On 30 November 2022 startup OpenAI released ChatGPT, resetting expectations for artificial intelligence. Only one year later and billions now have access to ‘good enough’ AI, resetting our expectations for what computers can do – and leaving us wondering how we’ll adapt to this latest breakthrough.
On this first of a three-part miniseries, we explore how ChatGPT rose to become the fastest growing app in history, then found itself the weapon of choice in the longest running war in the technology industry – the feud between Microsoft and Google.
While they’ve worked together for five years, Mark, Sal and Drew have never met face-to-face – until this show. Eyeball-to-eyball they ask one another some ‘hard questions’, and learn some hard truths about the state of micromobility, EVs – and the future of the transition that may be better for the auto industry than for the planet.
BONUS EPISODE. We were so happy with Special Correspondent Drew Smith’s rich and powerful interview with Horace Dediu, we wanted to share an episode featuring their complete, unedited conversation.
Drew Smith sat down for an hour-plus interview with Horace Dediu, the ‘father’ of micromobility – Horace coined the word! – exploring its origins and future. Along the way, Horace offers a blistering critique of the failure of the automotive sector to embody the new design possibilities offered by micromobility: transportation choice in our urban centres, and a powerful framework to rethink our transportation networks and cities.
What is ‘micromobility’? It’s a philosophy that emphasises choice and urban-centered design in our transportation networks and transport options. Drew Smith speaks with Horace Dediu, the ‘father’ of micromobility, about its origins, his critique of the new generation of EV companies, and the way things must change in order to provide a transport future that we can all enjoy. Mark looks at the ‘wheel’ of transportation that takes developing nations from bicycles to scooters to cars – and back to bikes again? Sally Dominguez makes a heartfelt and well-observed plea for micromobility solutions that don’t favour able-bodied young men by design. In the round-table, Mark, Sal and Drew analyse everything they’ve learned in this series: Are we any closer to autonomous vehicles? Pervasive electric vehicles? Commercial hydrogen vehicles? Micromobility solutions that work for everyone? A huge final for this series of THE NEXT BILLION CARS.
Long-promised as the ‘fuel of the future’, hydrogen fails to live up to its hype. Co-host Sally Dominguez looks at the the future for big hydrogen-powered vehicles, speaking with Brendan Norman of Australian hydrogen vehicle startup H2X. Mark speaks to Romesh Rodrigo at Daimler Trucks Australia about the future of ‘liquid’ hydrogen – a fuel that needs to be cooled to within 20 degrees of Absolute Zero, and ‘bleeds off’ quickly, leaving storage tanks empty. Finally, Special Correspondent Drew Smith looks at the collapse of Toyota’s long-held ambitions to transition seamlessly from petrol-powered to hydrogen-fueled vehicles.
The number of electric cars in Australia doubled in 2022 – yet it remains nearly impossible to buy the model you want, and the nation’s public charging infrastructure remains on the drawing board. Big things will need to change, quickly. Co-hosts Sally Dominguez and Drew Smith dive into the systemic changes needed to get these ‘batteries-with-wheels’ charged and charging into the future. With contributions from Richard Hackforth-Jones, Joe Simspon and Daniel O’Brien. Can you drive across Europe in an EV? Can you charge an EV in your kitchen? Are swappable batteries the answer for ‘range anxiety’ – or can we try to rid ourselves of this ‘big-is-better-ism’ that automotive manufacturers have used to lure new buyers for half a century?
In 2016, Telsa made a video touting their ‘self-driving’ software – faked. Every major manufacturer promised self-driving cars by 2021 – none are even close. Will the nirvana of driverless cars ever come – or will it remain a temping mirage, forever just over the horizon? Mark is joined by co-host Sally Dominguez and Special Correspondent Drew Smith as we speak to GIO boffin Steve Cratchley, and reconnect with Ken Goldberg – does Ken still believe autonomous vehicles are a decade or more away? Are we advancing toward autonomy – or stalled in the high-speed lane?
Here’s the deeply disturbing footage of the 8-car pileup on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge on Thanksgiving Day – possibly due to a failure in a Tesla’s self-driving feature.
Mercedes is the first car maker in the US cleared for ‘Level 3’ autonomy – in Nevada.
And back in 2022, Mercedes told the press it would be taking full legal responsibility for its driver assistance features…
And of course y’all should be listening to Drew’s other podcast, “Looking Out“…
Atlassian’s ‘work futurist’ Dom Price and resilience expert Sally Dominguez guide us through a new world of work, post-pandemic. Then we speak with two leaders at the coalface, both finding unique paths to help their staff thrive in a world of work that looks nothing like what any of us have ever known.
Brought to you by Oracle.
Read the paper in Nature that explores how videoconferencing wrecks group creativity.
In the 2010s, VR roared back into life with Oculus, Vive, WebGL and Hololens. Minecraft, Roblox and Fortnite gave millions a deep drink of the potential of the Metaverse. Facebook – renamed Meta – bet the house on the Metaverse. Where is the Metaverse headed? We hear insights from forty years of experts.
Here’s Tony’s closing poem, “The Mirror”.
In episode five, co-hosts Tony Parisi and Mark Pesce explore the first decade of the Millennium, when the Metaverse blossomed into the foundation for a new generation of video games such as ‘Ultima Online’, and big data ‘digital twins’ like Google Earth. It’s “Game On!” for Tony and Mark – and on and on and on and on…
Have a play with Mark’s ‘WebEarth‘ – a real-time 3D model of the world, up and running 25 years after he created it…
Or take a tour of the Web-based version of Google Earth – created, in part, by Avi Bar-Zeev.
Read the paper Ken Birdwell wrote about the creation of Valve’s Half-Life…
Here’s T_Vision – ART+COM’s Earth visualisation that so inspired Mark in 1995:
In the second half of the 1990s, VRML became the platform of choice for ‘virtual worlds’ filled with ‘avatars’ – digital representations of real people. The Web goes big – and stays big – yet VRML crashes back to Earth, as Second Life becomes the last best hope for the Metaverse. It’s all melodrama, all the time, in ‘Days of our Second Lives’!
Here’s a 1995 video interview with Mark about VRML.
Tony’s Intervista Software had a very 1997 website. Check it out here.
Have a play with Jan Mallis’ Floops – an early VRML animation – here!
Watch the five episodes of ‘Bliss.com’ Jan and Mark created — in your web browser, here.
“VRML: The LSD of the Internet” from the May 1996 Red Herring.
Mark Jeffrey co-created The Palace – a 2D avatar chat. It’s still going, here!
Christopher Caen co-founded OnLive – a 3D chat with audio streaming. He also has an amazing/hilarious Substack, “A Long Time Ago in a Valley Far, Far Away”, telling the tale here.
And Philip Rosedale created Second Life – still going strong!
Tony and Mark – supported by a global community of technologists, enthusiasts and dreamers – brought 3D to the brand-new Web with VRML. This episode features Owen Rowley, Neil Redding, Linda Jacobson, Brian Behlendorf, John McCrea, Coco Conn — and Neal Stephenson.
Read the interview with Jaron Lanier in MONDO 2000 issue 2 that changed Mark’s life.
“Homebrew VR“, written by Linda Jacobson, in WIRED magazine, issue 1.
Use Windows? Have a play with ‘Labyrinth’, the world’s first 3D Web browser, here. You can explore the ‘Cyberbanana’ – and ‘Daniel’s Room’, the first public demonstration of VRML, for SIGKIDS 1994.
“Coco’s Channel” a WIRED article about Coco Conn’s work creating SIGKIDS. Read it here.
Read ‘Cyberspace’, the paper describing VRML that Mark presented at the First International Conference on the World Wide Web.
Read the VRML 1.0 spec here.
A gallery of wonderful images from VERGE (thanks to Linda Jacobson for these!)
At the end of the episode, Neal Stephenson recounts the story of a panel he sat through – which inspired him to write Snow Crash. Read it here…