I just happened to see a poster today for a panel discussion Thursday night at UC Berkeley's Journalism school on "Living With the Genie: On Technology and the Quest for Human Mastery". Future Saloners should recognize a few of the panel members:
A little Googling revealed that it's just the first of a series of panels which continues Friday morning:
All as a lead up to a two-day conference: "China's Digital Future: Advancing The Understanding of China's Information Revolution", featuring a keynote by Lawrence Lessig and including panel appearances by Cindy Cohn and John Gage among many others.
And best of all, it's all free and open to the public, though registration is required for the conference.
Nicole Lazzaro president and founder of XEODesign got great reviews from people attending the Game Developers Conference (GDC):
"The most informative session at GDC. I think every designer needs to learn to 'read' this language." - Will Wright, creator of Sim City & The Sims
Therefore I am very happy that Christopher Allen was able to convince her to present her research regarding Why we play games at the May 21st Future Salon.
More details to come soon. Nicole and I are already exchanging ideas on what to cover specifically for the Future Salon. If you have any requests please bring them forward by commenting this Weblog post.
There was no empty seat last Friday at the Future Salon with Jaron Lanier, and the people who came were greatly rewarded.
I didn't use my Sidekick, so I don't have very good notes, but Mike Rowehl on his Bitsplitter Blog has summarized some of it already:
The main thrust of the talk was that there are lots of different “ramps” which people can use to judge progress. There’s a ramp of technology, which progresses from the most basic innovations such as fire and the wheel and moves out to a life that looks something like the Jetsons or something called the technological singularity. Of course we’re not sure exactly where the ramp ends up, which is part of the reason we as humans find satisfaction in advancing it. There’s also a ramp of morality, starting with brutal kill-or-be-killed life and progressing to some kind of rainbows and sunshine perfect existence.
If I remember correctly Jaron said, that no one could ever show how you have a moral system and still allow people that don't agree with that moral system to coexist. So there will be bloodshed.
Biomimicry here we come: Some Swiss and German scientists found out that spiders are using electrostatic forces to be able to walk upside down on almost any surface. The force is strong enough for 170 times their own weight, not that these spiders could go in the ring with Mike Tyson, but still quite impressive.
Here are some possible uses for this technology:
"One possible application of our research would be to develop Post-it notes based on the van der Waals force, which would stick even if they got wet or greasy," said Kesel. "You could also imagine astronauts using spacesuits that help them stick to the walls of a spacecraft - just like a spider on a ceiling."
Do I hear Spiderman costumes? Climbing up walls should be possible. Of course the real deal is the swinging from skyscraper to skyscraper over New York traffic, guess that will take a bit longer. [Via PhysicsWeb]
If everything works out, we will have Janine Benyus who wrote the book Biomimcry present at the November Future Salon. Cross your fingers. Here an aptly titled article about her: The Remarkable Janine Benyus
Within thirty years, we will have the technological
means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after,
the human era will be ended.
If this prediction comes true, we have 19 very interesting years ahead of us before the computers run the show.
The primary candidate for such a flaw as I see it is that cyber-armageddonists have confused ideal computers with real computers, which behave differently.
But technologists are the inevitable winners of this game, as they change the very components of our lives out from under us. It is tempting to many of them, apparently, to leverage this power to suggest that they also possess an ultimate understanding of reality, which is something quite apart from having tremendous influence on it.
In order to embrace an eschatology in which the computers become smart as they become fast, some kind of Deus ex Machina must be invoked, and it has a beard.
There is a lovely global flowering of computer culture already in place, arising for the most independently of the technological elites, which implicitly rejects the ideas I am attacking here. A full manifesto would attempt to describe and promote this positive culture
Almost 4 years have passed. Time to check in with Jaron Lanier to see how the full manifesto is coming along. Here a more recent quote from his web page:
One of themes I talked about is the sense of a metaphorical ramp of progress that people often internalize to frame the past and future in technological and dynamic societies. I compared the technological ramp (which has fire and the wheel in the distant past and perhaps Star Trek and The Jetsons, or a singularity, in the future) with the moral ramp (which has the Ten Commandments in the Past and peace in the future), and then presented a third ramp, which concerns ever expanded means of interpersonal connection. This ramp has the inception of language in the distant past and perhaps something like shared, intentional, waking-state dreaming, what I sometimes call post-symbolic communication, in the future.
Interesting stuff. You can see him life tomorrow 23rd of April 7pm at the Future Salon.
I was sitting, as I actually like to do, in the last row of the Cybersalon last Sunday.
The panel started and I couldn't see the members because they were all sitting behind a table on the same level as we were. Having been sitting all day I decided to get up and stand behind the last row.
I took notes with my little Sidekick, to create a weblog post later. Martin Fisher brought one of the irrigation pumps with him, so I walked with my Sidekick in hand a bit to the front and took a closer look. Probably still typing while walking.
Apparently people where irritated by my behavior.
Running notes from Yesterday's Social Entrepreneurship Cybersalon
Martin Fisher founder of ApproTEC
Stuart Gannes, Director of the Digital Vision Program at Stanford
Boku Kodama founder of Urban VOICE
Beverly Greene, executive director of Berkeley's Small Press Distribution (SPD)
Yoo-mi Lee Board of Directors Charity Focus home of the Quote-a-day.
You may have missed our first foray into the East Bay last Saturday to see Robot Stories, and let me tell you, you missed out. It was a lot of fun, but you just got an additional week to see the movie in the Bay Area, their run has been extended in Berkeley as well as San Francisco.
I really liked, that the stories were nicely layered, and it would be worth going again. Just not this Friday, because Friday is Future Jaron Day.
This Friday the 23rd of April I am very happy that Jaron Lanier will give an update to his One Half of a Manifesto written in 2000 where he tackles the "cybernetic totalists" the ones that fetishize Moore's Law. Find more details at the Meeting Mozart post.
Location will be again:
SAP Labs North America
Building D Room Southern Cross
3410 Hillview Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94304
(Driving directions to building D via Highway 101)
(Driving directions to building D via Highway 280)
The Salon is from 7pm - 9pm. Please join us also for dinner afterwards in Palo Alto.