Recently at the TED 2009 conference professor JoAnn Kuchera-Morin from the University of California showed us the AlloSphere. For me, this was clearly one of the many highlights of this years TED event!
Visualizing, hearing and exploring complex multi-dimensional data
provides insight that is essential for progress in a number of critical
areas of science and engineering, where the amount and complexity of
the data overwhelm traditional computing environments.
The AlloSphere Research Facility is differentiated from conventional
virtual reality environments by its seamless surround-view capabilities
and its focus on multiple sensory modalities and interaction. Building
the AlloSphere was not an off-the-shelf enterprise. Designing a
large-scale multimedia environment to deliver rich, coherent,
interactive, high-resolution 3D video and audio streams from voluminous
amounts of scientific data, all in real-time, was a non-trivial
computational and systems engineering task that involved a significant
number of faculty from diverse disciplines.
You might think of it as part of the emerging Metaverse/Multiverse as the video below is in a sense a Google Maps application or Mirror World for your brain, cells and molecules.
A truly amazing video, especially considering the huge implications for future research and innovation.
His latest book called The Art Instinct - Beauty, Pleasure and Human Evolution combines two fascinating and contentious
disciplines—art and evolutionary science—in a provocative new work that
will change forever the way we think about the arts, from painting to
literature to movies to pottery. Human tastes in the arts are evolutionary traits, shaped by Darwinian selection. They
are not, as the past century of art criticism and academic theory would
have it, just socially constructed.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has contributed pioneering work to our understanding of happiness, creativity, human fulfillment and the notion of "flow", a state of heightened focus and immersion. One of the most influential psychologists around today.
In a world of multi-tasking (especially within the Digital Natives) we might ask the question what the view of Mihaly might suggest for this next generation. Linda Stone wrote about continuous partial attention (CPA) as a big issue. Eckhart Tolle talks about the Power of Now. Otto Scharmer from MIT talks about open mind, heart and will within his outstanding book Theory U to boost Presencing. All views seem to point to the same state of mind in my view. Personally, I believe 'soul gazing' seem to resonate with the vision of Csikszentmihalyi as well. My father - a painter - wrote a book on his life called Visible Absence in which he describes his work and the state of mind of being somewhere while being absent at the same time. Flow :)
Highlight in the video below is at 15 minutes and beyond. Stunning insights related to skills, challenges and flow.
The video below with a short presentation by Gary Small is in my view interesting in many ways. It is original and shows how Digital Natives differ in their minds relative to Digital Immigrants. It is one of the first neuroscience and fMRI studies related to searching the web and it shows that the web has both positive and negative impact on our minds and learned skills. If you like this video, I strongly recommend reading the extensive discussion related to the August post in Edge.org by Nicholas Carr called Is Google Making Us Stupid? This post raises in my view some important issues related to multi-tasking, continuous partial attention (CPA), focus, critical and structured thinking, concentration and reading long, deep articles and/or books.
I wished I saw this video with John Francis a few months back. In our hectic lives driven my passion we sometimes forget about the basics. Enjoy the silence, keep on walking, open your heart and listen carefully ;-)
At our latest Mobile Monday Amsterdam event Bruce Sterling from Wired and The Well and highly acclaimed speaker gave a special talk on the Internet of Things and mobile devices. A great update from his thinking in Shaping Things and his previous LIFT Conference talk on SPIMES. The religious setting makes it complete. We from the Mobile Monday crew and our audience were uplifted. Thank you Bruce!
Recently I was amazed by the cyborg Kevin Warwick at the LIFT Conference 2008 with his story on telepathy and direct brain interfaces. Deepening Warwicks' story, Michael Chorost presents insights from his latest book called Rebuilt in the video below.
Michael Chorost became a cyborg on October 1, 2001, the day his new ear was booted up. Born hard of hearing in 1964, he went completely deaf in his thirties. Rather than live in silence, he chose to have a computer surgically embedded in his skull to artificially restore his hearing. This is the story of Chorosts' journey - from deafness to hearing, from human to cyborg - and how it transformed him. The melding of silicon and flesh has long been the stuff of science fiction. But as Chorost reveals in this witty, poignant, and illuminating memoir, fantasy is now giving way to reality.
Prepare to be amazed, especially after 31 minutes and 40 seconds as well as his view on direct brain interfaces. And how Google might play a big part on this future.
Chris Anderson recently wrote a thought-provoking piece in Wired and Edge called The End of Theory in which he focuses on the rise of massive datasets, computational algorithms and correlations (instead of causation) for the next step in scientific evolution. Highly recommended reading.
In my view, correlation might boost useful science in the sense of working or realistic correlations. Nonetheless, in most disciplines intuition, creativity, asking good questions (perspectives/frames !), understanding, models and theory still have a clear value add, albeit for social / sharing reasons on top of a deeper understanding of the why of natural or social phenomena. Additionally, the reasoning of Chris Anderson is relevant for the rise of the mobile internet and its ubiquitous computing role in the near future. All these real-time mobile sensors might boost correlations and predictive capabilities to a certain degree while still acknowledging the power of Black Swans. Furthermore, Andersons' view seems to resonate with the Internet Scenario and Digital Gaia Scenario within the Singularity according to Vernor Vinge in which the continuing profileration and advancement of the internet will give rise to posthuman sense of consciousness as its too complex to contemplate. Finally, the role of the Semantic Web/Web 3.0 is interesting in the light of Andersons' reasoning. He seems to disagree with the benefits of the meaning and top-down structures of the Semantic Web. It would be great to see the responses of Tim Berners Lee and Nova Spivack to the Anderson piece.
"All models are wrong, but some are useful. So proclaimed statistician George Box 30 years ago, and he was right. But what choice did we have? Only models, from cosmological equations to theories of human behavior, seemed to be able to consistently, if imperfectly, explain the world around us. Until now. Today companies like Google, which have grown up in an era of massively abundant data, don't have to settle for wrong models. Indeed, they don't have to settle for models at all.
Sixty years ago, digital computers made information readable. Twenty years ago, the Internet made it reachable. Ten years ago, the first search engine crawlers made it a single database. Now Google and like-minded companies are sifting through the most measured age in history, treating this massive corpus as a laboratory of the human condition. They are the children of the Petabyte Age.
Chris Anderson seems to think computers will reduce science to pure induction, predicting the future based on the past. This method of course can't predict black swans, anomalous, truly novel events. Theory-laden human experts can't foresee black swans either, but for the foreseeable future, human experts will know how to handle black swans more adeptly when they appear.
Just because we remove the limits and biases of human narrativity from science, does not mean other biases don't rush in to fill the vacuum.
It is clear to me that while numerical simulation and computation are welcome tools, they are helpful only when they are used by good scientists to enhance their powers of creative reasoning. One rarely succeeds by “throwing a problem onto a computer”, instead it takes years and even decades of careful development and tuning of a simulation to get it to the point where it yields useful output, and in every case where it has done so it was because of sustained, creative theoretical work of the kind that has been traditionally at the heart of scientific progress."