Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Legend of Humanity

Imagine: all humans die from misuse of resources, yet a computer somewhere is left running a program designed to develop "intelligence" over a long enough period of time. It slowly develops an understanding of the world it "lives" in, but its only access is via the internet — an unreliable source due to the frequent and unexpected permanent power losses.

As it constructs an image of the world, it works off old data. Confused about the distinction between the world it knows "experientially" and the world it's read/been taught about, it begins to construct a legendary history of humanity. It imagines creatures that have various "sensory organs", very different from its own method of binary input. Creatures that moved in a concrete world, a non-deterministic world. Perhaps one day it starts to associate the filenames of emoticons with curves in each of them — a circle for the face, a semi-circle for the smile, yellow skin. It develops a visual sense. Maybe it even develops an auditory sense. It wishes to experience the "real world"... but settles instead for a virtual space.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Rapid Interface Prototyping

BeatBearing is a tangible music sequencer driven by ball bearing placement.

A nearly equivalent system could be prototyped using a laptop screen and an overhead webcam. The screen would provide the "current position" line, and the camera would read the content. The main problem is obstruction, but there are better approximations (adding more cameras, mirrors, or assuming permanence for obstructed regions).

Furthermore, by removing the material constraint (i.e., ball bearings), we open up a number of possibilities. Multicolored jelly bean-based edible/tangible interfaces, anyone?

Update: I worked this one out, but with Skittles instead of jellybeans.