To Be Clear: 4 Truths About New Technologies
When it comes to emerging technology, four things are simultaneously true:
- Innovations in everything from artificial intelligence to augmented reality to robots are discovered and refined nearly every second of the day, every day.
- Innovation is not a buzzword but a condition, a state of mind, a way of organizing life and work so that you’re forever poised to make new products, services, or better ways of doing things.
- Integrating new ideas so that you can develop new outcomes is hard, especially when the destination is unclear.
- Tremendous opportunities for good coexist alongside tremendous potential challenges and even terrible outcomes.
We don’t live in a binary world where things are either good or bad. It was recently pointed out to me that my blog is wholly bullish on immersive tech like virtual and augmented reality. After a quick review, I realized that may be true, but a closer look shows I’m well aware of the challenges.
See #1 above. I’d say awareness of the work being done is important, and second, we have to participate from wherever we sit at the table, be it as creator, developer, implementer, buyer, or seller. It’s important that decision-makers build a strategy that’s right for their organization because playing catch-up in a field that’s evolving daily is hard to do.
And there are major concerns on every level. Users and consumers are rightly worried about data collection and privacy issues, to name just two. The type of data that new VR headsets can collect with the latest eye-tracking technology is unprecedented. These devices are increasingly able to collect all sorts of data about us, incl. how we breathe, how often we blink, how much we move around, and where we look. A lot of this information can and eventually will be used to get a good picture of the user’s health, even to diagnose and treat disease.
Whose hands will that data be in? A private company?
Which bring me right to #4. Impact. If we are researching the use of VR to treat pain, shouldn’t we be asking if it can also cause it? Who needs to be at the table making decisions about how these applications are made, who can use them, and when? These emerging technologies are powerful. As builders and adopters, we need to be mindful of these questions and do what we can to make sure that the ecosystems surrounding tech development lead to answers we all want to live with.
I could not be more excited about this KPMG report which lays out a global sentiment by executives that NYC is leading global tech innovation. The Wall Street Journal makes a compelling case as to why, explaining much of the growth seeding and encouraging a burgeoning eco-system of technologists, investors, corporates and subject matter experts across sectors has been driven by the City and others to the tune of billions in investment.
One element is what’s called the Brooklyn Tech Triangle; it stretches from Dumbo to the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Downtown Brooklyn. RLab, focused on the next generation of user interfaces, spatial technology including virtual reality, augmented reality and related technologies, calls the Navy Yard home. That’s where I am these days heading up the team working with corporates on learning about the applications of these technologies, convening relevant audiences, supporting venture programs and prototyping the many applications to come given the array of advances we are witnessing today. It’s an extraordinary time in an extraordinary place. Go #NYC!
source photo Variety.com
Opinions about augmented reality (AR) upstart Magic Leap (ML) today rage far and wide; endlessly. Investors have backed the reclusive startup to the tune of more than a billion dollars to create an AR system including a new type of headset that has the potential to kick the industry into high gear. Other than a few video releases like this or this, most of us have gotten few glimpses of the system and products. They’ve raised a lot of money, been building for a few years, and the “people” are getting antsy they want to see it. In the absence of actual knowledge, the volume is up on the talk after the company announced it will ship products by summer’s end.
I’ve been saying this for a long time and will memorialize it here: We should all be excited no matter what. We will all be winning no matter if ML as a company wins or loses and here’s why:
- Success. If ML succeeds the entire world will have access to amazing hardware and software to experience a better version of AR than we have now. No doubt the applications will range from medicine to movies to industrial manufacturing and education, and so many others.
- Fails. Failure can mean many things. The tech can succeed and the company fails or all sorts of other combinations. But here’s the thing, ML employs hundreds if not thousands of people by the time it will be said and done, and those people will have tremendous learnings to carry out into the world and spread around. In other words, technology evolutions work a bit like Lego blocks, the next generation is usually built on the successes and failures of what came before. Thus, armed with the knowledge of a failed experiment, the next generation will be built until one works.
- Regardless. Regardless of what happens to ML, there’s no doubt its mere existence encouraged the world’s largest tech companies and so many others to hit accelerate on AR or MR or visual tech development. The startup triggered billions of investment into R & D and something is real likely to come out of it as a result.
My take presumes ultimately AR will manifest into daily uses, both at work and at play; I believe it’s coming. Whether ML is a household name twenty years from now or not, it will have played a central role in developing what AR becomes. #Truth.
It has always been, for a decade and a half, a convening of people who make games, love games and use games for social good in the world. And this year NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio gave it official standing in the Gotham city proclaiming, June 28th, Games for Change day.
The festival marked a meaningful 15th anniversary making it old enough to become an institution and young enough for everyone involved to believe it’s still nimble. The organization runs all year and culminates in this event which draws people from all over the world to discuss, plan, plot and swap notes about where and how efforts are making a difference. They are tackling complex global problems from climate change to literacy, equality, inclusion to mental illness. This year the tracks included Games for Learning, Civics and Social Issues, Neurogaming and Health, Games for Learning, Civics and Social Issues, and XR (virtual, augmented and mixed realities).
Susanna Pollack is the president of Games for Good and a force of nature. She’s developed robust programming that spans three days and provides extraordinary opportunities for connection and thus, new ideas to form and grow. There were programs for students.
And of course, plenty of games to experience including the debut of Lost City of Mer intended to “inspire players about the impact that humans and their carbon footprint are having on the oceans.” A full list of the games that won awards is here.
This is an important organization, of which I am an ambassador because they have and are leading the way on gamifying content. Gamifying content can be a powerful tool for multi-disciplinary purposes. It’s moved into the mainstream and the potential to educate, engage and change behavior for the better is happening.