Future Culture

Futurist Writer Lei Kalina writes her tongue-in-cheek musings and ramblings on the growing worldwide phenomenon of the growth of the Future Culture in the 21st Century

Future Culture In The 21st Century

Future Culture In the 21st Century

Futures Studies, Foresight, or Futurology , according to Wikipedia, is the science, art and practice of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them. Futures studies (colloquially called "Futures" by many of the field's practitioners) seeks to understand what is likely to continue, what is likely to change, and what is novel. Part of the discipline thus seeks a systematic and pattern-based understanding of past and present, and to determine the likelihood of future events and trends. Futures is an interdisciplinary field, studying yesterday's and today's changes, and aggregating and analyzing both lay and professional strategies, and opinions with respect to tomorrow.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Zabosu Project: "Remote-Controlled Humans" Gone Pfffft, For Now

SUDDENLY  , THE DEAFENING LULL  after  the storm.

It  was only  a little more than  thirty days ago when  all the media hype and  the whole shebang  of  press statements abound ,   with much ado  about  
the  so-called  Zabosu Project       which  launched an  Internet-based   worldwide  campaign  crowdsourcing funds   for   some  $100,000  at least ---   to  kickstart  the launch  of  having  "remote-controlled humans"  via  4G technology.  

Technoprogressive  enthusiasts and  kibitzers  are wondering  about  the  silence  after all the  bubbly media hype  for  Zabosu  via   its    Kickstarter campaign for the project,  "a mobile marketplace for remote-controlled humans"   --    and  the  buzz seemed to have mellowed recently   as  enthusiasts  look  for clues if it is going boom, bust,  or  pffffft. 

This may be the second  time  that  Karl Lautman,  CEO  and creator of the  Zabosu  project will be shelving the idea due to lack of funding:   after grinning and bearing it through all the avalanche of  flak from all directions.  From the Kickstarter website, the  project ,after its  July 19 deadline,  had a  very poor finish :   only a total of  31 backers and some  $2985 pledges for funding,  which finally made the project succumb to shelving.

When it was cancelled the first time early this year,  Lautman said that  (the organizers) "
 had a choice between participating and trying to leverage sufficient PR from it to support our Kickstarter, or passing on it in order to devote an appropriate amount of time to a formal PR campaign ...  When it became obvious that the pitch-off would not offer sufficient leverage, Zabosu cancelled its Kickstarter to  regroup around a proper PR campaign." 

Everbody is now  mum  about the project apparently  shelved for the meantime:  Lautman ,   Kickstarter ( which  helped  promote  Lautman's idea  now   has no promotions at the moment),   and even  the  few backers who may have initially pledged  their  "interest" about the proJect.

Earlier,  the Zabosu proponents were all perky, bubbly and  bright-eyed with  what could be a "breakthrough"  ( many disagree with this)  from the doldrums of the  TaskRabbit    low-tech idea  of having another person do 
your task for you: whether it be buying a present for a loved one,    
attending a conference at the other part of the world, or doing 
  some  supermarket buying chores. 

“The inspiration for Zabosu came from Justin.tv, a web show in 2007 that followed Justin Kan as he roamed San Francisco with a backpack full of cellular data modems livestreaming audio and video of his life, pretty much 24/7,” says  Lautman.   “At that time, I thought how much more interesting it would be if viewers could talk back to Justin and tell him what to do, but the technology just wasn’t there yet.   When I finally saw 4G cellular networks on the horizon, which are capable of the requisite 1 Mbps upload speed, I began development of Zabosu in earnest.”

Terminator Cute

Truth is ,   there are  no  "remote-controlled humans"  per se  in this project,  no androids,  no cyborgs,  no computer-to-brain interface  "dictating"  the subordinate on what to do,  no  Stepford Wife  fembots,   no telepresence avatars.   The said phrase  could possibly  be Lautman's idea to  spice up the hype for some  "controversial flavor",  catching the attention  of the  tech  intelligentsia  community.

Simplified:  It's   more like  Skype-to-Skype  between  boss  (the so-called  "zab")  and  the subordinate  (the so-called "zuk")  ,  and  the  "zab"  giving directions  from the office/home,  while the "zuk"  is  out on field doing the task  for the "boss"   ---  all these  with a tweak customized for the Zabosu project.  

The Zabosu  marketing blitz transcended  what was thought of  as a  creepy idea on having  "remote-controlled  humans":   what with its  come-hither allure  for  the  easy-to-impress  EveryMan .  Hear this:

"Hi, Kickstarter! Zabosu’s developed an incredible, almost magical service that lets one person actually take control of another person, anywhere in the world there’s a 4G cellular signal. It’s not quite as crazy as it sounds. The person being controlled, who we call an “Actor,” starts our app and sticks their phone in a pocket (or on a lanyard) with the camera facing out to stream live audio and video of their surroundings."
"The person controlling them, who we call a “Director,” connects to the stream with a web browser to see and hear everything going on around the Actor, from the Actor’s point of view. The Director also speaks to the Actor using the computer’s microphone and the Actor’s earpiece. Because the Director is paying the Actor, the Actor does what the Director tells them to do. The intention, in most applications, is to make the Actor a human extension, or projection, of the Director into whatever environment the Actor happens to be in."

Zabosu Actor PageZabosu Actor Page

Zabosu App
Zabosu  App 

Kickstarter further writes: 

"Some of the things we imagine Zabosu being 
used for are  sightseeing,  running errands, shopping, 
virtual assistants, gaming, buying a home, 
remote tradeshow attendance, and technical assistance. 
There are also situations where you might want to 
control  multiple Actors simultaneously."

"Let’s say you’re looking for a new office and there

 are four  candidate spaces. You could hire four Actors 
and send one  to each space, even at the same time,
 to evaluate all the  candidates in less time than it would
 take you to visit even  one. Maybe you’re not looking 
for an office, though.  Maybe it’s a wedding venue.
 Or, a resort for the holidays.  You could even assemble
an army of Actors and make a bid for world domination
(you'd fail, horribly, but you definitely could try)."

"These are just our ideas, though, and one of the 
reasons  we're using Kickstarter is to find out how others
 might use Zabosu.  In the survey that goes out at the end
of the campaign, we’ll be asking you what your plans 
are for it, so we can better target it for people's
intended uses."


"The Zabosu web site will let Directors find and 
schedule Actors based on relevant characteristics like
 location, availability and skills. The site also archives 
the videos, so Directors, Actors and others (we call 
them “Viewers”) can watch them later."

"It’ll also let Actors (who are independent contractors
and not employed by Zabosu) create pages for themselves 
describing where they’re based, what they’re willing to
 do as an Actor, what they've specifically done for Directors,
 and so on."

"ZabosuConnect, the phone app used by the Actor 
(only Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean” and later at launch) 
shows them where they are, where they’re supposed 
to be, what they’re supposed to be doing, and other 
handy stuff."

"So, what does this have to do with Kickstarter? Well, 
we’re super excited about enabling fun, valuable
and unprecedented human interactions, but just 
because  we think this stuff’s cool doesn't mean 
enough other people  will to make it a viable 
business. That’s where you come in.  If we hit our 
funding goal, we’ll know we’re on to  something 
awesome  and will keep working at it. The hardest 
and riskiest parts are already done (the app is fully
 functioning at this point).

 What’s left is all stuff the team has done many 

times before,  so we believe we’ll be able to launch by
 the end of the year."

c a1pgl80b0 Outstanding Android & Cyborg Digital Inspiration

Karl Lautman,  the main man at the helm of this project,   
more  popular with his background as  a sculptor-visual 
artist  whose works  have received  some recognition,   
could be  just gathering his  seond wind,  or  probably 
"third wind"  the next time he dishes out  his ideas  for the 
public  to ogle on.

Karl Lautman  

His ideas may be bizarre  or  out-of-this-world, and  he 
may say that he is entitled to these  conundrums of 
eclectic trends of thought and sudden outbursts  of 
unorthodox perspectives.   But  he  remains unperturbed
and  may be hurling  out  more  unconventional  ideas
for the  public  --  and the  subsequent  superlatives   
coming from all   fronts as usual,   may be  an ordinary 
occurrence  for Lautman.  

Lautman writes his statement:

"The power and ubiquity of technology has bred 
complacency among those who use it regularly
 (i.e. virtually everyone in the developed world). 
While most would agree that we should not place too 
much faith in machines, in reality we can't help taking 
for granted that the light will go on when we flip the switch, 
the car will start when we turn the key, the plane won't
 fall from the sky, .... Yet the capacity of machines
 to misbehave is endless.  In fact, it's their nature."

"I'm fascinated by this tension between what we want, and
expect, a machine to do, and what the machine "wants" to do.
I call it "machine tension,"   or just "McTension."
I explore McTension in my work  by making things that behave
unexpectedly, though  not strictly randomly. While the behavior
may  be easier to infer for some of my machines than  for others,
they all tend to have an unpredictable  (or, at least, 
difficult-to-predict) element to them."

"Whether it's calculating prime numbers on electromechanical 
counters, causing falling dominoes  to stand themselves up 
again, or generating organized  sequences of clicks on 
a relay (but at random intervals),  the effect is simultaneously
familiar and surprising.  

Pseudo-randomness isn't difficult to achieve, but also  isn't 

very interesting, so I strive to make my  work entertaining, 
sometimes even whimsical,  rather than impenetrable."

Monday, July 7, 2014

Google Glass' RaceYourself App: Run With The Zombies !!

From  The Pinay Sunset Runner

FOR  ALL  YE  GOOGLE GLASS NEWS  FANS AND   FOLLOWERS,   you may have already heard the news  about   the latest  killer app   that has been hitting the  tech blog headlines:    all about  Google Glass'  RaceYourself app  for running and fitness enthusiasts.    

Interestingly,  more and more  are  giving their thumbs up and elite nods , especially from  technology evangelists  ,  future tech vigilantes,  and techno-progressive  analysts and enthusiasts alike. This early,   it has garnered the first of its future awards,  recently  proclaimed as the  Best Design App in Fitness Nutrition and Diet Category by the UK Mobile and App Design Awards in London held just this June 2014

And who wouldn't take a second look at this  beauty:    what with its adrenaline-pumping  tech effects such as  simulations of  flesh-eating zombies  running after you and make you run for your life,  or  the challenging one-two punches   via  your very own avatar  with your own personal running best time --   urging you to  , as the app says,  Race Yourself. 


                         YouTube  Screengrab

And there's more:  RaceYourself takes you to  riveting and surreal heights in augmented reality fashion. 

While on your run,  you go through a myriad of scenes,  such as  running but also   "flying"  as the app takes you through a skydiving experience, showing a sea of other "skydivers"  with you,   and later  it  takes you to a virtual marathon of identically-clad runners in purple shirts,  then  brings you to a  skiing scenario  with all the snowy mountain slopes with your  other "fellow skiers".   

And next thing you know,  you later find yourself on the road running for your life  with a huge rolling boulder  seemingly  following you at each turn and out to get ya!   As you run faster and faster,  you find yourself on a  beach,  and  as you continue your workout,   you're suddenly  in the middle of a  virtual bike race with cyclists via  a surreal Tour De France.   Just when you think you have had enough,     you  later  come across   a platoon of zombies hungry to eat your brains out --  making  you scamper away through all these hoopla of uberly  cool excitement and fun.

That's  a total of  thirty  game modes in the said app,  and this defines the future of fitness and exercise  as being far from the gloom and doom of boredom.

But experts say that all these are far from kidstuff. 

Company co-founder Alex Foster  said in a recent press release:    “Imagine racing against your own personal best, chasing a friend you want to beat or even escaping a 400-tonne cargo train traveling at your target marathon pace," company co-founder    "By blending reality with virtual reality, we can make workouts a lot more interesting and motivating."

“As well as making exercise more interesting, we wanted to incorporate the addictive and social elements from gaming. That’s why we reward users with unlockable games for completing workouts, "  he says.

Foster adds:   "Exercise is incredibly good for you. Gaming is incredibly addictive and enjoyable. Our goal is make exercise incredibly addictive and enjoyable through augmented reality exercise experiences on, primarily, Google Glass.     “We are offering similar promises; more motivation, tracking, competition… but visually and live, that is, the user knows if they are beating or falling behind their personal best or target pace the whole way through the run.”

Meantime,  the  app's  Beta version,  now  open for applications  but limited to American citizens who are over 18,    will  be more accessible to  a wider audience  later this year ,  according to the app developers.   

                         YouTube  Screengrab

                        YouTube  Screengrab

                         YouTube  Screengrab

                         YouTube  Screengrab

With the Glass'  voice recognition technology ,  wearers  of the smarrt  eyewear  can  just   whisper   "O.K., Glass"  to activate  it,   and  can give you an array of  choices on what to do while  on your run:  "Take a picture",   "Record a video",   "Give me directions  to the  nearest  fastfood"  ---  and  Glass would dutifully  do its job for you.  

RaceYouself's  Chief Operating Officer  Richard Goodrum said in a statement that  the growing RaceYourself fans,  this  early,  would enjoy  more upcoming features  to further enhance the  app ,  taking it to  the next level via another game mode,  which is the race track. 

"Taking  RaceYourself  to the racetrack  is definitely something we have been thinking about and we have already started talking to a company regarding Google Glass integration with helmets.  To put a car avatar on the track that drives ahead of you,  much like in the game Gran Turismo,  would actually be more accurate than a running man avatar."

"We could even adapt the chasing aspect of RaceYourself  to beat your previous lap around the track,  you can be driving away from a monster truck or Godzilla. "

"When it comes to the safety aspect of it,  some do not realize that the Google Glass display  is  slightly  off to the top right of your vision,  meaning that you can easily obtain a clear view of the road ahead without serious distraction." 

2236060 orig 730x408 Flee from zombies and giant boulders with the Race Yourself fitness app for Google Glass
YouTube  Screengrab

YouTube  Screengrab

Goodrum further says that the  app's  newest version,   available later this year, would  also be "revolutionizing the racetrack experience"  for  track day enthusiasts and professional racing drivers  as they  see a visual representation of their lap to  beat.

"With the release of the RaceYourself app aligned with the Google Glass' recent launch,  we will be looking to pursue the car aspect of the app  later in the year. "

Meantime,  amidst all the media razzmatazz ,   recent news  reported banning  of Google Glass in  UK cinemas,   with  theatre operators alarmed about the device's recording function which  wearers can use inconspicuously to  record the films being shown for the public.

Google Glass has just arrived in the UK  last June 23,  but this early,  while early Glass Explorer beta testers  have been pouring to check out the smart eyewear,   controversy is blocking its marketing strategies  for a full take-off.

Photo from Google Glass'  RaceYourself site

Photo from Google Glass'  RaceYourself site

London's  The  Independent reported the growing concern  among theater owners regarding the idea and possibility of  the device wearers easily recording pirated copies of their  films being shown in their theatres. Cinema Exhibitors Association  CEO    Phil Clapp told the paper  that   "recording in cinemas is the source of more than  90 per cent of all illegally copied fils in their release form.  Customers will be requested not to wear these into cinema auditoriums,  whether the film is playing or not."  

As  UK filmgoers  enter the cinemas,   they will be greeted by this sign: 

"“As a courtesy to your fellow audience members, and to prevent film theft, we ask that customers do not enter any cinema auditorium using any 'wearable technology' capable of recording images. Any customer found wearing such technology will be asked to remove it and may be asked to leave the cinema.”

The  UK  stages a first by  getting  the frontseat of initial  global sale of the Glass  outside the US, with  units  priced at   1,000 British Pounds, equivalent to  about   US$1703.  However,   the ban  stays  ---   covering  some  750 cinemas within  the UK,  which includes England,  Scotland,  Wales and  Northern Ireland.  

Related to the  most recent controversy,  Google issued  its  statement:

"We encourage any cinemas concerned about Glass to treat the device as they treat similar devices like mobile phones: simply ask wearers to turn it off before the film starts. Broadly speaking, we also think it's best to have direct and first-hand experience with Glass before creating policies around it. The fact that Glass is worn above the eyes and the screen lights up whenever it’s activated makes it a fairly lousy device for recording things secretly.”