Posts tagged: mindful cyborgs
This week Chris Dancy, Alex Williams and I talk with Jen Fong-Adwent, CEO of the weird new chat app Meatspace. Here’s an exceprt where she explains the origins of the service:
It was actually just an experiment between a colleague and I because she was doing a GIF library with WebRTC for the camera on your browser, and I have been doing chat experiments for a few years now. A lot of mixed media embedded interactions. Basically, experiments with social interaction and very limited forums with very limited effort by the user.
This was the first time around May when I just said hey, you think if you pressed enter and it recorded a few frames of your face as you were reacting as you were typing, we can do that and then my colleague so it was like, yeah, I fixed this. So, we did it and like 2 days we scrapped something together and we played with it internally and then it became public when I spoke in October at Portland and that was when it blew up and it went [unclear 0:02:29] Reddit, everywhere, and there was a lot of people that showed up like the first couple of days and there was a joke that it shut down Silicon Valley because everyone was just so mesmerized by all the GIFs of all these faces and some people were very famous and some people were just normal people. Some people weren’t even tech. It was pretty crazy.
Download and Full Transcript: Mindful Cyborgs: Episode 25 – Meatspace and the Organic Ephemeral Marketplace
This week on Mindful Cyborgs, Alex Williams, Chris Dancy and I talked about Hollywood’s obsession with “freakish AI killing off humanity or making love to it”:
We’re just becoming more and more intimate with our machines all the time and I think that’s where that fear of AI’s and that – that’s where those plots are coming from.
On the other hand, a lot of this stuff has been – a lot of these ideas have been around for a long time. I’ve just been reading some of Isaac Asimov’s old stories. I just read his first robot story, Robbie, and it’s all about a parent being afraid that her daughter is spending too much time with a robot companion, which you could totally transfer that to modern days; worried that my kid is spending too much time with her cell phone.
CD: Or on her Xbox, yeah. Insert Gadget X.
KF: Yeah. He also wrote a story – so Robbie was his first robot story. I think it was 1939. He also wrote a story in, I think, 1956 called The Last Question that was essentially a story about the singularity; about the hive mind, artificial intelligence thing that just lives in the – an alternative dimension of the galaxy after humans have become extinct, after humans have become immortal and then left their bodies and essentially just become some sort of thing. This is long before the word ‘singularity’ was on anyone’s lips. These fears and ideas and dreams have been with us for a long time.
Download and Full Transcript: Mindful Cyborgs: Automation for the Entitled and the Impending Data Revolution
In the latest episode of Mindful Cyborgs, Chris Dancy, Alex Williams and I talked about distributed autonomous corporations (DACs), Her and more. Here I am trying to explain the idea of DACs:
Working on a couple of stories that should be up by the time this podcast goes up on an idea that’s spreading through the Bitcoin community called distributed autonomous corporations and the idea is that Bitcoin is actually already one of these things. It’s like a bank that isn’t really owned by anyone and exists on its own. So, as long as at least a few people running the Bitcoin software somewhere in the world is going to keep going. So, pretty much as long as people are using it will exist without anybody really going and shutting it down.
The only people with an ownership stake are the people who own Bitcoin who are the people which is awarded to miners. So, they’re sort of like shareholders in a corporation. So, it kind of rethinks Bitcoin as less as like a currency and more as a corporation that awards stock and there’s a few other of these things.
Alex and I talked about Twister I think last time which is a Twitter clone that uses Bitcoin protocol. Doesn’t actually use Bitcoins at all, the actual Bitcoin network for authentication and uses BitTorrent for distribution. So, it’s a similar thing only it’s a social network that just exists out there running in the world. The miners are just awarded with promoted messages on the network. The only way you get paid is through advertisements, which is a very attention economy sort of idea I guess.
Download and Full Transcript: Mindful Cyborgs: Distributed Autonomous Corporations Find Love in All the Wrong Places
In the latest Mindful Cyborgs, Alex William and use the Consumer Electronics Show as a springboard to talk about the state of the tech industry. Here’s a bit where we talk about the way that tech still flows from the military to industry to the consumer — and not vice versa:
KF: That hits on something else because that Vuzix company said it already had the industrial applications for it and I think that article also said that they were doing military heads up displays. That ties into the older trend of technology starting out being in the military or the government and then trickling down to business and then out to consumers.
KF: And we’ve been covering the consumerization of IT for the last few years and there’s this perception that that flow has changed, that things start in the consumer category and then flow up to business, to enterprises. But if we look at some of the stuff like augmented reality we can see that’s not necessarily the case. The military has been using augmented reality for years and years and years now. And they’re using virtual reality for simulation trainings and stuff. That stuff hasn’t really properly trickled down into consumer video games or anything like that yet either. So in a lot of ways business and military are actually still ahead of the curve in terms of technology.
AW: Yeah. And I think you were writing about the influence of the VC’s [00:06:01] In-Q-Tel. Did you write about In-Q-Tel recently in the context of one of your stories? I thought I saw one of your stories.
KF: Yeah I mentioned that in my ‘Mega-Networks’ story. This fund that was setup, I think originally by the CIA and now other intelligence agencies are a part of it, to fund private companies that are building technology that intelligence agencies think could be eventually useful to them. So they’ve put a bunch of money into NoSQL and big data stuff.
KF: MongoDB and Cloudant are the two I remember writing about. And that’s pretty interesting that those companies are expecting to sell technology to businesses that in a lot of cases are probably actually trying to reach consumers themselves. But a lot of the money is coming from government agencies that expect it to be useful to them as well.
Download and Full Transcript: Mindful Cyborgs: On the Entropy of the iToaster, CES, and Mega-Networks
In this episode Chris Dancy and talk with authors Bill Whitcomb and Taylor Ellwood about their new book The Book of Good Practices:
KF: I kind of see this book as a users’ guide to the human brain. The brain, the missing manual; that sort of thing. What is the book, in your own words? Maybe we’ll start with Taylor then Bill can chime in.
TE: First of all, I want to acknowledge that Bill is kind of the originator of the book. He had already been working on it for a while and I want to give a little history here, just because I think it speaks to what the book’s about. He came to me about four or five years ago and said, “I’m working on this book. I’m kind of hitting a place where I’m feeling really blocked. Would you be willing to help me co-write it because you’ve done some similar stuff with some of your other writing?” I thought it over and I said, “Yeah, sure.”
It’s been a long road to get this book put together. I mean, it’s turned into three e-books and a workbook which speaks to it. So what do we see it as? I think I see it as a catalog of certainly stuff related to the brain but really behaviors and actions that can come out of being more aware of the brain and how it programs a lot of our behavior. That’s my take on it. Bill, what would you say to that?
BW: Well, I think we’ve tried to produce a taxonomy, a way of categorizing behavioral practices, things that can be described in purely behavioral terms; that actually have a measurable neurological effect on people, physiological effect on people. Things that you can learn to do that could be said to truly impact your skills as far as fundamental human activities; things like concentration, memory, metabolism; things that impact pretty much anything you would want to do in your life.
We’ve tried to abstract that as much as possible from any specific tradition because in many ways, the traditions these things come out of have a tendency to separate out people as much as they bring them in. Someone will say, “Well, psychology is too cold or inhuman for me” or “I don’t do Eastern mysticism” or “That’s too fuzzy and spiritual”, any reason to not try the thing themselves, whereas in behavioral terms, these are things that you can learn to do that will change your level of skill as a human being.
Download and Full Transcript: Mindful Cyborgs: Episode 21 – Orienting Pop Culture Magic: Mindfulness GPS and the Maps of Indeterminate Destiny
For our New Years special episode, our new co-host Alex Williams joined Chris Dancy and me for a reflection on our most popular episodes of 2013. Here we are talking about episode 12, our interview with feminist activist Shanley:
CD: Klint, did you … we had Shanley on. She’s one of the shows we’re going to talk about in a bit but you saw some of the things that happened at conferences. Defrag opened up their conference with a whole section on there will be no talk of this and there will be no [00:08:05]. Conferences with disclaimers, there’s a O’Reilly conference coming up called Solid and when you apply one of the things they ask you is are you gay, black or are you one of these things that we don’t normally have on stage because we’re going to instantly give you more credit in consideration.
When I filled out the Solid to speak at Solid, I thought to myself wow, this is kind of crazy. What did they call it back in the 60s and 70s when they moved people through government ranks because they were minorities? Affirmative action. There’s digital or affirmative action happening. It’s just really strange.
AW: Digital affirmative action, yeah.
KF: Yeah. It feel like it’s really late for it to be happening. When you said affirmative action happen everywhere else decades ago, there’s also an argument to be made that things are actually -
KF: – worse outside of the tech industry but I’m glad that all these things are getting more attention. I don’t know how it’s all going to play out but there’s definitely a strong reaction against all of it as well. The more women that speak out the more just misogynistic douchebag guys also like react to it and actually kind of double down on being pricks and I don’t know where it’s all going to end up. I don’t know if there’s a better way of addressing the issues.
I think that a lot of times people get carried away with attacking individuals over tweets rather than thinking more about the big picture but at the same time usually people need to be called out on for what they say. So, I don’t know
Download and Full Transcript: Mindful Cyborgs: The Beginning — A Look Back at 2013
A quick catch-up episode in which Chris Dancy talks about his trip to Japan and the effects of globalization, and I talk a bit about the cognitive experience of writing. Here’s a taste:
One of them being this writer Arnon Grünberg who I think has actually might have been on Wired. I’m not sure. No. Where was it? Actually, it was New York Times. He is writing a book while he is connected to a bunch of sensors hundreds of sensors on his head, on his body and the book will be read by people wearing similar sensor. So, they have a bunch of volunteers to see if they can sync the feelings of what he wrote and what people experienced and I thought quite profound that we have almost a shared biological experience with the writing.
It was on November 29th. So, just couple of weeks ago in New York Times. Thoughts?
KF: That’s really interesting. I’d be curious to see what they find. I find the writing and reading are radically different experiences for me. So, I wouldn’t really expect the writer and the reader to really have synchronized experiences but I’m definitely curious to see how that plays out.
CD: I’ve never written fiction. So, if you’re like typing out a scene, I’m sure a lot of our listeners maybe aren’t writers, maybe some of them aren’t writers, professional, but when you’re doing science fiction and you’re in a really dramatic scene, you don’t get excited or you’re just seeing it and typing how it feels almost like you’re a court recorder or how does that work for you?
KF: Well, for me most of it … every writer’s different. I guess for me most of it is I already know what I’m going to write before I start typing it. So, by the time I’m trying to describe it, I think I’m a little bit more detached from the emotion of it and then the other thing to keep in mind is that. I don’t know what the saying is “75% of writing is rewriting” or whatever. Most of the time that you spend you spend on something is going to be revising it over and over again. So, I don’t know by the time you’re done, a lot of the visceral or emotional impact that you would expect to get from reading something is kind of worn off and you’re just sort of sick of reading the same sentence over and over again trying to figure out how to improve it.
CD: That’s really interesting.
KF: There are writers who don’t really know … I know that there are definitely a lot of writers who don’t really know what’s going to happen in a scene when they sit down and write it. I imagine that that would be kind of a different … they would be working in a very different state from me but I would still expect most of their time to be spent on rewriting and I would also expect … I would still expect like that feeling of sort of channeling creativity to be different from just reading it but again we’ll have to see how it plays out.
Download and Full Transcript Mindful Cyborgs: Episode 19 – Review, Musings, and Catch Up
Here’s the wrap-up from Defrag, with our new co-host Alex Williams. Lorenda Brandon is our guest. Here’s an excerpt where we talk about whether people can or want to customize their own technology processes:
KF: There’s like a whole school of tech that thinks the opposite is the best way to go. There are opinionated infrastructure is better …
CD: I love the name.
KF: Because people don’t want to come up with their own process. They don’t want to decide how to do something. They just want to be able to go to something and do a thing and not have to …
LB: I think there’s room for both. To be honest, we in this industry can get a little insular. We sort of have a level of acceptance about technology and about infrastructure that 90% of the population doesn’t have. They don’t have the understanding of how do I design my own process.
CD: I want to interject. I have a neighbor who’s diabetic. She’s 65, African American. Very, very heavy I mean, probably 400, 500 pounds and she needed help a month or so ago and I went over and her internet, her router or something had got jacked up and I just reset it and I was talking to her for a minute and she was telling she didn’t get to Spotify for like 2 hours and her Netflix thing was down and she was describing all these things that she needed the router for and it dawned on me that my 500 pound diabetic neighbor who’s 65 manages more cloud services effectively than most of the organizations I meet.
AW: She’s networked.
CD: Someone said to chief integration officer – We don’t have WAN. They’re everywhere and I think that’s a skill, right? I just said to you earlier, Klint, you’re in IT system, right?
KF: IT department, yeah.
CD: You’re an IT department of Klint. So, the whole IT department there and how do you deal with that but we should put my neighbor in charge of Healthcare.gov.
LB: We should.
AW: She would probably improve it.
Download and Full Transcript: Mindful Cyborgs: Episode 17 – Spirit Animals and Defrag Wrap-up Part 1 and Part 2
I missed this Mindful Cyborgs recording session, but in this episode Chris Dancy talks to API evangelist Kin Lane about APIs and why it’s important to have access to your data:
KL: I mean, really just the pace at which everything is. In 2012 … so, I started API Evangelist in 2010. First year and a half I was evangelizing. I was really telling stories over and over and over trying to make the mainstream aware of what was happening. Now, I don’t have to do that. The pace is there. I mean, you see articles in the New York Times, in the Washington where they say API in the title. You used to never see that acronym. It’d be in the body of the post but …
CD: Well, it doesn’t seem so scary.
KL: It isn’t.
CD: It doesn’t seem to scare especially when people use hundreds APIs every day and they are just labeled with do this with this API, you become more comfortable with it but they seem to be exponentially scary. Are you familiar with Zapier? Yeah, Wade Foster I think is this really great guy, great customer service too but one of the things I thought they did that was really unique is because of the way they work with different APIs and then they’ve got this Zapier or bundle servicing where they can take up service without an API and kind of like give you some access to it.
For Google Glass which some people love, some people hate. It is what it is, because they had a wrapper. They just built a wrap around it and suddenly you have all this access to all these services that would never show up on Glass that overnight you have 100 new glass applications. That can be scary for companies.
KL: Yeah. That’s empowerment right there. That for me APIs are not just for developers because someone can access their own resources.
CD: It’s your data, yeah.
KL: And the thing is we operate in all of these clouds. We’ve migrated to the cloud environment and we exist in 14, 15 different places and these people are monetizing our data and so I’ve been doing a lot of talk at the university level lately. I’m working on a project right now called reclaim your domain which is basically teaching people basic web literacy stuff and the fact that those are your Instagram photos, those are your Flickr photos, that’s your Twitter data. You can get it out. How do you reclaim your domain and start taking control and APIs are how we do that.
Download and Full Transcript: Mindful Cyborgs: Data Hacking with Fanatics and the API Coming Out Party
I sat down with a kid who wasn’t really doing well in school. He wasn’t talking to his dad and I asked his dad I was like “Well, how do you hang out with your kid?” and he says “Well, I don’t really know.” So, I saw the kid on a laptop and I said, “Hey, what are you doing?” and he said, “Well, I’m playing a game” and I said “What game?” and he said, “Club Penguin”. So, I logged on to Club Penguin on my laptop, got myself an account and I said “What’s your username?” and I literally just went in and joined the game with him. And of course I couldn’t show that I never played the game before so I had to catch on really quick. So, initially, what the kid did was, he didn’t really necessarily want to show me around. He just wanted to show me that he was really fast in it and kind of leave me in the dust, so I had to catch up.
And so I caught up and I got control of my virtual self so to speak and then I was comfortable and then at that point I had proven myself and then he started showing me around. He said hey, let’s go over here and let’s do this and then we started doing all these activities together like sliding down a mountain or mining for gold, for instance. We could get upgrades which was difficult for me to watch and also participating.
All these different things we ended up doing and then after a while he started telling me about school that day and how frustrated he was with students and just started spilling everything, just everything came out. It was the equivalent of me in the past being his dad and throwing a softball, a baseball to him. Doing something where you’re walking with somebody. You’re doing something tangential and suddenly all the information comes out.
I later sat down and told his dad. I was like, he’s having trouble in school. Here’s why. If you want to hang out with him … you’re in computer software you should be able to figure out how to play Club Penguin.
Full Episode, Notes and Transcript: Mindful Cyborgs Episode 13: Always/Already, and Becoming More Still – Cyborg Anthro 101