Our correspondent, Nicole Rodill, was at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Her top line comment: the future is here now; and for the most part it’s great, it’s just that most people have no idea how different.
As part of the AGEIST mission to keep us all up to date on what is happening in our hyper-speed world, we had a spin around CES to see what was coming our way and how to get out front of it.
1. The public has no idea that so much we have come to think of as science fiction is close to actual product release. This is not some far off future from “a land far far away” James Cameron style. This is real, tactile and now. It is far more real than even well-informed people may realize. This technology is so far advanced that it is difficult to conceive of its ramifications. Virtual reality, AI and flying cars are here right now. Uber will be releasing flying taxis in 2020.
As has been the case for a few years now, technology is moving faster than public policy, regulation, or even public discussion about its merits. It just arrives and we need to deal with it. We can only imagine who will be handling the regulation of flying taxis: The FAA? The DOT? Neighborhood councils? But, as anyone who lives in a traffic-choked city will tell you, bring it on! Yes to flying taxis, Elon Musk’s tunnel project, car sharing, driverless cars — anything to help us.
AI Robots and AI Tracking
2. At CES there were hi-def cameras doing facial recognition and age identification following you and recording your movements. This is not old school CCTV; this is high resolution imagery combined with advanced machine learning. It’s the sort of tech that is now common in public areas in Asia, but not so much in the West.
There were also a vast array of devices for monitoring, tracking and “improving the user experience.” This could be seen as a bit creepy. On the other hand, having an AI know you in a medical way may help you in ways that human doctors never could.
There were robots marketed as caregivers for both children and aging adults. In order for them to work properly, they observe, collect data and make a user profile. We could see this as being tremendously helpful and fear alleviating in a number of uses, but the details of how the AI is used is the key. For instance, this one seems to do a very nice job when used in the right circumstance.
Perhaps the most interesting vendor at the show was not even at the show: Apple with its massive billboard outside reading “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.” Hello Facebook.
Amazing Flexible Displays
3. The paper-thin flexible displays that LG showed were gorgeously seductive, awe inspiring in their ability to render color, contrast and shadow, seemingly more real than reality. This may affect how people understand and regard recorded vs actual reality as visual media at this level can cause a shift in our understanding of what color, light and dark actually mean. The artistic uses of the medium are mind boggling. Imagine what someone like Marilyn Minter could do with this.
Overall, it was a thought provoking show. Technology isn’t really something that can be confined; it spreads, it expands, and for the most part is tremendously helpful to us. AI combined with genetic testing and advanced body scanning will probably prove to be much more accurate than human doctors at finding and treating disease. But, maybe we need to discuss some of these technologies before they are crashed into our society without thought of the consequences.