A Compelling Experience

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Felasco, May 31, 2014.

  1. Felasco Guest

    Oct 19, 2012
    Ok, let's try this. I propose this thread focuses on a social issue related to computing, and thus is appropriately placed in this section. If this is incorrect, I hope a mod might inform me before I invest too much time here.

    It's become a well worn cliche that computing in general, especially enhanced by the net and convenient portable devices, can be a quite compelling experience. If we should go people watching at the mall, half the people walking buy are likely to have their face pressed against the screen of some device.

    My interest in this topic is more than academic, for while I'm not interested in Facebook, Twitter, cell phones and such, I'm more than a bit of a forum addict, as some readers may have observed.

    Where are we going with these compelling experiences? What's going to happen as the technology becomes more and more powerful, and can deliver an ever more engaging experience?

    As example, if this user is already somewhat addicted to a primitive text based medium such as today's forums, what will my situation be if Apple should release it's version of the StarTrek Holodeck?


    If you prefer a wider focus beyond the personal, what will our relationship with this planet we depend on become as we dive deeper and deeper in to the digital realm? Will we not notice global warming until the cell towers finally collapse in to the rising seas?

    Let's try to create a thoughtful thread together, because um, that's what I'm addicted to.
  2. Jessica Lares macrumors G3

    Jessica Lares

    Oct 31, 2009
    Near Dallas, Texas, USA
    You ever heard of the acronym KISS? Keep it simple stupid, we're on a message board. ;) Let's keep it to the first part of your post.

    I don't think people are going to change their uses of a smartphone with advancing technology at this point. We currently think too hard about that, yet we don't look at the facts - That communication still rules, followed by social networking, games, and music.

    There are some of us that do use our devices for other things besides that (Me, I just bought Editorial for iPhone for example), but we are far from the days where computers were used for real work, and wasn't just a door for the internet.

    The people who have their phones in their faces all the time, were doing the same thing when everybody was texting. Trust me, I was in high school, and that's what I saw.
  3. Felasco thread starter Guest

    Oct 19, 2012
    Fair enough, good plan, agreed.

    Yes, for the next few years advances are likely to be more of the same, with little change in the basic relationship. We might also look farther down the road.

    Imagine that your cell phone could launch fully realistic imagery in to the 3D space around you, including intelligent software based human-like entities which can be programmed to your taste.

    When we can create realistic human-like entities which conform to our every wish, what does our relationship with our real life human contacts become?

    This is especially true for young people, who are still in the intensely social peer group phase of their lives.

    I still use computers for real work. Well, I mean, in theory at least. :) As example, I could be doing real work on my blog right now, but instead I am here, writing for free, because I find the social experience compelling, even though, I might um, kinda suck at it.

    What are the chances I'll get ANY work done when Apple releases iHolodeck? Well ok, I'll be dead by then, but you know, if that were not the case.
  4. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    I think we're in a very awkward stage of technology, where the it intrudes significantly on our physical as well as mental focus and attention.

    We've pretty well established technology's function: to gather and disseminate information and entertainment and make it available to us. The next step is to get it to integrate more seamlessly into our daily life.
  5. localoid macrumors 68020


    Feb 20, 2007
    America's Third World
    Something like this, perhaps?

  6. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    That's a pre-singularity fiction, akin to early manned-flight speculations that show people wearing wings.

    The post-singularity fiction doesn't have a physical brain, because minds will be transcribed into software.
  7. localoid macrumors 68020


    Feb 20, 2007
    America's Third World
    Said diagram is conceptual, not literal. ;)

    With the appropriate psychedelic, similar results can be achieved today. No (waiting for the) singularity needed.
  8. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    I understood it as conceptual. I was making a more subtle point: concern over, or planning for, an incomprehensible and utterly unpredictable technology is almost certainly misplaced. Since this thread is about such concerns or planning, it seemed a relevant point.

    We can't predict what will happen with enough accuracy to make informed plans. We've already seen this happen over and over. Just look at the history of electronic games. I was doing development in that industry (PC and console games) in the 80's-90's. In the 90's, affordable VR gear was predicted to be just around the corner. Yet here we are 20 years later, with still about the same level of practicality and affordability.

    Instead, the big thing that changed was everybody had affordable access to screens they could put in their pocket (cell phones). So is it any wonder that instead of people spending time wearing VR headsets, we see people spending time with a tiny handheld screen in front of their face. If speech-recognition had become more accurate and affordable first, then we'd likely have speech-controlled phones, with high-quality speech-synthesis, and people would be walking around muttering to in-ear headsets that are no larger than a current-day hearing-aid. Yeah, some people do that now, with on-ear Bluetooth headsets. And if they're loud talkers, and the headset on the ear that's on the side facing away from you, you might think they're talking to you directly, instead of to a remote listener.

    You can also look at the history of gaming for another aspect: engagement. Again, from the earliest days of online gaming (dedicated BBSes), some people became obsessively engaged. Heck, even board games like D&D had that effect. I see no reason to expect anything different regardless of the technology. Some people will become obsessively engaged in the fictional world, while others won't, and there will be a spectrum between the extremes. I also expect some people in the real-world to decry those who spend a lot of time in the fictional worlds, and for people spending time there to say that the decriers don't really understand. I expect these things not because the history of the technology informs my expectations, but because the history of humanity does. In short, this is how humans are.

    However, as to when it will happen I can only make wild guesses. Not least because predictions about when some gloriously different tech will become commonplace are frequently wrong. "Where's my flying car?" is a perfect example of this.

    As a social issue, I'm probably not going to spend a lot of time thinking about it: humans will be as humans are. What do we value now and in our past? How do we escape now and in our past?

    As technology, it's somewhat more interesting, but again, predictions of things like human-like AI have perennially been 10-years-away for decades.

    I don't consider technology demos to necessarily be practical examples of technology, either. In a sense, it has to be deployed in order to really know whether it's practical. One example there is tablets: Microsoft failed badly with them years ago, and predictions for the first iPad drew on that failure (as well as others). Our track record with such predictions isn't very good, even when really smart people make the predictions.
  9. localoid macrumors 68020


    Feb 20, 2007
    America's Third World
    Brainwave readers might offer a way of avoiding the faux pas of (seemingly) talking to yourself in public. ;) Brainwave recognition will probably be a real @#$%, however...

  10. Felasco thread starter Guest

    Oct 19, 2012
    Yes, this is exactly how I feel about it too.

    Consider cavemen sitting around the fire many thousands of years ago, and somebody is telling a story.

    In the real world the young cave men may be terrified of the bison they must hunt, and the women may be toothless and covered with sores. But in the stories, in the mental world the story teller is creating, the men are always brave, and the woman always beautiful and wise etc.

    After some years of story telling, it occurred to some to stand up and act out the parts the story teller was creating. And the theater was born. And then we learned how to mass produce the theater productions.

    On and on this pattern continued. The means change from time to time, but the end always remains the same, the creation of an alternate reality where we are as gods, masters of our experience, unbound from the burden of having to compromise with the real world.

    Although I've never been much of a StarTrek fan, I've always thought the StarTrek Holodeck was a great fictional representation of where we are headed.

    You and I are doing this right now. We may not have people in our lives who want to discuss Apple to the extent we do, so we enter this digital reality to customize our social experience.

    It's interesting to note that our faces, real names, locations, history, race, and gender have all been stripped away in this environment, much of what makes us human is already gone, and we don't really care at all, because we're getting what we want.

    The next step seems pretty predictable. Customizable software entities will fill forums, and users will be able to gain further control over their "social" experience.

    I will probably go in to the control panel and tweak the settings so that every other software poster says something like...

    It sounds crazy to us now, but to some future generation of young people it will seem perfectly natural, just as young people today take to the net like ducks to water, while their elders may still be struggling to master email.

    When we have realistic software based humanoids whom we can control, and don't have to compromise with, what's going to happen to our relationships with each other?
  11. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    Don't forget the alternate realities where we are pawns and playthings of gods, slaves to their experience, bound to whatever burden they choose.

    In short, theater and narrative also contain tragedies. Ancient Greek theater in particular, but there's no shortage of it in ancient Egyptian stories, either.

    And since these plays and stories were about the actual gods, the adjective "alternate" as applied to reality is misplaced; to them at that time, it wasn't alternate, it was actual.

    Seems pretty boring to me. I don't enter fiction for mindless adulation, but to be challenged or at least engaged.

  12. localoid macrumors 68020


    Feb 20, 2007
    America's Third World
    The Star Trek holodeck manipulates matter to form objects and simulated "people", e.g., (per the Star Trek wiki) " Matter and energy are interchangeable as such objects created on the holodeck can be either matter or energy."

    Not exactly the stuff of the near future... We'll probably have to settle for our nightly dreams and the occasional hallucination for many, many decades to come.
  13. Felasco thread starter Guest

    Oct 19, 2012
    Yes, I am not challenging you in the way you want, and you are not flattering me in the way I want.

    Humans can be like that so often, uncooperative, unwilling to give us what we want. We have to compromise with them, negotiate, exercise patience, diplomacy. Oh my, how tiresome, how unsatisfactory.

    The real people in our life won't discuss Apple all day long, and so we have come here to this forum virtual reality. We're willing to settle for half digital people we can't see, who have no face, no name, no age or gender, no hair or garments, no smell or tone of voice, because being here allows us to have the experience we desire.

    Even though this technology is very primitive compared to the Holodeck, we're already deep in to where we are going. We've already willingly jettisoned a good bit of each other in order to customize our experience, and it seems no big deal.

    Who cares if you're not real, so long as you're giving me what I want?
  14. Felasco thread starter Guest

    Oct 19, 2012
    Each of us comes to MacRumors looking for some kind of experience. What if the search feature allowed us to not only select particular topics, but also very particular kinds of posts and posters?

    Do you like edgy debates? Or do you hate edgy debates? Do you prefer a formal academic discussion, or a more casual almost anything goes? Do you hate conversations that wander off topic, or do you like a thread that could go in any direction? Do you like fun, flirty, chatty exchanges filled with cute little quips, or do you find that juvenile?

    We live in an era characterized by ever increasing personalization. This is true on shopping sites like Amazon, and even in medicine.

    A next step for forums may be the introduction of software based members who can be programmed by visitors to their own taste. This isn't as far off as it may seen. In fact, you can chat with God online right now.


    While iGod is hardly perfect, his comments are actually more interesting than a good many real life forum posters I've read over the years. I'm guessing I could start a Talk To God religion thread here on the forum, using iGod output for my posts, and many readers might not realize they are talking to software.

    You and I are the weak link on forums, the largest obstacle to us having an experience customized to our personal specifications, simply because human beings are very hard to control, it's like herding cats.

    If we are to have an ever more compelling forum experience, we will eventually be replaced.

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