Scholarship application 2010

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Text and images submitted for the purposes of the Auckland University of Technology Sony Scholarship 2010 (Bachelor of Creative Technology).

Brief

It is 2029. You’re walking down the street. What technology are you using, wearing or seeing?

This scenario is intended to provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate your creative vision of the role technology will play in the future. Respond in imaginative and creative ways maybe you will draw a new portable media device, write a beta version of some software, write about the role of technology in the future or submit a video simulation of your idea.

Applications for the scholarship will be evaluated on the basis of:

  • Demonstrated engagement with creative technologies (as shown by your application).
  • The creative vision of the future shown in response to the scenario.
  • The understanding of technical issues demonstrated in both your application and in response to the scenario.

Successful recipients will demonstrate a high level of trans disciplinary knowledge, theoretical awareness of new and emerging technologies and demonstrated ability to work in collaborative teams.


Submitted work

  1. Bright future - A short story
  2. Dark future - A short story
  3. Some thoughts on devices and technology of 2029
  4. Citations
  5. Future phone exploded view A3
  6. Future phone illustrations A3

Bright future

My name is Luna. I am 20 years old.

Last night I dreamt I was flying. In the distance a vast monochrome landscape drifts towards me. A million tiny peaks tickle my senses in a smooth gravity of motion.

I wake late. People say I'm always late but I have a lot to do. My life is so busy I don't know how I fit everything in. Just don't forget the phone...

I'm up. Where's breakfast? Plate, food, eat, shoes. My flatmates are probably still trying to find their way home from that night club. I check my network. Surprise, they did make it home after all. Except Rene and he's having breakfast at that place in Grafton.

Out the door and down the road. Only one sleep until my party - like my Dad used to say. I poke Rene - the cafe is on the way so we can meet up. He sends me a smile, which is nice. I can tell by his Bio he's had too many beers. I refuse to switch that feature on. I really don't want to know how many calories i've consumed today. It's like some horrible nightmare telling everyone your vital signs.

I'm surrounded on all sides by these cheap apartments that were so popular in the 1990s. I don't usually like to walk this way but Geo tells me it's the fastest way and i'm in a hurry. We call this area Box City because everything looks the same. Now is it left or right here? I hold up the phone and do a quick scan around.

It's through the small path by the Nikau palm. Whoever thought a dying palm would add value to their building development? Ok almost there.

"Hi sweetheart"

It's nice to be called sweetheart, but I get the feeling it's partly the beer talking. If I wanted I could check his heart-rate, he has all that stuff set to public - crazy.

We chit-chat about the events of the previous night. He shows me some photos. 90% of them are taken with his arm around some cute Chinese girl. I can see by her network that her name is Rainbow. She seems familiar.

Rene gets a call and has to go. We kiss and part company. I look at my affirmation for today: "Today you will experience something that you will not understand for a few days". Typically cryptic.

I walk past the park. The big sculpture with the eye is casting an interesting shadow. I take a quick picture and tag it on the sculpture. I try to tag one nice picture each day - it's my way of adding some beauty.

My flatmates must have woken up because Alex hearts the picture. We both sometimes tag the eye at different times of the day and night, kind of like a little project we do.

It's an important day. I have to meet at the restaurant at 11:30 and it's 11:25 now and i'm still on the other side of Grafton bridge. I'm ready to call and make an excuse when I see that Marco, the restaraunt guy is running late too. He's stuck in a train in the Britomart with some electrical failure. For a laugh I hold up my phone and look at the arrow pointing to his current location. He's ages away and doesn't look like he's going anywhere fast.

I'm relieved and I slow down and turn off the phone. This morning the sun is painting blinding ripples on the Hauraki Gulf and I feel the heat of the day. I slide my sunglasses down over my eyes and select no notifications, except for Marco.

I guess i'll just take my time. You have to slow down once in a while.


Dark future

My name is Luna. I am 20 years old.

I usually never remember my dreams. The last one I remember was about a year ago. It was a difficult time. I didn't have many networks and I felt very alone. I dreamt about a small flower emerging from a seed. I could watch it grow in front of my eyes. As it grew a million other flowers sprang up all around me. It felt so good to be part of them.

I'm not sure if i'm happy or sad. My phone tells me I have an eU of 67. I think that's good for someone my age.

Something strange happened to me today like deja vu, I think. I was walking down the street. I was watching my phone and checking my network. I was monitoring my Bio and I was feeling anxious. I often use my Bio readouts to help me relax. I just concentrate on the flowing green lines and breathe slowly. I'm beginning to relax and the lines are dipping and beginning to even out.

I look up and I see someone in the distance walking the path toward me. They are walking fast and I hear their shoes making the loud klop klop klop as they walk. I'm not sure what to do so I just switch to AR mode and choose the Threat setting and just keep walking and keep looking at the readout, hoping it will be ok.

My head is full of like, static, noise. Every now and then I notice something like a bird singing, or a patch of sun falling on the path in front of me, but I try to keep concentrated on the readout.

The dancing lines full my vision as each one is pricking me in the heart or turning into wool in my stomach. I want to set the Psych mode, even though my Facilitator tells me not to use that one.

It's just a matter of time, if I keep calm everything will be ok. The orange colour shifts slowly toward green and the lines slowly calm into a steady pattern.

A small flurry of wind brushes my face and I'm conscious of someone passing by. The sounds are fading now and I hear them go. Klop klop klop.

I switch back to my Bio and breathe, slowly, in, and out. I sit on the park bench under the tree. My Bio readouts are all over the place. I just want to be ok again. I switch to Psych mode and set to Aqua Marine. I think for a second. Is it ok to do this twice in one day?

I'm seeing my Facilitator tomorrow and I know she will be able to help me.

Some thoughts on devices and technology of 2029

Introduction

Futurists envisage a "technological singularity" where the intelligence of a machine will match that of a human. It is my view that in the future a community of machines will be responsible for intelligence, where each machine uses feedback from its human interactions to improve it's behaviour. This should not be confused with consciousness.

Social interaction

The culture of just-in-time social organisation is embraced by young people. Using geo-tagging the physical environment may be annotated with information that is shared with others. Mobile devices use augmented reality to reveal this shared data, which provides layers of social, educational and governmental interaction/intrusion.

Young people tend to collect organically in physical spaces based on their current mood and inclination for social activity. It is no longer necessary to be present in a particular physical space, to interact or participate with what is happening there.

Geo-tagged social data visualised with the mobile device lets them view the potential social options associated with their group of friends, and the community in general. The current idea of social circle will become generalised, enabling people to be located within their sphere of friends in a real-time, location-based way.

A grass-roots social activism inspired by the open-source movement, provides free data silos in public spaces, using the same augmented reality technology. Public art projects such as traditional sculpture provide rich social media experiences when viewed through the lens of the mobile device.

Construction

The handheld electronic device in its shape and size will remain largely unchanged. The size of a human hand, the dexterity of fingers and the sharpness of eyesight will not change significantly in 20 years.

The device weights around 200 grams but could potentially be light enough to be incorporated into a fabric garment.

The device will make extensive use of nanotechnology to create very thin composite films that are analogous to the multi-layer circuits of computers of today. They will be durable, flexible and will consume very small amounts of energy.

CPU processing films with large numbers of parallel processors running at low frequencies make efficient use of energy and reduce harmful electromagnetic radiation. The combination of hardware and software is essential to achieve this.

The display screen is a piezo electric OLED laminated composite surface. The layer converts physical pressure across a range of frequencies into electrical energy. This has several uses. To power the device - ambient energy is enough to meet the minimal power requirements. To provide a touch sensitive surface capable of very high resolution - enough to be able to digitise a finger print. To record sound and act as a microphone. To generate pressure waves and act as a speaker (or speakers).

The device is double sided allowing the entire 'skin' to be customised in colour and texture - the texture being provided by the excitation of the piezo electric surface.

The CCD film layer enables the device to operate in 'invisible' mode where the back display is showing an image of the input of the front CCD. This function is particularly useful for augmented reality applications and games.

Software

It seems that software will be the driving force behind what becomes known intelligence, as powerful electronics remove traditional limitations of processing power. Central to the goal of an intelligent program, is the ability for software to improve itself without requiring a programmer.

At present this ability exists on a basic level. By 2029, self-optimising distributed systems will use grid computing techniques and wireless networks to enable your device to improve its intelligence in co-operation with other devices on the network.

Parallel computing requires in paradigm shift for software designers, in order to take advantage of large numbers of cheap parallel CPUs. It will take some time for the software to catch up with the hardware.

The device will recognise your voice and respond. A distributed system uses feedback to continuously improve the accuracy of recognition. Using this technique it can deal with multiple languages, dialects and even regional and cultural differences in speech. It could, for example, learn how to understand teenage colloquialisms, provided there were enough teenagers using the devices.

The emergence of a machine that has a social understanding of the culture of our society will develop, based on these technologies.

Communications

The web will not exist in the current form, but will be available as a data source. Each device will learn the preferences of its owner and adapt to show the most relevant information for that person. The idea of a web site, will move towards the semantic web, where a site is a data source or a semantic map of associated information.

Ultra wide band wireless communications will allow high bandwidth internet access with no harmful RF radiation using low frequency, wide spectrum data encapsulation. Network traffic travels over a peer-to-peer wireless mesh, using other nearby devices to efficiently send data, only flowing onto the phone company's network when absolutely necessary.

Filtering and policing of the internet will have increased dramatically. Many people prefer to use their devices to share information independently of the internet. This is practical as the average storage capacity of the device is 128 terabytes. Ultra wide band communications mean two devices can exchange information at very high speeds when they are in near proximity.

Biofeedback

Previously limited to expensive running shoes, biofeedback will become a pervasive technology with wide ranging effects. Mobile devices will be able to measure and share data relating to the heart, blood, lungs, skin, eyes, hair and digestive system. Intelligent systems will aggregate data over time to form classifiers to determine metrics describing hunger, anxiety, self-image, libido, fitness targets, insurance liability, identity and criminal culpability.


Citations

Images

References

Bibliography

Discussions

I would like to acknowledge these people who have contributed their opinions and knowledge.

  • Aran Dunkley - Semantic web, future interactive interfaces, social spaces, voice control.
  • Luke Duncalfe - The affect of the free software movement on future technology
  • Carla Sweetlove - Impact of technology on society
  • James Harper - Physical form factor of the device and rates of change in computer technology
  • Sean Davidson - Future network architecture
  • Kira Duda - Social uses of technology
  • Luna Carter - My daughter - Inspiration
  • Vivienne Carter - My sister - Inspiration

 

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