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March 12, 2002
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Kurzweil teleports to nanotech conference. Well, nearly... it looks like an oversized teleprompter - but according to those who were there, a lifesized 3D image of ace tech-visionary Ray Kurzweil did indeed appear at a conference in Richardson, Texas, March 7, 2002. "I thought it worked really well," said Steve T. Jurvetson, Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson. "I thought it was at least 95% of the real thing. In fact, the person that followed strangely enough seemed pale and flat. In comparison Ray almost was more realistic and three-dimensional." But will it share a Bud in the after-meet schmooze? In any case, we always knew that, in terms of the tech-spec, The Force Was With Us.
posted by theplayethic (19 comments total)

 
Too bad the dumb poster behind him ruins the effect.
posted by McBain at 7:08 AM on March 12, 2002


I've seen Kurzweil speak, and I find it strange that anyone could describe him as "realistic and three-dimensional". I'm sure he's a brilliant guy, but he's the most boring speaker I've ever seen.
posted by bshort at 7:38 AM on March 12, 2002


I think seeing the environment around the speaker is part of the effect. They'll just have to work on making him less transparent.

It's not quite up to Star Wars holographic standards yet though. AFAICT the image is 2D. The site makes a big deal about placing the speaker in a 3D environment, allowing eye-contact etc, but the image is just a 2D projection.
posted by MrImpossible at 7:39 AM on March 12, 2002


using the word 'teleport' seems a little misleading, given it's common usage. 'tele-vision' would seem more appropriate.
posted by asok at 7:44 AM on March 12, 2002


Yeah, you know, it looks like he's just projected onto the TelePrompTr, which is technology that's been around since the '80s.

However, in my experience with trying to photograph holography, the 2D medium of photography doesn't do the three-dimensionality of holography justice. Perhaps that's whats to blame here.
posted by me3dia at 8:29 AM on March 12, 2002


Kurzweil, Star Wars? Harry Seldon was doing that in 1951.
posted by Mack Twain at 8:52 AM on March 12, 2002


Anyone know what the hell he's talking about? I never liked this breed of "Dude, I'm waiting on the singularity" futurists. I can see the potential for nanomachines, when they're small enough and cheap enough and complex enough, etc but the man/machine computermind hypothesis is really out there. I'd like to see a some proof of concept or at least a working theory of consciousness before listening to a hologram practically tell me that the human brain is just another computer and must interface with one because the "brain is just like a computer" is such a handy metaphor.

Worse, this is the crowd that's currently passing the fantastic and utterly unbelievable fear of (I can't even type this with a straight face) AI machines taking over and turning us into slaves, like some 18th century landowner.

I miss the 20th century's futurists. Like the optimisim of Bucky Fuller and his ideas of a future not ruled by something out of a comic book, but an efficient use of technology to benefit all without taking away from others. Call Bucky politically naive, but at least he had working projects to show as proof of concept instead of promises of technology like Ray's which is closer to fiction than truth.

There's something so very dismal and out of touch with people like Ray, Vernor Vinge, A.C. Clarke. I don't think their writings represent the potential for the future or even a half-assed vision of it. I think they're just riding on popularity and past successes in different fields and have become the A-list guys to invite to your next tech bash, regardless of how little sense they're going to make.
posted by skallas at 9:36 AM on March 12, 2002


Very cool!!!
posted by dreamling at 9:44 AM on March 12, 2002


Short, but kinda neat video showing the technology in a demo can be found here.

HQ demo
posted by dreamling at 9:51 AM on March 12, 2002


I like the idea of 3D projection because I have a blind spot in the front of my left eye and can't use the traditional red-blue 3D-glasses method. I would tend to agree that the effect of the projection in real life was probably more dramatic than the photograph can reproduce.
posted by briank at 10:00 AM on March 12, 2002


Oh, yeah, watch the demo dreamling linked, it will give you a much better impression.
posted by briank at 10:03 AM on March 12, 2002


that is just awesome. When the guy being "teleported" (a really stupid name for it...we all know what teleportation is and this ain't it) can point to audience members to call for questions it just blows me away.
posted by xochi at 10:10 AM on March 12, 2002


The demo was neat, thanks for the link, but the scale is wrong. The teleportee looks like a big hand puppet.
posted by Tacodog at 10:27 AM on March 12, 2002


Of course, Kurzweil was "more realistic and three dimensional" than any of the speakers who were physically there. That's the whole point of telepresence simulation, isn't it? "Larger than life and twice as natural." to quote Lewis Carroll.
posted by Rebis at 10:30 AM on March 12, 2002


I think the impact of this is a bit diluted by the number of times we've seen this happen in movies. Myself, I've now seen it happen in a photograph and a quicktime movie, and it looks alot like the Starwars holograms I saw 15 years ago.

But make no mistake, this is a big deal. MIT and others have been working on effective 'tele presence [pdf]' for something like 40 years. What I've seen so far sounds like some pretty well scripted hype, but if it's 70% as good as they say it is, this'll be a big deal in 5 years.

Here's a Sci-Am article on this type of technology. Some good further links at the bottom.
posted by daver at 10:42 AM on March 12, 2002


I wonder: If telepresence is going to be the newly acceptable term for what Mr. (Dr.?) Kurzweil is doing, will we see a back-formation from the noun form to the verb to telepresent, as in "Kurzweil telepresents at this conference today"? Maybe not. After all, we already have to teleconference as a verb rather than to teleconfer, so probably the telepresence will awkwardly enough become the verb of choice. This nouning a word into verb form (ha!) is becoming increasingly commonplace.
posted by alumshubby at 11:40 AM on March 12, 2002


It looks like the color 006699 teleported from Metafilter to Kurzweil's site too.
posted by ktheory at 2:34 PM on March 12, 2002


gee I wonder if the pornography industry is funding this.
posted by Settle at 3:13 PM on March 12, 2002


Well, i think all this really proves is that a technology that has been around for awhile is becoming somewhat cheaper...and, dare i say it, mainstream. what i really wish is that they would applying this science to something useful to the everyday person like a badass heads-up display for my car windshield. I think that would make me happy.

And where's my hoverboard already?!
posted by rlef98 at 8:32 PM on March 12, 2002


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