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On that train of graphite and glitter
February 19, 2010 11:15 AM   Subscribe

“For me, augmented reality has to be the future for 2020, together with it's close cousin the internet of things... It will become commonplace to be able to overlay reviews of a product simply by pointing a screen at it, or check the weather forecast by pointing your phone at the sky.” The Pew Research Center releases its The Future of the Internet IV report, an online survey of 895 technology stakeholders’ and critics’ expectations of social, political and economic change by 2020.

[48-page pdf]

Part I: The Future of Intelligence
"Already my iPhone functions as the external, silicon lobe of my brain. For it to help me become even smarter, it will need to be even more effective and flexible than it already is. What worries me is that device manufacturers and internet developers are more concerned with lock-in than they are with making people smarter. That means it will be a constant struggle for individuals to reclaim their intelligence from the networks they increasingly depend upon.” – Dylan Tweney.
Part II: The Future of Reading, Literacy, Books
“In 2020 we will have entered post literacy era. With everything “smart” and information constantly available, reading and writing took on new dimensions in their place of human skills. Problem solving and reasoning became more important. Reading and writing more largely replaced by voice in- voice out types of interactions." – Stephen F. Steele.
Part III: The Future of Gadgets and Technologies
“There is nothing new under the sun, it is said, and much of what arrives by 2020, people will say “we did that at BBN in the 1970s” or “It was in Plato half a century ago.” – Jonathan Grudin.
Part IV: The Future of the Structure of the Internet
“The locked-down future is more realistic as things stand now. We've got a very cautious government, an international movement towards greater control, and a pliant public. I wish this wasn't the case.” – Susan Crawford.
Part V: The Future of Anonymity Online
“We'll see a wide range of online identity options, from anonymity, to different levels of reasonably verified identity. Whistleblowers, for example, need anonymity. Public discussion boards need some modest level of verified identity, whereas home banking needs strong authentication.” -- Craig Newmark.
posted by cashman (34 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why are predictions so stupid?

Pointing your iphone at the sky to get a weather forecast is as doable right now as a refrigerator that orders milk when it's running low. The "problem" isn't that these things haven't been invented yet but that the ideas are moronic.

At least jetpacks and flying cars are cool.
posted by callmejay at 11:22 AM on February 19, 2010 [12 favorites]


Also, the future will only be locked down for those who buy locked-down products. There will always be alternatives, as it will only be easier and easier to create them.
posted by callmejay at 11:23 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pew pew pew
posted by Damn That Television at 11:41 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


OMG LASER GUNS PEW PEW PEW
posted by permafrost at 12:00 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Augmented reality will be cool when it's available in implant form, or at least contact lenses. Pointing a phone is too much like effort.

I'm holding out for full-replacement cyberlegs with extensions and strength enhancement.
posted by Scattercat at 12:14 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pointing your iphone at the sky to get a weather forecast is as doable right now as a refrigerator that orders milk when it's running low. The "problem" isn't that these things haven't been invented yet but that the ideas are moronic.
Yeah. My phone shows the weather all the time (well almost all the time). I suppose I could aim it at the sky if I wanted too.

Remember back in the early 90's when everyone was going on about the "Information Superhighway" when everyone was going to have a high-speed proprietary data connection that would let them "rewind pay per view movies!' and "buy stuff right off the TV screen!"

Instead everyone dialed into the Internet with their 14.4baud modems. Of course, some people would argue that the internet was the information superhighway, but they what people did on those two things at the early widespread internet and what they were going to do on the information superhighway were radically different.

The only thing people could imagine "couch potatoes" doing was watching renting movies and buying things.

A lot of this "augmented reality" stuff seems to be about the same thing. "Ohh, weather and product reviews!" Seriously? I actually have no doubt that there is going to be some interesting AR applications -- mostly games. But that's just because everyone is going to have an internet connected, reprogrammable computer in their pockets. But all these guys can think about is shopping.
Reading and writing more largely replaced by voice in- voice out types of interactions." – Stephen F. Steele.
That technology for voice out has been around since the 70s if you count cheap voice synth chips. And the technology for practical, continuous speaking has been available since 2000. It hasn't happened.

And why would it? With text you can skim up and down, and you can read it a hell of a lot faster then you can listen. I actually enjoy listening to smart people talking, like in bloggingheads.tv "diavlogs" but I play them back at 1.4x speed and I wish I could play them even faster.

But even then, text is far more efficient and skimable.
“There is nothing new under the sun, it is said, and much of what arrives by 2020, people will say “we did that at BBN in the 1970s” or “It was in Plato half a century ago.” – Jonathan Grudin.
Pretty much.
“The locked-down future is more realistic as things stand now. We've got a very cautious government, an international movement towards greater control, and a pliant public. I wish this wasn't the case.” – Susan Crawford.
Ugh, yeah... :(
posted by delmoi at 12:16 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Metafilter AI recommends this thread on O'Reillly's The Emerging Internet Operating System.. It's fun to look back only eight years and see what people got right.
posted by mecran01 at 12:21 PM on February 19, 2010


All I need to know is when to start watching out for those Demon Seed computers.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:25 PM on February 19, 2010


"Imagine a refrigerator that monitors the food inside it and notifies you when you're low on milk."

Yes, this is the "most oft-quoted example" of how this sort of thing works, but... am I the only person who thinks that this is kind of a pointless/superfluous/trivial usage of the "internet of things"? I mean, when you're low on milk it's pretty easy to tell, right?
posted by OverlappingElvis at 1:12 PM on February 19, 2010


The only thing people could imagine "couch potatoes" doing was watching renting movies and buying things.

Well thank god that hideous future of poeple sitting around interactive televisions downloading music, videos and playing games. Of course I only have time to post these days because the red ring of death has crashed my xbox so I can't watch my favorite programs on demand, play games or shop through my TV. Maybe when my Wii Fit gets here I can play some virtual bowling and get back into shape......wait a minute the futurists were right.
posted by humanfont at 1:35 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have a computer that tells me when I am low on milk. It's called my eyes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:40 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Imagine a cow that watches through your windows and comes inside your home to gently position a teat at your lips just when you need her milk most. Imagine her name is Sally. Yes, Sally. Bring us more milk. Mmmore mmmilk. Mmmmmoo.
posted by pracowity at 1:48 PM on February 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


It will become commonplace to be able to overlay reviews of a product simply by pointing a screen at it, or check the weather forecast by pointing your phone at the sky.
Is it really that onerous of a task to type weather.com into your browser, followed by your zip? This reminds me of that stupid CueCat barcode scanner thing: a solution in search of a problem.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:56 PM on February 19, 2010


All I need to know is when to start watching out for those Demon Seed computers.

I'm kind of hoping for a Demon Womb model myself, if you catch my... oh, wait, that's not what you meant by "watching out for". Never mind.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:58 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


It will become commonplace to be able to overlay reviews of a product simply by pointing a screen at it

Maybe pointing at people, too. Face recognition, fast searches of lots of data, and cues gathered from location and personal data leaks and so on might make it pretty easy to automatically figure out who you're pointing your phone at, and then see that person's address, income, marital status, milk inventory, etc. "I'll eat my hat if she's not headed for the dairy aisle."
posted by pracowity at 2:07 PM on February 19, 2010


I actually have no doubt that there is going to be some interesting AR applications -- mostly games.

For ideas in that vein, see cstross's Halting State.
posted by robertc at 2:09 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seems like a lot of the examples are "Ubiquitous Computing" as defined in 1988 by Mark Weiser.

Augmented Reality (AR) tends to mean specific techniques of visualization where either reality is incorporated into a virtual world, or virtual things are projected onto reality.

And yet I realize that these definitions are already being morphed into advertising-specific examples. So what I've said here is likely to smack of prescriptivism to some.
posted by lothar at 2:10 PM on February 19, 2010


This reminds me of that stupid CueCat barcode scanner thing: a solution in search of a problem.

I thought the problem to that solution was LibraryThing?
posted by robertc at 2:11 PM on February 19, 2010


My phone has the coolest weather determining function. When you're outside, if you hold it out, screen up, count to five, and then look closely at it, you can tell if it is raining by whether or not it's wet.

Take that, people who lived in the futuristic past!
posted by quin at 2:33 PM on February 19, 2010


I just remembered that I was thinking about this a few days ago, even...

---

Street Cred

Virj sidestepped the attack ads as he and Jue walked. They were both in SC-QuikChan, and they dared each other to try the stunts and achievements that flashed on the low walls and overhangs.

On the bridge across the highway, traffic roaring below, Jue froze. “Holy shit! Five megacreds.”

“It’s BS. A spoof.”

“I just ran it. Legit.”

“What’s the stunt?” Virj twiddled his fingers to adjust his channel.

“Jump.”

Virj’s brow furrowed. “Who gets paid after that? It’s gotta be a spoof.”

“Dunno,” said Jue. He flicked out more commands. “Holy shit.”

“What?”

Jue swallowed. “Thirty-two payouts to date.”

from Mirrorshards. (Mildly shame-faced self-plug.)
posted by Scattercat at 2:39 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Augmented reality is neat, but I hope by 2020 we have a better delivery system than cellphones. Of course we've been wishing for brain jacks for decades with nothing. By 2020 we might have cars with augmented windshields.
posted by pwnguin at 2:49 PM on February 19, 2010


If you didn't know, the Yelp app for the iPhone already has an AR mode called the "Monocle", which will display names and reviews of nearby restaurants/bars/businesses if you point it at things in an urban area. It works pretty well, but not incredibly useful.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:26 PM on February 19, 2010


I thought the problem to that solution was LibraryThing?

Sure, eventually, once you got past bits like "The company's response to these hacks was to assert that users did not own the devices and had no right to modify or reverse engineer them." That obviously isn't stopping LibraryThing from selling them or telling people how to use them for something that's quite different from their original intended purpose, but at the time it was quite the hullabaloo, let me tell you.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:04 PM on February 19, 2010


"This thing about making technology as intelligent as human beings really isn't working out like we hoped"

"No? But the computers are really good at chess."

"Apparantly people aren't as impressed by chess players as we originally thought. Anyway, I suggest we move to plan B."

"Plan B?"

"Making human beings who are more stupid than inanimate objects."

"Brilliant! People who fill fail the Turing test! Much more cost-effective!"
posted by Grangousier at 4:04 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Specifically this refers to transportation of things like flowers and pot plants, which are very sensitive to the environment they travel in." (emphasis mine)

This probably doesn't mean what I think it does.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 4:50 PM on February 19, 2010


I want my future to have terminator vision. Preferably in a range of colours.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 5:01 PM on February 19, 2010


I'm imagining a future where "internet of things" becomes "network of things" becomes "social things" becomes "things 3.0 don't forget security upgrades for your pony tails" becomes "oppressed things" becomes "who will speak up for the things because they already came for the Catholics" becomes "post-holocaust things are invited to talk shows to show their welded-on RFID tags from holocaust times" becomes "things at the things retirement community can't figure out how to use the human their offspring gave them for christmas"
posted by circular at 5:33 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of the most difficult things to do in a foreign city, once you have your hotel room, is to Find A Place To Eat. I can imagine a whole pile of augmented reality apps that would give you enhanced context for any eatery you pointed your iPhone at. And none would equal approaching a local resident or worker and asking them (in your broken Italian/French/German/Spanish) where they would recommend eating.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 7:08 PM on February 19, 2010


pot plants

Mister Moofoo: I get stung on this all the time. Apparently this what everyone in the world except Americans and Canadians calls potted plants. So I end up being all clever in my mind making jokes about their mother growing marijuana, and they look at me like I'm a simple-minded retard making a poopie joke. Maybe this happens to you too.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 7:13 PM on February 19, 2010


pracowity: Memory glasses, c. 2003. I can't find the reference I remember for this project, which focused less on compensating for perceptual or cognitive defects, and more on having a shared sense of human-recognition ("Oh, I recognize that person; my coworker saw them last week at a bar.")
posted by hattifattener at 12:32 AM on February 20, 2010


I haven't read the articles yet, but does it address the delivery of AR? I can see AR being very, very useful, but only if it was projected onto a screen that I could wear without discomfort (like really light goggles maye... I'm not putting in contacts) that was always connected and responded instantaneously to markers.

If you're going to point your phone at something, take a picture, give it 5 seconds to search, give yourself five seconds to read it, then I might as well just look it up on line or go check it out in person.

If I can look at something and have my HUD display relevant info that I can expand by looking at the menu and have the glasses track my iris... well, then we're talking. Otherwise it's a superficial convenience hiding behind a lot more work.
posted by codacorolla at 10:05 AM on February 20, 2010


Wait, what's moronic about having my fridge order groceries? That sounds pretty awesome to me. Unfortunately, my grocery store doesn't take orders (especially not from some stinking fridge) and doesn't deliver.
posted by DU at 5:08 AM on February 22, 2010


The Metafilter AI recommends this thread on O'Reillly's The Emerging Internet Operating System.. It's fun to look back only eight years and see what people got right.

Heh:
Now I'll guarantee that lots of people will routinely be converting text to speech in a few years, and I know it because the hackers are already doing it. It's been possible for a long time, but now it's ripening toward the mainstream.
Other then that, it's mostly palbum.
posted by delmoi at 2:46 AM on February 25, 2010


Wait, what's moronic about having my fridge order groceries?

Yeah, I want that, too, or at least I will when I'm old, and we're all going that way. We used to have a milk man and a bread man, two different trucks, and they knew what you wanted. I want my fridge to be as smart as Milkman Dan.

In fact, I want the stuff delivered straight into my home without my knowledge. Houses used to have milk doors -- a little cupboard that opened from inside and outside the house. I want something like that, but for all groceries, especially the heavy stuff, and I want the cold stuff to go straight into the back of my fridge.

It wouldn't work out in sub-urbia, but apartment buildings and retirement ("assisted living") homes could have cupboards and fridges that open from the back into service corridors (or into the normal access corridors) through locking panels. The delivery could happen without you having to let anyone into the home -- delivery guy unlocks the outside door, which automatically locks the inside door at the same time, and gives you the new stuff. You could put in a special order electronically or you could just leave a note in the cupboard or fridge when you want to depart from the standing order.

Every morning, fresh milk in the fridge, a freshly baked loaf of bread in the cupboard, and maybe the garbage taken out through a two-sided garbage cupboard. Not that you can't take this stuff too far, of course. Having the glory hole truck pull up in front of the building every day just wouldn't be right.
posted by pracowity at 3:20 AM on February 25, 2010


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