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Wednesday, July 20, 2005


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Jim Arthur

I think the next BIG revelution will be biomedical/robotic interface. I mean how many computers does somebody really need? If you boil down digital media, it is really nothing more than a fancy phone/e-mail/music player and word processor. There comes a point when the consumer is just too bombarded with gimmicks to want to upgrade. There is no reason why anybody should need more than an e-mail, internet browser and phone on their person at all times. There is no reason why anybody should need anymore than 64 Gigabytes. If there is, what is it? What more?

The next CISCO is going to a be a company that figures out how to transfer a person's mind from their ailing human body to a robotic body. Ya, just wear a helmet with electrodes in your brain for a few weeks and download the recordings into a good looking robot. Then the US will REALLY have a problem with Old Age Security!

Robert Sibley

I don't think we will be waiting a bit for an economically feasable biomedical/robotic interface. But I think Jim has got the idea right. I would be cautious about putting limits on how much computing/storage capacity anyone needs. Wasn't it Bill Gates who stated no one would need more than ??k, which limited MSDOS and early Windows capabilities for years?

In general, IT has expanded exponentially our capacity to communicate, store, locate and retrieve information and process data. While advances have also been made in helping us to find the right information and more importantly to cognatively process much greater amounts of data these have not kept pace.

This human interface area is where I believe "digital media" can and will progress in significant and valuable ways. There arte in fact many places to go beyond email and Web browsers and cell phones. To some extent this boils down to information representation, and the advances that are in process and in research depend as much on understanding the human brain and senses as they do on the technologies that will exploit this knowledge. Technologies like Tele-immersion which combines 3-d virtual reality and internet based video conferencing is one example. This Internet-2 project requires enormous bandwidth with ultra low latency and substantial computational power to render data from multiple video cameras at the source and spacial knowledge of where the "viewer" is in rlation to the sender to render realistic real time 3-d images, both of people and of objects. The next stage is to allow multiple particpants to manipulate shared virtual objects.

While this will "only" allow multiple parties to feel and act like they are in the same room together, this is a very different type of communication than email, cell phone or current video conferenceing, in part, because it incorporates the ability of humans to receive and process subtle visual/aural cues now only possible face to face.

to make this kind of virtual experience authentic requires substantial knowledge of what is known as presence: ie. fooling the brain into thinking someone/something is actually physically present.

The technology Tom Cruise used in Minority Report, where he used his hands ot pull and push data around on a screen, is another example of someone's view of enhanced human information processing. In some ways this is just an extension of the google Desktop. both are conceptually similar simple ideas. But imagine the economic value of a 100% speed increase/learning curve decrease in your ability for locate, drill down into, manuipulate (perform computations on) and fully understand (in your current brain in your current body) any information you wanted/needed.

In my view there are a lot of "opportunities" in this digirtal media technologyy space, some of which we will look back five or ten years from know and wonder how we got along without. And they may require terebites. but that will seem trivial.


The teleimersion technology would be great if it helps cut down on the amount of time people spend traveling in and out of cities to go to work. With the internet and video conferencing many employers are allowing employees to "telework" but the main limitation is that one does not have the face to face contact which is vital for certain work such as negotations, etc.

I am a little surprised society has not developed better transportation methods over the last century. The automobile is basically the same now as it was when it was invented. It burns fossil fuels, pollutes and clogs the roadways, wasting hours and hours per week of worker time. Every year it gets worse with more traffic on the roads and bigger more gas hungry cars and trucks. The plane is still basically slow unless one is going long distances, what with cloged airports and usual delays. Light rail is good within cities but somewhat limited too. In 1975, I saw the personal jetpack on TV and I thought that might be the future (I was six).

The Star Trek transporter would be the answer but a scientist I know has assured me that it is not possible with what is presently known.

So are we going to spend the next century choking ourselves to death on exhaust fumes? Apparently so.

World economic depression, pollution, war . . . I am enjoying all this wonderful life has to offer!

Robert Sibley

EN you bring up an essential point in understanding whhich technologies get deployed and which wither. Again it is the human factor, in this instance it's (at least partly) politics. Ove the last 50 years autos, airlines and the Internet have benefitted greatly from governenment support, especially in building costly infrastructure (as was the case with the railroads 150 years ago). And once industries reach a certain critical mass (like the combo of auto manufactures, road builders and oil industry) they often have the political clout to maintain the status quo to their liking, at least for a while(50-100 years?)

Of course it's not just government money. while the initial Internet was funded primarilly by DAPRA and NSF, the hughe buildout of fiberoptic cable in the late 90's was funded almost entirely by private capital, much to their short term chigrin, but to the long term benefit of all of us. It is this already installed (and paid for) fiver infrastructure, far beyond our current need, that will allow, encourage and make economically feasable technologies like tele-immersion. Just as massive overbuilding of rail networks in the 19th century first led to massive railroad bankrupcy and then to inexpensive freight and passenger rail service nationwided that greatly facilitatd economic expansion.

The telecom industry is in the process of working out the last mile issue ( how to get high speed/high bandwidth to your home/office cheaply) the electronics industry has made the shift to digital rather than analog technologies and large format digital displays are on a steep cost slide (just go to costco and see).

To me this means that meaningful advances in "digital media". Ones that enhance productivity and human capability, not just entertainment value, can be introduced and deployed broadly very rpaidly. This means shorter payback periods, less risk and more potential for priofitability.

From a narrow constant paradime business perspective, I would bet on these kinds of technologies before I would bet on a hydrogen economy. In fact even if oil goes to $600 a barrel these technologies wil probably fare as well as hydrocarbon replacement technologies.

Anyone for sensory enhanced virtual excursions to the grand canyon, the great wall, etc.? You can even meet and hang out with the natives.


Virtual vacations would probably go over pretty big. Remember that movie "Total Recall"? It is an awesome concept.

Some of the experiments done decades ago with various mammals showed that they would press a lever to electically stimulate their hypothalamus' to the exclusion of the lever that delivered food.

If virtual reality gets good enough, it might make sex workers, drug brokers and tourism obsolete.

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