.
There are some interesting technologies showcased in the movie Cloud Atlas.
The ones that really managed to capture my attention were:
1. Interactive Walls.
2. Interactive floor panels.
3. Screens/display devices that were detached from the actual computing device.
I've been thinking about how these technologies could be implemented and then started playing out the series of events and use-cases to make this a reality.
I am still sticking with my original hypothesis that separating the display/output device from the actual computing device could be a significant, useful and liberating disruption. Something, that I have been thinking about for 3 years or 27 years, depending on how you look at it.
Regarding, interactive walls and interactive floor panels. Here is a use case, or a series of them that I started thinking about. Actually, I had this lucid dream last night and it was super vivid:
But it wasn't just the dream itself. I was actually thinking (in that lucid dream) problems related to:
Lucid dreams are interesting.
A search related to the topic of IoT or 'Internet of Things', eventually led me to a book called 'The Zero Marginal Cost Society' written by Jeremy Rifkin.
In this book, Mr. Rifkin has built a case, when it relates to how the cost to produce most things in the near future will be virtually zero (0). That there will always be a 'fixed cost' associated with launching any new product/server. However, increased efficiencies, automation and a combination of other things (mentioned below) will drive the marginal cost (cost to produce more units of the same) will be driven to virtually zero. Not zero, but almost zero.
Now, I have heard of this concept of 'zero marginal cost' before. I cannot find the actual clip on Youtube. But I have heard, at least one leading Venture Capitalist making a brief mention of it in one of their talks.
There are a bunch of technologies and phenomenon that Jeremy has mentioned in this book. From what I can recall at the top of my mind. Since the book has been returned to the library and this blogpost has been sitting in my drafts folder for over a month now. Anyhow, in random order:
Alongside the introduction to these technologies (and more), Jeremy then builds a hypothesis whereby we will witness the emergence of two major trends.
The author goes into a fair bit of detail, when it comes to the History of the Capitalist economic model and also how a 'commons' model used to predate this model. The author hypothesizes that the combined effect of the technologies that have been introduced and some of the other factors will usher the return to the commons era for our species. However, in my opinion the author could have spent a bit more time hypothesizing a future systems model, whereby resource distribution can be done in an optimal fashion for 7 to 10 billion people using a 'commons model'. Maybe an advanced form of AI and certain efficiencies can help us achieve that goal.
Now, I can't say that every (technological) phenomenon mentioned in this book was something new to me. But then again, that's coming from a person who has a hacker mindset and is always on the lookout when it comes to new and upcoming technologies.
This book is a hopeful, optimistic aspiration of what part of our future could be. An interesting read. I would recommend it.
Technology in the classroom will always have my vote. I have always been a big believer in making use of employing just the right amount of tech in the classrooms. In the past, some of these thoughts have taken the shape and form of actual blog-posts. link, link, link and link.
In the words of Thomas Friedman 'It should not be about time spent (in the classroom) but more about stuff learned". Listening to a teacher for hours on end, droning on about any given topic is a very inefficient mechanism for imparting education. Something that I have blogged about.
Now there has been a lot of good innovation, specifically when it comes to the medium. The medium relating to how education is imparted, focusing on the emergence of MOOCs. But when it comes to delivering the 'concepts', the synthesis of what information is supposed to represent. That problem has been addressed in bits and pieces, as we can only innovative so much within a medium that is confined to text/audio/video.
Here, virtual reality is a game changing product. It will give students of all types the ability to pickup and absorb the knowledge in a much richer format. For example: reading something vs actually performing the task has a completely different impact on your cognitive cycles. The chances that you will forget something that you read are pretty high. In retrospect, your brain forms neural pathways and registers how you go about acquiring any new skills. This is precisely the reason why it is next to impossible to forget a skill, like riding a bike.
Also, there are so many other benefits when it comes to leveraging VR for education. No limitations when it comes to physical space, unlimited chances for trial and error without any harmful effects in the physical world, the ability for collaborating with others from any given part of the world e.t.c. Also, since all the interactions are occurring in the digital world, these interactions and the sum total of the outcomes can be measured and aggregated in greater details. This will be particularly beneficial, when it comes to the issue of jobs, skills training and eventually in getting rid of the job/skills mismatch.
Today I decided to Google the term 'Oculus for education' and when you click on the video section on Google, then this is one of the first videos that comes up (below).
This makes me really happy. This can transform education as we know it, entire societies and the world. But why limit it to just the education industry. Virtual reality can transform the world.
What a great invention! Great work by Palmer Luckey (in particular) and the folks at Oculus Rift.