Tuesday, June 27, 2023

#178 / Killer Apps


Given my blog posting yesterday, you might think that the title of today's blog posting advertises a direct follow up, and that I am going to provide you with additional information about how various "Artificial Intelligence" software applications are planning to "kill us," quite literally. 

Today, I am reacting to an article in The Wall Street Journal that was titled (in the hard copy version), "The 'Killer Apps' That Will Make Apple's Headset a Winner." Online, the headline's claim is a bit more modest. "Will" is rendered as "Could," in the online title. 
Because The Wall Street Journal (unlike The Guardian) does deploy a formidable paywall to protect the intellectual property rights that inhere in its stories, you may or may not be able to read the article I am referencing, and that I have linked, above. Suffice it to say that columnist Christopher Mims, previously skeptical about the commercial prospects for the kind of "Virtual Reality" headsets developed by Microsoft, Facebook, and others, thinks that Apple may have a winner in the headsets it has developed. 


Mims calls what Apple is poised to deliver (through its headsets) "Augmented Reality." We will walk around in the "real" world but will not "see" it using our human eyes. Instead, we will use our eyes to see what is provided to us by a "headset" that we will strap on to our face, so that the "reality" that is presented to us is "augmented" by additional information delivered by an internet connection to the caches of "big data" that have been collected by the online platforms that place themselves between us and the "real world." 

In its simple form, as the graphic above shows, we will see the city streets as they are in "real life," but with more information about what is going on inside the buildings along the street. What we can know by using our biological eyes will be "augmented." Where can I find a public restroom, for instance? Well, buy a $3,500 headset and your problems related to that question will be eliminated.

In the future, calling on the more extensive data associated with facial recognition, we will probably be able to acquire information about other persons we pass on the street. That attractive person approaching us, for instance, will be revealed to be registered as a Republican (or a Democrat). We won't ever make the mistake of getting into a conversation with someone with whom we will almost certainly disagree!
As anyone who has read more than one or two of my blog postings knows, I claim that we live in "Two Worlds," simultaneously. First, we do live (ultimately) in a "Natural World," which is essentially comprised of Planet Earth in all of its complex splendor. We do, though (most immediately) also live in a "Human World," a world of our own creation, which includes all the physical things that humans beings have developed and deployed inside the World of Nature - plus, of course, all the institutions and other arrangements that define what we do, and that largely determine what we think, as well. 
Pursuing an "Augmented Reality," it seems to me, is an attempt to create another world within our "Human World" - another "reality" within that world we have already created. It seems something like an effort to transform "reality" into a world modeled on those "Matryoshka," or "Russian Nesting Dolls" with which we are all probably familiar.
"Reality" currently includes both the primary "Natural World," and the "Human World" within it, but the "Augmented Reality" that Apple will reveal to us with its new headsets is comprised of a new "layer," which includes all sorts of "information" about both the "Natural" and the "Human" worlds in which we live. 

Here is my question: On your next visit to Paris, or London, or New York City - or on your next visit to Yosemite, or Yellowstone - do you want to be wearing a headset?

Or... is the way we see the world now - the world we still call the "real" world, the world we encounter just using our biological eyes - good enough?

Image Credits:
(1) - https://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-vr-headset-announcement-what-to-expect-7e410e38
(2) - https://www.theverge.com/21437674/oculus-quest-2-review-features-photos 
(3) - https://www.sftravel.com/beyond-sf/yosemite

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