Interview with Vernor Vinge: Smart phones and Empowering Aspects of Social Networks & Augmented Reality Still Massively Underhyped | UgoTrade
Tish Shute: Many of the pioneers of the emerging AR industry who will be speaking at, and attending Augmented Reality Event, consider “Rainbows End” one of their key inspirations. [Note: If you want to attend ARE2011 readers of this post can use my discount code TISH295 ($295 for two days, or for one day only TISH1DAY11 for $149]
What is the best and worst, in your view, about the way Augmented Reality is emerging from science fiction into science fact?
Vernor Vinge: Progress that sets the stage:
The worldwide market penetration of cellphones in the era 2000-2010 was of a size and speed that would have counted as foolish implausibility even in science-fiction of earlier times. More than half the human race suddenly had access to knowledge and comms. Being in the middle of this firestorm of progress, we can’t really judge ultimate effects, but I expect that smart phones and the empowering aspects of social networks and AR are still massively underhyped. (This is not to say that individual innovation enterprises can’t fail; the treasure is there for those who dare, and ultimately the whole human race can benefit.)
But I can still whine:
Some — mostly political/legal — issues are disappointing. These affect AR but also the broad range of our progress with technology:
o Software patents and some styles of cloud computing are blunting the ability of average people to innovate. In the 2010-2020 era, average people should have the building blocks to empower them to create (and throw away at the end of the workday) tools that in olden times would have been the whole purpose of a business startup.
Unfortunately, some companies restrict and compartmentalize their releases like we’re still living in the twentieth century.
There are also some mostly tech issues that I’m impatient with (speaking as a never-satisfied consumer and fan:)
o The low pixel counts in contemporary head up displays.
o The poor position coordination in current HUDs.
o The lack of mass market acceptance of HUDs.
o The lack of progress in distributed store-and-forward between
mobile devices (sub-femtocell, ad hoc and transitory forwarding).
o The lack of progress in uniform solutions to centimeter-scale
Tish Shute: What do you feel will be the most impactful application of AR in people’s everyday lives?
Vernor Vinge: There are nebulous and fairly high likelihood answers: AR apps that let each person/team see those aspects of physical reality that are important for their current activity. Pointing technologies that coordinate with that AR vision. The combination is a revolution of interfaces, and the probable physical disappearance of more and more of the gadgets that twentieth century people associated with high tech.
There are also more specific, spectacular, and necessarily uncertain impacts (that depend on social acceptance and the development of network infrastructure for consensual sharing of local imagery).
o Economic disruption of the trend toward huge, expensive display devices.
o Bottom up social networking, arising from GPL’d tools. I see this as very disruptive, in good, bad and arguable ways, as illustrated by descriptive terms such as “consumer protection clubs”, “belief circles” and “lifestyle cults”. Some of these could be as public as our topdown social networks. Some might be quiet and widespread, perhaps growing out of pre-existing groups that already have a lot of intermember trust. (See:http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/vinge/C5/index.htm)
o More farfetched, but in the tradition of the last 50 years: the digitization of external visual design: building architecture could give less priority to physical appearance and more to cheap physical strength, network access support, and physical modifiability.