Self-driving “cars”

I think the future is going to be weirder than we can possibly imagine.

I’ve been thinking on Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age as it pertains to self driving cars. The protagonist there has a “car”, which is a nanotech constructed “robot horse”, that looks like the real thing. Horses are the original self-driving transportation.

Boston Dynamic's Spot
Boston Dynamic’s Spot

Consider the descendants of Big Dog or Spot, and imagine a near-future world where “cars” look more like small living rooms with giant horse-like legs, or maybe carriages drawn by a team of robots, running & galloping from place to place.

robot horse concept based on Boston Dynamics's Spot robot

The dexterity such a robot would offer may enable a future not only without parking, but one without the need for roads. These robot horses would also offer significant safety advances, as legs enable them to nimbly leap out of each others way, just as horses in a herd do.

“Driving” might become safer than flying.


iOS9 iPad Multitasking & Keyboard

iOS 9 reveals at WWDC this week have gotten me really excited about the iPad again. As much as I like my iPad I’ve struggled to adapt my habits to do work in the single-app-at-a-time model of the iPad. But the new multitasking and keyboard updates make the iPad a real contender for replacing my laptop.

Slide Over, Split View, & Picture in Picture

Split View will allow me to “work with a reference” as I do windows side-by-side on OS X. Whether it’s wikipedia and a spreadsheet, or Google image search results and a drawing app, I’m really excited about this. Slide Over is going to be great for quickly jumping into a Messages thread, and ever since Youtube added Picture in Picture to their app browsing I’ve wished I could do the same everywhere.

Easy text selection & shortcut buttons.

Editorial is my favourite text app because it has the most amazing tool – an extra row above the keyboard – that offers quick cursor scrubbing without obscuring the line of text with a finger. I’m so happy this idea has made into the stock keyboard with text selection. Combined with Split View I’m expecting a big boost to my productivity on an iPad.

One more thing…

The one thing I’m still wishing for is Cintiq like low-latency & pressure sensitivity as well as a pin point stylus. I do a lot of sketching on iPads, and I have 4 different 3rd party styli. I enjoy it. But the latency is still a little frustrating (especially on an iPad Mini) and if you want a pin-point stylus you tend to give up pressure sensitivity.  If Apple builds it in – maybe through some variation on Force Touch – I expect it to have much lower latency, and hopefully a pin-point stylus.

natural capitalism

Advertising & pay-to-play business models have a lot in common with some socialist ideas I’ve heard.

With advertising, everyone pays a little (attention) for a lot of stuff they don’t value, so everyone can have much more value. It’s hard to realize that we regularly see advertising we feel is valuable. There’s just so much of it that’s not valuable to each of us, and because when we’re motivated to click it stops being “advertising” to us.

Pay-to-play games allow billions of people to get a very high quality gaming experience for zero money, because a tiny fraction of users (the 0.01%) pay a lot of money for in-app-purchases.

These models offer dramatic value to a lot of people, but I sometimes feel they’re seen like Monsanto. They produce almost magical advances in food productivity, which is going to be highly valued by the future 9 billion strong. Yet some consider them as a cartoonish evil villain. I see the problem as a intellectual property system that needs to be updated.

I wonder if we just need time to adapt to these models? Maybe we need memeonic “antibodies” to develop in our social super organism. I also wonder what are yet undiscovered incentive models (business models, governance structures, social systems, etc) we will discover and invent?