Sunday, December 02, 2012

Augmented Reality vs Intelligence Augmentation

A G+ post from Eric Schrag regarding Augmented Reality, reminded me of an old post I wrote in 2006 pondering Artificial Intelligence vs Intelligence Augmentation. He's question was sparkled when reading my post on Google Paving the Road for Glass.

The question of Intelligence Augmentation (IA) vs Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now a non question, as we see clearly most every new innovation that produces Intelligence Augmentation involves Artificial Intelligence in the form of machine learning, voice or image recognition, etc.

The question there that could remain is: Will in the long term AI surpass IA and become an independent thing that stops serving humans and starts serving its own purpose. I'm not going to go there ... it's too futuristic and it would be a good subject for maybe a long philosophical conversation at the end of a long night ...

Back to Augmented Reality (AR), and Eric's question: Is AR the future we want in products such as Google Glass?

I believe the answer is for the most part the next short term phase of what's coming is Intelligence Augmentation and not so much Augmented Reality.

Intelligence Augmentation is using technology to augment our human capacities in areas such as:

1. extended memory - photo, video, voice and text storing and retrieving by processes much like the semantic free association that happens naturally on our brains.
2. senses, with exo-sensors that are quantified, verifiable, expanding beyond our current sensing capabilities (such as sensors that measure air gas composition and alert for CO, etc).
3. connectivity, allowing us to connect to each other in synchronous as well as asynchronous ways, beyond space and time.
4. context information accessing, information comes to me when I need it, versus me having to search for it (a la Google Now).
5. statistical data - tapping into the anonymous statistics and big data to find trends, patterns and learn (a great example is Google Translation)

I can see particular applications in which AR with specialized visors/HUDs would be possible and would actually make sense. There are glasses such as the I/O Recon Snowboarding companion:

Smith Recon Video from smith optics on Vimeo.

I'm sure there's many other specific applications that will make a lot of sense to use Augmented Reality or even Virtual Reality such as Oculus:

Oculus Rift: Step Into the Game from Oculus VR on Vimeo.

Technology as Kevin Kelly explains on his awesome book "What Technology Wants?" doesn't really die, even ancient technologies stay in pockets. I am a firm believer on every technology on its own place. Give me a tablet to read news/books, a keyboard to type, a big screen to code, a TV to watch a movie, etc. There's room for AI, IA, AR and VR, all on it's own time and space.

In the particular case of AR, it will be harder to do it right than generalized IA, so I expect to see more IA on cellphones, watches and visors before we see any AR done right. If you ask me on the long term though will we be there some day? I believe we will. If you ask me, is Google Glass the right technology to make AR done right happen ... everything indicates it was not designed to do that and for the most part it won't.

1 comment: said...

It's so musical. I need to review again my theories.