In the late 1990s, military technology collided with entertainment, a destiny reaching back to the first flight simulators, nearly a century ago. We have amazing games today because of the Cold War – and a historic tank battle no one saw coming.
We had the great good fortune to be able to interview simulation pioneer Dr. Mike Zyda for this episode (he’ll be back again in part two). Mike is quite likely the key individual who facilitated the blending of military and entertainment technologies.
The Battle of 73 Easting is arguably the most important tank battle fought in the second half of the 20th century. The battle became the foundation for a new generation of battlefield simulation:
Big thanks to my nephew Andy (on the right) for helping his uncle understand the ins and outs of flying an aircraft – for real!
The following year, working with artist John Tonkin, they created ‘Bluestates‘ – using Bluetooth contact tracking to generate ‘social graphs’ – maps of who associated with who – for ISEA 2006 in San Jose California. It got a fair bit of attention at the time, including a review in The New YorkTimes. Here’s a short movie of how John Tonkin visualised the contact tracking data Mark Pesce gathered:
In thirty years the Web has grown into the foundation of civilisation – but can we make the Web more useful, more private – and more human? That’s a question that Sean White, Chief Research & Development Officer at browser-maker Mozilla continually considers. The answer is evolving.
Some of the answer lies with new Web technologies, like Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s Solid project. And plenty of the answer lies within ourselves, as our use of the Web evolves.
Like artificial intelligence, virtual reality is one of those twenty-year ‘overnight success’ stories. For longer than that, VR pioneer Tony Parisi has been probing the boundaries of computer graphics, interactivity and illusion to create the next generation of technologies that immerse us in experiences of new worlds.
Tony tells us why VR has finally come of age – and what’s coming next, as ‘augmented reality’ integrates ‘consensual hallucinations’ into our daily lives – influencing everything from entertainment to business to the design of our kitchens:
The show opens with a nod to Beyonce’s amazing performance at Coachella 2018 – which featured the largest livestream audience in history, nearly half a million viewers:
There’s a new technology – videogrammetry – that allows full performance capture in 3D. Videogrammetry was used to create a video by former Smashing Pumpkin’s frontman Billy Corigan, with amazing VR landscapes created by Tilt Brush virtuoso Danny Bitman (@DannyBittman on Twitter):
The ‘Next Big Thing’ always promises to be the cure for all our ails – but inevitably the high promises tarnish and all our best efforts fall back to earth. For as long as we’ve had technology, we’ve believed in its capacity to craft a perfect world – even though we ourselves are far from perfect.
Author and philosopher Erik Davis has spent twenty years dissecting our attitudes toward technology, utopia and belief – and writes about a future where we ‘wise up’ enough to understand the human value of our imperfections.
Here’s a bit of a taste of our wide-ranging conversation about faith, reason, utopia, and why we seem to make the same mistakes over and over again…