Tag Archives: The Future of Tech

My SXSW Poem of the Future

At SXSW this year I took part in the Tech Off, run by the ace guys over at TechDept. The theme was ‘The Future’, quite a big subject.

Since getting on stage several people have asked me to publish my talk, mainly because it rhymed I think… so here it is, enjoy!

My Job didn’t exist when I was at school,
When I started coding my Dad thought I was fool.
He thought I’d turn into a weird geeky hermit,
In fact, he tried to make me study law and get a law permit.
But the visions for the future excite me more than the past,
Because when it comes to tech, the past fades fast.
So I’m definitely not a hermit and I’m proud to be a geek,
Which you’ll know if you go online and maybe read a tweet.
And maybe I’ll reply or maybe it’s my bot,
Because maybe I’m real and here, or maybe I’m not.
The future isn’t just augmented or virtual you see,
It’s set to be a blend of several realities.
And as the future keeps advancing and we become more connected,
We’ll all be liked and rated and ever more self reflected.
Will we strive for 5 gold stars or get jobs based on social ratings?
In a future that’s rose tinted and won’t allow for ‘slatings’.
Will robots steal our jobs? Will Skynet really happen?
Or is that as likely as a one handed man clapping?
Will tech become so seamless that we won’t be able to tell,
Where I begin, you end, and the tech blends in as well…
Does the future of ‘blurred lines’ mean mortar and bricks,
Become synonymously intertwined with pixels and clicks?
Today we pay with fingerprints, tomorrow our voice
In the future, our faces, will this remove our choice
To be recognised or not, to have ambiguity?
Or will we be on camera everywhere, live streamed to the street?
When our lives are in the cloud, seamlessly connected
Will we be faster, more efficient, or will our memories be neglected?
I only know one phone number, that’s the one I’ve had for 15 years,
If tech fails us, are we lost, stuck in a tech-less fear?
Will we all walk round in circles when Google maps decides to stop?
Will our short hand math become really shit? Will that matter, or not?
Does a bit of humanity get lost when we rely on tech?
Do we discover less, feel less, care less, meh what the heck…
Or is tech making us efficient so we get more out of life?
And if we supercharge this in the future do we negate trouble and strife?
I’m at a conference with talks about ‘cheating MRI’
And every little thing becoming powered by AI.
In a future where every heartbeat and every drop of sweat,
Is calculated, decoded and uploaded to the net.
When connected collars tell us when our dogs have got a fever,
Or our cats can be interpreted through intelligent receivers.
When Jacquard powered jeans tell guys ‘you’re flying low’,
Our clothing interprets stress and tension, head to toe.
In a future where cars aren’t just autonomous but fly,
In highways constructed over cities in the Sky.
Where these cars are an extension of our physical being,
Our fridges order milk, our homes capable of seeing.
In the future are we dumb? Just run by automation…
Or are we elite and empowered, an unstoppable ‘one nation’?
In OUR future we WILL stand beside robots that are intelligent,
But further more we face a future that goes beyond this and is sentient.
There will be competition, co-petition, ambition and decision
But convergence and empowerment will come to fruition.
If biology is programmable and we can program 3D printing,
Will we solve poverty and hunger, now that got me thinking…
If a world built on noughts and ones merges with atoms,
Does that provide a world that you and I can barely fathom?
If we can put interfaces into brains and quadriplegics can move cursors,
Will we enhance that human life, is the advance in science worth it?
If we contemplate the dialogue between human and computer,
Do we invite tech to take over or, just to help us when it suits us?
There are so many things that today we do not know,
But if we super charge our neurons there’s nowhere a brain can’t go.
We can speed up our learning curve and mass communicate,
Have conversations without speaking, silently collaborate.
Whether this 5 minutes makes you laugh or maybe makes you wonder,
There is one thing for sure that we should collectively ponder;
Is technology and innovation a force for good or force for bad?
Is it going to bring us closer or going to drive us mad?
To quote Einstein ‘it’s obvious it’s exceeded humanity’
And he’s been dead for decades so it’s pretty clear to see,
That the trajectory we’re on isn’t slowing down,
And in fact with quantum computing we can go to town.
I for one would rather be in the driving seat,
Amongst you crazy bunch of awesome techies, devs and geeks.
For the ONE thing about the future that we should ALL be aware
Is love it fear it, WE are ALL going there …
And we can choose to lead or we can choose to follow
So I say, let’s grab the future by the balls and go invent tomorrow!!!
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music is morphing

The audioscape is shifting. In 2014 digital music revenue matched the physical and though the report isn’t out yet I suspect the balance tipped over towards digital in 2015. Whilst downloads still just about make up the bulk of that revenue, streaming services show continued growth to satisfy the personalised on-demand needs of the ever impatient consumer.

It is becoming more apparent however, that rather than posing a threat to traditional radio broadcast, it is in fact providing pre-cognitive insight to help programmers find the next hit, or know when to stop playing a track to death, thankfully.

Having long been an advocate of services such as Spotify, Amazon Prime and YouTube I’ve pondered several times where the data connections between airplay, streaming and record sales will join up.

A short while back I spoke with Spotify (the world’s biggest music streaming service) about how their platform can inform what’s next, allowing them to be ahead of the curve on everything from up and coming artists to how to name their playlists, the value is clear; it’s a completely accurate analysis of listener choice.

Streaming is a mainstream activity. Over two thirds of internet users accessed a licensed digital service in 2015 and the strength of the industry today is seen in the total flexibility it provides, allowing artists to reach a much wider audience in a way they want to be reached.

This has seen a shift from music models based on ownership to those based on access, which coupled with consumers streaming more and more on smartphone and tablets (up 114% in 2015 according to Wells Fargo) means subscriptions will continue to shape the music portfolio available.

So what’s next? I reckon we have three things to look forward to:

First up, music will become more intuitive. The Echo Nest acquired by Spotify provides an intelligence platform that mixes human skill, clever algorithms and social curation, meaning you can quickly get personal. This thinking will spread.

Secondly, enhancing how we perform by influencing the frequency of our brainwaves will continue to improve. We all know that faster music makes us run faster and slower music focusses breathing for yoga. This thinking is already built into how Spotify’s algorithm can work, for example their partnership with Nike which matches music to your tempo.

Thirdly, a merger of these two approaches to create a constant seamless service that will use prediction to enhance our brainwaves through binaural beats so we all become super intelligent thanks to music.

OK, maybe that last one is a few years away… but it will happen.

 

-3952

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VIRTUALLY HUMAN

I love as much as the next person donning a head set and immersing myself in a world of fantasy where I can fly around on my very own dragon and slay my enemies, an experience that envelops my physical and sensory powers, transporting me to a space and time beyond my real identity.

But this is fast becoming just a norm, scary? Maybe… maybe not.

VR is winning over on mere fiction; it challenges the mind, it challenges the perception of reality, I guess you could say therefore that it challenges mankind.

Another technology that I love working with is Artificial Intelligence, the only thing I can imagine more exciting than either VR or AI, is the two working together.

AI is the science of making intelligent machines or programs based on algorithms derived from understanding the cognitive ability of the human brain but not limited to biology. Once taught, these machines can be scripted and controlled, but more exciting they can become autonomous.

We’re not quite at the stage where we characterize what kind of computer procedures we want to call intelligent, but they lean towards those that are maybe less mechanical, or less engineered, i.e. prompted by emotion.

Human IQ is the measure at which human intelligence develops based on; speed, short-term memory and the accuracy of long-term memory. AI is arguably the reverse; programs have plenty of memory and speed but their abilities correspond to inputs and commands.

To this end, currently most work involving AI involves studying the challenges the world puts to our intelligence in order to solve them at an improved return on speed or money, but if we were to combine a world created virtually along with the abilities of AI, then surely we could create a new theorized knowledge source; a new perspective… a new reality.

Information is at our fingertips, the likes of Google sorted that one for us, but new insight, new knowledge, that is far more interesting. So if we could create worlds that anticipated situations of the future and then input artificial intelligence into it, then in this parallel universe we could create a new perception, a new reasoning.

Technology is powerful in the hands of humans, if we enhance that artificially then the virtual world could be our new oyster.

Cyborg Head

Now, where did I leave my Dragon..?

 

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Wake up and smell the hex reference!

Augmented Reality currently taps into our audio and visual senses, but how long before it covers smell as well?

I’m a big F1 fan but can’t afford tickets to fly around the world and experience the sensational atmosphere. So imagine if I could bring the squeal of the tires and the smell of burning rubber, the sound and smell of rain as it hits the hot tarmac, into my living room…

Imagine you’re waiting in a stuffy airport lounge and you can be transported to the first day of spring, the smell of cut grass in the air, you pick a virtual flower and smell it’s scent…

Imagine you’re Skyping your best friend from New York and she’s cooking a bacon sarnie in the background and you can smell it too…

If we could decode the molecules of odour, similar to how we break down colour into wavelengths and sound into pitch and frequency then this could be achievable.

A perfumer creates a palette with thousands of molecules to create a scent, so if each molecule had a reference – just as we have RGB hex references for colour coding that form pictures on a screen – assuming the recipient had the equivalent hardware to release the combination of references creating the scent, then in theory we could send smells alongside pictures and images.

Let’s take it a step further, what if we could digitise taste? Imagine if you could script a cake and send it to a 3D printer…

Hershey’s and Barilla have already trialled printing using chocolate, cookie dough and sugar (you can read more here) so again, once we have the breakdown of molecules and a reference for each… you get where I’m going right?

I could also have the taste of burnt rubber on the tip of my tongue (tastes good with a cold beer I promise), create the taste of a Lindt chocolate bunny to go with spring and 3D print my bestie’s bacon sarnie.

Right, who’s got the HP?

rabbit 3D printer

Just imagine that rabbit is a strawberry cake…

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