Quotable (#172)

Is technology now de-globalizing? The argument (at Stratfor):

Opportunities for producing and assembling products and their components have spread worldwide, making it is easier for countries to climb the production value ladder. States at the bottom, extracting raw materials, can gradually move up, first making low-value components and then progressing to higher-value ones or basic assembly. But just as technology spurred globalization and the shifts in international trade that followed, so, too, will it revolutionize how countries again do business with one another. Compounded by the economic and demographic changes taking place today, automation, advanced robotics and software-driven technologies are ushering in a new era — one of shorter supply chains that will provide fewer opportunities for the developing world. Regions once labeled “emerging economies” may instead stagnate, and the divide between the haves and have-nots within and among nations could widen further. …

Meet Sophia

Sophia00

(Image source.)

She’s quite an impressive conversationalist, although still a little more open-minded about the idea of destroying humans than her creator considers ideal.

(Not clear from the video, but she’s a Hong Konger.)

Like so many other science fiction scenarios, it looks as if this is already an established research program.

Quotable (#140)

VR as a manipulative medium:

VR for the eyes, while sensational, offers no new information to the viewer. VR is more aptly comparable to 3D televisions than smartphones. […] VR for the hands, on the contrary, empowers humans like never before. If you want a magic thread to follow to find VR gold, just follow the hands. …

There’s a new kind of VR input device that does what the mouse does, but for 3D worlds. It’s called the 1:1 (“one to one”) motion controller. Hold one in your hand, and whichever ways your hand moves, it moves that way in the 3D world. This technology is dead-simple to use, and — most importantly — enables us to do things that we can’t with a mouse or touchscreen. Like the Nintendo Wii controller, perfected. […] This new generation of 1:1 motion controllers, pioneered by the Playstation Move and Razer Hydra, is being brought into maturity by devices like the Oculus Touch and Vive controllers. It is with these new input devices that we see a dimensional difference in what we can do. Mice track our hands with 2 dimensions (x, y). Next generation motion controllers measure not 3, but actually up to 12 dimensions at once (each hand has 3 positional and 3 orientational dimensions). Channeled appropriately, this massively higher dimensional input stream allows us to specify much more simultaneous information to a computer.

We live in a visual culture, and often forget that our hands got us here. […] … As developers begin to take advantage of the 1:1 motion controller, we will see changes that science fiction has yet to predict. Sight is our primary sense, but it’s time we all started paying a little more attention to our hands. It’s how we get things done.

Quotable (#126)

Matt Simon at the Drone World Expo (link):

… 75 exhibitors and more than 2,000 drone pros packing the San Jose Convention Center in the heart of Silicon Valley. The overwhelmingly male crowd, which is overwhelmingly wearing branded polo shirts, is here because there’s a mountain of money to be made in this nascent industry, perhaps almost $12 billion a year by 2023. Need a camera system? Look no further. How about lawyers to keep the FAA out of your hair? They’re here too.

This place sounds like the future — a high-pitched white noise not unlike the hum of bees. The smaller drones sound like mosquitoes. Regardless of what insect they sound like, these machines are big business, because more and more, drones are infiltrating our lives. …

Sino-Robotics

Somewhere deep in the task-queue here (at UF) is a post, or article, exploring the resonances between phobic Occidental responses to Orientals and robots (as promised, unreliably, in this post). Some grist for the mill:

Last week, the giant Chinese internet and gaming company Tencent published an article on its news portal about the rising price of consumer goods in China – not exactly earth-shattering news, except that the article was written by a robot called Dreamwriter. […] Dreamwriter wrote the 1000-word article, using algorithms that search online sources and data, in just 60 seconds. The article quoted economists and highlighted trends in a style indistinguishable from a human financial reporter. […] According to the South China Morning Post, Dreamwriter’s article was the first robot-written news article in the Chinese language.

The Morning Post quoted a Chinese journalist who said China’s state-run media doesn’t give reporters much creative license, which makes them easily replaceable by robot writers: “You know, many reporters working for government-run newspapers across the country usually copy and paste the statements and news press. They are not allowed to express doubt or really investigate reports against the authorities. So robot reporters could easily replace a lot of Chinese reporters like this nationwide.”